Craigslist Classic: 1978 Pontiac (Ponitac?) LeMans Safari

Pontiac 3

As an assignment, I’ll often have my English students correct Craigslist advertisements.  It’s fun for me, and it shows them that a grasp of the English language can be useful in the real world.  The person selling this ’78 Pontiac could have been fodder for proofreading practice, but at least he’s learned the art of taking numerous pictures to show off his wares.

78 ponitac wagon – $1900 

got a clean good running wagon 126,000 miles chevy 305

That is the extent of this advertisement, but all pictures in this article (except the brochure pictures) were also included, so the seller gets points for that.

1978 Pontiac-01

If you get a chance to peruse the ’78 Pontiac brochure, you’ll find some spectacular photography that makes even the Pontiac Phoenix look like something you’d race out to buy.  The copywriters may have taken some liberties with the title of the brochure, “The Best Year Yet,” as images of GTOs, Firebirds, and Grands Prix of the 1960s race through my head.  But the LeMans, as many readers already know, was completely new, and much smaller, than its ’77 counterpart.

1978 Pontiac-18

Of course, this was right about the time when badge engineering was really starting to weasel its way into GM’s corporate makeup.  Look at the rear view of the LeMans Safari in blue pictured above.  That’s basically identical to a Malibu, the split grille being the main difference between the two cars, at least when it comes to the exterior.

The Pontiac even has a Chevy 305, even though the similar Grand Prix still earned a real Pontiac 301.  In reality, both engines were underwhelming by today’s standards, wheezing out 140-150 horsepower depending on carburetion.

Pontiac 1

Pontiac only made 15,714 LeMans Safaris in 1978, according to the Standard Catalog of Pontiac 1926-1995.  The fact that one of them survives in Michigan is surprising; maybe the skull and crossbones has something to do with it–no quarter for rust!

Pontiac 2

I can’t tell if this color is Laredo Brown or Ember Mist.  Laredo Brown seems closer to the color chips.  Every factory picture I’ve found of the LeMans includes the dual sport mirrors, so they were probably standard equipment.  This wagon would look spiffier with body color rally wheels.

Pontiac 4

Look how straight it is!  It appears that the grille has taken a minor hit, and I can’t imagine finding a replacement would be a fun part of ownership.  Unfortunately, at this price point, I doubt someone would buy this wagon with restoration in mind.  It will most likely get driven into the ground by someone needing cheap wheels.

Pontiac 5

It’s too bad it’s not just a little bit nicer.  There are a few rashes on the rear quarter panel, and pictures hide many more issues, as anyone who’s bought an old car knows for sure.

Pontiac 6

And here’s the nail in the coffin; you can see the duct tape mark where someone “fixed” a stuck window the easy way.  That interior could use a parts store seat cover at the very least, and that’s likely the most it’s going to get.

Pontiac 9

Buried under that mountain of vacuum hoses is presumably a Chevy 305, which was the optional engine in the LeMans in 1978.  The base engine, as it was in many GM cars that year, was the 105 horsepower 3.8 liter Buick V6.

Pontiac 7

The weatherstripping appears like it’s not keeping out much water or wind these days.  I’ve never checked on parts availability for these A/G-Bodies, but it seems like it would be acceptable, with the popularity of Malibus, Monte Carlos, and Regals.  This wagon isn’t my cup of tea, but I hope that someone appreciates this first-year post-Colonnade wagon for what it is, or was–a fresh start for General Motors mid-sized cars.