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.
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.
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 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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Front-on pic looks like it has a cataract in its left eye.
It’s not cataract, it’s a Pontiac!
With traditional sealed beams any damage to the sealed beam envelop exposes the filament to the atmosphere and the bulb fails. In contrast, halogen sealed beams use a separate halogen-filled bulb inside a sealed beam envelope.
Because of this, the outer envelop can suffer a stone strike and allow atmosphere in without burning out the light source. The reflector corrodes and darkens, but the halogen element still functions. Since the headlight still “works,” owners often fail to replace it, even though a discolored reflector reduces performance.
In rain or snow, you might even see water sloshing around inside the square housing, and the halogen bulb still burning away.
Speaking of almost twin, the 1977 Pontiac Ventura at least in 2 Door Coupe form had a very strong resemblance with the 1978 Pontiac LeMans 2 Door Coupe superficially and somewhat like a fraternal twin, but these two cars were constructed very differently since the RWD X-Bodied 1977 Pontiac Ventura later renamed Phoenix had a RWD F-Bodied 1970-81 Pontiac Firebird based Unitized Body Construction with Front Subframes. The RWD A/G-Bodied 1978 Pontiac LeMans later renamed Bonneville had a Separate Body and Ladder Type Frame Construction like its predecessors but in a revised, shortened and different platform though.
Id actually rather have the seller post a brief ad like that than fill it up with lies about the car’s condition, tell me how cool it is or list inaccurate historical facts about how rare it is. If Im interested in the car, I will call for more details and then come look at it in person to determine how cool it is.
Nice seeing a G-wagon that’s not a Malibu btw.
In 1978, it was an A body. The A body became the G body in 1982 when the FWD A bodies debuted.
I doubt I’ll ever get the ABC bodies right but I know what I like. Small wagon with small V8 is all I have to see. Bet it sold.
Where was this when I was looking for a car?
Somehow, this actually made me want an A body wagon.
That is a great start for a bracket race car. Excellent weight distribution, put a modern 5.3 out of a truck in it and there’s your start.
I don’t think I’d ever do it personally, because I’m weird and I like weird stuff, but putting an LS engine in just about anything is pretty smart. It’s compact, efficient, powerful, plentiful, and you can even put a carburetor on one. You can change the cam without pulling the intake (apparently), and the intake is dry, so no coolant cleanup.
Funny you should say that, because I have a friend who did exactly that with this car’s Chevrolet counterpart. Uses a quarter tank just to get out of the parking lot, but wow is it fast.
Nice looking car with a decent color and even the rear windows appear to roll down. A family friend had a cherry one of these in the early 2000s from a dead relative in the Carolinas. It got rear ended and totalled by some SUV driving doofus who said they did not see the brake lights.
Didn’t see the brake lights? How about the big stationary wagon?
These were mid-sized or so I assume and about the size of a 1995 Buick Century. Back in the early 2000s most cars in New York rusted to death by their 10-15th birthday which means most vehicles still on the road had a 3rd brake light which this wagon does not have. Also, the taillights in the bumper are a bit silly especially in this day and age of jacked up vehicles. Like I said, the SUV driver was a doofus. The friend was fine and I think the SUV rode up over the bumper making the damage worse.
+1 on the taillight placement on these A-body wagons. That, to me, was the one styling element that just didn’t work…on this generation, or on the Colonnades.
The rear windows don’t roll down, just the little quarter windows swing out.
Fun fact, this is a two seat wagon, the lack of rear most quarter windows by the tailgate is the give-away.
I really liked these wagons in the day. I still remember looking at them new at a dealer on Vancouver Island. I like the one in the brochure, white with the wood siding. Very smart looking. The odd thing is, up here in Vancouver, where I see a lot of old timers, I haven’t seen any off these, for years and years. I guess they were throw-away cars.
Not a lot of old stuff here at all now but lots on the Island.
I really liked this generation of A body and its appeal has endured. Although the Chevy motor is indicative of GM’s transition to pure badge engineering, it’s perhaps more practical to have nearly 40 years later than a 301. Too bad these cars aren’t smog-exempt in California. Not that I’d want a polluter, but the right swap and aftermarket parts would be easier, I think, without worrying about strict CARB compliance.
