1986 Pontiac Parisienne Safari Wagon 5.0L V8 from North America


It is way over-engineered, thus its survivability


Replaced water pump and all belts, front brakes.

Various sub-systems have ceased to function -- air con, vacuum door locks, cruise control, tape deck (radio is fine), rear window is very tired so I only open the tailgate from the side, passenger visor hangs vertically, dash lights have a mind of their own :), passenger seat is stuck all the way back, the window tinting is peeling, the washers come on with the wipers always.

General Comments:

This car seems destined to run forever.

The original owner retired from GM and bought this as his going-away present. He fabricated a custom bed for the cargo area. My father got it in 1991 and used it to haul his sailboat around, then garaged it in 2003. I picked it up in 2005 after my Ford got flooded in Wilma. (I live in Key West FL USA.)

In three years I have put only 6,000 miles on it. I bike to work and walk to the convenience store, and only use it a couple times a week. But when I need to haul paving stones for a new walkway, or a rental floor sander, or lumber for a project -- this car rules! It is so darned practical.

For the first time I feel safe on the Overseas Highway. If any of the new plastic cars hits me, they'll just bounce off. At 45-55 mph the V8 just barely turns over.

It is battleship gray; I have named it the DREADNOUGHT.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? No

Review Date: 27th April, 2009

29th Apr 2009, 04:57

Wonderful cars. Do you know if yours has the 307 or the 305? Perhaps someone can comment if the station wagons always had the Olds 307 or if some had the Chevy 305.

1st May 2009, 10:49

Mine has the 305 with a big 4bbl carburetor. Oh, just yesterday as I turned a corner, a bystander said out loud, "Nice wagon!"

22nd Jun 2009, 09:54

I mis-spoke, it has the "big engine", the 307. I learned this when I replaced the plugs a couple weeks ago -- look for VIN code H for the 305, Y is the 307.

Also, I will have to replace the power steering pump & reservoir this week. I ordered one from RockAuto.com for $65 bucks, not bad. Might need a new belt for all the dripping. :)

5th Jul 2009, 20:30

The power steering pump is in, works fine, 2 hours labor. Now the heater control is locked up. It is vacuum-operated and a vac line has come undone -- I can hear it hissing LOL. Is this a great car or what?!

23rd Aug 2009, 01:43

Yes these are great cars. I might buy a 1986 Parisienne Brougham

2nd Mar 2010, 16:22

The Dreadnought keeps rolling.

A couple of tanks with a can of Techron in them cleared up a snag in the fuel sender, so I now have an accurate reading on the gauge. I got a quote for new tires and shocks all 'round, $900. I will do that in the fall I think. I will also buy new door seals, since it is getting ridiculous in the rain.

It will be due for an oil change soon. We tried to put new plugs in it recently, but #8 would not come out -- driver's side rear. We'll try that again too. I may need a new belt too, it squeaks when I go through deep puddles.

11th Mar 2016, 22:04

Is "The Dreadnaught" still rolling?

Or has it become "The Deadnaught"?

1986 Pontiac Parisienne 307 cid V8 from North America


I had a love/hate relationship with this car


Engine always pinged until I floored the gas, then it would run normally. Replaced EGR valve, sort of cured problem for about 100 miles, then it was back.

Lock up feature on the torque converter almost never worked.

(I'm 99.9% certain that the above issues were caused by one or more bad sensors; I was never able to determine which ones).

Transmission sometimes shuddered between third and fourth gear.

One brake line rusted through.

Tilt steering column broke, so the steering wheel flopped around a little bit.

Engine had a bad oil leak at the oil pan gasket; had it replaced and it still leaked as bad as ever. Just before I got rid of it, it started gushing oil from somewhere else on the engine.

Engine would sometimes overheat a little; replaced thermostat which cured the problem.

Just before I got rid of it, something happened that caused the engine to have hardly any power. Had to accelerate very slowly, otherwise too much gas would make it quit. I couldn't get the car to do more than 50 MPH. Not sure what happened.

The tires wouldn't hold air, and it wasn't the tires. It was the rims-they wouldn't seal against the tires. I had to have them specially sealed. The rims also wouldn't hold wheel covers very well. It had wire wheel covers and they were constantly "creeping" around the rims. One even fell off when the center locking hub broke. Tried regular wheel covers (OEM, not aftermarket), they wouldn't stay on either.

Tail pipe completely rusted away.

A/C quit working.

The frame rusted through severely on the driver's side, just in front of the rear wheel. It was becoming unsafe to drive, at which point I traded it in.

General Comments:

I liked this car but hated the issues I had with it. Yes, it was an old car, so I wasn't expecting perfection, but I've owned other cars as old as or older than this one was (and with far more miles) that were less troublesome. I can say that in spite of the issues, it never left me stranded anywhere. And in fairness, some of the problems were typical old car issues that are bound to come up on almost any old car.

I like big American cars, and in that way I liked the car very much. It was comfortable, roomy and had a nice ride. It was good looking, too. It was great for road trips, provided that I kept a case of oil in the trunk and stopped every 100 miles to add a quart.

The engine was underpowered. One hundred forty horsepower moving a 3700-3800 pound car resulted in rather tepid acceleration. Gas mileage was horrible at around 13-15 MPG, but as I stated above, it never ran quite right which very likely affected the gas mileage.

My Parisienne was very unusual because it was equipped with a 307 cubic inch Oldsmobile V8 engine. It was the original engine, too, according to the code in the VIN and the emissions specification sticker under the hood. The Chevrolet 262 cid V6 and Chevrolet 305 cid V8 were the "official" engines supplied for the 1986 Parisienne, and GM literature and everything else I can find makes no mention of the Oldsmobile engine being offered for this car. Perhaps I had something really rare and should've fixed it up and kept it...

Nice car overall, just wish it had been a little more reliable. Looking back on it though, I guess it could've been much worse.

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

Review Date: 27th April, 2008

28th Apr 2008, 16:44

Are you sure it didn't have 176000 miles on it when you got it? Sounds like it was just worn out to me.

28th Apr 2008, 23:36

Original reviewer here...

After looking through other 1986 Parisienne reviews, I see that a lot of them were equipped with the Olds 307 V8, so mine wasn't so unusual after all. I still find it puzzling that none of the information I've found lists this engine for the 1986 Parisienne, though.

7th May 2008, 03:23

Original reviewer again...

The mileage was in fact only 76,000 when I got it. The car just didn't last like it should have. My wife and I have owned a 1979 Chevy Caprice, 1980 Buick Century, 1984 Mercury Grand Marquis, 1990 Buick LeSabre and currently a 1991 Buick LeSabre, just to name a few, and all were/are better than the Pontiac in terms of reliability and durability, and with more mileage on them (in some cases much more). In response to the comment about the oil leak, you're probably correct. It was leaking a lot of oil at the rear of the engine, too.

9th Mar 2012, 13:11

I need to change my oil pan in my 1986 Parisienne. Do I need to raise the engine from the mounts, remove fan shroud and distributor cap, just as I did for my 1969 Strato-Chief? Does anyone know or has done this? If so, the info will be much appreciated. Thank you.