Grandpa Pontiac: 1979 Pontiac Grand LeMans

Hey, the seller said it, I didn’t! Well, I repeated it, but they refer to this 1979 Pontiac Grand LeMans as a Grandpa Pontiac. It’s one of those cars that those of us who were alive in this era would see on every corner and every parking lot. It’s one of “those cars”, just something interesting and retro to drive to the store but not to collect, at least for most people. This sedate sedan can be found here on craigslist in San Carlos, California and the seller is asking $4,300 or offer. Thanks to Rocco B. for sending in this tip!

Not all of us grew up in the glory days of the 1950s. Those same “glory days” are often defined by older folks as the 1920s and 1930s, you know, back when they made real cars… Most of us could say that about the generation of vehicles that we grew up with. I grew up in the 60s and 70s but this is really the era that I remember the most, the mid-late-1970s. I was just starting to drive and these cars were everywhere.

The fifth-generation LeMans went on a diet to the tune of around 700 pounds compared to the previous generation LeMans. They also had a wheelbase that was a few inches shorter. The Grand LeMans was available in a two-door, four-door, and even a wagon version. It’s jarring to see this car with blackwall tires and those plain wheel covers, isn’t it? This car has no rust, no accidents, and is all original. The next and last LeMans would be a rebadged Daewoo and I’m assuming that most of you would much rather have this car than that car.

I can feel the fabric on those seats now, a really seemingly-lightweight velour fabric but with this car having 101,000 miles on it, it must be tough stuff. This car has power locks but no power windows. It’s nice to have something to take the unbelievable fatigue out of unlocking or locking your own doors! Just kidding, I’m an options guy, I wish it had power windows. The back seat looks almost like new, but there’s no way to roll down the rear windows in the era when most people still smoked like chimneys. This would not have been a fun car to sit in the back of for road trips back then. Period advertising said that it helped them to put a recessed armrest on the rear doors. Hmm..

They list the engine as a V8 but they don’t say which one it is. Given its California location, I’m assuming that it’s Chevy’s 305 cubic-inch V8 with around 155 hp, but I’m not positive. One of you may know for sure by looking at it. Other V8s would have been a Pontiac 268 and 301. A Chevy 350 V8 was available in the LeMans wagon but not in the sedan. This car has had a lot of maintenance including new vacuum hoses, a new radiator, new alternator, new belts, a transmission flush and it has new tires. Have any of you owned a LeMans of this era?


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  1. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    If it wasn’t for Scotty’s lively prose, I would have lapsed into a coma looking at this bland, boring, uninspired automobile. It’s a box on wheels awash in mundane browns and beige. This is the automotive equivalent of a sleeping pill. I’d be surprised if anyone will pony up $4,300 for it; looks more like a $1,200 car to me. That’s only if someone would be willing to be seen in it. This is a car that could be the poster child for the Malaise Era.

    Like 14
    • Big_Fun Member

      Hmmm… that’s a Pontiac 301 4 bbl under that hood. A/C, Tilt, Cruise and color keyed seat belts.
      To get more advertised hip room, the windows in the back doors were eliminated.
      Add Pontiac rally wheels and you have a car to drive anywhere. And it’s no Kia! Beige Betty, or Two tone Toni?

      Like 4
      • JoeNYWF64

        I thought they took out the window regulators just to save money.
        & when only 2 windows roll down, you dont really need power windows.
        Here we go again with something more expensive AND gettting smaller. Tires of the SAME size have shrunk at least once in width from the 1980’s compared to the 2000’s.
        But on this car they have shrunk again – too much! There is 1 brand on this car that shall be nameless that started this recently. Note the tire in 1 of the pics with 3 instead of 4 tread grooves & too narrow. People have been complaining about that & concluding 1 needs now with this brand to buy a tire 1 size bigger to get the correct size.

      • Bob C.

        I remember hearing that the reason the back windows were stationary was because these cars were meant for law enforcement, so the suspects couldn’t escape. Most had the wing windows on the back door.

      • Miguel

        If you look at the style, you see the rear window can’t roll down all the way because of the rear wheel well.

        I guess they decided to leave it stationary instead of having it roll down half way.

  2. art

    Dark window tint, dark sunglasses and a hat pulled way down, park a block away from friends or family, walk the rest of the way and buy gas at night…the only formula available to drive this thing. Gaaah

    Like 3
  3. Gord

    could be a v6 200 or 226 too… the rear windows supposedly did not have winders to decrease weight (yeah right)… just those little quarter pop out vents and that was it. neatest one would be a grand am… available in 2 or 4dr… same car, different nose and supposedly better suspension and “more” power

    Like 1
  4. CanuckCarGuy

    Looking at this makes me realize how much I miss the look of two-tone paint jobs…they made even the cheapest car or truck look uppity.

    Like 5
  5. Jeffro

    Ultimate sleeper

    Like 3
    • Tony Primo

      Right on Jeffro, drop a 400 or 455 in it and go hunting for suckers. The cops 👮 wouldn’t look twice at you.

      Like 2
  6. Craig

    I had a 2 door 6 cylinder version but the paint scheme was reversed. Horrible engine but sharp looking car.

    Like 1
  7. Brent in Winnipeg

    I took driver’s ed in the Chevrolet-equivalent Malibu with the V6. Very easy to parallel park with all those windows.

    Like 2
  8. Pontiactivist

    As a current and previous owner of a couple 78-81 LeMans’s i like this. As someone said a set of rally wheels and it would be a decent daily driver. Would constantly get comments and bring attention. I currently own an 80 Grand LeMans safari wagon that was originally this exact color scheme. Was originally a 229 v-6 auto with 2.29 gears. Very anemic. Now has 488 Pontiac stroker auto and 3.73 posi (11.20″s in the 1/4) and blue with black interior.

    Like 5
  9. Bakyrdhero

    I was a kid when these were new. Homly then and homly now. Our neighbor had one, cranberry in color. Power Windows up front and fixed windows in the rear. It was baffling then and still baffles me.

    Like 1
  10. Miguel

    I wonder where the car was the first 4 years of its life.

  11. Amery Byers

    I want it

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