The 1956 Pontiac Star Chief Convertible / Photos, Specs, Model History

Featured is a beautifully restored 1956 Pontiac Star Chief Convertible. During these mid 1950’s years General Motors produced some of the best styled automobiles of that era. These full size classic Pontiac convertible models are some of the most popular with collectors.

pontiac star xhief
1956 Pontiac Star Chief Convertible

The Pontiac Star Chief Was Introduced in 1954

The Pontiac Star Chief was the top trim level of the Pontiac Chieftain from 1955 to 1957. One difference between the two is that the Star Chief has a longer wheelbase. The 1949 Pontiac Chieftain and Streamliner models represented the first all new Pontiac post war designs.

The Pontiac Division of General Motors produced the Star Chief from 1954 to 1966. For the 1966 model year and for that year only the name was changed to the Star Chief Executive, Beginning in 1967 and beyond  the model was named the Executive.

Pontiac Star Chief Styling

1956 Pontiac styling changes included combination bumper grilles with enclosed round parking lights and round, bomb type bumper guards.

The 1957 Pontiac models introduced “Star Flight” styling. This included plenty of changes including missile shaped side trim, a lower hood, flatter tail fins and new bumpers in the front and back, new longer tail lights and the car was 1/2 inch lower and 1 inch longer. It’s important to note that the Pontiac Division of GM never got into the tail fin styling game which was most prominent with other nameplates during the  latter 1950’s. With other GM produced models the story was quite different. General Motors likely produced the largest tail fins during this time with their Cadillac models.

The Pontiac Performance Timeline

From the 1930’s to 1955 Pontiac offered only two flathead engines, the straight six and straight eight. Pontiac was a bit behind other auto brands in transitioning to overhead-valve V-8’s. That was to change by the mid 1950’s.

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The first Star Chief in 1954 offered only a straight eight engine. Six cylinder engines were not available on that model for 1954. Starting in 1955 the flathead straight eight engine would also be gone replaced with a V-8. Many point to the 1955 Pontiac as being the beginning of a serious performance move. 1955 would see Pontiac offering a modern 287 cubic inch overhead-valve V-8. This engine when mated to a Hydra-Matic automatic would be rated at 180 HP. In regards to Pontiac V-8 history, it is a fact that they offered a V-8 in 1932. The Oakland based engine was quite large, very expensive to build and did not sell well. It lasted for that model year only and was dropped.

The Pontiac Division had a new design team in 1956 which included some well known names such as E.M. “Pete” Estes and John Z. Delorian. The main effort by Pontiac  at that time was performance. This performance effort would continue through the 1950’s with more potent engines being offered in 1956 and 1957 and would continue into the 1960’s which saw the birth of the GTO.

1956 Pontiac Star Chief Specifications

The engine offered on the 1956 Pontiac Star Chief was a 317 cubic inch V-8 with two configurations. One with a Carter four barrel carburetor and rated at 216 HP. The other also came with a Carter four barrel carburetor but rated at 227 HP.

Transmissions offered were a three speed manual and a Strato-Flight Hydra-Matic four speed automatic.

Front suspension consists of a double wish-bone with rear semi-elliptic leaf springs and live axle.

pontiac convertible

Dimensions include a 124.9 inch wheelbase, 212.6 inch overall outside length, 75.1 inch width, 59.0 inch height. Curb weight about 3,950 Lbs.

1956 Pontiac Star Chief Convertible production totaled 13,125 vehicles.

Related Auto Museum Online articles include….

1955 Pontiac Star Chief Hardtop

1953 Pontiac Chieftain Convertible

Reference material for this article includes…Big Pontiacs : A Source Book by Thomas Bonsall..Pontiac Classics by the Editors of Consumer Guide..75 Years of Pontiac : The Official History by John Gunnell.

pontiac convertibles

The 1956 Pontiac Star Chief Convertible Collector Car

The 1956 Pontiac Star Chief was an automotive jewel when it arrived and is a jewel of a classic car today. If you can get your hands on an original with matching numbers then you have one of the great classics from the 1950’s.

The 1956 Pontiac’s are noted as being in that generation where engine and performance made great strides. Original unmolested examples with the 317 cubic inch and private  V-8 mated to the four speed automatic are relatively rare today.

Recent auction and private sales results for the 1956 Star Chief Convertible in excellent condition have been in a range of about $49,000 to $70,000.

classic pontiac

(Article and photos copyright Auto Museum Online)