Pontiac El Catalina Safari Is Discovered, Restored and Re-revealed


Our friends at Hemmings Classic Car magazine found a real beauty this time. Appearing on the cover of the October issue sits a Pontiac pickup truck that’s both ahead of its time and a shining example of the glory of the 1960s.

Straddling the two worlds of cars and trucks — a la the Ford Ranchero and Chevy El Camino — the Pontiac El Catalina Safari has the DNA of the El Camino and Pontiac Safari station wagon. Author Matt Litwin gives a wonderful history lesson for those less versed in all things "hybrid" as he explains the roots of this modern-day retro concept vehicle.

With the help of four separate restorers and three Safari station wagons, this Pontiac prototype finally got restored into the custom one-off you see here. Check out the full story about the restoration and the history of car-based pickups in the late '50s and early '60s at Hemmings’ site. There’s a reason that they don’t make them like this anymore.

In the end, Pontiac decided not to dive into the waters dominated by Ford and Chevy because it was wrestling with a fickle marketplace and was trying to figure out its own brand identity. Sound familiar?

For a modern look at what we were thinking and what Pontiac was going to do about five years ago, click here. (FYI: Jay Leno does not have the last remaining El Catalina as we noted in this archived feature.) And If you want more history, check out our feature on car-based pickups here. Below is an image of how the Pontiac was found.



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