Wednesday, December 7, 2016

By 1985 the Earth had cooled but there were still a few dinaosaurs roaming

I was walking along the borders of gentrification amidst modern glass buildings and old row houses when I stumbled upon this hardy workhorse:
This beast is staring us all down! What we have here is a 1985 Pontiac Parisienne Safari station wagon in White. This is also also a Chevrolet station wagon with a different grill, wheels, and taillights.
The Parisienne was the designation for the top-of-the-line Pontiacs from Canada. Indeed the Parisienne was a version of the Laurentian which, along with the Acadian, produced some vehicles that are both familiar and odd to us in the States. For instance the '60s Acadian from Canada looks just like a Nova but with a different split grill. Only this, the last generation of Parisienne, made it to the States.
This harkens back to a bygone era. The front mounted carbureted V8 engine, rear wheel drive, body on frame technology that makes up this ride shared a dealership floor with more modern front wheel drive, fuel injected, computer controlled modern cars. It seems that American automakers made leaps and bounds in modernization except for one category; the traditional big family wagon.
This is a very big ride. That curved belly hanging under the car between the rear wheel and the back is where the full size spare tire was kept. With the seats folded flat a 4x8 sheet of plywood fits in the back! The fact that someone would need a luggage rack with a car this huge is crazy.
Here we have your classic '80s B.S. faux spoke hubcaps.
Here are the Pontiac-only taillights that separates this model from the Chevy Caprice Classic. To be fair the interior is different between the two brands but not by too much. Tiny shout-out to the body colored insert on the tailgate handle. It's the little things people! Also dig that factory rubber grip on the bumper to keep you steady while you load up the luggage rack with spare gas cans.
The market segment was split between the relatively new minivan and the station wagons. Minivans would win the day but these unapologetically massive wagons were still popular in '85.
To highlight the lack of modernization that went into wagons I'll point out that this body is exactly the same as the 1977 example.
Signs of confusion. This car is from Paris? Canada? Is roaming African somewhere?

The chrome rocker panels. fender trim, and heavy dark window tint are aftermarket customizations. The tint makes sense as you can stash tons of tools or band gear in this thing.
We'll admire the stand-up hood ornament on this period piece before leaving it to roost. After 1986 this full size wagon continued on known simply as Safari before bowing out completely in 1989. For a couple years after the Safari name was added to the much smaller and more modern Pontiac 6000 wagon.
There was to be one last blast for full size V8 rear wheel drive cars from GM between 1991-'96 in the Buick Roadmaster. It was quite the curtain call as the public knew this was it for those traditional dinosaurs and they sold briskly as a result.
Chapeaux à vous safari!

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