3rd Mar 2007, 09:00
Great review. I own a '78 Bonneville that was given to me by my grandparents 5 years ago when I turned 16. It has the pontiac 400 V8 and still moves pretty good. I put a performance intake on it, performance Edlebrock carburetor. took off the catalytic converter and put straight pipes on it. It breathes much better now and dynos at nearly 235 HP, compared to I believe about 180 stock. It's still not incredibly fast, maybe 0-60 in about 9 seconds, but its still my first and favorite car and I got it for free. My favorite thing about it is that you can actually work on this car easily and its tough as nails. Trust me, coming from someone who was 16 at the time, I beat the ever loving hell out of this car, and it shows no signs of dying anytime soon.
I'm big into street Racing, and own several Honda Civics and a Nissan Sentra Project car. I've traveled cross country to several tournaments, using the pontiac to pull the Honda or Nissan with a dolly trailer. You can't beat the comfort of a late 70's boat on a long trip. Try cramming 4 or 5 people and all their junk in a Compact with a lowered and chopped suspension and traveling 800-900 miles. You won't have much of a spine left. Even when climbing mountains pulling a trailer with the pedal nearly mashed to the floor at 55MPH, The car still gets 18 MPG on a long trip, cruising at about 70 MPH. I put cheap gas and junk oil in this thing and it keeps on going. They truly don't make cars this good anymore.
24th Jul 2007, 15:19
I own a 1981 Pontiac Bonneville Brougham; this has been a really good driving car.
I bought it from an 91 year old lady who couldn't drive anymore due to age. This car looks like new inside and out! She only drove the car to and from church, and to her doctor's offices.
I'm thinking of selling it, but I don't know what it is worth. It only has 34k on it, all original, and I've never seen an 25 year old car in this kind of shape. Can someone please help me with this?
19th Oct 2007, 16:32
The last car I purchased as a GM employee was a new 1981 2 Door Bonneville Brougham... with the 350 diesel engine! It was the final year for the 2 door model, black exterior with the black landau vinyl top and gold pin-striping. Being a GM employee, I was able to get two option combinations not normally associated together. First was the velour interior in the "Champagne" color - it wasn't recommended with the black exterior, yet the dealer who delivered the car loved the combination and had several customers make offers on the car before I picked it up! The second option was the police sedan suspension which included the heavy duty station wagon springs and anti-sway bars. The car handled unbelievably well, and to this day was the car I could drive for the longest continuous time in comfort.
I drove the car (with the diesel engine) for 265,000 miles. The lowest mileage I ever received was 25mpg, and I could easily get 33mpg cruising at 65-70mph on the highway. My wife was amazed one time when we drove from Dallas to Nashville without stopping. GM really knew how to build a full size, rear wheel drive car in those days.
By 1981, the diesel was pretty reliable. I had the fuel injection pump replaced one time, and went through three water pumps. But I never experienced any valve train or oiling system problems. Of course, the thing to remember was running high quality fuel and paying close attention to oil changes. The car had the hydro-boost power brakes which worked perfect! Since a diesel has no engine vacuum, pressure from the power steering pump was used to assist with the power brakes. The application was very smooth and linear, and provided great stopping power.
The weak link in the car was actually the transmission. The turbo 200N that was used included a lock-up torque converter that just wasn't strong enough to handle the high level of torque the diesel could produce at low RPM. All functions of the transmission were controlled strictly by internal pump pressure and a solenoid on the converter clutch. At lower speeds, the transmission oil pump didn't put out enough pressure for effective lock-up of the converter, so there was clutch slippage and excessive wear that led to fluid contamination and fried clutch packs. I went through four transmission rebuilds...
After 15 years and still running well, but with hail damage taking away from the appearance, it was donated to a local charity. I sure do miss my "Bonnie-D" though...
28th Sep 2008, 07:06
Awesome review, first of all.
I got my '81 from a church auction in 2003; my dad purchased it for me as my first car. He took me over to see it first to make sure I wanted it, and I fell. in. love. What an amazing car! It was huge, it drove like I was a moving cloud, had tons of features for an '81 (not to mention Dad's deal with me, if I got this car since it was so cheap, he'd put in a stereo system for me, heck yeah!), and only had 59K miles on it...the only problems I had was it had been sitting for years, much like the original reviewer, AND it had hit that 60-70K mark that older engines start to need parts replaced, so it was in the shop every other week for awhile: carburetor rebuild, alternator twice, brakes went out, battery replaced twice, starter, timing belt, issue with the headlights going off while driving... not bad overall, just kind of little stuff that was annoying.
The mechanic who fixed the carburetor said that because of the gas crunch in the 70s, they had put a smaller carburetor in this baby and we couldn't have them drop in a bigger one, since the engine was used to the smaller carburetor. So it could have been even more powerful than it was. Oh, the potential.
I miss this car. I took excellent care of it, since the body was in tip-top shape. My dad ended up hitting a deer with it after I went to college, and it went downhill from there. Sigh.
18th Mar 2009, 05:24
I had the distinct pleasure and privilege of having a 1980 2 Door Bonneville Brougham. Dark Green/Light Green vinyl roof. It was a company car, mine alone to use, take home, and on vacations for two years (was I fortunate...or what??). The car was extremely plush and comfortable on the inside, full of luxury items, power windows, seats, door locks and moon roof. Gorgeous mag wheels and wide tires accented the exterior.
Because it was a company car, and I never paid for maintenance, budget was never an issue. The car was meticulously maintained, with top of the line parts, fuel, fluids, and tires.
It rode like a dream, handled fairly well for a big car, and had a decent amount of pep for it's size. I put many carefree miles on this car, only breaking down once. It popped a radiator hose, a small hole, easily patched with duct tape until I could get to my mechanic.
I hated to walk away from this beauty when I changed jobs, even passed by to visit it once later on.