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1950 Pontiac Chieftain Streamliner Rust Concerns


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Greetings - 

Still a new guy here and still on the hunt.


I am considering a 1950 Pontiac Chieftain Streamliner and I have a few concerns regarding rust. This car is far from perfect and has some surface rust throughout, but there are a few spots near the doors and skirts that worry me. I have attached a few pictures here and would love to hear from you guys on how big of an issue this could be. If I buy this car I would like to keep it as original as possible, but I obviously don’t want it to rust out. 

Any insight would be greatly appreciated




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One thing about rust is that once you start digging into it the more you're going to find.

I would get under the car and check the rocker panels. Really look at them carefully.

Also, check the floors, trunk (spare tire well,too), the bottom of the doors, etc.

From what I see in the pics it looks like the more you look the more rust you are going to find.

As far as you stating that you don't want the car to rust out I think you are beyond that point already.

That said, anything can be repaired as long as you are willing to spend the time and money to do so.

I think you might want to keep looking.

Good luck with your search


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Heed Joe's good advice.  The 1949-'52 Pontiacs are all essentially the same series of cars with minor trim changes per model year.  Best part is they built over one million cars over those four years and they still have a reasonably high survival rate.  With some patience and looking, its possible to find a very good, functional, usable example for reasonable money without going through much of any restoration.  They are truly an example of buying the best one you can find for the price.   As long as you can live with a four door sedan, the pickings are very good.  Good luck in your search.

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Depends where you are. If you live in California or Colorado you can find rust free cars. In the northeast, not so many. Rust repair and repainting are expensive, best avoided if possible. But if it is the best you can find you might consult a local body man as to how much it will cost to fix, and see that is reflected in the price.

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1 hour ago, RoadZombie71 said:

Thank you very much. I really appreciate it

Here is an example that was offered for sale during July 2020:

No guarantee another such bargain will turn up when you expect it but they do occasionally.   One can pay for shipping of a good car far less than the costs of body work, paint and especially chrome!  Good luck in your search.

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I can't tell much from those pictures. If that is all of it, it probably isn't bad at all. On the other hand, if it is coming from the inside it could be really bad.


As others have mentioned, buy the best car you can afford. I would modify that to say buy almost the best car you can afford. Any work that is already done (and done correctly) to the car is going to cost you MUCH less than even the materials to do it yourself. It has been true for years now, and with the values of old cars dropping, it is not likely to change.


I say buy almost the best car, because if you intend to use it right away, you will find that they ALL need work, and the shiny perfect looking ones aren't much better than running driving stopping "projects". Money will need to be spent right away, so don't spend every last dime buying the car, even though that would be a better "deal" in the long run. You will probably be thinking as you are driving home about what modern conveniences you can't quite live without, or what accessories on the car aren't working quite right, and be thinking about buying "A", "B", or "C". I do this. Everybody does. Don't get in a hurry because sooner than later the car will be screaming for money for "D" and "E" and "F" instead.


All old cars that are for sale need work. Shiny ones too. It takes time and money and DRIVING to make them reliable, and driving them might mess up the pretty paint and upholstery, so you can probably imagine where this is leading. The money spent making a car reliable does not show, and does not have much affect on the value, so it rarely gets done. The ones that are completely sorted out are not for sale, because it took a bunch of money and time to get the car to that point. There is one potential way around this. Join a club for the marque, be active, and let everyone know what you would like to have.


So, lets say you want a 1940 McBlatt 3 door sedan. You join the McBlatt club, and get to know which cars are completing tours with no trouble and what they all look like. Maybe, after a while some member who has several cars decides to downsize due to age. Maybe he/she has arthritis and doesn't want to push the clutch anymore, or god forbid maybe he/she passes away. Everyone in the club knows you are looking for 1940 McBlatt 3 door sedan, so maybe you get first shot before it gets advertised. If not someone else in the club will probably buy it.


This is literally the only way to buy a fully sorted reliable old car. Otherwise, make sure you have some money left over to fix things.


The clubs for Pontiacs like this are Early Times Chapter http://www.earlytimeschapter.org/ , for all flathead Pontiacs and Oaklands (through 1954), and Oakland Pontiac Worldwide, for all flathead Pontiacs and Oaklands plus early OHV V8s through 1958. https://www.oaklandpontiacworldwide.com/


I envy the talents of people out in the rust belt states, like Minnesota, who can fix unbelieveably bad rust. I am constantly trying to acquire skills like that. I am, after all, the master of hopeless causes. That said, they are fixing things that no one would bother with out here in Washinton state. I mean... structural frame rust? Really? Body mounts gone? Washington didn't use corrosive substances on the roads at all until fairly recent times. As far as I know we still don't use rock salt. Washington cars typically have rust where dirt piled up and kept the inside of a panel damp. I've never seen anyone replace a frame because of rust. I understand cars from the deserts of Arizona and California are better than ours. So, while there are people in the midwest and east who can repair really rusty things, it takes time and talent and it does not come quick or cheap. If the car has serious rust, in my opinion you would be money FAR ahead to get a better car that came from the PNW or the SW. It's cheaper, even if you have to include shipping to some other region. Easier too.


I hope the streamliner works out for you!



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