Survivor Wagon: 1970 Pontiac LeMans Safari

Before the Sport Utility Vehicle, there was the station wagon. They were popular throughout the 20th Century, especially the 1960s and 1970s. If you were looking for a mid-size people hauler with pizzazz in 1970, the Pontiac LeMans Safari was a good choice. It was a step up from the standard LeMans wagon and could be ordered with genuine imitation bodyside woodgrain reminiscent of the Woodies from the 1940s. This ’70 Safari looks to be in excellent original condition, and we’re told it runs like a top. Located in San Francisco, California, this beauty is offered here on Facebook Marketplace for $20,000.

The Pontiac LeMans was in its third generation by 1968, it’s second as a mid-size vehicle. The LeMans first appeared as the top trim package on the new Tempest compact in 1961, later becoming the series leader. All of GM’s intermediates got redesigned in ’68 and carried that styling through ’72. Sandwiched in the middle were the 1970 models, like the seller’s car. There were two mid-size wagons you could get from Pontiac that year: the standard LeMans wagon, which sold 7,165 copies, and the upscale Safari at 3,823 units.

This 1970 Safari looks to be finished in Key Lime Green Metallic paint, which could be the car’s original finish, although the seller does not specify. No rust is present on the car and the only flaws may be a few dimples in the tailgate. The chrome pieces are all shiny and the glass looks crack-free. The woodgrain decals all look rather good with no signs of peeling. This machine has the appearance of a car that’s been well-kept over the past 50 years. The interior shows equally well, with no obvious flaws in the black upholstery, door panels, dash pad, headliner or carpeting. Even the factory air conditioning is said to blow cold.

We don’t know what engine is under the hood and no photos are provided in that area. More than likely, Pontiac’s version of GM’s 350 cubic inch V8 is there (255 hp 2-barrel?), flanked by a Turbo-Hydramatic transmission. We’re told the car runs and drives like the day it left the assembly plant, but no statement of the car’s mileage is offered. Wagons are attracting more attention these days with collectors, and a really nice transport like this could trade for more than $20,000, according to Hagerty. So, the seller seems to be in the right territory with his request.

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Comments

  1. Moparman Member

    I’d only swap the wheels/wheel covers for a set of Rally II’s and cruise! GLWTS!! :-)

    Like 9
    • David

      Comes with already newly installed OEM Rally 2’s and new BFG’s Radial TA 245 60R-15 all around.

      Like 1
    • Josh

      So overdone; everyone changes to makes or Rallys. leave ‘er as is!

      Like 3
  2. Steve R

    This is really nice. It’s probably been parked nightly in a comfortable suburban garage since at least the early-70’s. That’s when the plates were issued, the license plate frame is from a dealership on the peninsula that disappeared decades ago. It may be pricey, but wagons keep getting more and more popular, so why not buy the best one you can find.

    Steve R

    Like 19
    • Jcs

      I agree Steve, however this is not that one for me. While many prefer the supposed simplicity of manuals, power windows are a must on a wagon for me.

      This, plus a tilt wheel and a non cracked dash would put it in that category for me and would then make me even think about the possibility of pulling $20K out of my pocket for the best midsized wagon I could find.

      Like 11
      • local_sheriff

        Jcs; not my intention to sound rude here. But if you’re willing to pass on an otherwise in-the-ballpark vehicle made in 3.823(!) examples 50 years ago simply for it not having power windows – well IMO you don’t seem to want such a wagon hard enough.
        If you find it to be too much hassle to crank the windows by hand a conversion should probably be doable

        Like 17
      • CCFisher

        There aren’t many out there in this condition. If I wanted a mid-sized late-60s/early-70s wagon, I’d grab this one and add whatever options I want.

        Like 11
      • ACZ

        There’s nothing wrong with waiting for the one you really want.

        Like 5
      • Jcs

        The premise local_sherriff was to buy the best that you could find, like this one is it.

        IMO, it is not, for reasons even more apparent than the others that I mentioned, such as tilt wheel and a non cracked dash. Sure, I could add these on, but it would take at least these three things to be corrected before I would even consider shelling out 200 Benjamin’s for this particular example.

        Thank you for sharing your opinion. I stand behind my own my friend.

