America is a car culture. It was raised on the road, whether on family road trips to see relatives or through commerce that shuttled from city to city on trucks. The Car of the Week takes a look at one of those vehicles as a way to not only look back at automotive changes but the history that created them.
Published in the Tacoma Weekly
Most Chevrolet and Pontiac models received major facelifts in 1953, but the station wagons managed to keep their basic shape and taller designs to give them more cargo and passenger space. That would change the following year, when Pontiac offered several new options such as power steering and brakes and power windows. Air conditioning could also be installed, even though the “extra” came at 20 percent premium to the final price.
The Pontiacs were built for comfort and reliability, not speed or performance, after all. So the addition was popular for buyers seeking a “family car” by eyeballing the Star Chief, Chieftain Deluxe and Chieftain Special. The Chieftain Deluxe station wagon was the top of the line for the year. The wagon weighed 3,716 pounds and sold for $2,579.
The car in the LeMay collection was owned by Jack Keudell, the owner of a Pontiac dealership in St. Helens, Ore. 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 needed 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 customer of the dealership.
The eight-cylinder car came back in 1969, after 72,000 miles passed through its grill, when the owner wanted something with power steering. Keudell made a trade and gave the car to his son, who drove his family in the car as his father did during his childhood. It later went into storage. It was later restored and donated in Keudell’s memory. It has 84,700 miles on the odometer. In the summer of 1969 Mrs. Holmes and her son returned to the dealership because she was 70 and needed a car with power steering.
The car had 72,000 miles. Jack gave the 122-horsepower car to his son, David Keudell of Vancouver, Wash. 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.