When World War II had come and gone, many car companies were looking for new car designs to boost their sales to the pre-World War II levels. Pontiac was no different from this. They decided on a vehicle that was much like their lower level Streamliner in terms of engine, dimensions, trim level and options, but it would use the sportier GM A-Body style instead of the B-Body style of the Streamliner. This vehicle was called the Pontiac Chieftain and it rose to its expectations by replacing the Torpedo as Pontiac’s top automobile in its first year.
The first generation (1949-1951) offered a Sedan, Sedan coupe, Business Coupe and Deluxe Convertible Coupe and added the Catalina Coupe in 1950 and the Stationwagon in 1951. There were two engines offered: the 239.2 L-head 6 cylinder that produced either 90 or 93hp and the 268.2 L-head 8 cylinder engine that produced either 103 or 106hp. The difference in horsepower depended on the compression ratio ordered. Some standard options that were offered were the radio with 7 vacuum tubes, a tissue dispenser, and under seat heater and a Remington Auto-Home shaver.
The second generation (1952-1954) saw the Streamliner discontinued, making the Chieftain the only option. The body style was changed to an 122 wheelbase A-body. Horsepower was also increased in the 6 cylinder engine by 10hp and the 8 cylinder engine by 15hp. In 1954, the Star Chief was added to Pontiac’s line, which put the Chieftain to entry level status. However, horsepower increased my 9 more due to a carburetor change and power brakes and air-conditioning were added as options.
The third generation (1955-1958) saw the biggest changes. In 1955, the Chieftain got a completely new chassis, body and engine, with the engine being the biggest news because it was Pontiac’s first V8! The 287.2 V8 engine was offered (no longer in 6 cylinder) that produced 173-180hp. In 1956, the engine got even bigger with the 316.6 V8 that produced 192-205hp. In 1957, the “Star Flight” styling was added that included missile shaped side trim, V-shape fender tips, lower hoods and a massive bumper. The Super Chief design was also added that offered a V8 that was enlarged to 347in that could produce 290hp. The Super Chief quickly became its own model, which left the entry level Chieftain to increase its engine to 270in V8 that produced 240-270hp. Also, it underwent a styling change that final year, adding honeycomb grilles, quad hood and tail lamps and concave rear fenders.
Sadly, after 1958, the Chieftain ended its car run and was replaced by the Catalina in 1959.