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In over my head!

voroshilovvoroshilov Posts: 26
edited April 2015 in Pontiac
Hello! I am new here...and to cars in general. I've always admired drooling over them and going to car shows, but I just made my first old/unique car purchase.

Excited? Yes.

Problem? Well, the car is very rare. I was only able to find a few like it, and most of that was only photos of ones that sold long ago. I have zero idea what to do. I was told it has some weird engine that they didn't know was ever even sold in the US. I don't even know how to figure out what is wrong with it and no one in town knows how to even begin working on it because it has some sort of bizarre engine. I was wondering if anyone here could give me ANY sort of information or direction on the car about...well...anything. I know nothing about it...It was just love at first sight.

It is a Pontiac Safari Superchick? I think...that's what is on the emblems, anyway. Here are some photos:





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Comments

  • abacomikeabacomike South FloridaPosts: 10,330
    Hello! I am new here...and to cars in general. I've always admired drooling over them and going to car shows, but I just made my first old/unique car purchase. Excited? Yes. Problem? Well, the car is very rare. I was only able to find a few like it, and most of that was only photos of ones that sold long ago. I have zero idea what to do. I was told it has some weird engine that they didn't know was ever even sold in the US. I don't even know how to figure out what is wrong with it and no one in town knows how to even begin working on it because it has some sort of bizarre engine. I was wondering if anyone here could give me ANY sort of information or direction on the car about...well...anything. I know nothing about it...It was just love at first sight. It is a Pontiac Safari Superchick? I think...that's what is on the emblems, anyway. Here are some photos:
    Looks like a 1958 Pontiac Safari station wagon.  If it is the original engine, which I can't tell from the pictures, it is a V8 probably with a 4-barrel carbeurator or it could be a straight 6 with a 2-barrel carbeurator.  I would think just about any "older" mechanic should be able to work on it.  Even if you go online and look up a company or garage that restores cars should be able to help you.

    2018 Mercedes S450

  • fintailfintail Posts: 47,588
    I believe this is a 1957 Pontiac Safari, a "Super Chief". It's a fairly rare car. Wagons are cool now. It could have a number of different engines.

    Although parked in grass can be a bad thing, this car looks pretty clean and straight. Tell us more when you can.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 11,111
    edited April 2015
    That's definitely a '57. I'll have to check the Old Car Manuals site, but I believe a Safari was just a Safari. I'm not familiar with a Pontiac 'Super Chief', but I remember that as a grade of Texaco gas. ;) Pontiac had a series of sedans and hardtops then called 'Star Chief'. That wagon not have been a real rare car when new, but it's been a long time since I've seen one. Good luck!

    BTW, if it's an American Pontiac (as opposed to Canadian), it would be a V8.

    I'd go to some local old-car shows and politely ask folks about anyone they know that might be able to do mechanical work for hire, for you. Let them know that you understand it'll be worked on around more regular-stuff, and don't pester them (the shop or repair guy) too much. I know the feeling you're having; I've had it myself. It would probably be a good idea to buy the factory shop and repair manuals for it (search online) and it might not hurt to search online for a Pontiac club in your area, or maybe the national Pontiac club (I'm assuming there is one).

    Again, good luck.

    If you go to the "Old Car Manuals Project" site, then "Brochures" there, then "USA", then "1957 Pontiac", you can look through the factory brochure for your car which might give you some info on the car and engine.
  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 25,726
    Would that not be mechanically the same as a Nomad?

    '18 BMW 330xi; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 47-car history and counting!

  • texasestexases Posts: 8,825
    I guess similar, but 4 door and different engine/tranny/suspension components.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 23,308
    edited April 2015
    I think that's a 4-door Chieftain Safari.
    What does it have written about the front wheel?
    With the full wheel covers it may be a Super Chief.











    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    Fairly rare, they made 14,095 of the Superchief Wagon in '57 if that's what it is. The really rare ones are the 2-door wagons with only 1/10th as many made. Engine should be a 347 Pontiac V8 which just about any good mechanic can work on.

