20k Original Miles: 1977 Pontiac Can Am

A saying goes, “the best-laid plans of mice and men.” It denotes how unforeseen circumstances can cause a project to run off the rails. Such is the case with the 1977 Pontiac Can Am. The company planned a production run of 2,500 cars, but buyer demand saw it increase that figure to 5,000. However, a supply chain problem saw Pontiac cancel the program with only around 1,377 built. Today, the Can-Am is considered one of the more desirable models from the 1970s, but vehicles like our feature car stand in a league of their own. It is a beautifully preserved classic with a genuine 20,000 miles on the clock. It has been part of the same family for more than two decades, but it needs a new home. The Can-Am is listed here on eBay in Crystal Lake, Illinois. There is a single bid of $35,000, which is below the reserve. Those wishing to bypass the auction process could hit the BIN button at $49,000. I must say a big thank you to Barn Finder Larry D for once again spotting an amazing classic for us.

Pontiac based the Can Am on its LeMans Sport Coupe, envisaging it as a vehicle offering similar performance to the iconic Trans Am, but providing improvements in luxury and interior space. All cars rolled off the line in Pontiac, Michigan, and finished in Cameo White. The company shipped the vehicles to a subcontractor called Motortown to add distinctive exterior features. The modifications included cutting the hood to accommodate the 1976 Trans Am’s shaker scoop, fitting a ducktail rear spoiler, applying black paint on the rockers, and laying on a set of unique stripes. Buyers received colored-coded Rally II wheels, but some splashed the extra cash for the Trans Am Snowflakes to add a personal touch. History shows that the rear spoiler proved the, er, spoiler in Can-Am production. Motortown’s original mold for this fiberglass component broke, meaning shipping the cars to dealers without that item left them incomplete. With no spare mold available and the clock ticking, Pontiac canceled the program after only around 1,377 of the planned 5,000 vehicles were produced. This Can-Am retains its original features, and its presentation is hard to fault. The seller’s father purchased the car in 2000, and it hasn’t seen service during the winter months. The paint shines impressively, and the stripes look crisp and clean. There is no evidence of rust or panel damage, and the tinted glass and chrome look perfect. The only potential defect I note surrounds the wheels. I understood that all cars produced with Rally II wheels featured chrome trim rings, but they aren’t present on this car. I could be wrong with that assumption, and I am happy to be corrected if that’s the case.

Depending on their geographic location, Can Am buyers received one of two engines. Those destined for California rolled off the line with the 403ci Oldsmobile powerplant, while the remaining vehicles featured Pontiac’s 400ci V8. It is interesting to compare the two motors and their different characteristics. The 403 produced 185hp and 320 ft/lbs of torque. Combined with a three-speed automatic transmission, which was the only one the company offered, it propelled the Can Am through the ¼-mile in 17.1 seconds. The Pontiac engine churned out 200hp and 325 ft/lbs of torque, slashing the figure to 16.5 seconds. Various sources indicate that only forty-two cars left the factory powered by the Olds V8. Although that figure seems low, it may be right considering the Can-Am’s limited production total. This survivor features the 400 under the hood and power assistance for the steering and brakes. The seller claims it has a genuine 20,000 miles on its odometer, although there’s no mention of verifying evidence. They also don’t indicate how this classic runs or drives, although it appears they are approachable to answer any questions potential buyers may have.

Although it may seem a harsh assessment, the ’77 Can-Am could be best described as a parts bin special. That isn’t derogatory but indicates Pontiac didn’t spend money developing many unique components for this limited edition model. The dash and gauges are a prime example, with the company utilizing existing elements from the Grand Prix. The Rally gauge cluster included a faux woodgrain fascia, and a large clock mounted beside the speedometer. Some buyers added RPO WW8, which substituted a factory tachometer for the clock, although that isn’t the case with this car. However, they selected Code N31, which replaced the standard steering wheel with the Custom Sport wheel. Buyers could choose from three interior trim colors, although it seems that most opted for Firethorn Red vinyl. The interior presentation is as impressive as the rest of the vehicle, with no evidence of wear or other problems. The upholstered surfaces are excellent, and it looks like nobody ever used the back seat. The seller adds a touch of confusion by stating the power windows work as they should. I believe that’s an error because these appear to be the manual version. Luxury features include ice-cold air conditioning, bucket seats, a console, cruise control, and a tilt wheel. I don’t doubt there will be some form of in-car entertainment, but it is unclear what this is.

