1957 Pontiac Star Chief

An Extraordinary Restoration by a bunch of Classic Folks.

Project Diary – 2009

June 2009
1057 Pontiac Star Chief

Work is currently underway on Diane B’s ’57 Pontiac. If you would like to help, please call Ron O. at 274-3673. He can let you know what’s going on, see what you would like to do and schedule the work together.

The 1957 Pontiac Star Chief is a 4 door hardtop. It has been in California since 1957 when it was purchased new in Sacramento. Larry E. found the ad for it in Cruisin News. Larry, Wayne D. and Diane drove out to Wilton to see it. After striking a deal on Monday, on Saturday, Wayne, Ron O. and Diane went to pick up the car in Wayne’s car trailer.

Bob & Nolie M. offered their garage area to house and start work on the car. So far, the entire interior has been stripped and all the rats and spiders killed, and the front end has been removed as well as most of the exterior trim. Ron used 3 cans of oven cleaner to clean the engine. Work has begun to try and get the engine running. It has run but it needs to run consistently.

Currently, the next plans are for Jake Litchfield, who is soon to be a part of Lane Rollin’s family, to do the soda blasting on the car. There has been a few discussions about painting the car. The decision on the color combo is Fontaine Blue Irridescent for the main body and Kenya Ivory for the top and inserts-stock colors for that year.

July 2009

Currently, the stripping is done and half of the floorboards have been repaired. The fuel tank has been drained and removed but there aren’t any plans yet as to whether it will be fixed or replaced. The engine and transmission have been taken out and are now in Larry E.’s capable hands.

The next step is to have the body soda blasted.

As you look through some of the photos look for the emblem on the front, right windshield. Notice any resemblance to anything?Ron O’s comment: “The more we get into this car, the better it looks.” The guy that the car was purchased from was right on and truthful about the good condition of this car.

For now, work on the car will slow down until after the car show.

Pontiac floor boardsAugust 2009

We’ve gone further into this than we had planned. This has come as close to a full on restoration as we can without taking the body off the frame. Right now ‘she’ doesn’t even resemble a car. Every nut and bolt are out of her. The glass is out. The doors are gone. Even the front tires are off. Now that it’s been soda blasted we’re going to clean ‘her’ up and get ‘her’ primered. The big puzzle will be putting ‘her’ back together.

Soda Blasting was done by Jake Litchfield. All the nooks and crannies that would of been tough to get at by hand are now nice and cleaned out. Great job Jake! The interior roof will still be sand blasted then covered with POR15 to stop any rust.

September 2009

Special tools to remove dents in odd placesIf you want to gain a true appreciation of the end result of a restored car, work, watch and learn what the steps to that restoration are. It is a true combination of mechanics, physics, chemistry and art. “Art’ is a loose word in that it is part sculpture and part aesthetics. It is fun and amazing to watch this group…each having their own specialty…working together with a common goal. It is truly a piece of artwork. Of course right now…it’s down to the skeleton… a shadow of things to come.

The device is called a porto-power and it fixes things from the inside-out. With it, Bob G. and Rod M. took the dent out of the back of the car and the one over the rear wheel well. The porto-power belonged to Bob’s dad who owned a body shop. Bob started working at the shop when he was 12. He got to sweep up. Now that’s starting from the ground up!

The floors are finished with Don F. tack welding the floorpans in place. Most of the bodywork is done, thanks to Rod who is a sculptor with bondo. Rick M., Don D. and Dick S. lent a hand with the sanding. Hey! They even let a girl sand some. It was fun! Also, the radiator has been rebuilt and the gas tank has been boiled and coated inside…like it’s brand new, thanks to Larry E. Now the car is being prepped for primer.

In the next two weeks, it will be primered and POR-15’ed. It was a good month. We got a lot done.

October 2009

Soda blasting the PontiacIt’s sort of like the story of Cinderella. Hey! This is in part from a gal’s perspective. So, continuing on…you know the story…the fairy godmother waves her magic wand and the pumpkin and mice turn into a beautiful carriage. That’s sort of what this is like only you’re able to watch it all in slow 2009 motion. Ok, enough fairy tales. Here’s what’s going on…no mice involved.

After all the rust has been taken care of, Ron O. spent the day painting POR-15 inside the car trunk, floorboards and interior roof. Once painted and dry, the coated metal looked a little like black glass.

With the bodywork pretty much done, Rod M. took on the project of painting on the primer. With the solid grey primer paint coating the body, it was starting to look more like a car again. All the front end parts are also complete too.

The engine is with Larry E’s at C&L Enterprise and he has it taken apart. The next order of business is to start painting and putting the car back together. Now, to just remember the sequence of how things need to go. Hmmm…where is that fairy godmother when you need her.

Thank you to everyone who helped and donated to the Project Yard Sale. After the second yard sale, Don D. took everything that was leftover to the Salvation Army. Animal Save had been tried first but they weren’t accepting donations. Special thanks to Ginny and Duke for allowing us to hold the yard sale at Gin’s Little Valley Auto Care on both weekends.

November 2009

underneath the 57 PontiacThe mechanical parts of a car that you really don’t see or think about too often…well, unless they don’t work…that’s what’s being worked on. The inner workings of the doors – making the windows roll up and down and the doors latch and lock, the fuel tank sending unit, O-ring – all those little things that make the difference between working so-so and like-brand-new.

Now, seeing the underside of the Pontiac being transformed from a 50 year old road warrior with the grit and grime to prove it to a facelift with new floor pans and scrapping that took years of grease and road dirt off. You can actually start to see the new life that’s being breathed into this ol’ gal.

Ron started working on the list of parts that were needed next. He poured through several catalogs and found one company in Santa Ana that sold kits that included all the rubber seals, felting and molding needed at a great price PLUS the guy offered an additional discount! So now, the goodie parts will start arriving the beginning of December.

December 2009

100_0689You’ve got mail…here’s an email that Diane got Thursday, Dec. 10th: “Santa arrived about 7:30 last night and brought 2 big boxes of goodies for a 57 Pontiac. Do you know anybody that could use them? Ron.”

Nothing says ‘lovin” to a gearhead like ‘car parts’. Hearts raced and eyes widen with excitement and joy…just like seeing all the Christmas presents under the tree on Christmas morning.

As we sat in the garage at SOB’s (Bob Madsen’s) and looked at the various parts, it was like that…albeit a bit on the chilly side. Outside of the opened garage door was SOB’s lake that was freezing over. So now, we have all the rubber parts for the car…at a great price too from CPR. (California Pontiac Restoration). It was cheaper than Ron had anticipated.

At the Roamin Angel’s Christmas Party, Wayne & Alzina D., Bob M. and Thane A. presented Diane B. with the new refurbished steering wheel for the Pontiac in Ivory marbling and and a cleaned up, shiny horn ring. Yes, Santa Claus has been here. Merry Christmas Everyone!

Pontiac Project Progress 2010