Sunday, December 19, 2010

Pontiac Lemans Sport Coupe

I was recently able to pick up an all original 1976 Pontiac Lemans Sport Coupe similar to one I owned back in 1976. I have been looking for another classic car to go with my 1969 Mercury Cougar but was struggling to find one with louvered windows that did not need a lot of work.

I originally saw this car being hauled into Kelowna on a flat bed about four years ago and I was not able to track it down. The next time I saw the car it was sitting at Junk Yard Dog in West Kelowna in the fall of 2008. I checked it out in the spring and was impressed with the condition.

Since I’d seen the car it had been sold and then in a fender bender. It ended up as an insurance write off and was purchase by a garage. They fixed the fender and repainted the car gloss black.

When I looked at the car in 2008 I did a magnet test and realized it was all metal. The car started at a price that I could not afford. The car continued to drop in price and when it hit my range I picked it up.

This is a 2011 winter project and will be on the road come the spring.
It has the following:

350 4-barrell, Power, Windows, Doors, Locks, Cruise Control, and Air Conditioning

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

My 1976 Pontiac Lemans Sport Coupe

I always loved the styling of this A-Body model which was produced from 1973 to 1977.
In 1976 I purchase my first car and I decided upon a black 1976 Pontiac Lemans Sport Coupe. It was equipped with a 350 - 4 barrel with a black interior, Power brakes and power steering. I special ordered the fender skirts from the Grand Lemans and had them installed. With the louvers on the back windows and the fender skirts the car had a very distinctive look.

At the time I lived in Mississauga, Ontario near Oakville and I drove to New Market daily that first summer to work at a job with Tip Top Tailors. In the first two years I put on 60,000 miles. I was young and did a lot of partying with this car.

I always loved the styling of this A-Body model which was produced from 1973 to 1977 and this site is devoted to those years.

Donald Robichaud

Sunday, November 21, 2010

1973 Pontiac LeMans Sport Coupe

by Chris Hafner on November 16, 2010
Submitted by Richard McCallum

My affection for the 1973 Pontiac LeMans started in 1973, when my kindergarten bus would pass a local business where there was a new 1973 LeMans Sports Coupe parked every day. It was the same color as the one I own now, and with a factory original stripe kit. I lusted after this car every day we passed it.

As a teenager, I dreamed of owning a 1973 LeMans, but instead I ended up with a '73 Ford Maverick. While in college in 1988, I found and bought a 1973 LeMans in Fargo, N.D. for $350. After owning it for a year, I cut the roof off. Happily, it was the drought summer of 1988 in Minnesota; it didn't rain all summer. People loved this car; they thought it was a real convertible.

I won my current LeMans on eBay for $1,200. It had originally had the stripe, but it was painted over. I have been hitting the junk yards in my spare time finding parts and slowly restoring her.

It has a 350-cubic-inch, 2-barrel V-8. It is by no means a performer, but I have always liked the heavily sculpted lines and tapered rear (which prompted my sister to say it looks tapered like a turd). Yes, the styling was controversial; that's probably why I don't see too many '73's around these days. That, or because of the crappy quality!

Actually, it is pretty tight and solid for a 36-year-old car. The only thing I don't like about it are the oversized and clunky 5 mph bumpers.

--Richard McCallum

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Pontiac Leman History 1962 to 1981

From 1962 until 1981, the Pontiac Division of General Motors featured the compact Pontiac LeMans as the top-line version of the Pontiac Tempest. LeMans was a model name that was applied to both compact and intermediate-sized vehicles before being replaced by the Bonneville in 1982.

Showcasing much more luxurious trimmings and a sportier design than the Tempest, the LeMans stayed in place as the top-line version as the Tempest was upsized and restyled from a compact to an intermediate-size vehicle. During this update, the Pontiac LeMans continued to keep the same 215 in³ six-cylinder and 326 in³ V8s that was found in the standard Tempest.