It’s incredible to consider that the loss of the original mold for the 1977 Can-Am’s rear spoiler could scupper production early. Still, a school of thought is that it provided a convenient reason for Pontiac to cancel the program before reaching half the planned build total. With some components sourced from the Grand Prix’s parts bin, some people believe the company viewed the Can-Am as a vehicle that compromised and siphoned sales away from its more expensive high-profit model. Therefore, the loss of the spoiler mold provided an unexpected but convenient exit strategy for Pontiac. Whatever the truth, the limited production run and relatively low survival rate of the Can-Am means values have climbed recently. The BIN figure may seem high, but it isn’t unprecedented if the odometer reading is verified. We recently featured another ’77 Can-Am that eventually found a new home with a Barn Finds reader. Are you tempted to help history repeat with this beauty?

Comments

  1. Will Fox

    For the BIN price, I’d need documentation. Yes it’s clean. Yes the interior does look like it could possibly be a genuine 20K car. And yes–these DID have the rally II trim rings on the rims standard. I’m suspecting the rims have been repainted since you don’t even see clip marks from the rings ever being on them. Hmmm. A friend has one of these with white seats, but the rest of the guts are red–that was an option back then. There IS one I’ve looked at with the all-white interior, red dash/console/carpet too.

    Like 6
    • TimS Member

      I’m starting to believe that no one ordered one of these without red bits in the interior.

      Like 2
      • Vin_in_NJ

        I’m in a Facebook group for these cars. Some members do have black interiors.

        Like 4
  2. Dave

    The Grand Am is a better car.

    Like 4
    • Nick P

      The Grand Am ended its run in 75. For 77, your choices were the Trans Am or the Can Am.

      Like 11
  3. Stan

    Beautiful Gran Touring coupe. The std 3.23 ⚙️ ring and pinion is a perfect match. Glorious car for 77′

    Like 9
  4. Miguel - Mexican Spec

    I have always wanted one of these but I would never pay so much for a 1977 Pontiac.

    Like 7
  5. BA

    I would never pay so much for a Oldsmobile engine in a pontiac that’s for sure! sorry for the discourse but it’s supposed to be a pontiac! That type of sourcing seemed ok back then but guess who’s not around any more? Pontiac & Oldsmobile!

    Like 5
    • jwzg

      This one is a 400. The Olds would have the oil filler tube in the front of the engine.

      Like 15
      • 3Deuces

        That is absolutely correct!

        Like 8
  6. Mike B.

    The ad that it has the Pontiac 400 engine. I guess that wouldn’t pass smog in California, California cars got the Olds 403.

  7. Keith

    Would take a 77 Grand Prix over this model in a heartbeat. Just not a well built car back then. The Grand Prix was so much nicer and performed just as good with the 400 Pontiac engine.This one is a little high on asking price for sure.

    Like 4
    • bone

      Both cars are Colonnade cars and share the same platform. While the Gran Prix may have rode better with softer springs and had more options, the build quality would be the same

      Like 1
      • Keith

        I worked for a large Pontiac dealer back then and drove these cars everyday. The Cam Am was a nice car and our dealer only got one in to sell but the Grand Prix was a far better car just because of the ride and options that could be put on it. The bucket seats in the Cam Am were like siting on a bleacher.Too bad the Can Am did not get the 4-speed option then you would be having a fun car to tool around town. The Can Am will always bring more money then the GP because of the low production number but they still will never be a 50k car. Never

        Like 1
      • RH

        What would be the options that you could get with a Gran Prix that weren’t available with the Can Am?

    • SteveTheD

      As for performance, I don’t think the Gran Prix had the W72 400 that the Trans Am and Can Am both had, therefore, performance wise, the Can Am would be superior in that regard.

