The Pontiac Chieftain was the anchor in the Pontiac line from 1949 to 1959. It helped Pontiac establish its reputation as the Excitement Division, rather than being sandwiched between Chevrolet and Oldsmobile in the GM hierarchy.
Introduced in 1949, the Pontiac Chieftain was the beneficiary of the new “flow-through fender” styling that better incorporated the front fenders with the hood. The Chieftain name came from Pontiac’s own Native American heritage, after the Torpedo moniker was dropped for a public that was eager to forget the Second World War. The Chieftain filled the role of Pontiac’s less expensive, smaller offering with four body styles: Coupe, Convertible Coupe, Business Coupe, and Sedan Coupe. Engine choices included two 293 cubic-inch inline-sixes rated at 90 or 93 horsepower, and two 249 cubic-inch eight-cylinders rated at either 103 or 106 horses.
For the 1955 model year, the Pontiac Chieftain received a thorough restyling. Power came from the new Pontiac Strato Streak V8 that displaced 287 cubic inches and produced 173 or 180 horsepower depending upon compression ratios. Both versions were topped by a single two-barrel carburetor. A 200-horsepower version fed by a four-barrel carb would appear later in the production year. Six cylinders were not available. The Chieftain featured an independent front suspension with coil springs, and a leaf spring rear suspension with a Hypoid rear axle. Power-assisted drum brakes tended to stopping duties.
The 1958 model year brought another restyle for the Pontiac Chieftain, as with its GM corporate cousins. Honeycomb grilles, quad headlights and taillights, and concave rear fenders were among the new visual cues. A portable radio called the Sportable was offered as an option, as was an air suspension and limited-slip rear diff. The engine displaced 370 cubic inches, and could be had in 240- or 270-horsepower variants, depending upon induction. 1958 would be the final year for Chieftain production, as it was replaced by the all-new Catalina for 1959.
Our feature 1958 Pontiac Chieftain has been the subject of a frame-off restoration. It scored 696 points out of a possible 700 at the 2022 Pontiac convention. This Chieftain is a performance special in that it is powered by the original, rare, factory fuel-injected 370 cubic-inch V8 producing 270 horsepower. The fuel injection unit was rebuilt as part of the restoration and reinstalled on the numbers-matching engine. An automatic transmission backs the fuelie. The Chieftain is finished in red and black over a red and white vinyl interior, as the trim tag indicates. Equipment includes tinted glass, dual side mirrors, dual exhaust, wide whitewall tires, and a 3.42 Positraction rear end. In keeping with the performance theme, this Chieftain is a rare radio-delete model. Trophies are included in the sale.
This rare 1958 Pontiac Chieftain fuelie will cross the Mecum Auctions block at their Kansas City event taking place November 30th through December 2nd.