Available with a new performance car package with the designation GTO (Grand Turismo Omologato), the LeMans featured this option priced at under $300 at the start of the 1964 model year. Considered by many to be the first true muscle car, as other manufacturers were concentrating on their full-size lines, Pontiac viewed the potential for marketing at a budget price a big block engine in an intermediate frame. This GTO option came with a larger 389 in³ V8 from the full-sized Pontiac line that put out an amazing 325 or 348 hp.

The GTO featured a three-speed floor shift manual transmission with Hurst shifter, red-line Tiger Paw tires, GTO nameplates, and heavy-duty suspension. Following 32,000 sales as the end of the first year, the GTO was considered a great success compared to the predicted 5,000 units sold. It was this image and success that helped to establish the Tempest and LeMans models in following years, as it sold in amazing number and created the hottest performance machine yet. The GTO also is responsible for promoting Pontiac to third place in industry sales.

For 1966, the GTO became its own separate model though it continued to keep the same basic body as the LeMans and Tempest models. All of the Pontiac intermediates received a more swooping style that featured tunnel-back rooflines on a two door hardtop and pillared coupes.

The GTO remained a big-engined muscle vehicle, while the Tempest and LeMans models received a new SOHC 230 ³ six-cylinder engine as the base engine. Optional features included a Sprint package that included a four-barrel version of the 230 in³ OH six that had a higher compression ratio and hotter cam. This engine also featured a floor-mounted three-speed transmission with Hurst shifter, body striping and suspension kit. For those that would rather have a V8 engine, the base two-barrel 326 in³ V8 was rated at 250 hp and was considered to be the most popular Tempest/LeMans engine. Another featured option was a 285 hp four-barrel 326 HO V8 with a higher compression ratio, dual exhausts and high performance cam.

During the mid-to-late 1960s, the Sprint-optioned LeMans and Tempest models weren't the most popular, as they were being outsold by the large-engined GTO though the V8 power of the LeMans and Tempest models was a more preferred option during this time. In 1969, both the Sprint and the SOHC six-cylinder engine was discontinued and the base Chevrolet-built 250 in³ OHV six-cylinder engine became the base engine used from 1970 to 1976 Pontiac intermediates.

In the beginning, a pillared coupe and convertible were featured by LeMans for 62 and 63, but in 64 a hardtop coupe was added, along with a four-door pillared sedan the following year. The pillared sedan was eventually replaced by a four-door hardtop in 66 and a four-door Safari wagon in 68. Upgrades for these years included deluxe steeling wheels, full wheel covers, courtesy lighting and carpeted lower door panels.

The LeMans name-plate was downgraded to the mid-line sub-series that were previously known as the Tempest Custom in 1970. This sub-series included a both two and four-door pillared sedan. LeMan Sport, available in the same three body styles which included a four-door hardtop sedan, two-door hardtop coupe and convertible was the rename of the previous top-shelf LeMans series. The larger engines that had previously been reserved for GTO's were now made available on the lesser Tempest/LeMans models and included a 400 in³ V8 rated at 265 hp with either a two-barrel carburetor or a 330 hp option with a four-barrel carburetor and dual exhausts.

Pontiac promoted the LeMans nameplate to a full-series status to now identify all of its current intermediate models (which still included the GTO) and the Tempest name was entirely retired. Previously known as the Tempest, the Pontiac T-37 was now placed at the bottom of the line.

All Pontiac intermediates were made LeMans models for 1972. The GTO was downgraded from a sub series and reverted back to an option package on the LeMans and LeMans Sport, and was priced at only $353.88. The low-priced T-37 was replaced by a LeMans pillared coupe. Featuring a more plush interior, and available in both hardtop sedan and coupe models, the Luxury LeMans was now the top-line intermediate model. The Sport edition was made available as either a two-door hardtop or convertible that showcased Strato bucket seats and interior fittings from the Luxury LeMans.

