Despite it being a recession year, Raymond Peters loaded his Chieftain convertible with fa
Since its birthday on February 13, 1958, this Chieftain has been a very special vehicle. For over 50 years, it has been part of the Peters' family. Back in 1993, Mel acquired-as he puts it-WIFE2 (as his license plate states) from his ailing brother Raymond in Indiana who could no longer care for her properly. Seventeen years, countless cans of WD-40, and about $28,000 later, Mel has this beautiful and relatively rare piece of Pontiac history.
Production numbers tell us there were 7,359 Chieftain convertibles produced for '58. Included in that number were a vast quantity of dealer-stock, low-option, and traditional-color cars. This Chief, however, was ordered with all the goodies of the day, including the top performance engine in the Chieftain line. As the original paperwork indicates, rarely-seen-for-the-time bells and whistles-such as power brakes, rear defroster, power top, courtesy lamp group, and automatic AM radio-rounded out the package. As Mel puts it, "The Chief is optioned as any Cadillac of the day."
The '58 Chieftain model was the third generation of the breed, and the last year it was produced before being replaced by the Catalina nameplate. Advantages of owning the '58 model over the '57 were many, but perhaps the greatest was the engine offering. The strongest engine for a Chieftain up to that time-a 300hp 370 Tri-Power-was available to the discerning buyer.
Here's the dealer catalog page from back in the day. Note the pink and gray Chieftain conv
Of course, the standout attention-getter for this Chief is the color scheme. It's been reproduced via an original dealership display palette, which featured the paint chip samples from PMD for '58, that Mel was able to obtain from a POCI member. The color is Reef Shell Pink with Ascot Grey coves. It is a muted pink that is truly stunning. The paint and bodywork were completed by Lacey Collision in Forked River, New Jersey, using modern Deltron Acrylic Urethane.
The Chief's powerplant was rebuilt and bored 0.30 over; the current compression ratio is 10.1:1. This Strato-Streak V-8 is now estimated to be in the 320hp range. Mel tells us, "Originality was the key throughout the restoration process," and as part and parcel to that end, he retained the stock cast crank and forged rods, and employed N.O.S. main and rod bearings.
Atop the block sits the original, rebuilt factory Rochester two-barrel carbs and intake manifold. A set of 2.25-inch pipes connect the stock exhaust manifolds to a set of Flowmaster muffers for a more throaty sound. The original Hydramatic four-speed automatic trans was rebuilt and the rear features 3.08 gears.
Any Ponti-addict can clearly see the beginnings of PMD's performance cues in the Chief, but that is of no concern to Mel. His favorite aspect is the way it rides. "It is like taking my living room on the road with me," he says. "It is really that smooth." As part of the undercarriage restoration, Mel ordered heavy-duty Soft Coil springs and updated the rubber to 225/75R14 radials. He claims those changes have made all the difference. As for performance, the "Chief gets up and moves perfectly at 70 mph on the Garden State Parkway," and that is all Mel needs.
Since 1958, the Chief has logged less than 2,000 miles per year and less than 8,000 miles since its restoration. The process was very time-consuming over the years, prompting Mel's wife to refer to the Chief as wife number two. Mel liked the idea and the vanity plate was available, so he did not hesitate. [Editor's note: The vanity plate is hidden under the HPP plate shown in the photo.]
Today Mel and the Chief enjoy retired life at the Jersey Shore, where they have made quite a splash. He has driven her in several parades and won several shows, including Second Place at the 7th Annual Pontiac Fall Nationals in Atco, New Jersey. As Mel puts it, "I am very fortunate to be married for a very long time to a great lady, and I spend time with my other love and I don't even get in any trouble for it!" Not a bad life.
This '58 Chieftain convertible has remained in the same family for over 50 years. It was o
Boasting 370 cubes for '58, this Chieftain powerplant also features Tri-Power carburetion
The code 219-8 Pink and Gray Seville-finish Morrokide interior was meticulously restored b