Make mine dark blue with the dinoc wood!
Badge enginerring was in full force with the previous generation of intermediates. The rear view of all 4 of the collonade wagons were all identical.
Dark blue with dinoc wood…like this resident of my neighborhood? (Or like this one was when new…)
I love the cover artwork of that Pontiac Brochure. That was a time when GM tried to make every model special in its own right, complete with unique hood ornaments. Here is a photo of my first car, my mother’s hand-me-down 1980 Pontiac Pheonix (mine was ugly tan). How I miss those hood ornaments. And coach lamps!
Swap in a different grille and even the colour matches a previous Oldsmobile lawn ornament from my street, gone now I shoulda shot it while I had the chance.
“Ponitac: General Motors introduces the ultimate in badge-engineered excellence, coming soon to a Pontiac-Ponitac dealer near you!”
My step dad had the Chevrolet sedan version of this thing… They where known as the Iraqi taxi as gm built a crap ton of them for export to Iraq for taxi service. The order was canceled at some point between them being built and shipped and the story goes that most of the ones that made it too the shipping terminal (halterm) where dumped on Nova Scotian Chevrolet dealers lots. My step dad bought it used sometime in the late eighties, it was black withblack cloth bench interior and had the 305 with a three speed manual with a odly bent shifter to clear the seat. It was a long time ago and the details are a schoshe fuzzy but I do remember thinking it was an upgrade over the chevette with no brakes that he had before it.
They were all equipped with the odd – fire Chevrolet 229 cid V-6 which was even crappier than the Buick 231 which was even-fire in 1978. The 229 was a rough, shaky and gutless wonder. I can see why Saadam sent them back.
I like how the owner took the pictures of the car with the park lights on because, as with mall cruisers and 80’s car adverts, park lights make any car look cool.
We had a 1980 Olds Cutlass Cruiser with color matched Rallye wheels and almost all the options. It even had an aluminum hood. I really liked the clean lines and the size of this body style. Too bad it had the Buick 3.8 motor. It was a tough little engine but man, did it take a while for that thing to get going. Every time you accelerated it felt like a struggle. Wouldn’t mind having one again, but with a Chevy V8 instead.
That’s because it WAS a struggle. GM just didn’t want to spend the bucks on a good V-6.
The comments highlight two issues with the low taillights; visibility and limiting the opportunities for brand differentiation. The latter was a problem for wagons especially, given the comparatively low volumes and the dictates of space utilization. GM tried varying the taillights on the Colonnade wagons to not much effectand seemed to have given up on the box A/Gs since the only variation is that some, like this one, have the backup lights outboard while most had them inboard. Same parts.
The outboard back up lights, were only on the ’78 models. 79-up were inboard, with single brake light bulbs, instead of 78’s dual brake light bulbs.
Here’s the Olds version (same year) for sale that I posted last year for comparison but WITH the rally wheels:
I love looking at craigslist ads for some reason. Cheap entertainment and less risky than ebay as you can’t commit yourself by just pressing a button.
I’d like to see a photo of one of these next to its B-body brother (or a Chev equivalent) to get some idea how they differed, I didn’t realise it was an A-body at first.
Easiest differentiator is that the B-body version (Bonneville/Catalina) had quad lamps and didn’t have the split grille. I don’t have a photo of a wagon but this is a ’79 Bonneville sedan:
Those horsepower numbers look low, but in practice the Chevy 305 (with a 4-barrel at least) wasn’t so wheezy.
My grandfather had a ’78 LeMans sedan equipped with the 4-barrel version of the 305 SBC, and it was a delight to drive, especially compared to the ’79 Cutlass/Olds 260 we had. The Pontiac had very little slop in the steering, a less floaty ride, and with the bigger/better engine, it accelerated smartly when the light turned green. I don’t know what the torque numbers were, but remember that these cars were pretty light compared to today’s cars, only a bit more than 3,000 lbs.
People didn’t drive 70 mph on the Interstates in those days, so maybe by today’s standards highway passing would seem sluggish. But I remember that Pontiac to be loads of fun to drive in around-town traffic.
Compared to the FWD A body wagons, the older A/G’s didn’t have a 3rd row seat option. That along with fixed rear door windows made them a better new car buy.
