Rare Rides: 1978 Pontiac Sunbird Safari Wagon

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides 1978 pontiac sunbird safari wagon

From the most malaisey part of the late 1970s comes a model which would have been a Rare Ride sooner, had your author known about it. It’s a little Pontiac two-door wagon with sporting pretensions.

What awaits you is a Pontiac Sunbird Safari Wagon from 1978. Prepare your polyester jacket.

Part of the last gasp of the General Motors H-body, this Pontiac cousin to the Chevrolet Vega and Monza was originally known as the Astre. Pontiac was finished with the Astre name by 1977, but wanted to continue offering the station wagon variant.

So, for the 1978 and 1979 model years, the Astre wagon became the Sunbird Safari Wagon. GM didn’t want to let Ford’s Pinto wagon go unchallenged in those last couple years of its life.

Three engines were available during those two years, including the 5.0-liter Chevy V8, a 3.8-liter Buick V6, and the 2.5-liter Iron Duke, which is Principal Dan’s favorite engine. Our example today has the 3.8-liter V6, the same one as in this Junkyard Find from 2012. Murilee Martin tells us it has 105 horsepower, which isn’t very many.

This particular example has some extra bits added to the basic sporty wagon shape: Side pipes, front spoiler, metal window inserts — all cobbled from other vehicles.

This Sunbird is well-equipped, featuring a rally gauge package, tilt wheel, sunroof, air conditioning, and a three-speed automatic transmission. However, this example does not appear to have either of the two rare options packages — the Firebird Redbird, or Sunbird Formula.

A commodious and private rear cargo area allows room for many different activities. And the owner has provided some Kleenex, as well.

Superb Pontiac snowflake alloys are present, which can make almost any vehicle look great.

The excellent personal plate should not go without a mention. WIDETRK, indeed. All in all, it’s a tasty and seemingly rust-free find from a forgotten and short-lived model variant. It’s yours in Minneapolis for just $8,200.

[Images via seller]

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3 of 58 comments
  • El scotto El scotto on Oct 25, 2017

    This should be on a pedestal at Toyota or Honda's North American headquarters. The signage should read: "Thank You GM".

  • Art Vandelay Art Vandelay on Oct 25, 2017

    I want to see Wayne Carini crack open a garage and find one of these behind it.

    • Syke Syke on Oct 25, 2017

      The immediate look on his face would be worth it.

  • Duane Baldinger Ya my cupcake Mailman will love it!
  • Duane Baldinger Where can I send the cash? It's a surprise BDAY present for my cupcake Mailman. D Duane
  • Art Vandelay Pour one out for the Motors Liquidation Corporation
  • Bill Wade Norm, while true I'll leave you with this. My 2023 RAM is running Android 8 released in 2017.My wife's navigation on her GM truck is a 2021 release, I believe the latest. Android Auto seems to update very week or two. Now, which would you rather have? Anybody with a car a couple of years old NEVER sees any updates. Heck, if your TV is a few years old it's dead on updates. At least cell phones are rapidly updated. If your old phone won't update, buy another $200 phone. If your GM vehicle doesn't update do what, buy another $50,000 GM vehicle?
  • Lou_BC Once again, Mustang is the last pony car standing. Camaro RIP, Challenger RIP.