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56 Pontiac Star Chief


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#1 Guest_snapper_*

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 10:24 AM

I'm still in the planning stages with this short track build, but I have a Johan 4dr hardtop that I want to convert to a 2 dr. I had a few questions I would like to ask of anyone that might know. This will be a tribute build with a little twist. Thank you for any help you might be able to give me here, Colby

-Chassis marry? I have been told that any tri-five convertible would be acceptable because of the x-frame? Is this correct? I would also like any opinions on engines.

-4dr to 2 dr ? - This must be a two door, and other than seal in the back door seam lines and possibly extend the front door seam, what else would I need to consider? I can't find that there were any window posts in either model with this particular model year.

-I don't have any short track reference pics of a Pontiac Starchief. If anyone has any they would be willing to share, I would greatly appreciate it. I have colors, numbers, and body ideas already, but I would like to see any possible reference pics for the interior and other exterior detail considerations.

#2 MrObsessive

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 03:16 PM

I don't know much about short track cars, but I can tell you that the '55-'57 Pontiacs shared the chassis pretty much with the Chevys in those years. You'd have to lengthen the chassis a bit for the Pontiac, as their wheelbases were always a bit longer than its Chevy cousins

As far as rooflines, those were also shared with Chevy as they were both "B" body based. IIRC, most short track cars were post sedans, so any of the AMT '55 Bel Air 2 dr sedans should work-------or Revell's nice '56 or '57 Chevy 2 dr sedans should also work with some tweaking. The Starchief you want to model did come as a 2 dr. post sedan.

Engines? I'm a little lost there as I can't think of any kit at the moment that would have a correct '56 Pontiac engine. I guess one could use the '55 Chevy 265 as a base-------but I'm sure there are those more knowledgeable than me on this one. :lol:

Hope this helps!


#3 Guest_snapper_*

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 04:23 PM

Thank you Mr. Obsessive - Some told me on another forum that the x chassis didn't arrive until '58, and this fits right along with what you mention too. This is also good news for me, because I think I can piece this together. I think I can make the engine work with some parts I have too, but the body will be the biggest challenge here. I'm still a little unsure on the post, but the tribute car I'm making this after didn't have a post, so I don't think I will ad one. I have never lengthened a chassis either, so I'll have to study up on how to do that. This will be a chance for me to learn something new. This won't be an exact match to the 1:1, but I think it will come out o.k. Thanks again for the help, Colby

#4 Chas SCR

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 08:19 PM

Not sure on when Chevy did start with there x frame's for there convertible's but Pontiac had an x frame since 46. For the motor if you are putting in a straight 8 there is one in resin, if you go to the 6 you can start with the motor out of the Galixie 48 Chevy kit and just cut the bell housing off and turn the block around and build it like that as every thing is on the other side from a chevy.

#5 MrObsessive

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Posted 16 February 2010 - 11:30 PM

I believe by '56 the straight eight was no longer in use. It was V8's only. I could be wrong though. ;)

I thought the X frame was intro'd in '58...............gotta do some checking........


#6 Art Anderson

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Posted 21 February 2010 - 06:14 AM

For starters, Pontiac, from their introduction of the Straight 8 in the early 1930's used a chassis that was 6" longer in wheelbase than their Chevrolet cousins, through the 1957 model year. From 1953 through 1957, the extra wheelbase was split between front and rear on the top of the line cars, something like 4" in front, 2" in the rear (which moved the rear wheel arches back by that much, compared to the same body used on a Chevrolet. The extra length was needed in order to accommodate the longer, straight 8 engine, which went out of production at the end of the 1954 model run, although Pontiac retained the longer front clip for proportions--that said PONTIAC back then.

As station wagons were only a minor part of Pontiac's lineup in the 50's, they used exactly the same body shells, albeit trimmed, and using some unique sheetmetal, to differentiate them from Chevrolets which used exactly the same body shell, so they had a slightly shorter wheelbase than did the upper line Star Chief hardtops and convertibles.

As for X-members, nearly everyone building convertibles (and hardtops, which originated as convertible body structures but having a steel roof welded on) used an X member to provide extra stiffness and torsional rigidity, which compensated for the lack of body strength in a topless car. Some carmakers used X-members under all their cars well into the 1950's, most notably Buick. long after Ford (for example) went to straight ladder-style frames.

GM's so-called X frame, having that heavy, very rigid center box-section, and no side rails, debuted in 1957 at Cadillac, and spread across the company's divisions for 1958. Even after Buick and Oldsmobile began adding side rails, and then going to ladder frames once more in the early 60's, Chevrolet and Cadillac carried on with the X frame through the 1964 model year, Cadillac's low-volume Series 75 Sedan Limousine retaining them for another year or two after that.

All this said, your best bet for a realistic looking frame for a '56 Pontiac Star Chief would be a stretched Tri-Five Chevy frame and floorboards. It will have the "look" whether or not it is completely accurate. The body of that '56 Star Chief is an A Body, but looks as big as the B Bodied cars from Olds and Buick, simply because of its longer trunk (incidently, the trunks on those 50's cars were not considered to be a part of the basic body structure, that ended at the base of the rear window--the trunk merely being a sheet metal extension out back), so the roof from any '55-'57 hardtop should do the job, just fine--in the 1:1 world, it was the same stamping and structure as a Chevrolet.

Hope this helps!

Art