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.

General Comments:

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

15th Mar 2011, 04:07

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'.

21st Mar 2013, 00:07

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.

21st Mar 2013, 22:13

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.

22nd Mar 2013, 00:09

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.

1978 Pontiac LeMans L98 350 from North America


Words can't express this car


The old motor suddenly lost oil pressure when out for a drive, and the old turbo 250 was a pile of junk.

General Comments:

I wouldn't give this car up for the world.

The car has required some TLC, but it's almost 30 years old.

The old motor burned oil, and the tranny kicked, but not into gear.

We dropped a L98 out of a Vette in to the LeMans with a turbo 350 trans, and put a dual 2.5 inch exhaust on the car with headers, and man does it sound like a car. I have also put in a Hurst Pro-Matic 2 shifter.

The floor panels need some attention next, and in the coming month, the car will be painted Phantom Blue.

Overall, this has been a sweet ride, aside from the problems with the original motor and trans, but my 350 gets better gas mileage than the 305 - figures.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 21st March, 2007

1978 Pontiac LeMans Grand 2-door 302 V-8 from North America


A sweet and powerful ride


Nothing went wrong on this car, except I replaced the thermostat for driving at higher elevations.

General Comments:

This was my second car, bought it from a guy I worked for in high school after my 1972 Chevy Impala needed a new transmission.

Without exaggeration, this was the best car I ever had. Outside of routine service (oil changes, tune-ups, alignments), this car had no major problems, and we put about 150,000 miles on it. I'm confident it could have gone easily over 200,000 miles, but my sister got in an accident with the car, and junked it.

Biggest plus for this car: cheap, reliable runner. Most expensive replacement for it were new tires. It also got about 25 MPG, so it was reasonably fuel efficient for a V8.

This car had the smoothest ride in the world, handled well in all conditions, and great acceleration. Out on the highway, you'd just barely be on the accelerator and the car would be doing 85. The engine was definitely a strong runner.

The interior was plush and had full instrumentation. Stereo (AM-FM 8 track) really cranked and the seats were incredibly comfortable.

The Grand LeMans looks a bit funny and dated today (people don't like the two-tone factory paint scheme), but it was a great car in its day. I've never driven a car that was as reliable.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 15th January, 2002

17th Oct 2002, 12:12

The Pontiac 4.9 liter was a 301, not 302.

1st Feb 2005, 00:50

I own a 1976 Grand LeMans Safari. 65000ish original miles, however that means the car sat quite a bit in Wisconsin weather, not so good for the body... but this car is pretty incredible, just glad to see other Grand LeMans owners. Thanks.