Waiting Forty Four Years: 1956 Pontiac Safari Wagon

This wagon listed on craigslist for $8,500 has been sitting since 1973. It looks mostly complete but it would be a huge project. The Safari was Pontiac’s version of the Nomad wagon. Pontiac built only about 4,000 of these and almost 8,000 Nomads, so the Safari is more rare than the Nomad but still not worth as much, of course. Nomads were already very desirable and becoming a classic when this Safari was parked. In 1966 my auto shop teacher traded his split window 1963 Corvette for a customized Nomad.

The years have not been kind to the interior. The floors have serious rust.

There’s no word on the state of the engine. It’s likely frozen.

Restoring this wagon would be a huge project. The asking price seems high, but there are people asking for much more for their Safaris in worse condition. It’s likely there is serious rust underneath as well as the floors  and the engine could be stuck. Everything depends on what you’d find when you inspect the car, but do you think there is any hope for this car?

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Comments

  1. RayT Member

    This doesn’t seem much like a “huge” restoration project after looking at charred Corvettes and rotted-out Porsches, I must say.

    Would it make financial sense? I honestly don’t know; for someone who could do the necessary welding and and mechanical work themselves, the numbers might look right. Handing it over to a restoration shop for a full re-do would probably put the new owner under water in a hurry.

    But I hope someone with the skill, dedication and resources steps up. These are real sleepers, collecting-wise, and — to me, at least — worth preserving and enjoying.

  2. Ron Bajorek

    Hope? I’m starting to buy unfinished projects, just makes better sense

  3. redwagon

    agreed. this is a project but not huge, and definitely worth doing. in my opinion these look better than the nomad but I am a pontiac fan with a styling bias.

    note all the glass is intact, esp the curved rear quarter windows which are quite hard to replace. the floors, and rockers, if necessary, are all readily available as chevy tri-55 parts. the lift gate could be hard to find parts for but this one looks to be in decent shape. the interior looks original, not worth saving but speaks to overall condition.

    car is in sacramento, calif and the owner bought it to create a custom, so where was it originally? the floors are terribly rusty but the sheet metal looks pretty nice.

    finally, i have to add that the color combination is pretty sharp. this looks like a lower level trim but still o so desirable.

    glwr (restoration)

    • David Frank David F Member

      (The car is in northwest Washington) It’s really great to see the positive response to this wagon. Let’s hope it has a bright future!

  4. Doug

    Deep wine paint, pro touring style,and cruise. I’d take it in a heartbeat.

    • dm

      That color looks great. Fix the floors, work on the mechanicals and drive it.

  5. Howard A Member

    I’d sure prefer the Chief over the Chevy. More than certainly will become a restomod. It doesn’t get any better than this for a mild custom job and late model drive train. Purists will scream, but that’s where the hobby is, and they turn out some nice cars. Since it needs a total, be the best route. Now, if this was a running driving example, that would be different. Very rare, restomoders dream. https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/07/3b/90/073b908c682211f419f537a455414dad.jpg

  6. RickG

    Hagerty values a #3 condition at $38,000. It wouldn’t really take that much to get this car there.
    As far as value compared to a Nomad, while a Nomad is currently valued about 10% more the Nomads are declining in popularity while the Safaris are gaining value.

  7. grant

    So much cool stuff posted this morning. This is neat. It’s way beyond my skills but I love it. Hopefully someone who has the skill loves it too. I think they’re all worth saving.

  8. Woodie Man

    I love these Safaris. I doubt that you could restore it for what you could sell it for. That said someone will buy it but the seller may have to adjust their expectations of value..it just suffers from every possible malady that visits an old neglected car.

  9. Rustytech Member

    I have always thought the Pontiacs carried better styling than the Chevy’s in the mid 50’s, never was sure why the Chevy’s got all the attention. If the engine in this is good I’d go with a stock rebuild, if it’s not I think the restomod route would be a good option. I’ve seen a couple of these selling in to $50 to $60k range in #1 or #2 condition over the last couple years in both forms, and with the rarity of these I don’t expect prices to go anywhere but up. I think this is well worth the effort.

  10. Wayne

    IMO nicer than a Nomad, but I’ll take either.

  11. John H

    Looks pristine compared to the Safari sitting outside the neighbor’s shop! Always liked these more than the Nomad.

  12. smittydog

    For $8500 it will be sitting till 2073. Gimme $8.5K and I’ll take off your hands.

  13. WaltB31

    If I had the resources, I’d take this car in a heartbeat, and go the restomod route.

  14. Ck

    Well Its definitely kool. But kooler than a Nomad?Nope I don’t think so.

  15. Brian J Manners

    Everything can be repaired just depends on how much you want to spend …. If the engine is locked I’d replace it with a 350 to 455 Pontiac depending on how much power ya want …. To the people that recommend a modern ie Chevy replacement you should choke yourselves !!! There is never a reason to put Chevy garbage in a classic Pontiac …..

  16. Chuck Foster Chuck Foster

    Restomod like a 60s custom, put a 409 Chevy engine in it. I sold a rough 56 Nomad on Ebay back in September for $4200.

  17. Joe Howell

    Another example of where rarity doesn’t always mean valuable. While cool it’s no Nomad, I’m a Chevy guy :)

  18. Kurt Spengler

    One nice design feature GM didn’t mess with on the Poncho…The iconic sweetheart dip in the beltline..I never could understand why the Nomads left them out. I’d also leave it Injun powered tho updated to at least a 389..Modernize that with EFI and overdrive be it manual or auto..

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