Pontiac Star Chief

Big and very beautiful, the second-generation 1957 model was one of the most eye-catching cars of the tailfin era
By Imran Malik, Features Writer
December 28, 2016

Back in the Fifties, size was everything in the US automotive industry. The Sixties and Seventies weren’t much different, but did you know that the 1957 Star Chief coupé — which measured an already never ending 5,430mm in length — could be made even longer? Pontiac offered an optional steel Continental kit to the second-generation model, which added an extra 355mm to its length. You’re thinking it stretched the wheelbase and created extra room for passengers, aren’t you? Nope. It was purely an ostentatious feature designed to add extra girth to the massive Poncho. It sounds ridiculous now but people loved it then, and there was no better way of saying “mine’s bigger than yours”...

The Star Chief was Pontiac’s prestige model and sure was a flashy looker; it was loaded with chrome, had arrow-shaped accent stripes on the sides, featured spinner wheel covers, was finished in a two-tone paint job and had power everything, from the steering, brakes, antenna, and windows. The cabin got an ice-cold AC, Wonderbar AM radio, carpets and leather seats, but you had to pay extra for seat belts and like most models of the era, a 360-degree chrome horn ring, which gave the two-spoke steering wheel a bit more sparkle.

Under the bonnet, Pontiac ditched the straight eight, which was used in the first generation, and offered three new V8s — a 4.7-litre, 5.2-litre and 5.6-litre. The 5.6 litre for the 1957 model (pictured) had a Rochester four-barrel carburetor produced 317 horsepower, and had a fuel ‘efficiency’ of 20 litres per 100km. It was mated to a four-speed automatic that directed the grunt to the rear wheels, making the Star Chief coupé a lot of fun to drive. In the Fifties, this ’57 model cost Dh11,000 — today, it’s closer to the Dh150,000 mark.