While later-year Centuries and Cutlass Cieras are still lingering in small herds, earlier A-bodies are far rarer breeds. The Pontiac 6000 might as well be extinct in my parts, or at least so I thought until I saw this rusty-roofed specimen, in a Walmart parking lot no less.
In attempt to do my own “Walmart Concours d’Elegance”, I’ve come to the sad truth that even most Walmart customers in my area drive 2000 model-year cars or newer. In any event, at least one bargain seeker is still holding on to his or her 1980s A-body. I think it’s safe to say they got their moneys worth.
I’ve probably seen 4 or 5 of these in the last 5 to 10 years, if that many. Probably THE most rare of the A bodies, with 2 doors tied with wagons for rarity.
My sister and her hubby had an early Pontiac ( G6000, which Car&Driver dubbed the Pontiac Ghoulie) A body that was a colossal P.O.S. Apparently the front subframe was loose or the frame bushings went “slack” soon after they bought the car…brand new. My sister would never own an American-branded car again.
There is no such thing as a G6000. I think a few called the first year the A6000 but I don’t think it was the official name even in 1982. Perhaps you mean a Bonneville Model G?
A6000 was never an official name, but semi-common among folks who were just following the logical progression from the T-body T1000 and the J-body J2000. I don’t know where “G6000” came from.
I can’t remember if GM itself referred to the car as the A6000 when it was still in the planning stages, or if people just called it that through following the existing T1000/J2000 progression, as Drzhivago138 suggested. But the term A6000 definitely saw some use early on.
I agree with others that the 6000 was never actually marketed or badged with the “A” prefix. If the 6000 was ever intended to have the prefix, it was gone by the time the car was introduced. Over the next couple of years the 1000 and 2000 would lose their prefixes as well.
What Howard may be thinking of is people misreading the “6000LE” badge on the back of LE trim level cars as “GOOOLE”, or at least joking that it could be misread that way.
The 6000-LE trunk badge was humorously read as “GOOO-LE,” pronounced “Goolie” or “Ghoulie.” There’s also a 6000-LE soccer ball. You could pronounce that, “Goalie.” I wonder how many of those are left to kick around?
I seem to remember that the car was intended to be called the A6000, as Pontiac went on a short-lived bender combining the chassis code with a 4-digit number to indicate how high up the car was in the lineup. I definitely remember the T1000 (rebadged Chevette) and J2000 (their J-car), and saw listings for the A6000 . . . . . . but when the car appeared it was just called the 6000, and the letters dropped off the other models very shortly afterwards.
Yes Syke, you’re right – I just saw a Popular Mechanics article from 1981 that called it the A6000, but eventually Pontiac dropped the A and it became simply the 6000.
I also wonder exactly how it got the 6000 designation. If the T-body subcompact was the 1000 and the J-body compact 2000, then I wonder if the Phoenix was supposed to be renamed 3000? 4000 and 5000 were in use by Audi and therefore out of bounds, so that could explain 6000.
They could even have gone full-line with it. Rename the Grand Prix 7000, Bonneville 8000, and Parisienne/Safari 9000 (Or, if Saab had already grabbed that trademark, 10000). And started the trend toward meaningless alphanumerics early…
My aunt and uncle had a 6000 when they got married in 1986. A few years later it broke down on them on a 90 degree day coming back from the Cape with their now 2 small children, rendering the power windows inoperable as they waited on the side of the highway. For that reason, it was some 15 years before they bought another car with power windows again.
I like the A body with the more young person trim. It is easy to see how unbloated and sleek the shape can be just as the competition took on more bloat and weight. After the 6000 was canned, you did begin to see more blackwall tires and less chrome on the Ciera to differentiate from the Century, but the 6000 was more purposeful and had the best A body dashboard.
In 1989 there was even an AWD version of the 6000 sedan and wagon. A rare, before it’s time version.
1) Exhibit “A” why Pontiac should’ve been canned after 1982. It’s a fancy Celebrity. And please note the fancy Ford (Edsel) and fancy Plymouth (DeSoto) were decades gone by this time. Pontiac survived because it reinvented itself as the “Excitement” division of GM. But by the 80s it had gone back to its original purpose.
