Livermore Street Sighting - 1955 Pontiac Chieftain 860
Perhaps one of the most important model years ever for Pontiac was 1955, the year that the brand lost its stodgy, roly-poly image and gained V8 engines across the entire model range. The 1955 V8 replaced the old inline-six and straight-eight engines that had served Pontiac for many years. What the '55 Bel Air did for Chevy, the '55 Chieftain and Star Chief did for Pontiac. The '55 was one of the last "Silver Streak" Pontiacs, the bright trim pieces that ran over the hood and down the sides of the little tail fins. Silver Streak had long been a trademark of Pontiac, and had become something of a symbol of the "old" Pontiac. After 1956, Pontiac was reworked into a sporty brand that would be heavily marketed as such right up until its final years.
This 1955 Chieftain sedan appears to be a lower-spec 860 model finished in Valley Green or the surprisingly similar Nautilus Blue with White Mist two-tone. It has a single exhaust and limited body trim, and non-original hubcaps which I believe came from a 1958 car and were color-matched to the body. There are some issues with bumpers that need to be straightened and polished, and of course new paint, but otherwise it's a solid example with no visible serious rust. It looks to be a longtime local car judging by the period McKissick Motor Company dealership license plate frames. McKissick sold Pontiac and GMC vehicles based at 770 East 14th Street in San Leandro; the building is now Linen Life Gallery.
The owner is clearly an enthusiast with a small collection of old cruisers including a '58 Pontiac, '59 Pontiac Bonneville sedan and a '63 Ford Galaxie Boxtop. I'd love to feature any of them but I'm not going to trespass to do it. If the owner ever wants to park his beautiful red Bonnie on the street, though...
California Streets is a blog that celebrates the history of the automobile in California. We feature old, interesting and often rare cars and trucks found parked on public streets and roads around the state of California.
I'm a delivery driver by trade, but I'm also a freelance artist and hobby photographer in the San Francisco Bay Area with a healthy interest in cars. I love finding and documenting fascinating old cars wherever I go.