We have here a first on two accounts: the first US Pontiac Astre sighting ever at CC, and the first to be found inadvertently via Google Streetview. CC reader and contributor Poindexter explained it in an email to me:
OK, so I recently bought on eBay antique hardware for 7 doors on the 2nd floor of my house (really beautiful brass plates; I installed them yesterday), and I was curious as to what the place I bought them from looked like. So I Google Street Viewed the return address on the package. And just down the road was this beat-up old Astre (as you know, rarer than a Vega.) So I immediately thought of you and CC, and decided to email you the image.
If you want to visit it via Streetview and check it out yourself, here’s the link.
We did do a post an an Astre a few years back, also a blue hatchback but found in Canada. In a nutshell, these were obviously badge-engineered Vegas that were powered by Pontiac’s new Iron Duke 2.5 L four. They were offered in the US for only three years, 1975, 1976 and 1977. Sales were quite modest, with the first year being the best, at 64k. By 1977, that was down to 23k.
One of the Vega’s most severe downfalls was the engine. Not that the Iron Duke was a brilliant piece of engineering, but it surely improved the overall experience of owning an H-body.
It could be a interesting “what if?”. What if GM had put the Iron Duke under the Vega hood right from the beginning?
Do I correctly remember the ad campaigns for these? It amounted to “The engine doesn’t blow up! Trust us!”
There was one on last year’s GBC – but was a 1974 which was Canada only.
There used to be a mint one with the later grill like above around town a few years ago. Suddenly disappeared and I have not seen it since.
I had a colleague with an Astre, at the time I owned my Vega. We were both mechanical engineers, for what it’s worth. And there was one other Vega owner in our smallish engineering group. No Pinto’s or Gremlins, or after they were introduced, Omnirizons.
Shame the Vega/Astre had such bad engines. The styling of the car in all varieties looked pretty good to me.
When I was contemplating the purchase of a 1974 Vega GT, I did consider an Astre GT as I thought the double-slit taillights were really cool.
Also, the TV commercial for the Astre really appealed to me for some reason. A combination of the jingle and visuals really made me feel good. But, by the time I had to order my options and put down a $100 deposit for the factory order my mind was made up. Either car would have caused me some grief with the engine. Yet, I achieved 80,000 miles before selling the Vega in 1990 to a young guy where I live. And yes, that was on the second engine.
Back in 1960 Pontiac was slated to bring out the Polaris, a badge engineered version of the Corvair. John Delorean nixed it after concerns over the Corvair’s handling surfaced at the test track. Pontiac would have been wise to have taken a pass on the Astre as well.
The father of my girlfriend in college bought her an Astre as her first car -used of course. This had to have been around 1984-1985. It was orange, ran pretty good. My girlfriend like to call it Ash-tray – a little fun with the name – I guess.
About two months after we broke up she got engaged to the guy who lived across the street from her. I still wonder what was going on behind my back.
They did not all have the Pontiac 2.5 engine. The 75 and 76 had the Vega aluminum engine.
The 77 had the 2.5
Styling-wise, the Pontiac equivalent of a Chevrolet seemed to have little stylistic details that improved on the Chevy in some way. In the case of the Astre, I liked the looks of the Vega better during its concurrent run from 197t to ’77.
The Vega’s outboard taillamp clusters just looked better than the horizontal units on the Astre (even if the ambers on the ’76 and ’77 Vega didn’t blink!). I also liked the horizontally slatted grill of the Vega better than the “Ventura-fication” on the Astre.
I bought a one year old Astre, it was either a ’75 or ’76. If I remember correctly GM put an extended warranty on the motor, so I thought that it must have been improved. I’d read a couple of articles about this in some auto mags. Mine was a silver coupe, with a five speed and a red plaid interior. I considered it to be kind of a mini Firebird, and I was looking for good gas mileage. I loved my previous old Cadillacs but there were fears of impending gas shortages in the future. I liked the car, added an 8 track tape player. My two brothers and I took a trip to Tijuana one weekend, typical young guy trip. Drive down, spend the day and drive straight back. We took turns driving and left after I got off work on Friday night swing shift, 11:00 pm. There was no a/c but the biggest problem was that the roof was the size of a card table. There was almost no shade from the hot sun inside the car, besides poor ventilation. I had no problems with the car during the two years that I had it. I sold it to a good buddy who had the transmission lock up while crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, causing an accident. My buddy didn’t hold too much of a grudge.