      Like 2
  8. Tracy

    Redneck cool! Just like me…..ha ha ha

    Like 1
  9. Steve

    200 horsepower AND automatic malaise car. I don’t think it’s worth the money.

    Like 3
  10. Johan

    I guess for only 49 grand you shouldn’t expect it to have trim rings on the wheels 🙄

    Like 9
  11. Joe

    Nice car, some rarity to it….but in my humble opinion, you really have to love Pontiacs, and this model in particular, to put up even the offered cash for this one…..way overpriced in my opinion……

    Like 5
  12. Shuttle Guy

    Buyer order an appraisal first. You’ll need it for insurance purposes anyway.

    Like 1
  13. PT

    Great Car Period.

    Like 2
  14. Bolivar Shagnasty

    I saw one of these up buy Seikou, Washington a couple of years ago.. sitting on the front lawn.. covered with moss. No telling how long it had been there. I was a HS senior in 77 and remember a buddy got one of these as a graduation present.. my present was a day of of work before I left for MCRD San Diego!

  15. Mark Taylor

    I forgot how hideous those bumpers were in 1977

    Like 3
  16. Camaro guy

    About the power windows, i wonder if the crank is the actuator push down the window goes down pull up and the window goes up I’ve seen that done although in a custom interior

    Like 1
    • Jag

      No power windows or power locks.

      Like 2
  17. Steve RM

    Although I’ve always wanted a 74 Grand Am, this would do.
    Nice, NICE, car.

    Like 2
  18. GitterDunn

    D’jever notice? Cars you never really cared for all that much when they were still around, really look great now that they’re rare. When I’d see one back in the day, I’d give it a glance. Seeing this beauty today would just stop me in my tracks in sheer admiration! That said, it REALLY NEEDS those trim rings!

    Like 3
    • Shuttle Guy

      I couldn’t agree more!

      Like 1
  19. Karl

    Refused to let the dealer put the trim rings on mine. Didn’t want the paint scratched after they got stolen.
    Salesman locked them in his office, till I picked the car up.

    Like 2
  20. Steve

    What appears to be an unmolested example … excellent. I’m guessing he’s not that far off on his price to the right person / collector.

    Like 2
  21. Keith

    Car is way overpriced . 50k will buy you a lot better of a collector or classic car that will appreciate at a far better rate then this ever would.

    Like 2
    • RRulison Member

      You are very correct. But interestingly, 50K won’t buy you a better new car. At least if you define better by style, cool, and ability to appreciate. For the same money new you could get a base level Jeep Grand Cherokee. That would make you just like tens of thousands of other people, in a car destined for the scrap yard that no one will ever miss.

      If you love this era, and Pontiac, this would be money well spent.

      But a 73 240Z would probably be money even better spent….

      Like 3
      • Keith

        I never mentioned a new car and would not look in that area if 50k was my limit. There are so many options in this price range and most would be a lot better of a return a few years down the road then this Pontiac.If this car had some options to make it a one of one like the power sunroof and not sure if leather seats were available but that would bring the desirability up a lot but IMO not to the 50k number they are asking.

    • RH

      Obviously you’re not a true car enthusiast when you’re only thinking of buying what you consider a better collector car for the money rather than buying what you actually like. Believe it or not, some people like the 1977 Pontiac Can Am.

      Like 4
      • Keith

        Obviously you have no clue to how the collector car market works. Every car I have owned I liked and so did everyone that bought them from me. a I never lost a dime so I must have been buying the cars that people also liked.I do like the Can AM just not as a investment.

        Like 1
      • RH

        You say “Obviously you have no clue to how the collector car market works”. Again, Keith, believe it or not, not everyone buys a collector car as an investment or gives a s*** about the collector car market. I buy what I want to own and drive with no concern of the next resale value. If it’s more than I want to pay, I won’t buy it. Pretty simple.

        Like 3
  22. Frederick Schuster

    The CanAm would have looked much better with a Laguna front end!

