Pontiac Grand Safari

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Pontiac Grand Safari
1972 Pontiac Grand Safari.jpg
1972 Pontiac Grand Safari
ManufacturerGeneral Motors
Body and chassis
ClassFull-size car
Body style4-door station wagon
LayoutFront-engine, rear-wheel-drive
RelatedBuick Estate
Oldsmobile Custom Cruiser
PredecessorPontiac Bonneville Safari (1965)
SuccessorPontiac Bonneville Safari (1979)

The Pontiac Grand Safari was Pontiac's top-of-the-line full-size station wagon offered from 1971 to 1978. The Grand Safari used the grille and interior trim of the Bonneville and Grand Ville passenger car series, and most (but not all) examples were trimmed with woodgrain paneling on the sides and tailgate.

First generation (1971–1976)[edit]

First generation
1974 Pontiac Grand Safari.jpg
1974 Pontiac Grand Safari
Model years1971–1976
AssemblyPontiac, Michigan, United States
DesignerBill Mitchell
Body and chassis
Engine400 cu in (6.6 L) V8
455 cu in (7.5 L) V8
Transmission3-speed TH-400 automatic
Wheelbase127.0 in (3,226 mm)
Length1971: 230.2 in (5,847 mm)
1972: 228.0 in (5,791 mm)
1973: 228.8 in (5,812 mm)
1974–76: 231.3 in (5,875 mm)
Width1971–1973: 79.5 in (2,019 mm)
1974–1975: 79.6 in (2,022 mm)
1976: 79.4 in (2,017 mm)
Height57.8 in (1,468 mm)
Curb weight5,000–5,300 lb (2,300–2,400 kg)

The 1971 to 1976 models were the largest Pontiacs ever built. The 1971-76 GM full-size bodies, at 64.3-inch (1,630 mm) front shoulder room and 63.4-inch (1,610 mm) rear shoulder room set a record for interior width that would not be matched by any car until the full-size GM rear-wheel drive models of the early to mid-1990s. The Grand Safari wagons, as did other GM full-sized wagons during these years, used a unique rear suspension with multi-leaf springs instead of the coil springs used on other full-sized Pontiacs, and other full-sized GM cars.

The Grand Safari wagons also featured a new 'Clamshell' tailgate design, marketed as the Glide-away Tailgate, where the rear power-operated glass slid up into the roof as the tailgate (manually or with power assist), slid into a recess under the cargo floor. The power tailgate, the first in station wagon history, ultimately supplanted the manual tailgate, which required marked effort to lift from storage. The power system was operated by switches on the instrument panel or a key switch on the rear quarter panel. The Clamshell system, heavy and complex, made it easier to load and unload the extremely long wagons in tight spaces. But it remained unique to GM, and would be subsequently eliminated when GM reduced the length of their wagons by about a foot in 1977, and the overriding concern became increased fuel economy.

The 1971-76 Grand Safaris, shared their 127.0 in (3,226 mm) wheelbase with the Buick and Oldsmobile C-body cars but were designated as B-bodies. At 231.3 in (5,875 mm) in length the 1974-76 Grand Safaris are the longest Pontiacs ever built. And at 5,112 lb (2,319 kg) shipping weight, or about 5,300 lb (2,400 kg) curb weight, the three-seat 1974 Grand Safari wagons are easily the heaviest Pontiacs ever built.

These wagons ran with V8 engines of either 400 or 455 cubic inches.

Second generation (1977–1978)[edit]

Second generation
1977 Pontiac Grand Safari.jpg
1977 Pontiac Grand Safari
Model years1977–1978
Body and chassis
Wheelbase115.9 in (2,944 mm)

The 1977 Grand Safari was downsized considerably, with wheelbase cut to 115.9-inch (2,940 mm) inches, length to less than 216-inch (5.5 m) and weight to just over 4,000-pound (1,800 kg) pounds. These wagons thus could run with smaller engines, either a standard 301-cubic-inch (4.93 l) or optional 403-cubic-inch (6.60 l) V8; a 350-cubic-inch (5.7 l) V8 was additionally offered on 1978 models. Replacing the Glide-Away Tailgate was a three-way tailgate not unlike that used on Ford and Chrysler station wagons. In 1979, the Grand Safari's name was changed to Bonneville Safari.

In popular culture[edit]

A Grand Safari is the main vehicle in The Amazing World of Gumball, used by the Wattersons.


  • Encyclopedia of American Cars by Publications International, ISBN 0-7853-6275-4
  • Standard Catalog of Pontiac 1926-1995 by Krause Publications, ISBN 0-87341-369-5


  1. ^ All 1971-76 GM wagons were B-body-based. Interior trim included hard plastic lower door like other B-bodies, not padded vinyl as used on C-bodies. 1973 model designation was 2BP.