The LeMans and other GM intermediates grew much larger in size from 1973 to 1977 due to evolutionary changes from federally-mandated 5 mph crash bumpers that now added weight and length. The new intermediate lineup now included the base LeMans, LeMans Sport Coupe, Luxury LeMans, the Euro-style Grand Am and the GTO. All body styles were based on GM's Colonnade hardtop design for both coupes and sedans and included center pillars that enhanced rollover safety standards but eliminated true hardtop designs. After the 1972 model year, no convertibles were made available on the market.

The LeMans along with the other GM mid-sized vehicles were produced considerable downsized in 1978, as they lost between 600 and 800 lbs in the process due to GM's corporate downsizing program. This program was put into effect following the Arab Oil Embargo induced crises that caused engines to be downsized and reduce the size and weight of the vehicles.

Engine options were also reduced to a standard Buick-built 231 in³ V6 or an optional 301 in³ V8 for 1978, Pontiac-built engine. These were compared to a larger 350,400 and 455 in³ V8s that was used in earlier years. Pontiac's mid-sized lineup included the base model LeMans, Grand LeMans and a Grand Am from 1978 to 1980. The revived Grand Am was much more suited in both size and concept as a Euro-style sport sedan when compared to the larger 73 and 75 models and was not a tremendous seller as ether a sedan or coupe. The Grand Am nameplate was discontinued for a few years following 1980, and was eventually revived in 85 as a new compact vehicle.

1981 was the last year for the mid-sized LeMans. Only the base and Grand LeMans models were offered at first during the year, before a new LJ trim level was added and placed between the Grand and base models. The following year, the LeMans nameplate was dropped and rebadged as the Bonneville. Reduced to one trim line in both four-door and Safari wagon models, the LeMans (soon to be Bonneville) did not offer a Pontiac engine as the division now discontinued V8 production following 1981 to concentrate on Iron Duke four-cylinder engines for GM's smaller vehicles.

The lineup for 1981 now consisted of the Olds 350 diesel, the Buick V6 or the Chevrolet 305 V8. Following 1983, the mid-sized Bonneville wagon was dropped while the sedan stayed on the line until 1986. The Bonneville nameplate was shifted to a larger front-wheel drive full-sized sedan in 87 and now shared its basic platform with both LeSabre and Oldsmobile Delta 88.

Read full article here

Sunday, September 19, 2010

1977 Pontiac LeMans

The year 1977 was the finale for the LeMans and Grand LeMans built off the 1973-vintage Colonnade body. Appearance changes were limited to revised grilles and tailight lenses. Engine offerings were revised with Buick's 231 cubic-inch V6 replacing the Chevy inline six as the base powerplant in sedans and coupes.

The base V8 (standard on Safari wagons and optional on other models) was Pontiac's new 301 cubic-inch engine based on the same V8 engine block as other Pontiac V8s but utilized many lightweight components. Optional V8s were pared down to Pontiac-built 350 and 400 four-barrel powerplants. The three-speed manual was the standard transmission on V6 models, while the Turbo Hydra-matic was optional and the only transmission available with the V8 engines. Those drivetrain offerings were available in 49 states.

In California, Pontiac V8s were not offered for 1977 due to the inability to meet that state's more stringent regulations. In the Golden State, the Buick V6 was standard on most models but the V8 engines offered there were Oldsmobile's 350 and 403 four-barrel engines. Turbo Hydra-matic was the only transmission offered in California.

A sporty/performance model based on the LeMans Sport Coupe called the Pontiac Can Am was a one-year only offering for 1977. The Can Am came standard with the 400 four-barrel V8 in 49 states or the Olds 403 four-barrel in California, along with Turbo Hydra-matic transmission, a Grand Prix instrument panel and console, along with Strato bucket seats, and rear spoiler.

For the final year of the Colonnade LeMans models, they were joined by newly downsized B-body Catalina and Bonneville full-sized cars, which weighed a few pounds less than the "intermediates" and rode on the same 116-inch wheelbase length as the LeMans sedans and Safari wagons and also had similar dimensions as far as length and width were concerned. The downsized big cars of 1977, would be followed up with downsized intermediates for 1978 including the LeMans/Grand LeMans and the personal-luxury Grand Prix coupe.

