Our1956 Pontiac Safari.


Purchased September 15, 2001 in Shawnee KS with 110K miles on it..  Car originally from Pennsylvania.


All original, I think, except (1) paint (originally nimbus grey over catalina blue) (2) upholstery on front seat bottom - the part you sit on, (3) carpet, (4)custom dual exhaust, (5) exterior mirrors, and (6) rubber material over carpet in cargo area.  Later found that it had a 57 engine with a cracked block.


Click on pictures for expanded views.


Pontiac Larry & Julia.JPG (85427 bytes)  Larry and Julia in front of Pontiac.


103-0376_IMG.JPG (137024 bytes) 103-0363_IMG.JPG (225157 bytes)  RightRear.JPG (34556 bytes) rear at house.JPG (68531 bytes) Interior.JPG (38898 bytes)




Serious restoration began in December 2003 when the car was stripped of interior, glass, engine and transmission.  Car was taken in for body work and engine taken in for rebuild on Jan 8.  Click on link below to see restoration pictures.  I expect to update the pictures as restoration continues.

Engine Compartment2.jpg (208184 bytes)  Engine Compartment.jpg (200483 bytes)  Interior2.jpg (152626 bytes)  Interior3.jpg (197679 bytes)   InteriorFromBack.jpg (165441 bytes)   LeftFront.jpg (162429 bytes)  LeftRear.jpg (139838 bytes)  Right Side.jpg (111976 bytes)


  Worst  Rust.jpg (192381 bytes)  Worst rust visible so far, left front floorboard.


April 2, 2004.  Car went to body shop in January.  They media blasted it which removed all the paint and bondo.  It took the body shop two months to get the car back from media blasting!  These pictures are of the car after media blasting -- what you see is bare metal.  Several patches were uncovered that had been hidden with bondo.  Previous body work was done by a bozo!


IMG_1402.jpg (70120 bytes)  IMG_1403.jpg (59916 bytes)  IMG_1404.jpg (78004 bytes) IMG_1423.jpg (69541 bytes)

IMG_1391.jpg (71889 bytes)  The watch kitty has class, likes the Safari!!

IMG_1400.jpg (52880 bytes)  Patches on front of right wheel well.

IMG_1401.jpg (48690 bytes)  Patch on front fender, rust holes in rocker panel.

IMG_1405.jpg (58142 bytes)  Patches in front or right wheel well.


Looks like some bad rust but the body shop guy thinks the car is "solid".  About decided to paint the car Red/White (in original Pontiac colors).


The engine, a 1960 389 CI, is now getting balanced.  Most of the chrome is in the chrome shop.  I bought a buffer and intend to buff some of the stainless myself. 


July 30, 2004.


Decided against Red/White, going with Nimbus Gray over Avalon Blue.  These are stock Safari colors but not the original colors for this particular car (Nimbus Gray over Catalina Blue).  The Avalon blue is a bit lighter with a little more greenish tint than the original Catalina blue.


Engine is done (overhauled and balanced) and I'm reassembling it.  I'm using the '57 heads on the '60 engine.  The '60 heads had cracks and it would have cost more to repair them.  The '57 heads appear to be exactly the same except for slight differences in water port sizes - plus the 60 heads don't use the internal stainless water distribution tube.  I discovered that the '60 engine circulates water in the opposite direction from '59 and earlier Pontiac engines.  The earlier engines circulated water into the heads first and then around the cylinders.  The 1960 and later Pontiac engines circulate water around the cylinders first and then through the heads.  The water pump housings are quite different but the rest of the engines are quite similar.  I read that Pontiac did this switch in water routing because of warranty problems (don't know any more than that).


Here are some pics of the car on July 30.  They are making progress and expect to paint in a week or so (I'll believe it when I see it).


Click on image to enlarge it.


  FloorLeft2_commented.jpg (38143 bytes)  FloorLeft_commented.jpg (34667 bytes) WorkInProgress.jpg (31731 bytes)  Left floor panel replaced where there was bad rust.


LeftQuaterPanel.jpg (23660 bytes)  LeftQuaterPanel2.jpg (28485 bytes)  Right Patch.jpg (21112 bytes) Panel replaced in front of rear wheels where it was rusted out.  Red is reflection from a car setting next to the Safari..


RightSideFrong.jpg (28605 bytes) Right Side.jpg (26070 bytes)  Here they have begun smoothing out the side with bondo.


  FrontLLeft.jpg (26124 bytes)  Hood sanded.


Oct 2004.

Progress is slow but it is getting done.  I'm not ready for it anyway, still getting other stuff ready.  I have most of the chrome done and it is beautiful! 


I ran into some "challenges" with the engine.  I'm installing a 1960 engine and water circulation is different than earlier engines.  This means I can't use the earlier intake manifold without some modifications.  If I use the 1960 intake manifold, then I'll have to mount the generator with 1960 brackets.  Doing this places the generator off to the side of the engine rather than on top of the intake manifold like the 1956 engine.   I had hoped to make the engine look like the stock 1956 engine (you old hot rodders know what a "sleeper" is).  For now, I plan to go ahead and use the 1960 configuration. The later generator is better (higher amperage). 


The different water circulation in the engine also affects water circulation to the transmission.  The transmission gets intake water from the rear of a head and with the different circulation, the water will be hotter when it reaches the rear of the head.  Haven't quite figured out what to do about that yet.  I need to find out where the 1960 transmission gets its intake cooling water from.


Here are latest pictures.


LeftFront.jpg (24175 bytes)  LeftRear.jpg (22125 bytes)  RightRear.jpg (21356 bytes)  RightFront.jpg (27344 bytes)  Dash.jpg (22004 bytes)


Nov 4, 2004

Yahoo, we have paint on the car!  Colors are Avalon Blue / Nimbus Grey.  These are not original colors for this particular car (originally Catalina Blue / Nimbus Grey) but are original colors for this model.  I liked the Avalon Blue better than the darker Catalina Blue.  Safaris in these colors are rare because the Avalon Blue was not offered until the spring of 1956.  The paint is yet to be buffed out.  I like it!


LeftFrontPainted.jpg (19909 bytes)  LeftRearPainted.jpg (30003 bytes)  Rear.jpg (28652 bytes)  Hood.jpg (24548 bytes)  UnderHood.jpg (25710 bytes)  DashPainted.jpg (23960 bytes)

I'm supposed to pick up the car next week.  Then the long journey of reassembly begins.  I expect it will take about a year - which probably means two years.  Upholstery is yet to be done.


Stay tuned...