Clash of the Classics
Those folks that have been tuning in to our “Horsepower for an Hour” radio broadcast regularly, know that each week we go head to head between two classic model cars on our “Clash of the Classics” segment. We look at what was new and innovative for the time and take a stroll down memory lane, gently massaging that part of us that loves to “Remember When”. Most of us, especially those that are older, will readily confess, we love to relax with a cup of tea by a warm fire and fondly recall the days of our youth, remembering those days when somehow, life seemed just a bit simpler.
1957 Chevrolet Nomad vs.1957 Pontiac Safari
Today on Clash of the Classics the battle stage is set, the 1957 Chevy Nomad vs 1957 Pontiac Safari. We’ll start with the Chevy, the Nomad had a run from 1955 to 1972 but it’s definitely best remembered in it’s 1955 -1957 form. Chevrolet advertised it back then as “The Hot One” and it was an appropriate slogan. 1957 was the first year for the 283 C.I.D.small block and it was destined to become an icon in the industry. Many will argue that America was built on the back of the 283 small block engine and many of us here at Horsepower Broadcasting are inclined to agree, the 327 C.I.D. and the ultimate heavy hitter 350 C.I.D. were all given birth by by the early 283 design.
Chevy Nomad Powertrain
The cast iron Powerglide automatic transmission was becoming more and more popular over the three (3) speed manual transmission and more ladies were becoming buyers of the new automatic transmission technology. Chevy had a little known transmission back then called a Turboglide that many folks have never heard of, it was a complete disaster and GM discontinued it in 1960 or 1961. Trust us folks, we hope we never see that transmission again.
Hollywood loved the early Nomads and they were regularly used in several well known movies such as:
* American Graffiti
* Lethal Weapon 3
* Home Improvement
* Peggy Sue Got Married
* American Hotrod
Chevy sold just over 20,000 Nomads from 1955 to 1957 and the original MSRP was somewhere near $2,857.00. Today the asking price is just a bit higher, in fact, models that are in good condition will easily be sold for well over $100,000.00, not a bad return on your investment.
1957 Pontiac Safari
The early Pontiac Safari on the other hand was never quite the success that the Nomad was and although basic size, shape and structure were remarkably similar, somehow the Pontiac never seemed to catch on with the American public and the line was discontinued in 1957. The only engine option that was available for the 1957 Pontiac Safari was the 347 C.I.D. Handling the ratio changes was the continually problematic Strato-Flight automatic transmission. (Cadillac used a similar version of this transmission called a “Jetaway” with some degree of success but ultimately the transmission was discontinued in the early 1960’s.)
1957 Motor Trend Magazine Reports:
Many believe that the end of production was brought about because of a poor review Motor Trend Magazine published in the late 50’s stating the 1957 Pontiac Safari was “disappointing”. Motor Trend went on to report that car idled rough, ran poorly, the transmission was a nuisance, and overall, the car was “no fun in day to day driving”. That statement may just have helped seal the fate of the Safari because the next year, the car was gone.
The 1957 Pontiac Safari was originally sold for about $3,481.00, today a model in good condition will easily command $130,000.00 or more. Part of the reason they are so valuable today is because ultimately Pontiac only produced about 9,000 units back in those early days.
Whether you’re a fan of the Chevy or a fan of the Pontiac, either way, you’ll come out a winner! Find a station in your area that carries the show on our convenient station finder or simply download the podcast and listen in at your leisure. Clash of the Classics is a very popular segment that happens every week, see you next time.