i grew up in the back seat of a station wagon, traversing national parks on monthlong cross-country treks, hauling catcher's gear to travel baseball games in the spacious trunk, and learning to drive the nimble longroof on the chaotic streets of new york. but while i loved my parents' 2003 volkswagen passat, it can't measure up to the decadent style of this 1960 pontiac catalina safari currently up for auction on bring a trailer—which, like car and driver, is part of hearst autos.
the catalina name first appeared in 1950 and became a standalone model line in 1959. it received a slight refresh the following year, trading a split-grille design for the cleaner, one-piece look seen here and toning down the rear fins after the 1959 cadillac eldorado biarritz took that design trend to the extreme. safari was the moniker given to pontiac's station wagons at the time, and this example was fitted with nine seats thanks to a first-row bench and a rear-facing third row.
along with being capacious, this safari is a stunning vehicle, with handsome, horizontal character lines stretching the length of the car, a wrap-around windshield providing an airy cabin, and plenty of brightwork to accentuate the catalina's distinguished appearance.
this catalina safari is painted in a pleasing copper metallic hue, with the interior decked out in a fawn vinyl upholstery. this example is fitted with luxuries (for the time) like dual sideview mirrors, a power rear window, power-assisted steering and brakes, and a "super deluxe" am radio. the interior also includes contrasting brown carpeting, a heater, and the latest in safety equipment: lap seatbelts.
power comes from a 6.4-liter (389 cubic inch) v-8 engine and is sent to the rear wheels via a four-speed hydra-matic automatic transmission. the listing does not specify which version of the 389 v-8 this vehicle comes with, but on this generation of catalina, the v-8 could make anywhere between 215 and 345 horsepower. the safari rides on 14-inch steel wheels with chrome covers, shod in period-appropriate american classic whitewall tires.
the listing notes a few chips and scratches, but you can’t expect a 62-year-old car to be pristine. the five-digit odometer reads 12,000 miles, although the true mileage is lost to time. regardless, this 1960 pontiac catalina safari is a beautiful vehicle and makes us long for the days when station wagons were the choice of family car instead of the now ubiquitous crossover. bidding currently sits at $17,000, and the auction ends on monday, july 11.