Curbside Classic Capsule: 1978 Pontiac LeMans – Colorful Coupe

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(first posted 12/19/2015)    We’ve recently had a deep immersion in the downsized for-1978 Malibu, both as a COAL and vintage review. The Malibu had an analogue over at Pontiac: the LeMans and Grand LeMans. The both shared the notchback coupe and sedan body style, while Olds and Buick had to suffer through a couple of embarrassing years with their Aeroback fastbacks. And although these sold better than the Aeroback coupes and sedans, they were utterly eclipsed by the mega-popular Olds Cutlass Supreme coupe. America was done with straight-forward coupes; thye had to be Broughams now, or else.

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Of course Pontiac had the Grand Prix too, and Chevy had the very popular Monte Carlo. All of which made a LeMans coupe…almost invisible. The LeMans coupe had once been America’s sweetheart, but now it was an also ran. And except for a bit of a hip, and different front and rear ends, it was a lot like a Malibu. Misery loves company.

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But at least it still had a distinctive genuine-Pontiac nose.

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Which harked back a bit to more…exciting times. The excitement under the hood was a bit lacking, a reflection of the times. Standard power was Buick’s ubiquitous 231 V6, rated at 105 hp. The 301 Pontiac V8 had 140 horses on tap. A 150 hp version was optional, for the hard-core racers. My Encyclopedia also shows a 145 hp Chevy 305 available; maybe for CA only? At least Pontiac’s very weak-chested 265 V8 was still a couple of years away, as the engineers were hard at work figuring out how to make an engine both weaker and yet get the same mileage as a larger engine. Quite the trick. Fortunately, that only lasted two years.

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At least the grille is has a certain appeal, seen close-up. These would soon be a thing of the past, thanks to the Aero Era.

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Pontiac’s many-holed dashboard is present and accounted for. The weak metric THM is presumably too, unless it’s been swapped out for something sturdier (THM 350). Probably not.

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That’s my shadow in the shot. And I’m covering up my eyes, as this car’s intense colors are a wee bit much. Not really; it beats the typical red, blue or green these usually came in. It’s been a while since I’ve seen one of these, and I’m guessing it might be a while until the next one shows up, if ever. In the meantime, savor this one.