December 3, 2021

Classic cars: The Pontiac Chieftain

The Pontiac Chieftain isn't what comes to mind when one mentions classic cars, but my Daddy had a 1955 Chieftain so it's on my list. In 1955, the Chieftain came equipped with a 316 cubic inch engine that made over 200 horsepower, and I know because he told me so, my Dad thought it was hot shit. I do wonder what he'd think about the over 700 horsepower Challenger Hellcat. By today's standards, the Chieftain isn't an attractive, sexy car but in 1955? It must have been.

Earlier today, I opened up a browser to check the headlines and found a Lifestyle article about a Chieftain someone bought and then repainted. (The horror of it!) Someone painted their car purple? Someone didn't like that old patina? I would have painted it back to the original color because what's left of that green is original. Dad's was a robin's egg blue, sort of turquoise-ish. I still have the vanity mirror from the old Chieftain, safe and secure in my box of treasures.

The article was basically a bit of fluff, but it made me smile and remember a different time. Back in the day, it wasn't unusual for a little kid to sit on their father's lap and "drive" the car. In that manner, the first car I ever drove was the Chieftain. Looking back with older eyes, all I see is my Dad's indulgence of his little girl. I wonder how many fathers today find empty rural roads and lift their kid over onto their lap so they can drive? Very few.

I think it was more difficult for my father to watch me learn to drive without his hands being there to keep me out of the ditches than it was to help me "steer." I think the only thing that tempered his anxiety was he raised a good driver and he saw that. 

There are precious few photos of the old Chieftain, and most of those are in black and white. It was my Dad's first brand-new car, but not the last. His last, and we couldn't know it would be his last when he bought it, was a 1973 Chevy Cheyenne, the forerunner of the Silverado, which debuted in 1975. Oh, he did grouse about not waiting! 

That's the thing about car lovers that a lot of folks miss. An article about an old car brings back so many lovely memories. And memories about my Dad, who died when I was twenty-six, are so very, very precious. In my life, there are only four people left who knew my father - one uncle and three cousins. My mother, afflicted with Alzheimer's, doesn't remember him, which is heart-wrenching. 

So, yeah. Pontiac Chieftain. Love ya, Daddy. 

The Lady of Holly Tree Manor (The Hideaway)

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