STREETSIDE: 1979 Pontiac LeMans Safari – Box With IROCs

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Mid-sized GM wagons were everywhere back in the day, but now, they’re a rare sight. That makes this LeMans Safari streetside spotting pretty sweet.

This LeMans Safari is another blue-plate special; its period blue license plates appear to identify it as a car that was bought new in California. That means it was spared the road salt of most of the other US states, and so it is still with us on the streets of SF, among the many other wagons here.

Find a Pontiac LeMans near you with BestRide’s local search.

pontiac_lemans_safari_1979-2This one has chromed wheels that mimic that pattern of those from an ’80s Camaro IROC-Z, and their severe spokes are well-matched to this wagon’s rigid shape.

There’s rust dripping down from the sill of the cargo area window, and that was common.


Just before spotting this LeMans Safari, I found an eBay listing for a 1980 Buick wagon from the same platform. Here’s a screenshot of its ambitious $12,500 price.

Find a vintage Buick wagon near you with BestRide’s local search.


Note that the Buick lacks a right-side mirror. Seems odd now that one of GM’s premium brands would nickel-and-dime you on the basics.

This Pontiac shares the Buick‘s lack of options, with a non-remote driver’s mirror that you squeezed into place, then checked the view, then squeezed again to make it just right.


In 1979, Pontiac made 27,517 LeMans wagons like this one, along with 20,783 Grand LeMans wagons with the vinyl wood-patterned siding, for a total of 48,300.

That made it the third best-selling GM wagon off this platform out of four. Below Pontiac, Buick made 31,513 Century wagons, and above, Olds made 53,709 Cutlass Cruisers. Chevy took the crown with 120,439 Malibus.

Find a vintage Buick Century near you with BestRide’s local search.

Those clean lines extended to all divisions.


The tailgate was window-up and door-down. Nice that you could lift up just the window, but the whole setup was prone to rattles.


Outside, the LeMans was very angular, with lots of reinforcing cross-lines.


Inside, the round vents gave some relief from the overall squareness. A note of luxury was given by a thin strip of clock-radio grade, fake-wood trim.


These wagons are becoming more rare, and so their prices are rising, but this example was later found on Craigslist selling for less than a grand, as it was not running. That makes it ticket bait for street cleaning, so it likely had to go ASAP.

But these wagons can be heavily modified, and since the bones on this one look so good, this Safari probably now bolting around with a powerful V8 engine.

Find a Pontiac LeMans near you with BestRide’s local search.