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Safari Kar International’s DJ-5 Mods

• CATEGORIES: DJ-5 & DJ-6 • TAGS: , .

I found a DJ-5 for sale (see below) that had a Safari-Kar data plate. I did some research to learn more about these vehicles.

Safari-Kar International was a company from Woodruff Avenue in San Bernardino, California, that purchased, restored, and resold postal jeeps. It was launched in 1993. Don’t confuse it with a weird car by the same name called the SafariKar.

As best as I can learn, the company sold remanufactured DJs and two different kits. One to swap the steering and chop and modify the back half and another for soft top kits. At their height they remanufactured around 30 jeeps a month. They also signed up twelve independent manufactures.

By 1995 the company ran into a legal problem. They were reselling the vehicles with a new odometer as a modern vehicle. But, by doing so the law dictated the ‘kars’ had to meet modern safety regulations. (you can read an entire article about the company in a 1995 article from Automotive news (also archived at the bottom of this page).

Four Wheeler Magazine may have reported on this modification in a 1993-1994 article, but I have yet to confirm that. They did reference a DJ in a later Cheap Jeep article, but with no mention of a soft top.

Here are a few links:

Here is one Safari-Kar for sale: 1995 DJ-5 Safari-Kar Jeep Flower Mound, TX $6500.

http://dallas.craigslist.org/dal/cto/4760795466.html

1976-dj5-dallas-tx0 1976-dj5-dallas-tx1 1976-dj5-dallas-tx2 1976-dj5-dallas-tx3 1976-dj5-dallas-tx4

AMC 1976 CLASSIC JEEP
Up for sale is a one of a kind classic 1976 Jeep
Year: 1976
Transmission: Auto
Model: Safari
Price: $5,000 firm Will not take a penny less was asking $6,000 reduced for quick sale .
If not sold by this weekend will be trading for a small cabin.
Miles: ONLY 28,000 on rebuilt motor
Rebuilt transmission
Clear Texas title

Updated Texas registration & inspection
Runs & Drives Excellent
Driven as my daily driver
Brand new Goodyear tires
Two brand new $600 Rugged Ridge front seats
Brand new bikini top & windbreaker
Brand new carburetor
Brand new alternator
Installed a new choke so it well start first start in winter
Brand new classic seat belts
Brand new chrome mirrors & rear view mirror … also wipers new battery
-and brand new additional parts
Has Hitch
Currently installed on jeep is a brand new black bikini top, windbreaker, & the old original soft doors

I have the complete orgional soft top, soft doors, and hardware which included in sale

======================

Other Safari Kar examples: You can see similar steering wheels and seat designs.

This one was listed back in March of 2013 as being a Safari Kar DJ. Note the similar roll bar.

dj5-safari-kar

 

dj5-safari-kar21994 DJ Safari Kar Jeep example:

1994-safari-kar-dj5-3 1994-safari-kar-dj5-2 1994-safari-kar-dj5-1 1994-safari-kar-dj5-0

 

 

July 31, 1995, article from Automotive News:

A small California company has launched a remake of a U.S. Postal Service Jeep to compete in the low-end sport-utility segment.

But the remanufactured Jeeps are ahead of their time – so much so that Safari-Kar International of San Bernardino, Calif., is bumping up against state and federal laws.

As a licensed remanufacturer in California, Safari-Kar performs a type of recycling, said President Tommy Mason.

In reconstructing former Postal Service Jeeps and declaring them a new 1995 Safari-Kar, the company:

Replaces the ‘Jeep’ badge with ‘Safari-Kar.’

Mounts a plate on the left door frame disclosing the vehicle’s former mileage and that the vehicle is remanufactured from used parts.

Replaces the used odometer with a new one.

Gives the vehicle a 12-month/12,000-mile warranty.

Sets the odometer at zero.

Although Safari-Kar is only producing about 30 vehicles per month, Mason believes there’s a market for a cross between a new and used sport-utility. The base price is $6,500.

The strongest prospect is a commercial fleet such as parking enforcement vehicles, rural route postal vehicles and rental vehicles in the Sunbelt, said Mason. Customers can order the steering wheel either on the right side or the left side. He said the vehicles, painted in bright colors, also make a good second car or first-time buyer vehicle.

‘The car is in a price range that is very affordable. With used cars, the terms (for financing) are limited, making the payments very expensive. Because this is registered as a 1995 vehicle, we’ll get the same or similar financing as on a new car,’ said Bob Giles, president of Giles Nissan-Volvo in Lafayette, La., who has agreed to be a Safari-Kar dealer.

Safari-Kar has signed 12 independent manufacturer’s representatives throughout the country and will be seeking dealers in addition to Giles, said Ron Weaver, Safari-Kar’s chief operating officer. The company has sold vehicles to fleets in Rhode Island, Massachusetts and California. It has lined up contracts with rural route mail carriers, municipal fleets and rental car fleets, he said.