1976 Pontiac LeMans

For 1976, the LeMans and Grand LeMans were the only Pontiac intermediate offerings with the discontinuation of the Grand Am series.

All models received new rectangular headlights with distinct grilles unique to the base and LeMans Sport and another one for the Grand LeMans. The Chevy-built 250 six was now standard on all LeMans and Grand LeMans sedans and coupes along with the LeMans Sport Coupe with V8 options including a new "Oldsmobile-built" 260 V8 and Pontiac V8s of 350 and 400 cubic inches with two- or four-barrel carburetion (400 four-barrel still standard on all Safari wagons), along with the return of the 455 four-barrel V8 after a one-year absence.

The three-speed manual transmission was standard with the Chevy six with Turbo Hydra-matic optional, the latter now the only transmission offered with all V8s except the small 260 which could be ordered with a five-speed manual in the LeMans Sport Coupe.

Also new for 1976 was an "Enforcer" police package on LeMans sedans with either the 400 or 455 V8s that included Turbo Hydra-matic transmission, variable ratio power steering, heavy duty power front disc brakes and suspension tuning. The following year, 1977, an Enforcer police pursuit LeMans sedan was one of the featured cars in the motion picture Smokey and the Bandit.

1975 Pontiac LeMans

The 1975 LeMans received mostly trim changes including new crosshatch grilles on base and Sport models, and a distinctive vertical bar grille with more chrome on the Grand LeMans (renamed from Luxury LeMans) series cars and only revised nameplates and tailight lenses in the rear. Interiors were revised on top Grand LeMans cars to include the distinctive wrap-around dashboard from the Grand Prix and Grand Am models with simulated African Crossfire Mahogany trim, a notchback bench seat with armrest in sedans and wagons or a no-cost choice of the notchback bench or Strato bucket seats in coupes.

Base LeMans and Sport Coupe models carried over trim only slightly revised from 1974 including a revised Custom Cushioned steering wheel. Big news for 1975, however, was Pontiac's Maximum Mileage System which consisted of GM's new catalytic converter which reduced emissions while improving drivability and fuel economy, a High Energy electronic ignition, and lengthened routine maintenance intervals. Radial tires were standard on all models and a "Radial Tuned Suspension" option was available that included upgraded radial tires along with front and rear sway bars.

Engines were revised for 1975 to meet that year's emission requirements and mated to the catalytic converter, which spelled the end of true dual exhausts. The 250 cubic-inch Chevy inline six was standard on base LeMans coupes and sedans while the 350 two-barrel V8 was optional and standard on the LeMans Sport Coupe, and Grand LeMans sedans and coupes, and optional engines on all of those models including a 350 four-barrel and a 400 two-barrel. LeMans and Grand LeMans Safari wagons came standard with a 400 four-barrel engine that was optional on other models.

The 455 V8 was discontinued for all LeMans models for 1975, but still available in the Grand Am. Transmission offerings included a three-speed manual standard with the six-cylinder and 350 two-barrel V8, with the three-speed Turbo Hydra-matic optional with those engines, a "mandatory" option with all other engines in sedans and coupes, and standard on the Safari wagons. The Hurst-shifted four-speed manual was no longer offered.

1974 Pontiac LeMans

Changes for the 1974 LeMans included new split grilles with horizontal bars on base LeMans and LeMans Sport models, while Luxury LeMans models got chromed vertical bar split grilles. Model offerings in each series were the same as 1973, except for the addition of a new Luxury LeMans Safari wagon and the deletion of the GTO series from the intermediate line to the compact Pontiac Ventura series.

Out back were new federally-mandated 5 MPH bumpers to match the similarly mandated front bumpers of the previous year and less curvaceous rear end treatment with vertical taillights and license plate/fuel filler moved above the bumper.

