After just one year with the revamped Star Chief body of 1958, Pontiac again revised the line. Like all 1959 models, the basic design language of the Tri-Five years was gone, replaced by a trimmer, flatter design. The Super Chief mid-level line was discontinued, and the top level Bonneville line was expanded. The Custom Star Chief now became Pontiac’s middle trim level, using basic engines and body styles.
The 1959 Pontiac Custom Star Chief was available as a four-door sedan, four-door Vista hardtop, or a two-door Sport Sedan. In all, 68,815 Star Chiefs were built in 1959, and all but about 300 were delivered with four-speed Hydra-Matic Strato-Flight automatic transmissions. The basic engine was 389 cid and delivered 245 hp with the manual or 285 hp with the automatic. Limited-slip differentials were available.
Engine options were many in this year, including a fuel-efficient model at 215 hp, the Bonneville at 300 hp (or 260 with the manual transmission), and the Tri-Power package at 315 hp. There was also a special NASCAR-certified engine block package available with the four-barrel Bonneville carburetor at 330 hp and with Tri-Power at 345 hp.
For 1960, a total of 43,691 Star Chiefs were built in 1960, with more than half configured as four-door sedans. Two-door sport sedans were rarest, with just 5,797 made. Horsepower dropped to 215 for manual transmissions, but only 166 of those were built. Horsepower was 283 from the standard 389 cid engine in the Star Chief line.
Once again the Bonneville engine at 303 hp was an option, along with the Tri-Power and the NASCAR-certified blocks with Bonneville or Tri-Power induction, cylinder heads, and camshafts, good for 348 hp. Four-speed floor-mounted manual transmissions were not a production option, but could be ordered. Most cars so equipped were sold to NASCAR racing teams. The special fuel economy engine was also available at 215 hp with the automatic transmission.
Collectors in this era will want to seek out high horsepower models, and a factory-installed four-speed manual transmission in a street car would be a rare find. Far more common was the Bonneville engine option or even the Tri-Power with the automatic transmission.