BF Auction: 1963 Pontiac Catalina Safari

Sold for $3,350View Result

UPDATE – The seller has added more photos, which can be found in the gallery below.

There is one certainty in life; If you leave a classic car exposed to the harsh Arizona sun, it will soon look baked. However, the same climate that cooks the paint does an admirable job protecting the steel. That is the case with this 1963 Pontiac Catalina Safari. It wears a significant coating of surface corrosion, but it is a rock-solid and complete Wagon that would make an ideal project candidate. If you wish to take it home, it is exclusively listed at Barn Finds Auctions.

If you peer carefully beyond the almost uniform layer of surface corrosion, you receive the occasional glimpse of this Catalina’s original Cameo Ivory paint. The sun has done its best to eliminate it, and although there is plenty of corrosion, there is no penetrating rust. This is unsurprising considering the vehicle’s location. The underside shots confirm a similar story with the floors and frame, meaning the new owner can safely leave the grinder and welder tucked away in the cupboard. The exterior has a couple of bumps and bruises but nothing justifying panel replacement. Stripping the corrosion away to expose the bare steel will take time, but the results would be worthwhile whether the buyer plans a custom build or faithful restoration. Alternatively, this Wagon has enormous character in its current form. Treating and sealing the corrosion to prevent deterioration would be a valid option if the buyer wished to preserve the Catalina as a genuine survivor. I can’t spot the original Deluxe wheel trims in the supplied photos, but most of the remaining trim pieces look like they would respond positively to equal parts elbow grease and a high-quality polish. The original owner ordered this classic with a soft-ray tinted windshield, and along with the remaining glass, it appears to be in good order.

Opening the Catalina’s doors reveals an interior as baked as its exterior. However, it appears it is complete, apart from missing the original DeLuxe radio. This Safari could be a hot ticket for an enthusiast seeking a practical classic. It will comfortably seat six, with the vast cargo area making it an ideal candidate for family vacation adventures. It requires a complete retrim before that dream becomes a reality, but the foundations are there for it to look stunning. It isn’t loaded with optional extras, but the winning bidder receives practical two-speed wipers and the classy deluxe wheel. If they locate an original radio, that would perfectly complete the package.

Pontiac’s staple V8 for the early 1960s was its legendary 389ci powerplant, which is what occupies this classic’s engine bay. It produced 215hp and 394 ft/lbs of torque, and when coupled to the three-speed manual we find in this Wagon, it made the 4,410 lb Safari surprisingly sprightly. The journey down the ¼-mile would take 18.3 seconds, and while that doesn’t sound that exciting, the low-end torque produced by this V8 means overtaking on the open road without rowing the shifter is effortless. It should also cruise all day at 70mph, allowing it to devour the miles in style. It is unclear when this V8 last fired a shot in anger, but the time frame would undoubtedly be measured in years. If the bulletproof 389 turns freely, revival may not be difficult. It will require further work to be considered roadworthy, but if the engine runs, most tasks could be completed by a competent person in a home workshop.

This 1963 Pontiac Catalina Safari offers potential buyers a world of possibilities. Its lack of penetrating rust and complete nature make it a prime candidate for a faithful restoration. However, treating the surface corrosion to prevent deterioration and returning it to active service as a genuine survivor would command as much attention as the vehicle would if in a showroom-fresh state. The winning bidder could throw caution to the wind with a custom approach, which is also valid. The future of this Wagon is only limited by your imagination, but are you tempted to let it off the leash by submitting a bid? If you do and are the winning bidder, we’d love to receive progress reports on this build.

  • Location: Phoenix, Arizona
  • Mileage: 6630 Miles Shown, TMU
  • Engine: 389 ci V8
  • Transmission: 3-Speed Manual
  • VIN: 363S48131
  • Title Status: Salvage

Bid On This Auction

Sold for: $3,350
Register To Bid
Ended: Apr 28, 2023 10:44am MDT
Winner: speed city
  • speed city bid $3,350.00  2023-04-28 10:40:36
  • Jokrj bid $3,206.00  2023-04-28 10:39:56
  • speed city
    bid $3,105.00  2023-04-28 10:36:54
  • Jokrj bid $2,975.00  2023-04-28 10:36:21
  • speed city bid $2,850.00  2023-04-28 10:34:19
  • Jokrj
    bid $2,750.00  2023-04-28 10:33:56
  • speed city bid $2,602.00  2023-04-28 10:31:04
  • Jokrj bid $2,502.00  2023-04-28 10:30:33
  • speed city
    bid $2,401.00  2023-04-28 10:29:13
  • Jokrj bid $2,300.00  2023-04-28 10:28:54
  • speed city bid $2,170.00  2023-04-28 10:25:59
  • Reid Hardenbergh
    bid $2,069.00  2023-04-27 10:18:08
  • Joe Mac bid $1,963.00  2023-04-26 23:52:28
  • Pontiac man bid $1,775.00  2023-04-25 07:33:55
  • Jokrj
    bid $1,600.00  2023-04-23 19:42:07
  • LaSalle bid $1,500.00  2023-04-23 19:37:54
  • Jokrj bid $1,350.00  2023-04-23 18:53:39
  • LaSalle
    bid $1,250.00  2023-04-22 10:13:00
  • Bladesmith bid $1,000.00  2023-04-22 09:45:00
  • LaSalle bid $900.00  2023-04-21 17:18:46
  • speed city
    bid $600.00  2023-04-21 11:55:52
  • LaSalle bid $500.00  2023-04-21 09:28:30