    If you look on the firewall there should be a Data Plate. Read off the "style" number and that'll tell us exactly what it is.
  • texasestexases Posts: 8,825
    I'm surprised by the ruler-straight fenderline from front to rear. Most have 'kinks', which don't work well on 4-door sedans or wagons.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 11,111
    edited April 2015
    Sorry for the slight, 'slight', fintail--while I'm not a Pontiac guru of that era, I can honestly say I've never heard of a Pontiac 'Super Chief'! 'Chieftain', yes, and 'Custom Safari' (like Nomad), yes.

    I'm still learning stuff about old cars here.
  • uplanderguyuplanderguy Kent, OHPosts: 11,111
    Concerning the 'straight fender lines'--I'm not certain about back in '57, but I know the '61-64 GM wagons had bodies made by an outside supplier, Ionia. They had the sort-of similar rectangular rear-door windows that this car has.
  • I suppose it does say SuperChief. I thought it said SuperChick. That's what it looks like. I took those photos when I first saw it, before it became mine, and didn't want to get my hopes up, so I didn't really investigate too much or take many photos. I will be going out to visit her soon and I will be sure to take many, many more photos and try to clear the grass out from around her. She's been sitting at the friend's house that I got it from for almost a decade. I expect to have to save and put money into her for a very long time, but I'm willing to do it...or have whatever I need to done that I can't figure out since I'm not mechanically-inclined.

    I was TOLD it has some weird, rare engine that only UK ones had??? But I don't know. When I go out there in the next few days I'll be taking someone who knows more than I or the guy who I got it from does about cars.

    Thanks for the information, though, it is all very helpful and interesting, so keep it coming! I'm shocked it is 'SuperChief'. Maybe I need to take a reading course, lol!!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 64,490
    They may have been referring to a Canadian Pontiac,which is certainly possible as GM did big business in Canada back then. If it's a Canadian Pontiac, it will either have a normal Chevrolet V8 (that's what they put it 'em then--chevy engines) or a 261 cubic inch straight six, a bored-out version of the legendary Chevrolet "Stovebolt Six". If it's an American Pontiac, then the standard Pontiac V8/ 347. In any event, any one of those 3 possibilities are easy to work on.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,492
    In 1957, "Safari" simply referred to any Pontiac wagon, although for 1955-56 it was only used on their version of the Nomad. They simply tacked it on to the rest of the name, just like they did "Catalina" for the hardtop coupe and sedan.

    That year, there was a 3-model lineup. Chieftain was the low-line model, on a 122" wheelbase, and offered a 2/4-door sedan, 2/4-door hardtop, and 2- and 4-door wagons.

    Super Chief was the mid-range series, also on the 122" wb, and offered a 4-door sedan, 2/4-door hardtop, and 4-door wagon. By 1957, 2-door wagons and sedans were considered pretty low-class, and while pretty common in Ford/Chevy/Plymouth priced cars, when you moved up a notch to a the middle-priced market, they were usually restricted to the low-end-models.

    Star Chief was the top series, on a 124" wb (but 122" for wagons), and offered a 4-door sedan, convertible, 2/4-door hardtops, and a 4-door wagon, as well as a 2-door "hardtop" wagon that was Pontiac's equivalent of the Chevy Nomad. I put "hardtop" in quotes there because it wasn't a hardtop in the strictest sense of the word...no B-pillar. AFAIK, the only true 2-door hardtop wagon was a Mercury model around 1957-58, called the Villager or something like that.

    My guess is that the car above is a Super Chief. It's definitely not a Star Chief, which would have more chrome on it. And since the original poster deciphered it as "Superchick", well, that's closer to "Super Chief" than "Chieftain".

    As for production, Pontiac sold 11,356 Chieftain 4-door Safaris, (only 2,934 2-door Safaris), and 14,095 Super Chiefs. The Star Chief Custom Safari 4-door wagon only sold 1,894 units. While the Nomad-type model sold a mere 1,292. I seem to remember something else called a "Transcontinental", but it may have been considered a trim level for the Star Chief 4-door wagon, rather than a separate model, so it wouldn't show a separate production breakout.

    Pontiac's only engine size for 1957 was a 347.0 V-8. IIRC, in the Chieftain it was a 2-bbl, and a 4-bbl for the Super Chief and Star Chief. There was also a 290 hp option but I can't remember if it was dual quad or Tri-Power. And then, at the top there was the fuel-injected Bonneville, of which only 630 examples of that $6782 convertible were built.