Base LeMans coupes retained the fixed full triangular rear side windows while Luxury LeMans coupes got a smaller vertical opera window similar to the Grand Prix along with an optional Landau rear quarter vinyl roof. LeMans Sport Coupes were now available with two rear side window treatments - the louvered triangular version carried over or the opera window with Landau vinyl roof from the Luxury LeMans.

All engines were carried over from 1973 including the 250 inline six, and V8s including the 350 two-barrel, 400 two- and four-barrel and 455 four-barrel. New to the option list for 1974 was a 350 four-barrel. The same assortment of three- and four-speed manual transmissions were carried over for 1974 along with the three-speed Turbo Hydra-matic. New to the option list for 1974 on all models were GM-specification radial-ply tires manufactured by GM's usual tire suppliers that included revised suspension tuning.

1973 Pontiac LeMans

The 1973 LeMans, along with all other GM intermediates, was new from the ground up but retained the same wheelbase lengths of 112 inches for two-door coupes, and 116 inches for four-door sedans and station wagons. All models featured the federally-mandated 5 mile-per-hour front bumpers along with single headlights. Handling capabilities were greatly improved on all models due to new front-suspension components shared with the X-body Pontiac Firebird/Chevrolet Camaro, improved rear coil suspension and bias-belted tires (except Grand Ams, which got radial tires).

Engine offerings were carried over from 1972 with revisions to meet the 1973 emission requirements. Standard on base LeMans sedans and coupes was Chevrolet's 250 cubic-inch inline six-cylinder engine, while the LeMans Sport Coupe, Luxury LeMans sedans and coupes, and all Safari wagons got Pontiac's 350 cubic-inch V8 with two-barrel carburetor rated at 150 horsepower standard (optional on base LeMans models). Optionally available on LeMans, Sport and Luxury LeMans was a 400 cubic-inch V8 with two-barrel carb and 170 horsepower, a 230-horsepower 400 four-barrel (standard with the GTO option) and a 250-horsepower 455 four-barrel was optional on all models. Planned and listed as an option for the 1973 GTO but never materialized was a 455 Super Duty V8 rated at 310 net horsepower for which introduction was delayed by Pontiac management due to emission issues until the spring of 1973 and then only in the smaller Firebird Formula and Trans Am ponycars.

A three-speed manual transmission with column shift was standard on LeMans and Luxury LeMans models while the GTO came with a floor-mounted three-speed with Hurst shifter. Available at extra cost was the three-speed Turbo Hydra-matic with all engines while a four-speed manual with Hurst shifter was available with the 230-horsepower.

1973 Pontiac GTO

Once again an option package for the LeMans, the 1973 GTO shared the reskinned A-body with its "Colonnade" hardtop styling, which eliminated true hardtop design because of the addition of a roof pillar but retention of frameless doorwork.

Rear side windows were now of a fixed design that could not be opened and in a trianglar shape. New federal laws for 1973 demanded front bumpers capable of withstanding 5 mile per hour impacts with no damage to the body (5 mph rear bumpers became standard in 1974). The result was the use of prominent and heavy chrome bumpers front and rear.

The overall styling of the 1973 Pontiac A-body intermediates (LeMans, Luxury LeMans, GTO and Grand Am) was generally not well received by the car buying public.

In contrast, the Pontiac Grand Prix and Chevrolet Monte Carlo, which were also derived from the intermediate A-body, were much better received because of their squared-off styling and formal rooflines with vertical windows. Pontiac's sister division, Oldsmobile, received better reviews from the automotive press and the car-buying public with the similar-bodied Cutlass.

Again, the 1973 GTO option was offered on two models including the base LeMans coupe or the LeMans Sport Coupe. The base LeMans coupe featured a cloth-and-vinyl or all-vinyl bench seat while the more lavish LeMans Sport Coupe had all-vinyl interiors with Strato bucket seats or a notchback bench seat with folding armrest. The LeMans Sport Coupe also had louvered rear side windows from the Grand Am in place of the standard triangular windows of the base LeMans.