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. HoA Howard AMember

    No way, man. Ever since that fateful day in Dallas, November 22, 1963, ALL ’63 Pontiac wagons creep me out.

    Like 8
  2. Harvey HarveyMember


    Like 4
  3. Bob WashburneMember

    I have a sudden urge for a toasted marshmallow.

    Like 10
  4. ACZ

    Way too hard to get interior parts for. I think I would rather weld panels.

    Like 6
  5. Dave

    Project “Icarus”

    Like 3
  6. patruns

    I see 3 pedals. The description at the bottom says “automatic”. The description in the article says 3 speed manual.

    Like 4
    • GHRMember

      Patruns – You are correct. Barnfinds sent me the draft of the listing and I missed that.
      Also, the automatic transmission would have been an option and it is not listed on the “Pontiac Historic Society” reproduction window sticker.

      Like 4
    • Joshua MortensenStaff

      Sorry about that, we’ve fixed it!

      Like 2
  7. Angel_Cadillac_Diva Angel Cadillac DivaMember

    Late 1962 and early 1963 we had a few 1963 Pontiacs in the family.
    Aunt next door wrecked her 1961 Catalina Safari and it was replaced with a new 1963 Catalina Safari in light blue mist. Another aunt had a 1963 Bonneville convertible in copper, 8 lug GP wheels and a cousin had a 1963 Bonneville convertible in red with the 8 lug GP wheels.
    Good times, good memories.

    Like 12
  8. KFT

    This is a classic pile.

    Like 5
  9. Keith D.

    Gus’s Auto Junkyard 2 miles South of Rt. 87 They pick up your vehicle FREE!

    Like 5
  10. KurtMember

    Nice start for a surf board cruiser in SoCal. Carve a new dash out of teak!

    Like 3
  11. Marshall Belcher

    I think this would be a good donor to melt down to make a new refrigerator..

    Like 2
    • KurtMember

      Several refrigerators! Or modern cars!

      Like 3
  12. GHRMember

    Maggy. These days you can find anything you want on the internet.

    Like 3
  13. GTO MAN

    yes thats 3 on the tree

    Like 3
  14. Butch

    Message to seller, pull it out or move the motorcycle and cut the Oleanders’ back to and drop the tailgate to show it’s condition, along with the rear bumper and taillights.

    That windshield look’s like it has a couple of big chips & a crack. Is that windshield SW only, or does it interchange with perhaps a 4dr GM Sedan?

    Like 1
  15. Wayne

    I think that this is a great start to a cool project. (If you are into long roofs) I’m a fan of these cars since I had to drive one on a 700 mile trip. 70 MPH 16 MPG with the old A6 gas guzzling Frigidaire A/C compressor dragging us down, but keeping us cool. If I was not already ears deep in projects I would jump on this. 1965 or newer Poncho V8, late model overdrive transmission (auto or manual) and an aftermarket throttle fuel injection could make this a very nice interstate cruiser. Also note that this car does not have power steering. (besides no A/C)

    Like 4
  16. Tennis Tim

    You’ve got to be crazy to want this other than parts

    Like 1
    • GHRMember

      I agree with Wayne. If you like “long roofs” and patina, it doesn’t even need paint. With the right wheels, tires, running gear, interior and stance it would be a show stopper.

      Like 1
  17. Connecticut mark

    I like that Cactus !

    Like 1
  18. Joe Mac

    This is a worthy project if only because it’s a wagon with a manual, plus it’s solid. I’m wondering if it’s possible to see the car in person?

    Like 0
    • GHRMember

      Joe Mac. It is unlikely. Less than 2 days left on the auction. Where are you?

      Like 0
  19. Joe Mac

    I have a friend in Phoenix who is willing to check it out for me.

    Like 0
    • GHRMember

      Joe Mac. Sorry, ran out of time. I am leaving early tomorrow morning.

      Like 0

    at first glance, I thought it was a copper color 63 Safari Wagon, just like the one I learned to drive on. The thermostat stuck and stranded me and my HS buddies in the middle of Nebraska at 2 am, on our spring break ski trip to Colorado (1969) . Quite a memorable experience! :- )

    Like 0

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