1964 Pontiac Catalina Safari wagon
“My wife said to get a wagon. What started off as a modest plan to get a wagon done as a surf driver in a year, turned in to a no-holds-barred resto.” —Mike Artman
Who: Mike Artman
What: 1964 Pontiac Catalina Safari wagon
Where: Carlsbad, CA
Engine: Mike’s friend, Tom Nelson, shaped up this 454 into a 10.5:1 compression 468 with a bunch of porting accomplished by Richard Reyman at West Coast Racing Cylinder Heads. Nelson spec’d a Nelson Racing camshaft and then topped it off with a Weiand intake and an 850-cfm Holley mechanical secondary carburetor and an MSD distributor. Those are Hedman headers backed with a mandrel-bent 31⁄2-inch exhaust leading to a pair of Flowmaster mufflers. Mike says the motor makes 590 hp.
Transmission: While overdrives are cool, Mike chose a classic TH400 for gears, along with a B&M converter and shifter.
Rearend: It doesn’t make much sense to have a strong motor and trans and back it up with a stock 10-bolt rear, so Mike invested in a Currie 9-inch fitted with a set of 3.70:1 gears, Currie axles, and a limited-slip.
Suspension/Brakes: Wagons are cruisers, so Mike helped the budget by reusing most of the stock suspension components and upgrading where necessary. He did add discs all the way around because iron, big-block wagons can be challenging to do the whoa-down with stock ’64 drum brakes.
Wheels/Tires: Mike chose Rocket Racing Booster gray-spoke 18x8-inch wheels to make a classic statement and wrapped them with 235/45R18 front and 275/40R18 rear Hankook tires.
Exterior: Hot Rods and Custom Stuff in Escondido, CA, began the bodywork project, with the final work and paint completed by Jason Pecikonis at Timeless Kustoms in Camarillo, California. The color is Pontiac Lime Light Green.
Interior: Custom interiors are expensive, so Mike went with a relatively mild upgrade, using Eric Thorson Custom Upholstery (Agoura Hills, CA) to stitch up matching vinyl upholstery and green carpet. A Grant wheel gives it a subtle touch, along with a nostalgia Auto Meter tach.
Performance: This wagon is no slouch. Mike says its best is a 12.09 at 119 mph, which backs up the horsepower numbers. That’s a lot quicker and faster than any Volvo, so Mike has both room for groceries and the ability to embarrass the local brat kid in his Fox Mustang.
Credit: Above all, Mike says he has to give it to his wife, Shauna—“the world’s most understanding wife.”