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The Story

The story about my 1958 Pontiac began in the summer of 2000, when I replied to an ad in Hemmings for a 1958 Chieftain 2-door post. I had already purchased a 2 door post car for $50 at a junk yard going out of business sale. This car was pretty rough, and this one was much better. Also, my budget told me I couldn’t afford a Bonneville or Star Chief 2 door hardtop so a 2 door post car kinda grew on me because it was something different!

The car was in Tulsa, Oklahoma, having been sold new in Southern California. The owner sent me a 20-minute video of the car which I viewed and decided to purchase sight unseen. I had a fellow in the neighborhood who at the time was going cross country picking up collector cars. I had him go and pick it up for a price we agreed upon. When the car was delivered it was pretty much as the video showed, better in some areas and worse in other areas, and it didn’t run well either, but I had my dream ‘58!

After some searching for a reputable restorer I went with Mark Masteller of Turtle Lake Restorations in Alexandria, Minnesota. I told him I wasn’t a wealthy man, so we would have to proceed along as money was available. He agreed, and said I could help as much as I wanted! So that’s why the restoration took 14 years! I went to my first show the end of June 2014 in Alexandria. There were 200+ cars where I got “BEST GM”. That one really means the most to me!

When I started the restoration process, I didn’t know the first thing about it. I learned as I went! Mark taught me many, many things along the way. The longer we went along, the more in depth I went, knowing what I wanted. In the end, this is a total frame off restoration with every nut and bolt in my hand at one time or another.

Russ Sowers of Sower Power rebuilt the engine. It was bored 30 over, broke in on a dyno with 318 hp and 330.8 of torque at 4,400 rpm. I decided I wanted something different so it has Tri-Power! The frame and the A-arms were sent to Douglas Machine of Alexandria and powder coated. This gave it a really excellent finish. The rear end was rebuilt by B & J Auto of Alexandria. I got some 1958 Pontiac paint chips and decided on the colors of Mallard Turquoise metallic and Patina Ivory which are ‘58 Bonneville colors. After Mark painted three different samples over three years, the last one really looked stunning! The color combination is what people comment about the most, along with the quality of work. SMS Auto Fabrics of Oregon was contacted about vintage vinyls of which they had colors to match the paint. Weber’s Upholstery of Alexandria and Preauser’s Upholstery of Avon were chosen to do the custom interior and trunk. The interior and trunk are not stock to the Chieftain Series, but I did it as I wanted. The door panel trim and pattern are from a Star Chief parts car along with some other trim pieces from a friend from Inver Grove Heights. Bumpers and all pot metal were sent out to be redone, all the stainless trim straightened and polished (three parts cars donated). A parts car found sitting in the woods from 1978 (Star Chief 4 dr. Ht. with leather interior) donated many parts! Wonder Bar radio, Kleenix dispenser, day/night mirror, power antenna, reel-out trunk light, polished aluminum behind the dash, clock, extra stainless trim on drip rails, window and around the roof. New tinted glass from Auto City Classics of Isanti was installed. The wheels are Crager’s 390 Street Pros with 3-bar spinners (which everyone says are just right!). BF Goodrich white letter radials in P245/60R15 size provide the ride.

The car was in pretty good condition. There were 2 small rust holes on each front fender, some pin holes in the trunk floor and the spare tire boot. All 4 floor mats were replaced, and the bottom trunk lip of which all ‘58 are usually bad. It was replaced with a repo from Ames Performance. The rocker panels were good. The rest of the car is all original with no body panels replaced. When it came time to do the body work, because the body panels were straight and solid, only a thin application of body filler was applied where needed,  and sanded smooth with 80-220-400 grade paper. Four layers of K38 primer were applied and wet sanded using 80- 220-400 paper, five coats of base coat paint, 5 coats of PPG clear then sanded with 600-800-1500 grade paper and finally buffed! The end result was stunning to say the least with an outstanding, ultra smooth finish with excellent depth of color and superior shine. The sanding of the primer other than the outside of the body I did myself with many nights where you didn’t have any finger nails left and nothing

but sore fingers! There are so many areas big and small that one never realizes until you did them. My radiator support took 2 days and I had to do it twice! Some of the fun and frustration were the hunt for parts. If asked about doing it over again, I don’t think I would change anything. It turned out the way I wanted and even better, “One Drop Dead 58”.  

Charles Ruckheim


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