San Francisco Street Sighting - 1951 Pontiac Chieftain DeLuxe Eight
I mentioned a couple of years ago that Bernal Heights is an unusual area full of unusual old cars, and that curiously it seems to be home to a lot of vintage Pontiacs. I've found a rat-rod '51 sedan and a beautifully restored '54 Chieftain there, and most recently this unrestored survivor '51 Chieftain DeLuxe.
The '51 Pontiacs marked the brand's 25th anniversary and the company celebrated by bumping up the horsepower rating of the straight-eight engine from 106 to 116. Models mostly carried over from the 1950 model year, with a mild facelift and revised chrome trim. Pontiac did a fair job of disguising the car's Chevrolet roots with their Silver Streak styling motif. This Chieftain is a highly optioned example with a lot of factory dress-up pieces including the Protection Group (front, rear and corner bumper guards) and the Appearance Group (chrome fuel door guard, fender skirts, exhaust deflector and deluxe translucent plastic Indian head hood ornament). The exterior side mirror, windshield visor, turn signals and back-up lights imply the Basic Group, Comfort Group and Convenience Group have all been checked on the options list. On a car like this, you could opt any or all of the accessories individually if desired. I miss the days of crazy option and accessory lists, when you didn't have to pick one or two packages of stuff or be limited by one package's exclusion of something else that you wanted. This car hails from the Midwest originally, and still carries its dealership sticker from Mainline Motor Company of Grand Island, Nebraska. This must have been a really sharp-looking car in its day. The trim has oxidized and the original paint is failing, but the body still appears solid. I'd like to at least see the trim re-chromed before it starts getting holes in it. The wheelcovers are in great condition, making me wonder if they're a replacement set. Either way, this is a beautiful car with amazing patina and a lot of potential.
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 vehicles wherever I go.