2) Howard, multiply your sister’s experience by a few million.
Deadly Sin, folks. Amazing from this perspective that GM survived into the product renaissance it enjoys today. Now if they only can put a few more customers behind their wheels…
DeSoto was either a fancy Dodge or a downgraded Chrysler, depending on the year. Plymouth was at the bottom of the totem pole.
I still remember Car and Driver joking that “LE” must stand for “Leftover Edition”….
What a bland boring car. I see the trim is falling apart.
Many fond memories of an 82 Pontiac 6000, which was my first car. Took it to college and grad school and beat the living daylights out of it including taking 9 people in it late at night from Philly to northern pa. Drove it until 1992 when everything but the wipers was toast. It had no power whatsoever, but it got me where I wanted to go.
9 people in a car of that size? That must have been quite an interesting drive…
These were very common in southern Ontario in the 80s and 90s, in equal numbers of navy, grey, dark red, and white.
I knew a guy who had a Pontiac 6000 with the V6 diesel in it. Talk about the worst of both worlds…what a pile from bumper to bumper.
My parents had an 89 6000 LE. Was my mothers last car before she passed away and was probably her favorite. Dad purchased it from a fleet used. It looked like the subject car except in a light blue metallic. The car always drove good, felt solid and tracked straight something that could not be said about many front wheel drive cars from the era. Dad traded it in 1994 or early 95 for a 92 Cutlass Supreme which did not drive as well as the 6000 or seemed to be constructed as well. I believe the 89 6000 was named best American branded car for dependability by Consumer Reports right before it was discontinued.
All of the cars that you folks never see anymore can be found easily in the Southwest. This morning driving to the office I was behind a Cutlass Ciera, It was cream colored with no dents or rust which only needed a bath. One of neighbors drives a Fairmont sedan to work every day and a co-worker of mine pilots a 17 year old Infiniti.
Would love to find an STE in good condition. Haven’t seen but one of them in years. Pontiac lost it’s way starting in the early 70s. The first Grand Am was a good effort the grand Prix had continued moderate success, but the brand as a whole soom lost it’s design mojo, and went form one set goal to another. the shrunken Boneville of the early 80s was a mistake, then they mised the target with the Fiero. Really got deep in the cladding motif, and just when they might have found themselves, the G8 and the Solstice, and even the G6, it was too late. I grew up with Pontiacs. Still love the old iron.
The introduction of the 71 Ventura II set the template for Pontiac’s decline. “Something to sell in the segment”, instead of the best in the segment, or Pontiac’s best effort.
+1 I thought the Ventura II was a horrible cop out coming from Pontiac. Definitely demonstrated that the wide-track magic was fading away.
The STE version of the A-body tried to recapture the mojo, but most 6000s were of this mundane “Chevy with a different badge” variety.
Pontiac in Canada was another ‘low price brand’ instead of ‘performance’. they sold rebadged Novas as Acadians. The X body Ventura II was to go after compact sales, cheaply. Then Olds and Buick got X’s.
Not enough differentiation though and led to overlap, and brand cancellation.
What is it about Massachusetts that makes sightings like this possible? Don’t they salt the roads down there? I haven’t seen one of these in Maine in what seems like at least ten years.
Larger population and more cars sold, perhaps? In all honesty though, this was the first 6000 I can recall seeing in years.
I still vividly remember this issue of Fortune and how the accompanying article prophetically blasted GM. This cover is worth a thousand words.
Which one is the Pontiac? Who knows*? Who cares**? Why would consumers bother to have any enthusiasm for any of these cars, when it was obvious that the manufacturer assumed its customers would mindlessly buy anything any one of its divisions churned out.
*I know virtually everyone reading this blog will immediately know which one is the 6000.
**I also know that virtually everyone reading this blog cares about what Pontiac could have/should have produced during this dark decade.
A very powerful image, and always a good summary to GM’s downfall.
