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The Other Nomad: 1956 Pontiac Star Chief Safari

In 1955, General Motors came out with the “Sport Wagon” based on a 1954 Corvette show car. Most remember it as the 1955-57 Chevrolet Nomad, but Pontiac had a version they called the Safari. Both wagons were built for only three years, and production numbers were never large. This 1956 Safari has been sitting for 34 years and appears to be mostly complete (except for the carburetor). Located in Lewisburg, Ohio, the wagon is available here on Facebook Marketplace for $23,000 cash or trade. Once again, another cool tip from T.J.!

With their unique bodies from the doors back, you have to wonder why the Nomad and Safari never took off with buyers. They were handsome vehicles, but not hugely practical with two doors. Chevy only built 22,000 Nomads (all trimmed as Bel Airs), while Pontiac just assembled 9,000 Safaris in Star Chief garb. Both names would be used for a time on the divisions’ 4-door station wagons but would lose their unique status. For each of the Safari’s model years, the engines were different. In 1956, each of the 4,000 built had a 317 cubic inch V8 with a 2-barrel, 4-barrel, or “Tri-Power” setup, good from 216 to 285 hp.

The seller says this Pontiac has been parked since 1980 either because of the missing carburetor or because it was pirated later. There’s no indication if the engine is locked up or has any potential to be started even if fuel delivery was possible. We’re told there is no “serious rust,” but no photos of the undercarriage are provided, and the wagon does sit rather low to the ground.

Photos of the interior are limited, but it appears to be intact except for the aftermarket steering wheel. All the important curved glass is said to be fine, though one flat piece is cracked. The seller will consider a trade if it involves a Tri-Five Chevy or a Pontiac GTO and would be willing to add cash for the right exchange. If this isn’t a rust bucket, it would be a rare Pontiac to get back on the road.


  1. Avatar photo Paul Alexander

    Looks like it would be a great project car for a sort of mild resto-mod. It’s nearly a Nomad already!

    Like 10
  2. Avatar photo Paul Alexander

    I don’t think they will have a lot of luck getting that mich for it, though.

    Like 42
  3. Avatar photo Uncle Ed

    Abusing a car like this should be a capital offense

    Like 17
    • Avatar photo Gman

      Totally agree with you Uncle Ed! Hope this one finds a good home and if possible restored to its original glory! My dad had a 56 Nomad back in the late 50’s, I wish he would have never sold it! Always loved wagons.

      Like 1
  4. Avatar photo HC Member

    This Safari isn’t priced as high as a Nomad would be, but not far away from it either. I’d love to have a Pontiac Safari like this one, instead of a Nomad. It looks to be in reasonable shape body wise, but it’s non running, mechanical condition is a big gamble at this price.

    Like 26
    • Avatar photo Bill West

      But all the exclusive critical body parts appear solid, and the trim seems in good shape as well. I see this going $15-$18k easily, solely for the rarity. One can only hope an original steering wheel was the same used on other models of the era.

      Like 7
  5. Avatar photo Tony

    Should be restored.

    Like 15
  6. Avatar photo Davey Boy

    I’ve always been a wagon fan and this is no exception. I know people won’t like me for this but an AMC Hornet wagon that was featured here about a month or so ago has the perfect setup for this one. Only difference would have to be is make it an LS6. Turbo LS6 with a cam would be perfect. A set of American Racing Torque Thrust wheels. Custom interior.Factory paint. (Sort of) Make it a metallic base clear so you get depth and paint the whole car the same color. Top to bottom. And just because I’ve restored several of them. Restore and keep the wooden steering wheel. They really look nice and are the perfect size for comfortable driving. Just what I would do if my situation were different. Either way. I sure would like to see it done.

    Like 8
    • Avatar photo Fox owner

      For 23 grand, hard no. I do like it though. I can imagine it w the tri power set up and some period correct wheels. But restoring it versus resto mod, I lean to the latter.

      Like 7
  7. Avatar photo Jerry Ashley

    Keep it original. I have a great 1956 dual duad intake, correct carbs and batwing breather. Even have the correct dual point dist. This was all NASCAR experiential. What a show stopper that would be when you opened the hood!

    Like 1
  8. Avatar photo Rich

    Too much money

    Like 16
  9. Avatar photo BrianT Member

    I was on the Taconic Parkway years ago and pulled off to get gas. Yes, I know, there were rest area/gas stations right on the parkway but I could pay $.31 off the highway compared to $.33 on the highway. Yes, it was that late ng ago. Anyhow, after that digression, there were three of these at a gas station, all with big signs reading “NOT for sale”.

    Like 8
  10. Avatar photo william stephan

    So surprised that they cant even put “AR in the TARS” if even for a pic. At least Billy Bob did on that ground sweeper blue GTO above. Even a cement block under the frame if there is one??

    Like 0
  11. Avatar photo Philip

    In for a penny, in for a pound. The price of admission seems high. It can’t hurt to ask for $23k but why would anyone need to pay that for a junker like this when you can purchase one of these restored/original examples for less than the final completion price.

    Like 0
  12. Avatar photo HBC

    WOW!!! $24K for a vehicle that has not been driven since 1980!!! Dream on…. Would require complete restoration & big bucks! Will pass….!

    Like 6
  13. Avatar photo TMK

    I’m curious if you change the front clip to a 55 or 56 chevy front clip. It would be different . I saw a picture were a guy took a 69 GTO front clip and put it on a 69 EL Camino.

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo David Michael Carroll

      Just becausr you can, doesn’t mean uou should!!

      Like 9
    • Avatar photo 427Turbojet Member

      Pontiacs wheelbase longer (5″?) than Chevy in front of cowl. Big stretch to get a Chevy clip to look good!

      Like 2
  14. Avatar photo Kanak Attak

    She’s gorgeous! Only a look 👀 a mother would love ❤️! 🥰😍😘🫣🤑😻👍🤙👊👌🙏🏦

    Like 1
  15. Avatar photo Joe Haska

    It is interesting that the Safari has been so discriminated over the years and at a glance it looks like all the parts would almost interchange. It makes me want a Safari. Most people would probably think you ruined a good Nomad by customizing it!

    Like 4
  16. Avatar photo HC Member

    With a BIN price of $23k, most guys are priced out of this one, whether you restored or resto modded it, you’re immediately, under water. With as low as it is, hoping the rockers arent rotted. If it were me id get it running and rebuild brakes and add some age appropriate, Cragers and drive it. And for this price anyone should inspect it before buying.

    Like 1
  17. Avatar photo HC Member

    Also, seller didn’t include one single engine bay pic, or at least I didn’t see any in original post. That’s sacriledge!

    Like 3
  18. Avatar photo robbert

    Restore to original!

    Like 1
  19. Avatar photo Ira

    Half the price would be a lucky sale for the seller.

    Like 0
  20. Avatar photo Glenn Schwass Member

    Looks great and the price will hopefully come down as no one bites. Hopefullgo for it. y. It could also make him keep it ourside to start rusting as ” I’ll get to it starts”. Maybe a fool and his money will pay it. It will need a suspension rebuild,, power train, fuel system and brakes, just to make drivable. Got a A donor Pontiac drivetrain already sitting around?
    You’ll only be in for another $10k. For what will be worth $25k if the paint cleans up. If you di ALL the work….

    Like 0

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