Tuesday, September 23, 2014

1955, 1956 Pontiac Safari two-door wagons lure junkyard nomads into the woods

Two rare, 2-door, Pontiac Safari wagons were discovered rotting in weeds.

Dibs on the ’55 Safari! Do you remember when you learned the definition of “dibs”? I always understood this to be a gentleman’s agreement that future possession was being claimed. Do you remember when you learned that not everyone knows what calling "dibs” means? I do. It happened when I discovered, and exclaimed, “DIBS!!!” on two, Pontiac Safari wagons. 

  Actually, I only claimed “dibs” on one. The blue and white, 1955, two-tone, beauty (above, left). I even agreed to let someone else assume ownership of the hollow-eyed, 1957 Safari sitting right beside it. 
   Junkyard Life brother, Bill Jones, knew an older fellow who, somehow, had two, special, two-door, Pontiac wagons parked on his property. Jones knew of my wagon addiction and led me on a Safari scavenger hunt.

Two, rare, two-door Pontiac wagons were stashed on some wooded property in Alabama. A Pontiac Safari scavenger hunt led to negotiations with the owner to buy the rare wagons.
Almost twin, 2-door, Pontiac Safari wagons make for an irresistible “junkyard find” in the woods. The blue and white 1955 model, left, and 1956, right, were produced in fewer numbers than the Chevrolet Nomad.

Safari So Good
  When I laid eyeballs on two of the flashiest wagons that
Pontiac ever built, I nearly jumped out of my skin. Both 2-door, hard top wagons were original, even wearing all the stainless trim and hubcaps. Although, one was a bitten a bit worse by the rust bug. 
  I decided I had to have the blue and white ’55! Negotiating a deal for the Safari was all but done and I had several things on my side. Let us review them:
  1. I knew Bill Jones who knew the Safari owner.
  2. The owner really liked Bill Jones.
  3. The owner said things like, “I want it to go to someone like you who will fix it and appreciate it.”
  4. The owner accepted my offer. (good money, too!)

What happened?

  The owner decided, for unexpected, sentimental reasons, that he wasn’t ready to sell. Yet.
   Thus, my declaration of dibs was really where I went wrong. Because, obviously, the owner didn’t understand the concept of “dibs.” He sold the wagons to someone clearing land behind his property. 
  I still remember the heartbreaking call from Jones. It ended with me still trying to reason this out. 
  “But, I had dibs.”

The 1955, 1956 Pontiac Safari shared the same roof, windshield, windows, doors, tailgate, and seats as the Chevy Nomad.
The 1955, 1956 Pontiac Safari shared the same roof, windshield, windows, doors, tailgate, and seats as the Chevy Nomad.

Seen any 1955-56 Pontiac Safaris?
  I wish I had more pictures. Really, I didn’t realize I had the ones I’m sharing here. Maybe I was trying to forget the whole thing. It was no big deal. It was just a station wagon, right? A soccer mom, grocery hauling, vacation machine, right?
  No, No, No. You couldn’t be more wrong. But thanks for humoring me.
This was a special wagon. This was a two-door wagon. Wow! The Pontiac Safari shared the roof and glass with the Chevrolet Nomad Wagon. It appears the same, but the Pontiac has seven more inches of wheel base. Chevrolet had some major success making their Nomad the most expensive model on the line, other than the Corvette. That being said, Pontiac’s wagon was even more expensive, but was being outsold, left and right, by the Nomad. 

  Fast forward to now, and it is easy to reason why there are even fewer Pontiac Safaris, than Nomads on the planet. How many have you seen? This one should have been mine. Rats.  

Two rare, 1955-1956 Pontiac Safari, two-door, wagons were located in the Alabama woods.
This 1955 Pontiac Safari was one-of-3,760 built. All were two door wagons. Check out the wide white walls and original hub caps.

Better than a Nomad
  1955 was the year Pontiac introduced their 287 cubic inch-V8 to the masses. They referred to it as a “Strato-Streak V8”. I trusted that the engine was still in the blue and white ’55 Safari, but if it was or wasn’t, I had plans. I would have dropped in a Pontiac 400 engine with an overdrive trans. I also would have shed the white walls and opted for a red line tire or even a black wall BFG. Factory colors and interior would have been fine. Although, I would have splurged for aftermarket air conditioning. 

This 1956 Pontiac Safari, two-door, wagon was a bit rusty but still a rare piece of automotive history.
The rusty, 1956 Pontiac Safari was one-of-4,042 built. This was the final year that two-door wagons wore the exclusive “Safari” name. All wagons, including the four-door models, received the Safari name in 1957.

Shoulda, coulda, woulda
  I know not of the current whereabouts of this fab, fifties, wagon, but if I see it, perhaps, I can just explain to the current owner that I had the original “dibs,” and he would understand. He would probably apologize profusely and insist that I immediately take ownership of the 1955 Safari. 
  I’m a reasonable guy. I would accept his apology and ride off into the sunset in the Pontiac that should have been.

Ron Kidd
– Junkyard Life

1955 Pontiac Safari ad highlights the forward slant of the roofline of the 2-door wagon and decorative flash of the tailgate trim.
1955 Pontiac Safari ad highlights the forward slant of the roof line of the 2-door wagon and decorative flash of the tailgate trim. I almost had one!

Know a junkyard that we need to visit? Got a car story?  
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