    FWIW, "Super Chief" was a '57-58-only offering. In 1955-56 the lineup was Chieftain 860/Chieftain 870/Star Chief. I think the 2 different Chieftains might have been a holdover from the earlier years, where Pontiac offered a Chieftain 6-cyl and Chieftain 8-cyl.

    The Super Chief was on a 122" wb for '57, but for '58 moved to the Star Chief's 124" wb, and dropped its wagon offering.

    For 1959, Pontiac shuffled its lineup, calling the low-end Catalina, the mid range was Star Chief, and the Bonneville became a fuller lineup, offering a 4-door wagon, hardtop coupe/sedan, and convertible. Price-wise, it looks like the '59 Star Chief got demoted just a bit, sort of splitting the difference between the '58 Superchief and Star Chief.
  • You guys are awesome with all the information. I need a Wayne's World "We're Not Worthy" gif, lol!
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,492
    Oh, as for the 1957 Pontiac V-8, I don't think there's anything really out of the ordinary about it, other than it being a 1-year only displacement. In those days, the horsepower wars were in full-force, so they'd usually bore an engine one year and stroke it the next.

    That particular V-8 came out for 1955 as a 287.2 CID or something like that. For 1956 it went to a 316 CID, then 347 for '57, and 370 for '58. For 1959 it went to a 389 CID, and then 400 for 1967, and that engine was used through 1978.. It shouldn't be all that hard to work on. Pontiac tended to offer different horsepower ratings for the manual shift versus the automatic in those days, so there were two ratings for the 2-bbl carb, two ratings for the 4-bbl. So that might cause some confusion.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,492
    edited April 2015
    I don't think this is a Canadian/Export model. I looked online and while I couldn't find a 1957 Canadian Pontiac brochure, I did find a '58. The Chieftain/Super Chief/Star Chief wasn't used in Canada; instead it was Pathfinder/Strato Chief/Laurentian. And for '58, it looks like the Parisienne stood in for the American Bonneville. Wagons were called Pathfinder Safari, Strato Chief Safari, and Laurentian Safari.

    The Canadian Pontiacs were shorter than the US models as well, as they were put on Chevy frames. The body itself was the same as the US model, but they were modified up front, with shorter hoods and fenders, as the modification was made in the area behind the front axle, but ahead of the firewall.

    I'm not sure what export Pontiacs would have been called, but I don't think they would have used the same names as in the United States. So if it says "Super Chief" on the front fender, I'd imagine it was originally intended to be a US model, and should have a Pontiac 347 V-8, and not a Chevy engine.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 23,308

    I suppose it does say SuperChief.

    I was TOLD it has some weird, rare engine that only UK ones had??? But I don't know. When I go out there in the next few days I'll be taking someone who knows more than I or the guy who I got it from does about cars.

    I'm glad you shared the pictures and your information with us. I hope you'll keep posting what you learn about this particular car.

    I go to car shows and cruise-ins around my area each summer and see thousands of cars, although many are repeats from the previous year. I don't recall seeing more than 1 1957 Pontiac wagon.

    My comments are that the car is in colors that were the popular, typical colors for Pontiacs
    during the 50s in the Midwest where I grew up. Nothing pleases me more than seeing cars restored
    exactly the way they were and in common colors.

    Good luck.

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,492

    I go to car shows and cruise-ins around my area each summer and see thousands of cars, although many are repeats from the previous year. I don't recall seeing more than 1 1957 Pontiac wagon.

    You've got me beat...I can't remember the last time I've seen ANY '57 Pontiac in person! There's a '58 Bonneville hardtop coupe that shows up at the GM show in Carlisle PA pretty regularly, and I know I've seen a '55 Pontiac here and there, but that's all I got :(

  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 23,308
    edited April 2015
    I'm going to be more interested when I do see a 57 or 58 Pontiac now. I'm not
    sure I've seen a 58 Pontiac, wagon or not. Those were overdone styling wise,
    but were mild compared to Buick and Oldsmobile in '58.

    The '57 taillights reminded me of the 55 and 56 Buick. The slug of chrome
    along the side of car in front of the taillight added that rich overuse of real
    chrome from back in the day. Chrome equated with power and prestige.

