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1953 pontiac chieftain custom catalina restoration


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i have a pair of nos gold plated indian chief car keys that i bought many years ago, and with them, an old pontiac indian chief key pouch. the nos 1953-57 buick power antenna finally got here, after the seller's friend ship it to the wrong address, and the address is for one of my 1953 pontiac buddies up in munger, mich. lol. the 1954 pontiac dealer item i found and bought on ebay, indian chief on one end and a small horseshoe on the other end of the chain, backside of the indian chief head has engraved "pontiac for '54" i've never seen one before i found this one. charles coker, 1953 pontiac tech advisor.

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  • 2 months later...

i finish working on the power antenna assembly, replacing the six volt casco power antenna motor with a twelve volt casco motor to the nos 53-54 pontiac power antenna mast assembly, the twelve volt motor wouldn't accept the six volt motor type antenna lead storage tube. i looked at copper tubing, but the tubing wall was too thick, the twelve volt motor type storage tube was made from plastic tubing, i couldn't find plastic tubing the right size either, i settled on using gates air brake tubing, i had to trim away the outer black layer at one end so the storage tube mounting flange would fit, re-using also the inner metal sleeve to swag the tubing end that fit inside the antenna motor housing. the air brake tubing is pretty stiff, so i used the old six volt motor aluminum storage tubing with plastic tie straps to shape the air brake tubing to route the antenna lead into storage with the same loop routing like original. at the open end of the tubing, i used a double layer of felt to keep dirt and dust out of the storage tube. i like the three layer air brake tubing over the original single laver plastic tubing.

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  • 7 months later...
post-32395-14314257737_thumb.jpgyesterday i was able to buy the one part in my 1953 pontiac instrument cluster that wasn't already a nos part, i bought a 53-54 pontiac nos speedometer assembly AC part no. 1581326, i installed it this morning into the cluster, replacing a good used one that was there already.

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  • 3 months later...

i removed the original dash chrome face plate, heater control housing, and heater blower switch, and installed all three replacements that are in nos condition. two weeks ago i removed the 1954 pontiac factory a/c blower switch to connect the a/c wire harness, the switch was harder to install with the wire harness hanging on it, lol. tomorrow i should get the original power supply for the radio removed, i have a complete nos 53-54 pontiac chieftain radio set up, before i will install the radio unit, i need to change the dial light bulb, the radio will be operating on six volts with the use of a voltage reducer, but all the lighting on the car will be twelve volts.

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post-32395-143142785061_thumb.jpgi went out today and drilled the two holes for mounting the 53-54 pontiac power antenna switch, between the ashtray and the front speaker. as you can see the new chrome dash face plate and heater/defroster control dial face, i didn't have a mounting template for the location of the power antenna switch, but went by the image shown in the 1953 pontiac showroom album.

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  • 6 months later...

i bought a tire to use with my car's original continental kit, a star rubber company's star deluxe sky ride 760-15 blackwall 4 ply nylon tubeless tire, in nos condition. another poci member had advertise it for sale in the smoke signal, i figured that i didn't need to have a wide whitewall tire hidden in the continental kit. can't believe how good the rubber looks, no dry rot, no cracking. for $50.00 i just couldn't pass it up as i did need a tire.

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  • 4 months later...

post-77712-0-72313000-1443495222_thumb.jpost-77712-0-29091600-1443495337_thumb.jpost-77712-0-71950900-1443495509_thumb.ji bought a rebuilt 1955 vickers power steering pump, that had been mounted on a dolled up 1955 cadillac 331 engine, the pulley, resevior, and mounting brackets are all chrome plated, i have the brackets for sale now in the buy and sell forum, the chrome parts of the pump will sure look good on the strato-streak pontiac 287 engine.

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  • 1 month later...

Just found this thread in the process of searching for information about a '53 Chieftain that I"m considering.

