When it comes to General Motors in the 1950s, most people immediately think of the Bel Air. The Bel Air was Chevrolet’s most popular car during the mid to late 1950s and today it remains one of the most recognized and well represented classic cars out there. Few people realize and appreciate the beauty of the sister brands to Chevrolet in cars such as this 1956 Pontiac Star Chief convertible.
This beautiful purple Pontiac belongs to John Rudder of Port Angeles, Washington, and he’s had the car for 20-years this year. John bought the car in 1998 and they drove it to Reno in 1999. It’s a show stopper now, and would you believe it’s got 60-thousand miles on it since it was restored? “I drive my cars,” John said. “We take this to Reno every year.” This car may be a trophy qualifier, but she’s definitely no trailer queen!
When John bought it, the Pontiac wasn’t nearly the caliber of car that you see here. “It was pink and white,” John said. “It was a basket case. It ran, but that’s about all it did. The floors were gone.” Even though it was a big project, John paid a pretty decent price for the car. “I traded a ’69 Pontiac Grand Prix with a 421 and a 4-speed for this.” While he traded into a bit of work, he made out good on it in the end.
When he first went to look at the car, the guy actually had three of these. He has this one, a 1955 Pontiac Safari wagon, and a 1956 Star Chief hardtop. John took wife and two kids to look at the car so they could all vote. “I voted for the Safari,” he said, “But it was three against one and the convertible won. It worked out better that way in the end.”
Now happy with the convertible, for obvious reasons, he wanted the wagon initially and everyone else wanted the convertible. He was out voted when it came to buying his own car!
“It is a loaded car,” he explained. “Power windows, power seats, and power steering.” Now, along with all of the nice power accessories, it’s got a little bit of power under the hood that’s supplied by a 389 cubic-inch engine and a turbo-400 automatic transmission that’s linked to a Ford 9-inch rearend. This big car definitely does not have trouble making its way down the road. She is good for more than just looking at!
More than just the stellar deep purple color, there are a few other cool modifications that John has made to his car. If you are familiar with this era Pontiac, you may have noticed that the trim that goes on top of the fins and matches the trim on the hood is missing. John did not like the way it looked in the back above the taillights so he removed them and smoothed the fins for a more sleek look. It’s a subtle change that really adds to the character of the car.
John also updated the all-black interior with purple fabric inserts and other showy plumage. Now, with the top down in the hot sun at a show all day, he is not burning his legs when he goes to sit down and drive home. The inserts work to both improve the look and the functionality of the car. Our favorite kind of modification!
Is Prince looking down from above nodding in approval?