The Pontiac Safari is a line of station wagons that was produced by Pontiac from 1955 to 1989. Introduced as the Pontiac counterpart of the two-door Chevrolet Nomad for 1955, the nameplate was adopted across the entire full-size Pontiac station wagon range for 1957.
As General Motors expanded into the intermediate, compact, and subcompact segments, the Safari nameplate saw additional use, in much the same manner as the term "estate" was used to demote luxury content in the Buick Estate and Chevrolet Caprice Estate. From the mid-1960s, simulated woodgrain trim became an exterior feature associated with the model line. The name "safari" is derived from the Swahili word safari, which means journey, originally from the Arabic سفر (safar) meaning a journey; the verb for "to travel" in Swahili is kusafiri.
As demand for full-size station wagons declined in the late 1980s, Pontiac became the first GM division to retire the body style, ending sales of the full-size Safari after the 1989 model year. As woodgrain-trim station wagons declined in demand, Pontiac retired the nameplate entirely after 1991. The first-generation Pontiac Safari was developed as a divisional counterpart of the Chevrolet Nomad. The two-door sport wagon began life as a 1954 Motorama concept car derived from the Chevrolet Corvette. To decrease tooling and production costs, the design was shifted to the full-size A-body chassis (from the Corvette) to increase its sales potential; to further decrease overall design costs, the Pontiac Safari was created to share the design across two divisions. Sharing its 122-inch wheelbase A-body chassis with the Nomad (derived from the Chevrolet Bel Air), the Safari shared its exterior bodywork with the Pontiac Chieftain. Though using the shorter-wheelbase A-body chassis, Pontiac considered the Safari part of the B-body Pontiac Star Chief series, officially designating it as the Star Chief Custom Safari (Series 27).
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