COAL: 1981 Bonneville Brougham – A True Gift

Paul, my father in law, and I learned early on that we both really loved cars. We were always doing car shows, and he would tell me about the 1956 Pontiac Star Chief that he customized with dual exhaust, shaved door handles and frenched headlights. Whatever that is!

It is this common thread that moved me to the next car: a 1981 Bonneville Brougham.

(As a side note, not every car was Broughamtastic!)

To get through the boring details quickly;

Paul’s dad owned the 81 Pontiac and Paul had usually helped choose his cars. Instead of trading in the Bonneville, they took my Caprice to use as a trade in. Then, they deducted the value of the Caprice from what the dealer offered for the Pontiac. I was going to pay the rest off, but they and I decided to give the Bonneville to Cindy (my wife) as a gift.

The Pontiac was painted Jade Stone metallic with a matching vinyl top. However, four years in the Florida sun had taken away all sheen, so first up was a replacement vinyl top.

I found a shop not far from the hardware store that Paul owned and I managed. Yes folks, I worked side by side with my father in law for 15 years! I suppose it could have been worse if it’d been my mother in law.

Anyway, the gentleman gave me a quote to do the top and had the exact color replacement that looked factory. We agreed and he told me I could pick it up at noon.

Well, one look at the pictures will reveal the mistake; he installed a dark forest green color on the car, and beautifully, I might add. I tried to reason with him, but he had drank enough beer to make Foster Brooks look like the Olsen twins!

It was lucky energy to have worked for a professional painter, Roger. He had a creative side, unlike any person I’ve ever met. So he looked at the car for a few minutes, asked me to just trust him, and you can see the results.

The Bonneville was a very good car overall. Some on the page asked about going from the Caprice and into a GM car that had gone through Jenny Craig, and I must say that it rode very well, seemed much quieter, felt tighter and averaged 18 city, and 25 highway with the Pontiac “here today/gone tomorrow” 265 V8.

We drove it about 70,000 miles until the infamous 200 transmission broke. We attempted to get it replaced, but got taken.

I sold the car to a friend whose boyfriend was a mechanic. He upgraded the transmission, and it was still rubbing the last thing I’d heard 5 years later. The last photos show the final product with the honeycomb wheels I’d installed. She sent me those pictures because someone had crunched the door and needed the paint codes.

Incidentally, Cindy was on jury duty for a couple of days right after we painted it and one of the jurors admired the car. He asked her if it would be ok if he copied it! Free world, and so he did! He repainted his 79 New Yorker almost identical.