  23. RL

    We only brought one of these into our dealership to sell and it was gone in 3 days. This car is the T.A. 6.6 W72 400 version you can see the satin (not chrome) valve covers just below the breather snorkel. The W72 also came with a special Turbo 350 trans it had a different valve body basically a factory shift kit. Most people didn’t realize that anď many were lost at transmission shops by the we take yours and put in a already built 350 trans off our shelf. This is a nice car I’d say it’ll bring $40’$43000.

    Like 1
  24. Roger Street

    I have one of these with 6,500 miles never been in the rain. The Ziebart rust proofing is still sticky. Bought 10/5/77 at Berry Pontiac in Morgantown,WV

    Like 2
  25. Keith

    Leather seats in the Grand Prix set the bar for luxury.Right and left remote mirrors were another Grand Prix high end feature back in that time.Lighting was another difference between these cars . Interior of the GP had a lot of under dash and door panel.console lights.Allways liked the Two-Tone paint combinations on the GP also. The Silver/Black was my favorite

    Like 2
    • RH

      So basically leather seats is the big major option. Remote mirrors a high end feature? Not really. Sounds like you get leather seats and then ride in comfort in a GP just like every other grandma on the road in 1977. Did the GP come with the way cool shaker? (Yes, we all know it’s non-functional). Rear spoiler? Stripes?

      Like 2
      • Keith

        Just have to say RH you are a real piece of work and like to be todays internet A**. Hope your car investments have been as good as mine because mine have bought me two houses and do enjoy the 4 cars I have in the 6 car garage now. My grandma drove a 66 Dodge Dart back then.

        Like 2
  26. RH

    Also, to the genius that said ” The Can Am will always bring more money then the GP because of the low production number but they still will never be a 50k car”. If your into the collector car market like you say you are, check auction prices for the Can Am that sold for $64k.

    Like 5
  27. Steve RM

    Right below the box I’m writing this in it says “no personal attacks”. I think the line got crossed on this one.
    If I call someone a b*****rd, is that allowed?
    Come on people. You can express yourself and even have a friendly discussion without resorting to name calling. Car sites like this should be an escape from the today’s toxicitity.

    Like 1
  28. SteveTheD

    I have to agree with Steve RM. RH simply referred to someone as a “genius” for an incorrect comment regarding potential value of a car, along with calling the Gran Prix a “Grandma” car (which in 1977 it was). Keith resorted to actual name calling in a very uncalled for manor. Keith should at least try to stop being the “internet bully”!

    Like 3
    • Keith

      If anyone has any insight to read all of RH comments to me You will plainly see I was in the right on who was the internet bully. His comments were obviously meant to demean my collector car knowledge and my opinion on this car. Just go back and read

      • RH

        Wow!! You crack me up!! Thanks for lightening the mood, Francis! Will NEVER refer to you as a genius again! My Bad!
        BTW – The Can Am in the article is pretty sweet! Personal preference, but Can Am’s are just so much cooler, sportier, and desirable than the Grandma Prix, especially in ’77!

        Like 2
  29. Keith

    Yes RH you are at the top of the list. Maybe we can meet at the upcoming Kissimmee auction to go over buying strategy. I will be there the last weekend.Your knowledge would be a great help to how much money I make this coming year in the collector car market.
    Francis The Genius

    • RH

      Sorry boss, married, and not interested in your personal life. BTW, this is NOT a dating site. How about just keep the conversation about the Can Am in the article.

      Like 2
      • Keith

        Just another feather in your hat of smart A** replies.

  30. Shuttle Guy

    It’s kinda sad what’s happening in this thread.

    Like 1
    • SteveTheD

      Don’t be sad, it’s just words. Just look at the photos of the nice car. It’s a very nice car. Makes me happy. Hopefully makes you feel better too.

      Like 3
    • GitterDunn

      It’s gotten quite annoying too. Enough already!

      Like 2
      • Jag

        It’s comments on Barn Finds. That’s it! Nothing more. Don’t let it disrupt your life. Just comments on Barn Finds! If I don’t like the comments I can choose to move on to another vehicle. Everyone has the ability to do that. By the way, the 1977 Pontiac is a very unique and good looking car. I approve!

        Like 2

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.

*

Keep me in the conversation via email. Or subscribe without commenting.