FACING A LEGAL JUNGLE

But the market could go sour if the remanufacturer doesn’t iron out problems with state and federal laws, such as:

Setting the odometer at zero and labeling Safari-Kars as current model vehicles violates federal odometer law, said Richard Morse, chief of the odometer fraud unit for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

‘If they are calling these 1995 vehicles, they must meet 1995 safety requirements,’ said Clive Van Orden, chief of NHTSA’s division of safety assurance.

Many states don’t register remanufactured vehicles as California does, admits Mason. The company is exploring sales opportunities in Texas and Louisiana. Some state officials don’t know how to classify the vehicles.

‘We are still trying to ascertain what it is and who should license it. We believe it needs to be titled as a used vehicle,’ said Burgess McCranie, an attorney with the Louisiana Motor Vehicle Commission.

If the odometer is replaced, it can legally be set at zero, said Weaver, adding that the company complies with California law. The odometer can be replaced and set at zero only if it was destroyed, said Van Orden.

‘They (federal officials) are wrong (about Safari-Kar having to meet current safety requirements). There is a difference between a manufacturer and a remanufacturer. We only have to meet the original standards (of the original model year) of the vehicle. Safari-Kars only have to pass that (original) year’s standards of emissions,’ Weaver insists.

NHTSA IS WARY

But NHTSA officials disagree. Weaver told Automotive News he would contact NHTSA about federal requirements. Van Orden is scheduled to visit the company’s California plant in the next couple of weeks to examine Safari-Kar’s remanufacturing process.

‘I’m not familiar with other state laws, but we have new, used and remanufactured vehicles. Remanufactured vehicles are similar to new vehicles. They have their own certificates of origin and their own special reports of sale,’ said Chris Humphries, manager of the California Department of Motor Vehicles Redland office.

Safari-Kar ‘has tried to make sure it is in full compliance with California law,’ Humphries said. ‘Nothing has been refused by our headquarters. Everything has been complied with.’

 

15 Comments on “Safari Kar International’s DJ-5 Mods

  1. Mike Finegan

    Now this is an interesting story and as usual, I can add to it. A large New Jersey school bus sales and service dealer by the name of Arcola Bus sales was a distributor, dealer for these re-manufactured & updated Postal Jeeps. Even with a large local advertising campaign, they didn’t sell many of them and after a while, they just stopped selling them. Now I know why.

  2. mmdeilers Post author

    Mike, a fountain of information as always! Were those ads in the newspapers? I should be able to track one down if that’s the case. I’ll be receiving a digitized brochure in the near future and will share that.

  3. Mike Finegan

    Yes Dave, They were Newspaper ads that ran in the local newspapers. At that time, Arcola bus sales was located in Paramus, NJ. The Bergen Record & The Herald News were the newspapers that carried the adds. I remember seeing one of these modified Postal Jeeps in Wallington, Nj, bright yellow and very well done. So well done I did a double take.

  4. Voyeur house Cam

    Greate post. Keep writing such kind of info on your page.
    Im really impressed by it.
    Hello there, You have performed an incredible job. I’ll certainly digg it and for my part suggest to
    my friends. I’m confident they will be benefited from this website.

  5. Charles Krivan

    i have one in really great shape ,now i know the history
    Thank you
    i have pictures if you like to see

    most of the time it sits in the garage

  6. David Eilers

    Hi Charles,

    I’m glad you found that helpful. Sure, send some pics to d@ewillys.com. It is always useful to have a database of photos for rare vehicles like yours!

    Thanks,

    – Dave

  7. Elliot J Goldstein

    Just curious, will soft tops from other jeep models fit the safari-kar jeeps? I see these for sale sometimes, and wouldn’t mind getting one. Would be a nice winter jeep for Florida. My lab really wants me to get one.

  8. Mike

    Eliot, in reply to your question, My opinion only, I don’t think stock tops from other models would fit without a great deal of alteration.

  9. Charles Krivan

    I have a original Safari-Kar jeep 1978
    been toying in my head to maybe put her up for sale

    original with doors and top

  10. elliot goldstein

    Charles

    Post some pics and put it on craigslist. See if anyone bites. Just don’t waste your time hanging around for buyers as at least 80% are bs artist and don’t have two nickels to rub together. Would be interested, but just have other priorities for next 6 months or so.

  11. David Eilers

    Hi Charles: I’ll share the link with readers.

    Elliot: I would think a CJ-5 top ought to work, but have never tried it on a DJ-5. The body dimensions seem like they’d be close enough and the windshield should have the channel necessary to mount it. You’d definitely need the mounting equipment. The doors would be more problematic if there is no way to slide the door into a channel like you’d do with a standard CJ-5. But, again, I’ve never tried it.

  12. karl glover

    i actualy have quite a few picof these jeeps cuz my girl friend and i worked at safari kar in downy we started up the parts room and i did all touch up painting dash paiting and detailing

  13. David Eilers

    Hi Karl,

    I’d be very interested in any more information or pics you can provide. There just isn’t much information out there regarding Safari Kai and this unusual bit of history.

    You can email me directly at d@deilers.com.

    Thanks,

    – Dave

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