I'm sure I'll have tons of questions if I go through with it.  She purrs like a kitten and needs a little body work. Seller is asking $2k.

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  • 2 years later...

one of the little things that pontiac did exclusively for it's top of the line model for 1953, the chieftain custom catalina, is for the horn button on the deluxe steering wheel to have a different background color behind the chief's head, laurel green instead of the regular reddish color for all other models. it always made me wondered why did pontiac wait untill 1954 to brag about the power steering on the horn button, when the 1953 pontiac was the first year for the option for pontiac. when i bought a nos 1954 pontiac power steering horn button, i asked another pontiac club member if he would repaint it to look like the 1953 chieftain custom catalina's horn button, he did, and you can see how well it turned out. just another one of my changes to the car that looks like pontiac had done it in the first place.

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recently i received an email forward to me from the pontiac club office, it was about two 1953 pontiac chieftain deluxe sedans, that have been sitting outside for about ten years in new jersey, and i am the 1953 pontiac technical advisor for poci. so i contacted the person who emailed the club, his father had passed away four years ago, leaving the cars outside and some parts inside the garage, david and his mother wanted the cars and parts to go to pontiac people who could make use of them and they were asking for help. right away i became interested in the parts in the garage for my own restoration project, i found someone near new jersey who would buy the two sedans and remove them from the property, and david and i came to make a deal for all the parts in the garage. shipping parts from new jersey to missouri was something david wasn't prepared to handle, so he suggested that we meet in columbus, ohio and bring the parts to me there, so i got busy when i was home in between trips (long haul truck driver) in getting things sold to finance the trip and parts purchase, sold a 700R4 trans, two pontiac am/fm radios, and a gear vendors overdrive, i delivered the overdrive to it's new owner in greenfield, indiana on my way to meet david in columbus. the next day david and his wife met me in columbus and we moved the part into my trusty gmc yukon, i made it all the way home that day to home in missouri, almost 700 miles each way, getting home just after midnight. i am thrilled to now have a completely rechromed front bumper assembly with grill and wing guards, the same for the rear bumper assembly, and the completely rechromed radiator grill assembly for my chieftain custom catalina. my wife is thrilled that all this was done without taking money out of our regular monthly budget, big smile. in the last two weeks (besides running a load a freight to california and back) i have sold some of the parts i brought home that duplicate parts i already had, for almost what all the parts cost me. i will always be grateful to david, his wife, and his mother, for letting me have the parts. i may not see light at the end of the tunnel yet, but the tunnel just got a heck of a lot shorter. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 9/28/2015 at 9:58 PM, pontiac1953 said:

post-77712-0-72313000-1443495222_thumb.jpost-77712-0-29091600-1443495337_thumb.jpost-77712-0-71950900-1443495509_thumb.ji bought a rebuilt 1955 vickers power steering pump, that had been mounted on a dolled up 1955 cadillac 331 engine, the pulley, resevior, and mounting brackets are all chrome plated, i have the brackets for sale now in the buy and sell forum, the chrome parts of the pump will sure look good on the strato-streak pontiac 287 engine.

 

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here is a never used brand new B&M hydro-stick slant pan dual range 1955 pontiac hydra-matic transmission, i brought home from a very good and close friend's estate in california several years ago. i had to buy the pontiac green front half bell housing cause 1) the trans didn't have one yet and 2) i didn't want to rob the same housing off of my 1955 pontiac 287 engine that i had sitting in the frame of my 1953 chieftain custom catalina. this B&M hydro-stick is the unblown competition version rated to handle up to 800 horsepower, the stock dual range hydra-matic can handle up to 250 - 275 horsepower, the 1959 pontiac 389 engine waiting to replace the 1955 287 engine will be about 300 horsepower, so the hydro-stick will handle the 389 easily.  i may go ahead and plumb in trans fluid cooler lines for the hydro-stick. 

