‘57 Star Chief for Pontiac family

Jim Humlong, his father and his brother all owned different 1957 Pontiac vehicles. Eventually, all the Pontiacs were traded in for newer cars — a move now regretted by Jim Humlong.

Decades passed before Humlong saw in a car magazine a well-equipped Star Chief Custom Catalina hardtop advertised for sale. He corresponded with the seller and learned this particular Pontiac had spent time in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Michigan with the majority of the time in California. The time in California explains the rust-free condition of the car.

The odometer showed the Pontiac had been driven about 72,000 miles. It was too good to pass up so Humlong once more became the owner of a Pontiac. The 1957 Star Chief was delivered to his Michigan home on a trailer.

He took great pleasure in driving his car locally for awhile before he decided his Pontiac deserved a thorough restoration. “It was gutted, rewired and stripped,” Humlong says.

He reports that the powerful 389-cubic-inch V-8 engine delivers 315 horsepower to the rear-drive wheels via a four-speed Hydramatic transmission. A four-barrel carburetor draws premium grade gasoline from the 18-gallon fuel tank. Six quarts of oil fill the crankcase and the oil filter. Initially, the car had an oil bath air cleaner but Humlong wanted to keep the engine compartment clean so he now has installed a dry paper air cleaner. Because the Pontiac weighs in excess of 2 tons highway fuel economy is about 18 miles per gallon, according to Humlong.

Including the Continental Kit, the handsome Pontiac stretches close to 19 feet in length. The 8.00×14-inch bias ply tires that were on the car when it left the factory in 1957 have been replaced with radial tires, for improved handling as well as a smoother ride provided by the 124-inch wheelbase, says Humlong.

Access to the trunk is gained by swinging the Continental Kit to the left. In 1957 Star Chief Custom Catalina Hardtop owners expected luxurious touches in their Pontiacs, such as power-assisted brakes and steering along with electric windshield wipers, front door wing vents and an underseat heater. A radio antenna on the right rear fender captures signals for the AM/FM radio.

The Pontiac is equipped with deluxe wire wheel covers, fender skirts and a pair of exterior mirrors. A spotlight is mounted near the left end of the wraparound windshield. Atop each front fender is a translucent ornament that is illuminated when the parking lights are activated.

At the far end of the Continental Kit extension are two ports for the dual exhausts to exit. Inside the spacious cabin a pair of radio speakers are mounted flush with the surface of the package shelf.

The Cordoba Red spear on the sides of the car match the color of the top of the car. That same color scheme is carried into the “Off The Shoulder” leather upholstery pattern. Four stainless strips cross the headliner to give occupants the illusion of being in a convertible.

Each piece of stainless trim on his car, Humlong says, has been polished and all of the chrome brightwork has been replated.

Now that the 10 year restoration process is complete, Humlong reports that when he is at the two-spoke steering wheel of his Pontiac, he enjoys watching the floating spear in the speedometer indicate his speed.

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