1981 Pontiac Bonneville Reviews

1981 Pontiac Bonneville Brougham 400 cu in (6.6L) Pontiac V8 from North America

Model year1981
Year of manufacture1980
First year of ownership2006
Most recent year of ownership2007
Engine and transmission 400 cu in (6.6L) Pontiac V8 Automatic
Performance marks 6 / 10
Reliability marks 1 / 10
Comfort marks 10 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 3 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
5.0 / 10
Distance when acquired50000 miles
Most recent distance60000 miles

Summary:

Truly an experience like no other!

Faults:

All original when purchased, so...

All 4 tires plus spare were dry-rotted at 25 years of age (can't blame them).

Starter died at 52,000 miles.

Alternator died 53,000 miles.

Joints holding hub caps on very brittle and would break during high speeds (65+mph) in combination with pot-holes/bumps on the road.

General Comments:

The suspension was great!

The interior was perfect red velour and shag carpet.

Large amount of trunk space.

The car is very tank-like. You can really handle anything the road throws at you in this car.

If you hit an ice patch, it glides like an elephant with ice-skates.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 4th June, 2010

8th Jun 2010, 10:26

Wow, I didn't know they put the excellent Pontiac 400 V8 in this model! Lucky you. I had a '76 Grand Prix with that engine and it was not only powerful and smooth but absolutely reliable. Then again, I guess that was the norm back then.

7th Feb 2013, 21:00

The 400 was not available in any GM car in 1981. Someone must have dropped that 400 in that car. 81 Bonnevilles were available with a Pontiac 301, Olds 307, or Chevy 305. A Buick 252 V6 and an Olds 350 diesel were also available.

8th Feb 2013, 08:25

Don't forget the Buick 231 3.8 V6 too.

1981 Pontiac Bonneville Brougham from North America

Year of manufacture1981
First year of ownership2009
Most recent year of ownership2010
Engine and transmission Automatic
Performance marks 9 / 10
Reliability marks 9 / 10
Comfort marks 10 / 10
Dealer Service marks 9 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 10 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
9.4 / 10
Distance when acquired10625 miles
Most recent distance10685 miles
Previous carFord Thunderbird

Summary:

A shame the Indians are gone... sweet ride

Faults:

Nothing, new condition.

General Comments:

Bought the car from my granddad who didn't believe in giving a car away, AUG. 2009.

The car was only driven 2K miles in the last 20 years. Never rained on, been under cover and inside all its life.

Black car, landau roof, red cloth, crank windows; loaded except crank windows; weird huh.

Only had tires (dry rot), belts, hoses, fluids changed from original.

Floats like a cloud, DON'T MAKE'EM LIKE THAT ANYMORE.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know

Review Date: 3rd April, 2010

4th Apr 2010, 19:22

Nice car! Definitely don't see many 1977-81 full size Pontiac's around, what was the engine for your vehicle?

1981 Pontiac Bonneville Olds 307 cu in from North America

Model year1981
Year of manufacture1980
First year of ownership1994
Most recent year of ownership2004
Engine and transmission Olds 307 cu in Automatic
Performance marks 8 / 10
Reliability marks 9 / 10
Comfort marks 8 / 10
Running Costs (higher is cheaper) 6 / 10
Overall marks (average of all marks)
7.8 / 10
Distance when acquired100000 miles
Most recent distance130000 miles
Previous carVolkswagen Beetle

Summary:

It was fun, reliable and suitable to extreme weather/ distances

Faults:

Fuel pump leaked (but gave warning enough to get home).

ECM burned out: hard to find the right mechanic for this (well done Pyramid Services, Iowa City).

Transmission blew main front seal - cloud of smoke at speed.

General Comments:

It seemed to have a charmed life. Most of the time it ran on 4 pints oil instead of 5 (a mechanic had given a dipstick to the previous lady owner, the wrong dipstick). The longterm result was money wasted on noisy valves.

It had a special 'feedback' carb with a choke controlled by vacuum from a small steel pipe. A 1" length of 1/4" rubber hose connected the steel feedback pipe to a fitting at the rear of carb. It failed due to being old and worn, which meant the choke stuck closed in a truck station on a super-cold predawn drive across Iowa to INS hearings. A rescue Bob held the choke open with a hammer handle in order to start the car, but only later did I learn the significance of the 1" length of rubber pipe. The sticking choke caused gas to enter the sump over the rest of the drive to Council Bluffs, thinning the oil and causing ring damage: all avoided if I had replaced the tattered little rubber connecting hose. (A similar flood of diluted oil happened on a trip to Colorado but that was due to the ECM kicking in and out.)

From 2002 onward, the car had a 1979 Olds 350 engine, which was a guzzler but very stable on long drives to the west and back. I still really craved the large feeling the car had, and very smooth drive due to the long wheelbase and 'radially balanced suspension'. It was a 2-door with big windows to slide down. It felt rustic but with luxury and endured all kinds of weather, once being brought to a dead stop in a snow drift that hit the Iowa farmlands one night: no damage.

I also got a 1986 Pontiac Parisienne wagon with a 305 Chevy engine. Its layout paralleled the Bonnie but a lot of parts were lighter though of the same design (e.g. brake parts). It was fun learning from one car and applying that to the other (e.g. you could change a front shock in minutes by simply bending the upper rod from side-to-side with a tubular socket spanner until it snapped!). By the way, disconnection of the EGR valve meant the engine stopped running hot and was noticeably perkier.

The Bonneville was of stronger build and the better car for long distance.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 16th February, 2009

Average review marks: 8.1 / 10, based on 7 reviews