CC Capsule: 1988 Pontiac Safari Wagon – At The Dawn Of The Aero-Look Age, A Vinylishing Breed

(first posted 6/19/2012. 2022 update: Last time I saw it a few years back, it was showing ever-increasing signs of deterioration from being stored outside. Too bad, as this car was almost showroom condition when I first shot it)    How can I not trot out one of my better street finds to follow up on JPC’s superb 1948 Pontiac wagon CC? But unlike that gem, the B-Body is a well-known commodity hereabouts, so there’s no need to get loquacious. Anyway, the pictures of this pristine daily-driver Safari speak much more eloquently than my feeble words could. But there is a bit of story about this particular car; more like a snippet, actually.

I first stumbled upon this fine specimen in the summer of 2009, and it ran as a Capsule back at the other site. Its overall condition and state of cleanliness suggest it was an arranged and posed shoot, but I swear it wasn’t.

What was obvious from the Collectible Automobile magazine with a 1959 Pontiac on the cover, that this car was in the hands of a Poncho-phile. Duh!

My guess was that he’d found someone’s pampered wagon, who finally had to give it up. My guess was good.

I ran into it again in the Whitaker District, and decided to shoot it again. The owner came out, who was visiting his elderly father, and whose red LeBaron coupe can be seen in the driveway. I chatted with him, and he confirmed that he’d bought it from an old-timer, and that it had some 40k miles then. This was a year or so after my first shoot.

As is obvious, the second photo shoot (above) didn’t turn out nearly as well; it was shortly before I tossed my old camera, which was making all my shots look hazy and dull. The Safari-master has been driving it regularly since, and I see it parked in his apartment lot. It’s not just the camera; the car has actually lost a tiny bit of its luster sitting outside for several years now, which is a bit sad, but it is appreciated and well cared-for.

There’s still magazines on the back seat, but this time it was “American Station wagons”. Apt.

So we’ll switch back to the first photo set, and all you B-Body and woodie wagon lovers, please refrain from drooling on your touch screens at the sight of this tail-gate handle. I did not know that’s how they were done. Nice.

In the original post, I made the assumption that this wagon had a 140 hp Chevy 305 under the hood, because the Encyclopedia of American Cars said so. But some knowledgeable commentators convinced me it had the Olds 307. I take their word for it. And I stupidly forgot to ask to look under the hood. Next time I run into him, I will. And the mystery will be solved. In the meantime, just savor this well-preserved token of the  end of an era.

Well, almost the end. The Safari wagon had its swan song in 1989. About 15,000 of these were sold in both 1988 and 1989. And how many are still left? At least one, anyway. And I get to see it regularly. Lucky me. But I’ll be happy to forward it your expressions of love and admiration.