I’ve never understood why they used a Ciera with a luggage rack though, while the others didn’t.
Presumably to help tell the order. I gotta be honest, it took me a minute to realize the Chevy was in front and the Pontiac out back…. I think….
The logic was “offer the same car at different brands’ dealers to capture the mid size customers”, as if buyers will “only shop GM”?
Pontiac’s in back, but I can really only tell by process of elimination from the others.
The Pontiac 6000 is proof that GM leaving the A-Bodies in production when the W bodies first came out had nothing to do with the first generation W-Body not being a success. The Pontiac 6000(which was not a big seller itself) was discontinued after the 1991 model year and yet sales of the Grand Prix did not pick up nor was it a huge success as GM had expected.
Therefore I don’t think the A-Bodies had any hand in stunting sales on the first gen W-Bodies.
That was done by the Taurus(best selling car in the USA from 92-96) and the new for 1992 Bonneville, Oldsmobile 88 and Buick Lesabre.
As well as the Accord and Camry!
I have one of these its the celebrity version ,89 2.5l base and all. I have had mine for 7 years since middle school now 18 family owned since 1998. This car has been abused rebuilt destroyed, rebuilt. Neglected by various drivers in the family, however this car still runs flawless on the 2nd motor. We even had a 87 wagon when i was a kid. These cars served there purpose well being a fleet queen or not, Gm made a killing off of these cars. Why all the hate for these? They were simple, reliable cars that did there duty
I just read where in 1984 this was Pontiac’s best selling model at 122k units. I’m trying to think of other popular models they had in 1984 besides the 6000. The Grand Prix comes to mind and then maybe the Firebird/Trans Am?
Maybe the J2000/Sunbird? The Phoenix in ’84 was just biding time until it was replaced by the Grand Am in ’85, The Parisienne was still a Caprice with a different header panel (sales increased in ’85 when it went back to a real Pontiac body), and the Bonneville (G) never exactly lit up the sales charts.
the 1984 fiero sold in excess of 100k iirc.
The Pontiac 6000 was a good Pontiac. I think it became car and driver car of year in 1983. Pontiac wanted to make the 6000 a replacement for the grand prix in the early ninety’s. Pontiac did the job right and kept the grand prix since it is a legend.
My father had one as well as my grandfather. My dad had a pretty basic 6000LE but my grandfathers had all the bells and whistles and was a beautiful two-tone black cherry and grey.
Lots of 6000’s in Chicago area, since we were Pontiac’s #1 market.
But, it took awhile for Pontiac loyalists to accept Grand Prix 4 doors, since it had the ‘personal lux coupe’ image lingering. But also it overlapped with Bonneville.
My parents bought a brand new 1989 6000LE and they hated it. It was riddled with problems and the dealer was not cooperative. After four years my father gave up and bought a 1994 Mercury GM. I got the 6000 and on the first day I had it it died on me. It turned out that the fuel gauge showed half a tank when it was empty. My father never noticed because he always kept a full tank. I kept the car for a relatively short period time. During this time had to replace the plastic intake manifold (2.8L V6) and ultimately the transmission started gushing fluid. End of story!
as a kid picking up a copy of Motor Trend in about 1983, I thought these looked AMAZING!
These were the news car fleet when I was at WTVF TV in the mid-90s.
Many came to strange ends. One had an engine fire, one was driven through a fence and another had some bizarre electrical gremlins.
Guess I grew up drinking the Kool-Aid, but as a young person in the early ’80s, I thought it was perfectly normal for GM to offer these slightly different variations on the theme. In fact, I probably daydreamed about a Cadillac version! (Bring on the Cimarron comments). Here’s a 6000 wagon I spotted a few months back. Talk about rare (now, not so much then)!
Honestly, I’m more surprised the Cimarron wasn’t an A-body. It would’ve been mechanically a better car, even if it was still just a gussied-up Century.
If they were trying to take on the 3-series and 190, something J-car sized was probably a better bet.
Note “sized”, not “based”.
actually the 1986-91 seville probably isn’t far off.