1978 Pontiac LeMans Base 4 Door 231 V6 from North America
Beautiful Time Capsule
It's a 33 year old car with 163,000 miles, so it's had its share of normal wear and tear items replaced, but since I bought it 11 years ago, it has been as reliable as one could ask for a car its age.
It still has its original un-rebuilt 231 Buick engine and automatic tranny. It still runs great, and only uses a little oil. I have replaced the rear main oil seal, and the valve stem seals and the radiator. Nothing major other than that, but normal wear items.
I had it repainted once, it still looks great, and the inside only shows a little bit of usual wear.
The car has been well maintained and cared for its entire life - yet has always been kept outside.
I'll keep this car for as long as I can, and just continue to replace things as they wear out. It is not driven in the winter, so it will probably last another three decades.
They simply don't build cars with personality like this anymore. It doesn't have the 10 year lifespan plastic disposable feel that new cars have today, being made before there was so much concern to make cars with "crumple zones" or German "ergonomic" seats that force your body to stay in the exact same position the entire time you are driving the car. This is like sitting on your favorite sofa and driving! It is not fast or nimble handling. But it is very comfortable, reliable, easy and cheap to work on. In other words, cool and a lot of fun to own, a time capsule that makes you smile when you drive it.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 11th March, 2011
You make a great point about 'ergonomic' seats - they may arrange your body in the most ideal driving position, but in practice it is much more comfortable to be able to move around, lean, adjust. I much prefer the big fat bench-seat of the old American cars - like driving on a sofa. As my father always put it when we rode around in our full-size Cadillacs and Lincolns - "we're riding high, wide, and handsome'.
My first car was a 1978 LeMans 4 door with a V-8. Being that I bought the car in 1986, and not knowing its history, there was one thing that puzzled me; there were no winders for the back door windows. Was this standard? My parents bought a late 70's Chrysler, and that was the 1st car we had that the back windows didn't roll down all the way, but this car had no way to roll down the back windows at all. There wasn't even a place in the door panel for a winder to go. My friends always joked that it was an old cop car, but being the car was red, we settled on an arson investigator.
Not a cop car; none of the post-1977 downsized GM intermediate sedans had roll-down rear windows, only flip-open vent windows. Another cost-cutting measure that proved highly unpopular.
The 4dr LeMans, Century, Regal, Malibu, Cutlass and Bonneville-G from late 70's-early 80's all had fixed rear windows, because the large rear wheel opening didn't allow enough clearance for the window to roll down, not even a quarter of the way.
Instead, behind the fixed glass there were vent windows that opened, either manually or power assisted.