    This '58 is a pretty car in typical colors for that year. Does anyone
    know what the words are on the fender behind the front wheel?


    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,492
    That badge says "Fuel Injection" with a sort of lightning bolt through it...



    That's also where they put the "Tri-Power" badge on cars that are so equipped. I think the '58 Pontiac is fairly attractive for the most part...my only quibble with it is the way the headlights jut out. They give the car a bit of a swollen look, and like it's tired, and has bags under its eyes! But yeah, I agree, much better than a Buick or Olds that year!


    Oh, and back in 2011, there was a '55 Pontiac wagon at the GM show in Carlisle PA. I took this pic of it...

  • voroshilovvoroshilov Posts: 26
    edited April 2015
    imidazol - oh I will be keeping it JUST the way it is. The interior, from what I was, was pristine and looked to have been re-upholstered, but very well. The color will stay. I'm sure I will get it re-painted when I can save up and afford to after I get her running, but just for fresh paint, not for a color change. :) I think she's perfect just the way she is!

    I'll probably head out there today or tomorrow to take a lot more photos, under the hood, inside, and out, so I'll be sure to post them. I know approximately ZERO about engines, so this should be a fun learning experience. I think this is what some would refer to as "without a parachute" lol. I'm just a waitress, so it will be a LONG road, but very worth it in the end.
  • andre1969 said:

    That badge says "Fuel Injection" with a sort of lightning bolt through it...



    That's also where they put the "Tri-Power" badge on cars that are so equipped. I think the '58 Pontiac is fairly attractive for the most part...my only quibble with it is the way the headlights jut out. They give the car a bit of a swollen look, and like it's tired, and has bags under its eyes! But yeah, I agree, much better than a Buick or Olds that year!


    Oh, and back in 2011, there was a '55 Pontiac wagon at the GM show in Carlisle PA. I took this pic of it...

    Those are beautiful!
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,492
    I'm looking forward to seeing more pics of this car. And if you get some pics of the engine, I'm sure that someone here would be able to identify it.
  • imidazol97imidazol97 Crossroads of America I70 & I75 Posts: 23,308
    Is that engine from the era where it needs a lead additive in the gasoline to
    protect the valve seats from wear?

    2015 Cruze 2LT, 2014 Malibu 2LT, 2008 Cobalt 2LT

  • qbrozenqbrozen Posts: 25,726
    I'd imagine an engine rebuild is in order anyway, so might as well get the hardened seats to avoid that problem.

    '18 BMW 330xi; '67 Coronet R/T; '14 Town&Country Limited; '18 BMW X2. 47-car history and counting!

  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,492
    I tried to google the subject, but couldn't find any comprehensive info on when hardened valve seats started coming into use. However, it would have been well past 1957. My guess is it would have been around 1969 or so, in anticipation of unleaded gasoline.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 20,225
    That 1957 Pontiac should have the 347 engine in it. I've seen Canadian ones with a Chevy 283 but I don't think there were any with sixes. If you post some photos of the engine we may be able to tell you what it has.

    It's been a long time since I've seen one of these running around and I really like them.

    Any good mechanic should be able to work on it. Cars were simple in those days.
  • voroshilovvoroshilov Posts: 26
    edited April 2015
    Sorry it took me so long to get these on here, we had a storm that knocked out the internet, (hence the crappy lighting - I took them this morning just as the storm was starting to roll in) so I couldn't upload them until now!! Here's LOTS of pictures of her, though, hopefully detailed. Now that I know that emblem says 'Superchief' it looks obvious, but before I knew that, I could have *sworn* it said "Superchick". >.<

    I'd been told it had a Hydrostatic transmission - that was the weird thing - whatever that is...but it doesn't, so it is a non-issue. Can you tell I'm a car noob?













  • fintailfintail Posts: 47,588
    Looks like nothing some elbow grease and TLC won't fix - I see no Flintstone floors or other glaring problems. It'll look great with some wide whites.
  • Yaaaasss....and it looks rough in the photos, but the upholstery is just very, very dusty. I licked a finger and ran it across and it all comes right off. No tears or rips I could see. :)
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