Live Auctions

53,000 Mile Time Capsule: 1988 Pontiac Bonneville SE

This eight generation Pontiac Bonneville may very well be one of the best ones left, so you can certainly tolerate the seller’s excitement that is hard to miss in the listing description. To some extent, that’s a low bar to clear considering how few of these are still on the road today. The photos show car that has somehow lived in New England without turning to rust, and retains all sort of small details that simply don’t exist on a car that’s been abused or neglected. The photos show a trunk full of accessories and paperwork, and the interior and bodywork certainly look like that of a 53,000 mile survivor. Find it here on craigslist for $5,295.

When you say the words “eight generation” it dawns on you how many years the Bonneville was in production. The model went through many iterations, from rear wheel drive to front wheel drive, big body to small body, and luxury car to bread-and-butter commuter. This era of the Bonneville was one of my favorites, as I loved the design and the fact that Pontiac introduced the hot-to-trot SSE package with this generation. The SSE maintains a steadfast presence on my list of, “If it falls into my lap, I’ll buy it” cars, followed closely by an all-wheel drive 6000 of the preceding generation. Look at the bodywork on this example – spotless. Details like the original hubcaps and dealer badge are nice to see, too.

The interior is in immaculate condition, like the rest of the car, with no visible flaws. The dash sports attractive (fake) wood trim, and the Bonneville has the full assortment of power features. The different shades of red, maroon, and pink were all the rage in the 1980s, and this car does require its next steward to be a fan of the different shades of crimson on display. The seller doesn’t provide any details about the previous owner, but it seems likely that this Bonneville belonged to a retiree. The description does say, however, that it was never used in the snow, which makes sense given the rust-free bodywork.

The original window sticker is included, along with an assortment of spare and NOS parts. Those appear to be the accessory fog lamps offered at Pontiac dealers in 1988, along with a factory radio. Brochures, owner’s manuals, and boxes of untold spares litter the trunk compartment, along with what looks like a stack of maintenance records. Cars like this may not ever be truly valuable, but they’re a treat for the eyes when considering how few remain in this sort of condition. The seller is correct that you can use this as a show car or, God forbid, press it into daily driver duty to get years of service out of it. How would you treat this survivor Bonneville?


  1. Chris D.

    Find me an SSE of this generation, with these miles and I’ll be there immediately, cash in hand!

    Like 16
    • Patrick Curran

      I will be there right with you! I bought a new 1991 SSE that was dark blue with tan leather. It was a great car and I would love to have another one.

      Like 6
    • Bert munk

      I had a 1988 Gold SSE, loved that car!

      Like 2
  2. S

    I always liked these. They seemed super modern at the time. But not having seen one in years makes me realize how much time has passed since these were new. The 3.8L V6 was a great engine in these.

    Like 6
    • Chris D.

      I agree. They seemed so much more modern than their fraternal twins, Lesabre and Delta 88. Even if it was just different front clips and lights, the Bonneville was much more contemporary.

      Like 5
  3. Bob C.

    These were very decent cars for the time, I remember some had control buttons on the steering wheel, which was rather Edsel esque.

    Like 3
  4. Douglas Threlfall Member

    Really nice car, great colors, well equipped, and a nice design. If I had a spare $5,395, I’d snap it up in a heartbeat. Too nice to use as a daily driver, but really a great find.

    Like 2
  5. Robert Kado

    Yeah we found a lightly used SSE for my mother in this generation..all white with the white wheel covers and tan interior. Great car with so much power and amenities. When I turned 16 before I purchased my own car a month later I drove the heck out of that thing….wonderful ride. We sold it some years later and it only had 61,000 miles; should have convinced my father to hold onto that car.

    Like 2
  6. mike

    I would remove that dealer nameplate off the trunk of the car. I hate it when dealers do that. Ruins the look of the car imo. Whenever I buy a car when I get the license plates I buy cheap plastic frame to replace the dealer frame. I’m not an advertising agency ha ha ha

    Like 3
  7. YourSoundMan

    What does “NOS” stand for in the context of this article?

    I Googled my fingers off and all I got was ‘Nitrous Oxide’.

    • JOHN Member

      New Old Stock.

      Like 3
    • Phil D

      YourSoundMan, “NOS” is a common term in the car collector/restorer world, which refers to “New Old Stock”, i.e. new replacement parts from around the time period that would be correct for the car. NOS parts, when available, are preferable to refurbished or reproduced parts if you’re restoring a collectible car.

      Like 1
      • YourSoundMan

        JOHN, Phil:

        See? This is why I use acronyms as sparingly as possible in written discourse. New Old Stock.
        New Old Stock. Took me three seconds to type that out in full.

        Removes all doubt as to the meaning of something, especially if more than one subject shares the acronym.

        Thanks for clarifying. I have heard the term before, it just slipped my 50-something mind.

        Like 1
    • Bob S

      YourSoundMan, it stands for “new old stock”

      • YourSoundMan

        Thanks Bob:

        And as said in reply above yours, I can promise you will never hear me refer to it as “NOS”.

        New Old Stock… That’s how I roll

  8. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    These were pretty nice cars for their day. This one looks well-kept. An inexpensive entry into the collector car world. Would work great if your collector car occasionally needs to do double duty as the family car.

    Like 2
  9. Christian Joffson

    I will be a buyer at $3500.00. Now.

  10. Gransedan

    One of my uncles bought new ’87 Bonneville, first year of this generation, which I had the opportunity to drive when it was just two years old. It was wonderful to drive, a willing and eager performer, very responsive with an impressively roomy and comfortable interior. At the time, my mother owned a previous generation ’86 Bonneville, rear wheel drive G platform car with a Chevrolet 305 and a 4 barrel carb. It was a very nice car, extremely reliable and virtually trouble free during her nearly 20 years of ownership. Its performance, however, paled in comparison to the ’87 which felt as though it could run circles around the ’86.

    Like 1

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