Cars of a Lifetime: My First Car Was Quite a Handful

Recently, I featured some cars from the Concours D’Lemons in Monterey, California. This 1955 Pontiac Safari was my sentimental favorite. Why? Because, although I didn’t mention it in my own Cars of a Lifetime,  a similar Safari was actually my first car.

The new for 1955 Safari was, for two years, Pontiac’s version of the Chevrolet Nomad. A two door wagon, it used a similar platform, if that term was even used then, as the Chevy but had a slightly longer wheelbase, mostly unique sheetmetal, and Pontiac’s new V8 which shared almost nothing with the new small-block Chevy. But none of those things mattered to me, because my Safari would fit in my hand … barely.

Here I am, by the shore of the Pacific Ocean, with my already well-worn Safari. I can’t quite tell from the picture if it’s already missing its tailgate, but I wouldn’t be surprised. I was pretty hard on cars when I was young. I think this picture dates from 1959.

A few years ago, through the magic of eBay, I got reconnected with my old Pontiac, although this one was in better shape. And, in the course of researching for this post, I learned that this Tootsietoy version is in fact a 1956. But it definitely has a tailgate. And one other thing was different: when I was shopping for my first car, I had a potential deal on a clean and straight, running, one-owner ’56 Chevy convertible for $50, that unfortunately fell through. In 2015, this 7″ long Pontiac cost me quite a bit more than that.