        Like 3
      • local_sheriff

        Jcs; your patience/ stubbornness deserves respect 😏 👍! Now I’ve been in the vintage car hobby for almost 30years so I know from personal experience that the more specific one’s requirements to vintage tin are, the more difficult it is to locate. They only made this many so it’s a matter of how many are left.
        I honestly wish for you that you one day will succeed in securing ‘the one’

        Like 1
      • Jcs

        Thank you for your heartfelt wishes. I’ve actually got you beat, I’ve been dealing in classic cars for just over 42 years. My modest collection consists of mostly low mileage all original American Iron. Each of them are exactly what I desired, or I would not have procured them, obviously. Yes, I am stubborn as hell and as picky as you can get so you most certainly nailed my nature.

        Enjoying our banter I think that you would appreciate that I actually found (and purchased) the number one car on my bucket list, which I have been diligently searching for for over two decades. My dad came home with a brand new Olds Toronado in 66, I was smitten immediately, there simply were no other cars on the road anything like them at all at the time, and it was seriously badass.

        We lost my Dad way too early at 52 in 76. Nice original 66 Toronado Deluxe are very difficult to find in general, and yes- it did take me decades to finally locate just the right one, I actually thought that it was my Dads, but that is impossible as I am an Atlanta native.

        Bought it in September, out of LA. One owner black plate car, still registered with every renewal since 66, same plates. 100% original paint, chrome, interior, literally everything with the exception of the carpet, which was replaced with NOS in 2011. Not even a hint of rust, anywhere.. Not a single dent, never been hit. Magic Mirror Champagne Mist (S) over Antique Parchment (54) with a fantastic patina that only 55 year old lacquer can possess. Perfect interior with a black dash and carpet. Dash, gauges, and trim just as clear bright and shiny as new. Perfect tilt and tele wheel that looks like it came out of a fighter jet, no cracks. Every single option works exactly as designed, with the exception of the clock (but it sho is purdy), even the R12 A/C. When have you last seen an original Olds Rocket emblem (like the one on the front) that is still bright red and perfect? Even the correct chambered exhaust complete with the original chrome dipped tailpipes. Truly a time capsule and an amazing automobile. Drives like a dream, comfortable as all get out.

        The coolest part? She is an exact clone of my Dad’s – right down to the rare vacuum power locks and even more rare adjustable reverb for the WonderBar AM/FM.

        So yes, you are correct. Patience, stubbornness, and persistence can definitely pay off sometimes, in this case it certainly has. I wish you could see her, based on your comment history I am sure that you would like her, a bunch.

        I truly hope that you come back and read this little missive, that you find pleasure in reading it, and that it finds you in good health my friend.

        Peace

        .

        Like 2
      • Jcs

        Obviously that comment was meant for local_sheriff. Doh!

      • local_sheriff

        Jcs; great reading about your Olds, yes I’d LOVE to see it and it’s so good it ended up with someone truly dedicated to the model. Though I prefer my drive wheels at the rear I must admit a ’66 Toro is one impressive beast – also it has so much in common with another 60s fav – the ’66 Riv!

        Sadly I’ve seen it so many times; guys wishing and waiting for the PERFECT specimen to come along, passing on any 90% right cars. As years go by and the admission fee to just get into the car hobby reaches outrageous levels, the target faints each year – and they end up with no classic car and regret not buying the 90% in-the-ballpark vehicle they could’ve aquired years back…

        Luckily for you that Toro is quite the consolation prize(!) and should make your wait for the right Safari fairly bearable. Stay safe, rev up that Ultra High Compression 425 Rocket (gotta love that designation) and have fun! 😎

        Like 1
  3. CCFisher

    If anybody can make it out, there is a displacement callout on the rocker panel molding ahead of the driver’s door.

    Like 1
    • Fred W

      I can’t make out the displacement callout, but am pretty sure it does not say “350”. This has to be one of the sharpest wagons ever built! I’d take it, manual windows and all.

      Like 8
      • bone

        Almost every 70 Lemans seemed to have a 350 in it ; it was more than enough power for a mid size car . I guess there is a chance it has a 400

  4. Dana

    “Pontiac’s version of GM’s 350 cubic inch V8” makes it sound like the Buick/Olds/Pontiac aluminum 215 V8 of the early 60s, where they all used the same short block. The only thing the Chevy, Pontiac, Olds, and Buick 350s share is engine displacement nomenclature. NOTHING interchanged between any, except some starters, OK and I guess you could swap Q-Jet carbs. And the common Buick-Olds-Pontiac (BOP) bellhousing pattern.

    Like 4
    • Chris In Australia

      Add the distributor cap & rotor, and you’ve nailed it.

