Bill & Janie Von Hofen's 1957 Pontiac Safari
(from Volume 13, Issue 144)

We have always enjoyed hosting our annual Beach Blast car show at the Holiday Inn Cocoa Beach Oceanfront Resort, which for 2006 took place on Sunday, May 21st (and is covered on pages 6-14 of this issue). Over the last 12 years several traditions have evolved along with the show, one of which is the recipient of our own Cruise News Choice gets featured on the cover of the magazine and in the center spread. This year our selection went to Bill and Janie Von Hofen’s 1957 Pontiac Safari, so we are proud to now share it with your here.

About four years ago a friend of Bill’s was looking for old Buick cars, and he knew about some for sale in St. Augustine, Florida. After talking with the guy that owned the Buicks, he mentioned that he had a 1957 Pontiac Safari being stored in a separate garage. Bill’s friend wasn’t interested, but called Bill so he could go take a look. Bill went home that night and told his wife, Janie, about the car and persuaded her to go the next day and look at it with him. She wasn’t as excited about it as Bill was, and felt that he already had enough old cars. But Bill convinced her that he really wanted this rare car to add to his collection, which consisted of a 1939 Buick street rod, 1957 Chevy “custom” 2-Door Hardtop, 1951 Ford Pickup, 1948 Chevy Pickup under construction, and a 1935 Buick in storage. Bill obviously won out as they did indeed buy the Safari, and they had it for only a month when it won first place at a show in Fernandina Beach, Florida.

The 1957 Pontiac Safari Star Chief 2-Door Wagon is one of 1,292 produced that year, so when you consider that many of them haven’t survived over the years it is indeed a very rare wagon. It shared the Nomad look of the Chevrolet, but also offered a 4-Door Safari in the Chieftain, Super Chief, and Star Chief Custom models.

It originally had a 347 cubic inch V-8 motor, but was replaced by a previous owner with Pontiac’s famous 421 cubic inch V-8 backed by a GM 200R overdrive transmission and a stock rear end. The hood and front fenders, along with the outside mirrors have been shaved of unnecessary chrome for a smooth look, and Bill updated the original front and rear power brake drum brakes with new power discs up front and a dual master cylinder for safety. The original 14 inch wheels and tires are long gone, and it now runs a set of American Racing Torque Thrusts (18 inch up front, 20 inch out back) along with low profile BFGoodrich rubber. All of this just adds to the beauty of the GM “resale red” paint on the exterior. The tag reads “MOMS57”, which was on Janie’s 1957 Hardtop before it was sold.

Inside you will find it has been updated with Vintage Air for comfort, along with a naugahyde and fabric charcoal and black combination on the seats, with buckets in the front and a stock seat in the rear. Shifting is provided by a B&M floor unit, a Le Carra wheel sits atop a tilt column, and an AM/FM cassette player rounds out the comfortable cruising experience.

Bill and Janie have been members of the Jacksonville Rod Runners for a long time, and attend many shows both in and outside of Florida. They recently returned from the Goodguys show in Nashville, Tennessee, along with 16 fellow club members, and the ‘57 Safari won a Goodguys Rep Pick. Since buying the Safari bill has added a 1969 Camaro convertible and a 1955 Chevy Nomad to his collection, but we’re glad that he and Janie chose to bring their cool 1957 Pontiac Safari to our Beach Blast 12 on May 21st, 2006. We certainly liked it, and judging from the crowds of onlookers that would gather many other people did as well! CN