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4 hours ago, r1lark said:

Is this a full manual valve body that will require manually shifting to move thru each gear (which is what you would want in a drag car), or will it still shift automatically?

hi paul, you can do both, B&M cuts a notch in the gear selector cam so the driver can hold it in first gear and then up shift manually, or select drive left for automatic up shifting according to throttle pressure and car speed.

N neutral

Drive Left 1-2-3-4

Drive Right 1-2-3-------4 at 70mph

Low 2

B&M notch 1

R reverse

Edited by pontiac1953 (see edit history)
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  • 2 months later...

kind of hard to realize that i bought this car 45 years ago when i was 17 in 1973, all i knew about pontiacs then was that in 1946 my armenian grandfather had such a good year with growing grapes and watermelons, that he decided to buy a new 1947 pontiac. i didn't even realize then that the car had 1953 oldsmobile fiesta spinner hubcaps on it. i loved the body being a two door hardtop, the driver's door spotlight, the lighted chief hood ornament, and that continental kit most of all. i was and still am the second owner of the custom catalina. 

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  • 1 month later...
On 10/28/2012 at 4:11 PM, pontiac1953 said:

hi, i went today, and decided to buy a new 9X12 storage shed to clear out the two car garage, so i can have much needed room to work on my 53 custom catalina. i'll be building the shelves inside the shed to store everything needed. i'm glad that i can set the storage shed right next to the side of the garage.

in my project to re-engineer my custom catalina to have a pontiac strato-streak V8, the V8 being quite shorter than the 268 straight eight means the hydra-matic will be in a new position and require a longer drive shaft, with the X cross member in the pontiac frame the drive shaft needs to be a two piece set up. i bought a 1957 cadillac complete drive shaft, even has the carrier bearing still mounted, i will buy a 49 to 56 cadillac hydra-matic cross member and fit it to the rear portion of the pontiac X member to secure and mount the carrier bearing.

 

 

 

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Edited by pontiac1953
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  • 4 weeks later...

Though parts of my Pontiac restoration falls under non original parts category, I love it when I can find original nos parts, like what I'm showing here, nos hydra-matic gear selector lever, nos gear selector rod, and nos lever grommets, all from different sources. Also pictured is a nos hydra-matic throttle pressure lever.

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  • pontiac1953 changed the title to 1953 pontiac chieftain custom catalina restoration
  • 3 weeks later...
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  • 2 weeks later...

with the displacement, torque, and horsepower going upwards due to changing from the 1955 200 horse 287 installed 20+ years ago to the 300+ horse 1959 389 engine, i figure i better follow GM's lead when they changed the olds/pontiac rear end in 1957 to the bullet proof 9.3, the 9.3 that i'm getting is from a 1957 olds 88 sedan, and for only $200.00 removed from the donor car. i'll have to find the speedometer driven gear for the 9.3's 3.42 ratio, my previous plan was to swap out the 53's original ten spline 3.08 rear end for another ten spline from a 54 star chief with the 3.23 ratio, i have driven gears for the 3.08 and 3.23. 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 1/1/2019 at 6:22 PM, pontiac1953 said:

with the displacement, torque, and horsepower going upwards due to changing from the 1955 200 horse 287 installed 20+ years ago to the 300+ horse 1959 389 engine, i figure i better follow GM's lead when they changed the olds/pontiac rear end in 1957 to the bullet proof 9.3, the 9.3 that i'm getting is from a 1957 olds 88 sedan, and for only $200.00 removed from the donor car. i'll have to find the speedometer driven gear for the 9.3's 3.42 ratio, my previous plan was to swap out the 53's original ten spline 3.08 rear end for another ten spline from a 54 star chief with the 3.23 ratio, i have driven gears for the 3.08 and 3.23. 

having thoughts about the choice of rear end assemblies, i've decided to hold off on getting the 9.3 rear end for now, will see how the 53's rear end holds up under normal driving habits when the car gets back on the road.

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  • 3 weeks later...

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