      Like 2
  5. Autoworker

    When I first saw this, I thought “Orbit Orange GTO Judge wagon clone, 455 4 speed.” Change the front bench to buckets and a console. Does anyone else see this? Lol

    Like 7
    • Robt

      Sure, but without the orange. Definitely add the 4 spd.

      Like 3
  6. Marko

    I love this car the way it is, but……….

    Put a GTO scoop hood with tach, swap on some Rally II wheels, and a bit of window tint like a modern SUV, and maybe a fuel injection, and HEI distributor, for drivability, and I would drive the wheels off of it.

    Like 2
  7. Scott

    I LOVE station wagons, especially A-body ones like this! In original, unmarred condition, I would pay the 20 grand, But for this one, I would be hard pressed to offer $15K.
    The left-front fender has damage at the trailing edge where it meets the driver’s door, and judging by the reflection, I would say that the right-rear quarter panel has been repainted over sub-standard bodywork. Those items, coupled with the lack of information such as mileage, and no pictures of the engine compartment, cause me to wonder what other issues the car has that are not being disclosed.

    Like 4
  8. Steve Clinton

    Even with praise for this wagon, the majority of posters would redo the whole thamn ding!

    Like 1
  9. Howard Kerr

    I am not sure that I would pay $20,000 for this wagon, or even $15,000. A casual look at the photos shows a poorly aligned left front fender and I have questions about that screw holding the window trim in place in 1 picture. And that’s just for starters.

    Like 3
    • Gus Fring

      The screw is correct and factory. Find a better one for less and buy it…but I won’t hold my breath. 1990 was 31 years ago.

      Like 2
  10. Ralph

    It looks like a very nice 10 foot body and paint vehicle. Yet there appear to be several different paint/body/trim issues that seem to show prior damage or repair.
    Really like these cars, and it’s a shame it is so far away.
    I hope the buyer is able to bring it back, looks worth the effort to save it.

    Like 2
  11. John

    “genuine – imitation” – bodyside woodgrain…..no truer words were ever spoken!

    Like 2
  12. Ron Ron

    It’s nice, however, 20K?

    Like 2
  13. Bradley L DeHaven

    My folks had the LeMans wagon in this same key lime green, 350 ci, but no wood grain. It was one of their first new cars. Mom loved it. Dad said it drove like a log wagon. Lots of found memories growing up with that car. Not $20,000 worth, mind you. But good memories…

  14. martinsane

    Wagons are my heroin. Always loved them and this one is nice.
    Just hate that all of a sudden its hep to love em and priced with 2 extra, maybe 3 extra 0’s.
    I kid not as many years ago as you can count on 1 hand you couldnt give this car and 1000’s like it away.
    Shame really, just like houses no logic and nobody can afford much of anything.

    Like 3
    • Steve R

      That must be a regional thing. Around here prices for wagons started increasing 15-20 years ago.

      Steve R

      Like 1
      • Jcs

        What region are you referring to Steve R? I certainly don’t recall a significant value increase on any of the big three wagons in the early ought, with the notable exception of the Vista Cruiser. The rest were still pretty much a dime a dozen.

        Like 2
  15. Poppy

    I’ve never seen door edge moldings held on with tabs and screws like that. Is this a something GM did for the DiNoc woodgrain edges? We had a ’69 Vista Cruiser and don’t recall these types of door edge guards.

    • Gus Fring

      They’re correct…so, no worries, you can proceed with your purchase.

      Like 2
  16. MJF

    Lost me with Green Seats….

    • Gus Fring

      That’s weird, because this wagon doesn’t have green seats. It has black interior.

  17. mjf

    The Green seats were a turn off…

    • Gus Fring

      Whew, it’s a good thing this one doesn’t have green seats then!

      Like 2
  18. v

    what a great find . my family grew up in the 70’s with one of these. ours had a 428 factory engine in ours. what power it had. they forgot a few items this car has . a rear facng back seat. a swing out tailgate and it flips down like a pickup tailgate. note the rear bumper. a hide away full size spare. and excellent towing capabilities. inside fits a full 4×8 sheet of plywood. what a great family wagon. we kids burned up the wiring in the power windows cause my brother wanted the window up and i wanted them down. to bad its not closer to pa id love to have it as a cruiser.

    • v

      our 69 bonneville wagon with a 2.60 rear and was green on green with woodgrain. i guess there was an overflow of green paint and green vinyl back then.

      Like 1

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