By John Quilter
WhiteBox produce a nicely detailed and correctly scaled 1954 Pontiac Chieftain four door sedan. This one with the full length chrome side moulding was known as the Chieftain and was built on the smaller GM body shell also shared with the Chevrolets of that year. GM cleverly were masters at using a central body shell across multiple marques but designed them to take marque specific front clips and rear quarters which were the defining style differences between the brands.
Pontiac in 1954 also built a longer series of cars known as the Star Chief. Front clips were similar across the line but the rear quarters were longer presumably providing a larger boot. These were not replicated in the Chevrolet line. Pontiacs of this era used two rather antiquated but quiet side valve engines, a six cylinder and a eight cylinder with 239 cubic inches displacement and 118 BHP and 268 cubic inches displacement and 127 BHP respectively. The car was designed forward of the firewall to take either engine, the eight being an optional choice across the line. This design was counter to the Chrysler practice in the late 1940 when six and eight cylinder cars had different wheel bases and lengths forward of the windscreen. Morris also used this design feature on the mid 50s Oxford and Isis. This was the last year for Pontiac side valve engines, 1955 being the launch year for their new short stroke modern overhead valve V8. There were no more six cylinder Pontiacs for the rest of the 1950s. Most Pontiacs of the 1950s era came with the well regarded GM Hydromatic four speed automatic thought a column shifted three speed manual was standard. Trivia: a few 1953 Pontiacs were produced with Chevrolet two speed Powerglide transmissions after the disastrous fire at the Hydromatic plant in August 1953.
WhiteBox has chosen the Chieftain for their model which also gives them the option of producing a police version currently available and perhaps later a taxi. There are a number of colour choices out there for the civilian car with a contrasting roof as was typical in this era. Some are even fitted with a front windscreen visor. Since these diecasts are not exceptionally expensive they make a good choice for a modification project. In this case I took an extra one and created a two door sedan from the entry level Chieftain Special series (also sometimes known in car dealer world as a rubber mat special since it would have had a rubber floor covering versus carpet). This entailed removing the chrome side moulding except for a shortened rear wing gravel guard, painting the wheels to show only the smaller hubcaps, turning the tires whitewall in, sawing off the fender skirt, or spat if you choose. A Chieftain Special front fender emblem, unique to this range, had to be created using some silver coloured pins and wire. One challenge in this conversion was preserving the “Silver Streaks” on the bonnet and boot that were Pontiac trademarks in the 50s. The very minute mouldings were not compatible with later bare metal foiling given their small size so a method of polishing off the new white paint was used. The interior became a two tone grey colour as per a factory brochure from the period on this website http://www.lov2xlr8.no/pontiac.html. Interestingly, White Box effect the contrasting roof colour with a plastic cover held in place with four pegs. A few extra colour details were added to the fascia and steering wheel and a single chrome moulding was created in bare metal foil along the belt line.
Editor. WhiteBox models are based upon mouldings already used for part works and seem to generally be sourced from PCT Industries owner of the Ixo brand. An Altaya model of the 1954 Chieftain in Havana Taxi livery looks at first sight to use the same casting, as does the blue and white DeAgostini Cuban Police Car sold in the Russian language Police Cars part work. White Box also sell a 1954 Pontiac Police Car in the traditional black and white of the California Highway Patrol.
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