What would drive someone to drop such a 550 HP Nelson Racing Engine into a Station Wagon? To create the ultimate commute to school is the final answer. After his daughter was born, Mike Artman felt it was time to be responsible and buy a family car. He purchased this 1964 Pontiac Catalina Safari for $900. He had a little extra money for a project, so he killed two birds with one stone by rodding the family wagon.
Mike purchased the car from a guy who bought it at a Police auction, and he says it was a total rust bucket inside and out. He said, “It looked like somebody walked over it in golf shoes, it was in really bad shape.” He spruced her up by doing the basic body work himself then taking her to Timeless Kustoms who restored the chrome & covered her in a coat of surf green.
Despite being the size of a barge, the Catalina navigates its way around corners fairly well. Mike cut the stock springs to give her a lower stance, and added aftermarket shocks to improve road handling. 18 inch wheels wrapped in low profile Toyo tires to hug the pavement while a Currie 9-inch rear burns the rubber. Explorer and Scarebird Classic disc brakes take the car from high speed to a halt safely and swiftly.
Going back to his street racing roots, Mike wanted this car not only to be practical enough to take his daughter to school, but also be able to perform at stop lights when met with a challenge. The car retains both station wagon benches, but the 550 horsepower Nelson Racing Engines big-block (displacement classified) hurdles this piece of machinery into the sky. Mike’s Catalina is original, and doesn’t conform to a certain style – it’s built how Mike wanted it in his heart. We love how it retains its station wagon heritage while performing like a musclecar with less room for baggage.