STAR STRUCK BY A STAR CHIEF
Article by Bob Wicker and Owner Ken Davis Photos by Bob Wicker
It always warms my heart to see someone driving their old Pontiac. I met Ken Davis while he was driving his 1957 Star Chief two door hardtop at the 2010 Pontiac Southern Nationals in Mesquite, Texas. He had just driven it from his home in Itasca, Texas, despite the empty space in the the two car hauler that his son, Harley, was pulling. He drove it to dinner after the show on Saturday and home after the races on Sunday, as well. As Harley put it, "Dad always insists on driving the 57". I decided I liked Ken and his fine Pontiac right away.
Pontiac was having quite a bit of sales success with their 1957 line up. When the model year was over they had sold over 330 thousand units. Of those, 32,862 were Star Chief two door hardtops.
1957 Star Chief Sales Brochure
1957 Magazine Ads
The strong sales were understandable considering the car's great styling and outstanding performance. The new 347 cubic inch V8 was available with a two bbl carb, a four bbl carb, tri power or fuel injection.
Ken's 57 is equipped with the 347 four barrel, power steering. power brakes, deluxe radio, lamp group (glove box, reel out trunk light), Sepra-phonic dual rear speakers, lighted front fender ornaments, day-nite inside mirror, visor vanity mirror, door-mounted outside rear view mirror, underseat heater-defroster, and soft-ray glass.
Ken shares this history of his love for Pontiacs, and his 57 Star Chief in particular:
My interest in Pontiacs began when I was 6 years old and a fellow in our hometown bought a new 1948 Pontiac Stream line slope back Torpedo style and took me for a ride. I was hooked from that time on.
My Dad also purchased a 1948 Pontiac of the same description the next year so my love affair was in full bloom!
While I was in college, I purchased a 1957 Star Chief 2 door hardtop for my going to school car. It was a beautiful Silver Beige and Kenya White car with the leather seats and 347 cubic inch 4 bbl equipped, automatic transmission car. This was in 1959, so it was 2 years old when I bought it, but I was still as proud as I could be of it.
I added spinner hubcaps and fender skirts as soon as I could and also was learning how to control all that power that it had. I thought it was about the fastest thing on 4 wheels (but soon learned it wasn't) getting beat in a drag race with another 57 Pontiac Chieftan. I had to learn to take off without lighting up the right rear tire in order to be faster. The next time at the drags, September 4, 1959, I won my class defeating a 1958 Chevy Impala with the 348 cubic inch tri-power/powerglide combination. Talk about being in hog heaven, I was there!!
I continued driving the car and shining it up until it really looked good. In January 1962, while parked on the street at Baylor University where I was attending class, a man spotted it and asked if I would sell it. He wanted it for his daughter. The Tri-Power 4 speed stick Pontiacs were the rage at that time and I thought I had to have one, so I sold it to him for the same price I had paid for it 3 years earlier. $1,250. Don't we wish we could by one for that now!
Fast forward 28 years and I wanted to find another Silver Beige '57 Star Chief like I used to have. Some 14 years, later, my son, searching on ebay, found one in Chicago in excellent condition for sale. One of my Pontiac friends, Larry Zidek, lived about 14 miles or so from where this car was and went to look at it to give me a yes or no on it's condition. It was a very positive yes, so I made the deal with the owner and went to pick the car up. It was everything I hoped for, plus!
We were very proud of it from the word go and all I had to add to it were the fender skirts. It already had spinner hubcaps. We drove it to "Crusin' the Coast" in Biloxi , MS a few weeks after we got it and thoroughly enjoyed the trip, averaging 17.5 MPG and getting a lot of thumbs up from other motorists. We have now made that trip twice in the car and it is truly a pleasure to drive. Sure brings back the "good ol' days" of motoring in a real car - make that automobile!
The car's unusual color makes it a conversation piece where ever we go. Different light makes it look silver or beige(very light beige), or in certain light, it has somewhat of a green tint. This was a one year only color. The '58 Pontiacs were a true silver. We have entered it in several shows and won some trophies with it but most of all, the people admire the lines, the chrome and the color of the car. It is one of my favorite Pontiacs if not my most favorite. It is very quick in the stoplight grand prix, cruises effortlessly at highway speeds and gets good gas mileage to boot. Quite a combination for a big car.
As I mentioned earlier, I won my first drag racing trophy in the original silver beige car which made it very special in my racing history. My 60 Ventura, Tri-Power 4 speed car was my most successful racer. I still own it and race it, so longevity has made it a favorite as well.
Without a doubt, Ken will continue to drive, show and be star struck by his Star Chief. Who can blame him?
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