In 1949, the A-body General Motors cars (Chevrolet and Pontiac, plus the Oldsmobile 76 and 88) were restyled, including new all-steel station wagons. (Oldsmobile stopped making wagons after 1950). In 1953, Chevrolet and Pontiac each received a major facelift, but, from the cowl on back, their station wagons kept the same shape and dimensions as their 1949-1952 predecessors. They continued to be taller than the sedans, giving them more cargo and passenger space.
In 1954, each General Motors division had its own engines. Chevrolet had a 235.5 cid I6; Pontiac a 239.2 cid I6 plus GM’s only remaining in-line eight, with 268.4 cid. The others were all overhead-valve high-compression V8’s: Oldsmobile’s at 324 cid, Buick’s at 264 and 322 cid, and Cadillac’s at 331 cid.
For 1954, Pontiac offered several new options: dual-range Hydramatic, power steering and brakes, plus power windows and front seat. Although it increased the car’s price by over 20%, for the first time in this price range, air conditioning could be installed on the 8-cylinder cars.
Known for solid reliability and quiet comfort, not performance, 1954 Pontiacs were available in three series: the 124” wheelbase 214”-long Star Chief (4-door sedan, 2-door Catalina hardtop and convertible; most of the extra length was in the rear deck) plus the 122” wheelbase, 204”-long Chieftain Deluxe and semi-stripped Chieftain Special. The latter were available as two- and four-door sedans plus station wagons. There was also a Chieftain Deluxe hardtop.
This car is a Chieftain Deluxe station wagon; when new, it weighed 3,716 lbs; prices started at $2,579. The original owner was Jack Keudell, a Pontiac dealer in St. Helens, Oregon from 1937 until his death in 1970. He started as a partner and became the sole owner in 1946. In 1954 his wife Muriel convinced him that she should have a station wagon to transport their three sons. The family drove it to Yellowstone and Glacier Park on vacations. It was their family car until it was sold to a Mrs. Holmes of Clatskanie Oregon.
In the summer of 1969 Mrs. Holmes and her son returned to the dealership since "Mom is 70 and needs a car with power steering". The car had 72,000 miles. Jack gave the car to his son, David Keudell of Vancouver, Washington. After some cleaning and repairs, David used it as a family car until it was stored in 1972 with about 84,000 miles. In 2004, at 84,700 miles, David donated this car to the museum as a tribute to his late father.
• Standard Catalog of American Cars (1946-1975) p 585 • Encyclopedia of American Cars P. 79, 131, 188, 657, and 776 • “Cars of the Fabulous 50’s” (1995 edition), p. 203 • LeMay Museum Donor records • http://tocmp.com/ 1954 Pontiac Brochure, pp 2-5