But, in retrospect, the BOF/RWD design makes these more ‘collectible’ today, since a new GM crate V8 can drop right in.
I saw this Lemans in person at the Sloan Auto Fair swap lot last June. It’s been on Craigslist intermittently since then. It appeared original, if pretty stripped down. There’s a rusty Cutlass Cruiser of the same generation on Saginaw Craigslist now for $500. I would’ve expected both to sell quickly as it was quite popular to customize these with baby moons and a 355, among other things. I have also noted a surprising number of donk/box/bubble type customs on craigslist with the owners saying “want something newer”, so maybe times/trends are changing?
These were really popular a few years ago and are almost as rare as finding a running Edsel. Most are bought and rodded but some like to keep them factory(myself included). That is indeed a factory Chevy 305 2BBL V8 under hood with 140 horses and 240 torque developed at low RPM. We used to take many of these year 305’s and swap out there worn cams with a high po unit, intake and 4 BBL carb and the difference in performance was mind blowing. If I had this car it would be treated to my factory original Pontiac snow flake alloys, a paint job, new carpet and re-upholstered seats plus a good clean up. In that condition these typically sell in the 5-7K range. The front bumper would probably be hard to locate but eventually one might turn up.
I had a ‘buckskin’ and planked woodgrain grand lemans wagon that I drove for work. It had the poncho 301. It didn’t have the wire or rally wheels, but a kind of honeycomb wheel. The dealer had ordered it for his wife, who drove it a year.
I got it in 1979, and also bought a ’78 bonneville, I traded a ’76 GP SJ 455 for the bonnie, which was dark copper with a buckskin vinyl top and camel colored morrokide.
My dad got a new ’79 Bonneville, platinum white and light silver two tone with maroon interior. That had the mouse fur upholstery. Those three cars were very sharp lookers in their day.
Other than water pumps, those were two of the best cars I had for a long time. We had well over 250k on the ’78 Bonnie when we traded it. We got a net ’85 6000 STE for my wife. I sold the wagon, and then got an ’85 Sunbird wagon.
The STE was a great car, with the 2.8 HO V6, but it got hit real bad by a caddy in an offset frontal and it was all downhill from there. We got an ’88 Bonneville to replace it. It ate coil packs so bad I always carried spares.
When I was a Pontiac guy I bought a new ’78 Grand Am as I didn’t care for the looks of the re-styled Grand Prix and wanted something a bit sporty. Special ordered one in black with tan buckets, 301 4 bbl. Nice looking car, but it arrived from the factory with a least 10 issues. Fit and finish were awful and unbelievable sloppy. The lighter ’78 was peppy with the 4 bbl and the dash with the gage (yes, that’s how Pontiac spelled it) package was beautiful. Lasted 10 years and 110,000 miles when everything seemed to go south at once. A friend with a new Celica couldn’t believe I would buy one of these. I felt the same about him and his Celica. Two Bonnevilles later, each worse than the last, I finally saw his point. Went Japanese starting with a ’01 Acura TL, followed by three mid-2000 Civics for the kids, another TL and then an ’11 MDX for me. The only problem with any of these was the tranny in the ’01 TL, which went out at 90,000 miles. The dealer apologized and then replaced it for free. Compare that with the Pontiac dealer who basically laughed when I tried to get him to replace a failed power steering unit at far less miles.
I see Kearsley Park in the background (of the second picture of the car)!! Something about this picture immediately reminded me of being home in Flint, and I was spot on.
My neighbors in Evergreen Valley had a big, beautiful Ford Country Squire in the late 1970’s that they traded for (what must have been) a ’79 LeMans Safari, as it had the wood grain trim, and our family moved the next year. Their LMS was a mint green. I remember liking it, but not as much as the Country Squire. I believe the husband/father of the household had been a manager at one of the GM plants at the time.
Verkaufe Holzfolie zu Pontiag Le Mans Safari 1978
I have a 78 Pontiac wagon with 12k original miles, bought from estate sale. Lowered front, wheels n tires n built a nasty 5.3ls motor for it. perfect body in interior blue on blue. I even left the curb feeler on the passenger side for conversation piece.
i have a blue and gray 4 door lemans clean 78 80k miles…firstname.lastname@example.org