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Fly In Drive Home: 1989 Pontiac Safari

A lot of us like milestone vehicles, and by that, I don’t necessarily mean groundbreaking feats of engineering or drop-dead styling exercises. Sometimes it just means a first or last model year that a particular vehicle was made, this 1989 Pontiac Safari is one of those cars. It can be found here on eBay in Plymouth, Michigan with a $7,400 buy-it-now price or you can make an offer.

For such a nice car, the photos aren’t the best. The first photo is literally the only one that shows the entire car in one image. We will see world peace before I ever understand how that happens. But, as they say, it is what it is, let’s move on and piece together the snippets of photos. And once we do that, this car really does look fantastic. What’s behind that rear cargo door? Lots of cargo room, that’s what. What else? Another seat!

This Safari has 122,000 miles on it so it isn’t an ultra-low-mile garage queen, but for a Michigan car, and I don’t mean one made in Michigan but one that lives in Michigan, it looks good to me. I don’t see any rust and they say that it’s wearing its original paint with a few touch-ups here and there. The Safari name was used by a variety of Pontiac vehicles until 1989 and after it was retired, it was reborn a couple of years later for Pontiac’s 6000 Safari wagon and then it moved to the GMC Safari minivan until 2005.

The interior looks great for a 31-year-old car with over 100,000 miles on it. The velour seats look like they’re comfy and in great condition both front and rear. This was the era when headrests really didn’t do much good as far as either preventing whiplash or giving your head a comfortable place to rest when you pull off the road for a quick nap.

The engine is Chevrolet’s small-block 305 cubic-inch V8 which had 140 hp and 255 lb-ft of torque. This car has had a transmission flush and filter change, a tune-up and oil change. They say to fly in and drive it home! Have any of you owned a Pontiac Safari wagon?


  1. Ken Neal-Rosario

    I’ve had 2… a beautiful pale yellow 87, sold to finance a Volvo 780, and a craptastic gray 86. Both were great cars, unfortunately saddled with the Olds 307. I currently have a 78 Olds Custom Cruiser with the honest to goodness Olds 350 which may be the best of these wagons I have owned.

    Like 6
  2. Superdessucke

    I’d pop out that weak 305 and put in an LS crate motor, along with the 9C1 suspension and tire package.

    Like 6
    • Skorzeny

      Right on!

      Like 1
    • ACZ

      That’s not a 305 Chevy. It’s a 307 Olds.

      Like 6
  3. Big_Fun Member

    Odd to see a full power bench seat; many were 50/50 split with at least power driver side. Optional gauge package and cornering lights. Gauge package by this year had volts in the far right nacelle. Our 1984 Caprice had a “Fuel Economy” vacuum gauge. Although my uncle had same year wagon with a diesel, and that car had the ‘volts’ reading.
    In fact, interior and exterior changed in 1985 for Caprice, while the Pontiac remained the same.

    Like 2
    • Big_Fun Member

      CORECTED COPY – (seat is indeed 50/50 split) –
      Odd to see non power passenger side seat, although it does have optional gauge package and cornering lights. Gauge package by this year had volts in the far right nacelle. Our 1984 Caprice had a “Fuel Economy” vacuum gauge. Although my uncle had same year wagon with a diesel, and that car had the ‘volts’ reading.
      In fact, interior and exterior changed in 1985 for Caprice, while the Pontiac remained the same.

  4. Dave

    Thats an olds 307 in there

    Like 9
    • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

      You could be right, Dave and Howard. This is where the 305 info came from:

      Like 3
      • Duaney Member

        No “could be”. You can clearly see the Oldsmobile only oil filler tube and cap in the front.

        Like 5
      • Scotty Gilbertson Staff

        My apologies to all for not knowing the location of the oil filler tube on this engine and how it relates to an Olds vs. Chevy engine. I try to be always be as polite as I can be to our readers and I would hope that everyone else could at least give it the ol’ college try when it comes to commenting on a mistake by one of the writers, but maybe that’s hoping for too much in 2020.

        Like 3
      • Bob C.

        Don’t be hard on yourself Scotty. Most GM wagons, even Chevrolet during these years, were fitted with the Olds 307. I remember hearing they were all built on the same line and it kept tooling simple. Can’t say it’s a 100% fact.

        Like 2
      • luke pokrajac

        Car folks are a tough crowd Scotty!!! You do a great job!

        Like 1
  5. Miguel

    What is odd to see is a wagon with over 100K for sale for such a high asking price.

    Like 4
    • Howard A Member

      I agree. Nice to see one again, and a very nice car, but again and again, where are they getting the starting prices from? TV, that’s who. 116 watchers and no bids indicates interest is there, but not even enough to make a bid. People selling these things better get off their high horse, and ask a plausible amount, say half of what they’re asking. Apparently, some Pontiacs had the 305, but I read, all 1989 Safari’s had the 307, 4 bbl., I think the oil filler is the giveaway. Nice car for classic wheels, but not $7500 nice.

      Like 10
  6. JCA Member

    Every part is a different shade of brown. Why would anyone choose to drive this at this price? Its not like it looks good, is fast or handles well. It’s a $2,500 car at best for its partial utility.

    Like 1
  7. Y

    I had the Olds version. Same colors. 350/hydramatic and it was a great hauler with 4 kids. Rear facing third seat if I remember. Loved it.

  8. Del

    Very nice car.

    To bad the power seat has more horse power than that Wee V8.

    Like 1
  9. CCFisher

    Your chronology of the Safari name needs a little work. The 6000 Safari was introduced for 1984, the GMC Safari for 1985, so both were concurrent with this car.

    Like 1
  10. Pete Phillips

    Someone has taken fabulous care of this car! It looks as good as a new one, yet has over 100,000 miles.

    Like 1
  11. Rob

    Good luck trying to find a replacement grill for this one with the missing tooth.

    • Chunk

      There are over 150 grilles for sale on CoPart.

  12. Michael Brown

    Vin code “Y” is the eighth character of the vin, to all those who said 307 olds, you are correct.

  13. Arthur Jacobs

    If you want a real Pontiac Safari, get a 1962 -1966 Catalina, or Bonniville. You’ll have a real Pontiac, 389, or if you’re lucky, 421 wide track, styled wagon!

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