The standard 400 CID V8 in the 1973 GTO was further reduced in compression to 8.0:1, dropping it to 230 hp. The 400 engine was available with any of the three transmissions including the standard three-speed manual, or optional four-speed or Turbo Hydra-Matic. The 455 CID V8 remained optional but was dropped to 250 hp and available only with the Turbo Hydra-Matic transmission. The 455 HO engine did not reappear, but GM initially announced the availability of a Super Duty 455 engine (shared with the contemporary Pontiac Trans Am SD455), and several such cars were made available for testing, impressing reviewers with their power and flexibility. Nevertheless, the Super Duty was never actually offered for public sale in the GTO. Also, eight (8) 455SD Grand Ams were also built for testing, and eventually all were destroyed as well.

Sales dropped to 4,806, thanks in part to competition from the new Grand Am and the lack of promotion for the GTO. By the end of the model year an emerging energy crisis quashed consumer interest in muscle cars.

Production: 4,806
Engines: 400 V8 230 bhp @ 4400 rpm, 325 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm. 455 V8 250 bhp @ 3700 rpm, 370 lb-ft @ 2800 rpm.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

1977 Pontiac LeMans Can Am

In 1977 General Motors was in the midst of rolling out their new “downsized” full size cars, which shed a lot of weight, but maintained the interior dimensions.

However, 1977 was also a record year for the “intermediates” that were not only larger (in exterior dimensions), but in most cases, a great deal heavier than their “full size” counterparts.

During this time, Pontiac introduced a limited edition package available on the LeMans Sport Coupe, the 1977 Pontiac Can Am.

In 1977, decals and tape stripes had replaced the raw, visceral power of the 1960’s musclecars. For example, there was the Mustang Cobra II, but its 302 could only manage 127 horsepower. Dodge had the hot black and gold Warlock truck, but this was before most people thought of a truck as a performance vehicle. Chevy reintroduced the Z/28 after a two-year absence, but its 350 was a shadow of it’s former self. Overall, when you consider the choices that existed for an affordable, American performance car in 1977, Pontiac was a big player.

Its Trans Am was a huge sales success that year, spurred on by the popular movie, “Smokey and the Bandit”. But the Trans Am wasn’t the only performance car they offered that year. So, Pontiac introduced the 1977 Can Am, and was designed from the beginning to be a limited-production performance car, with an anticipated production run of 5000 units. The name for the car came from the Can Am (Canadian-American) racing series.

For the total sum of $1214.43, the Can Am Option Package could be added to a LeMans Sport Coupe with the louvered quarter windows.

The package consisted of the following:
T/A 6.6 400-cid 4-barrel Pontiac V8 (or Olds 403 if sold in California)
Power front disc brakes
TH400 heavy-duty automatic transmission
Power variable-ratio steering
Rally RTS handling package
GR70×15 radial tires
Body-color Rally II wheels
Twin sport mirrors
Cameo White paint with special tri-color striping
Blacked-out moldings, and black lower body-side accent stripe
Grand Prix instrument panel featuring the Rally gauge cluster with in-dash clock

Pontiac built each car slated for conversion with all of the mechanical bits that made the Can Am unique. Due to the limited planned production run of 5000 units, they outsourced the remainder of the work. Jim Wanger’s Motortown Corp. was contracted to fit the cars with the striping and rear spoiler, and modify the hood to make room for the shaker hood assembly. For some reason, every Can Am came with a 1976-style shaker, which had a different shape than the shaker offered on the 1977 Trans Am.

A partial listing of options available on the Can Am included:
Air conditioning
Front seat console with buckets
15×7 Cast aluminum wheels
“Saf-T-Track” rear axle
GR70×15 White letter tires
Custom Sport steering wheel
Soft Ray glass
Color-keyed seat belts
Interior decklid release
Interior hood release
Am/FM/8-track radio
AM/FM/CB radio
Instrument panel tachometer (replaces clock)
Power door locks and windows
Glass or steel power sunroof

A review of the new mid-year Le Mans Sport Coupe option in the May 1977 issue of Motor Trend said, “The Can Am is the ideal car for the person who likes the Firebird Trans Am or Formula but needs extra space. It provides good handling and steering response with a pleasant, firm, but never jarring, ride.” The same article listed a 0-60 performance time of 10 seconds, with a quarter-mile time of 17 seconds at 84 mph. Okay, it’s not a Judge, but considering the time frame, the Cam Am was a screamer, all things being relative. In comparison, a mid-size 1975 Pontiac equipped with the 455 V-8 turned the same 0-60 10-second time.

