Initially used to describe rare and valuable classic cars found in derelict condition, the term “barn find” is now more loosely applied to all sorts of vehicles that sat for as little as ten years. It’s not necessarily wrong, but it dilutes the whole thing. Because let’s face it, a 1955 Chevrolet Tri-Five is no match for a 1931 Duesenberg Model J in terms of rarity and value.
On the flip side, every single classic car that spent decades in a barn, shed, or carport is entitled to be part of this category, regardless of whether it’s a 1950s Ferrari or an AMC Gremlin. At the same time, not all barn finds that seem mundane at first glance are, in fact, common and worthless. The 1957 Pontiac Star Chief you see here is the perfect proof.
Initially introduced in 1954, the Star Chief arrived as a pricier version of the Chieftain. Slotted right below the Catalina, it used the same A-body platform as the Chieftain but sported a longer wheelbase for enhanced comfort. The second-gen version (1955-1957) was Pontiac’s take on the Tri-Five-based Chevrolet Bel Air (but limited to V8 power).
The Star Chief was nowhere near as popular as the Bel Air. In 1955, for instance, Chevrolet delivered more than 800,000 Bel Airs (all body styles), whereas Pontiac sold only 203,404 Star Chiefs. The gap remained similar through 1957 when both nameplates were redesigned. But that’s not to say that the second-gen Star Chief is a rare classic.
Sure, many of them did not make it into 2023, having been abandoned in junkyards or sent to the crusher, but 433,941 units is a lot of cars for three model years. That’s how many Star Chiefs were built from 1955 to 1957. The four-door sedan you see here is one of 103,212 examples sold in 1957, which is also a lot. But here’s the catch: this Star Chief is of the Custom Sedan variety, a body style that’s much rarer than two- and four-door Hardtop models.
While the four-door Hardtop was the most popular iteration at 44,283 units made, the Custom Sedan didn’t draw as many customers into showrooms. This body style moved only 8,874 units, which is less than nine percent of total Staf Chief production in 1957. Sure, it’s nowhere near as rare as the Bonneville Convertible, built in 630 units, but you’d have to be very lucky to see a four-door post car in the metal nowadays.
And that’s not the only spectacular thing about this 1957 Star Chief. You’re also looking at an all-original survivor put back on the road after several decades in storage. Specifically, this Poncho was parked in a barn sometime in the 1970s and spent about 50 years on cement blocks and covered in dirt. And yes, it’s a low mileage example, too, with the odo showing only 16,478 miles (26,519 km) as of this writing.
And check out that gorgeous shade of green, the kind you don’t see on American production cars nowadays. It’s called Limefire Green Metallic, and it was exclusive to the 1957 model year. Making things even better, the interior is the same color, including white accents matching the roof and the side trim.
The owner shares that he spent a couple of years putting it together again. But while he had to fetch a few replacement parts, he had only one rust hole to sort out. And that’s mighty surprising for a car that sat for 50 years in Indiana.
The Poncho isn’t 100% complete just yet. The rear bumper is still missing, but that’s part of a puzzle that makes this Star Chief even rarer than the average four-door sedan. That’s because the original owner specced the hauler with a continental kit. If you’re unfamiliar with this feature, it’s an extended rear bumper with a spare tire to provide extra room in the trunk. There’s no information on how many Star Chiefs were ordered with continental kits, but we’re probably talking about fewer than 500 cars for the 1957 model year.
Add in the fact that the original 347-cubic-inch (5.7-liter) V8 is still under the hood, and you’re looking at a fine piece of Pontiac history. One that’s highly original and an authentic barn find. Check it out in the video below.