Unfortunately, Can Am production ended prematurely, when the mold used in manufacturing the unique “duck tail” spoiler was accidentally damaged. It’s interesting to note that the exact same circumstances surrounded the discontinuation of the duck tail spoiler that was produced (in very limited numbers) for the 1972 GTO. There is some controversy over exactly how many Can Ams were produced; depending on the source, the final tally stood at either 1100 or 1377.

For years, it was rumored that seven production Can Ams were painted “Mandarin Orange”. Jim Wangers, who was a primary player in getting Pontiac to go ahead with the Can Am project, recently debunked this myth. In a February 2001 email to fellow Can Am owner Mark Fearer, Jim stated that, “To my knowledge there were never any ‘orange’ Can-Ams officially built by Motortown for Pontiac in 1977…when the car was first presented to Pontiac in 1976 by myself and Motortown, it was painted in Carousel Red and was proposed to be called ‘The Judge’.” This was rejected, and a white paint scheme with similar graphics was proposed instead. Pontiac was still open to a comparison with the GTO in its advertising, though. Magazines featured Can Am ads which used the phrase, “Remember the Goat”.

Pontiac probably could have sold the entire 5000 and more if management had approved fixing the mold. But the Can Am used the same dash as the Grand Prix, which was a highly profitable sales leader in 1977; every Can Am sold pirated sales of the GP! The broken spoiler mold was the last straw, and the project was axed. In theory, Pontiac could have generated more demand for the Can Am, had they authorized the sale of the car in another key market – Canada. For some reason, the Can Am was sold only in the United States; perhaps it was because every Canadian-market LeMans was powered by a Chevrolet engine.

Pontiac Le Mans History

The Pontiac Le Mans started life as a luxury and performance package for the mid-sized Tempest coupe and convertible, and left this world as an economy compact coupe.

It first appeared in 1962, as a high-end package on the Tempest, with carpeting on the floor and door panels and bucket seats. A new V8 engine revved it to 190-hp for a sportier ride.

The Le Mans is perhaps best known for introducing the Pontiac GTO to the world. This too was first sold as package on the upscale Le Mans, boasting a stiffer suspension, dual pipes, Hurst floor shifter, performance tires, and a 389 V8 hitting 260-hp. Though the Le Mans had already been a popular car in the Tempest lineup, the GTO proved the big success, not only ushering in the muscle car era, but boosting Pontiac's industry standing in sales. With a lasting influence on the pony car market, the GTO would disappear after 1974. In the meantime the Le Mans branched out its offerings to a sedan and Safari wagon, along with the coupe and convertible.

Stepping out from under the shadows of the Tempest, the Le Mans became its own stand-alone brand in 1971, when the Tempest was discontinued. It came in a variety of trims that emphasized either luxury or performance, offering up hefty V6 and V8 engines. As the '70s progressed, the Le Mans got even bigger, until the oil embargo forced a detuning of engines. The big block V8s shrunk a bit, as did sales for the Le Mans. In 1982, the mid-size coupe, convertible, and sedan were dropped, its place taken over by the Bonneville.

The Le Mans made a brief return for six years, from 1988-1993 as a compact coupe and sedan. Though not the performance car it once was, with only a 4-cylinder engine that either got 74 or 95-hp, it tried to package its GSE coupe with superficial street racing elements. This new Le Mans boasted great fuel economy, a roomy cabin and trunk, and an overall reliability that made it a favorite with budget-conscious students and first-time buyers.