Olds 403 Powered: 1977 Pontiac Can Am

The Pontiac Can-Am was already a rare beast when it was introduced, with just 1,377 cars made. That number gets even smaller when you break it down in terms of which engine it was optioned with. The two choices were the Pontiac 400 or the Oldsmobile 403. The latter was chosen far less frequently, as the Oldsmobile engine was supposedly reserved for buyers in California and high altitude states. That said, if you’re looking for the rarest Can Am offered, an example like this Olds-powered example is a good place to start. As an added bonus, this one remains in very nice condition inside and out. Find it here on eBay with bids to just over $10,000 and the reserve unmet.

The Can Am does have some flaws but they all seem to be easily remedied. You’ll need to find a carpet kit and likely a new dash at the same time – the California sun has laid waste to the original dash pad. Fortunately, the seat material looks decent and the back seat was recently reupholstered. The seller has installed a Scat Rally front seat, presumably for better bolstering and support, but has held onto the original front bucket. The Pontiac remains very original aside from the seat swap, with the factory console, steering wheel, and radio all still present. The headliner and sun visors are said to be in good shape, and the transmission is described as shifting smoothly.

The seller speculates there were fewer than 100 Can Ams with the 403 sold, but we’ll have to do some further digging to confirm that. The engine bay appears clean and unmodified, and the seller notes that some recent work has been carried out. This includes a new fuel sending unit; battery; tires; Bilstein rear shocks; Magnaflow dual exhaust; and a four-row radiator. The heads were also redone not too long ago, and it’s said to be leak-free. The seller reports that true mileage is unknown, as the odometer currently shows 40K but he believes it has rolled over at least once, putting it closer to 150,000.

Still, the original paint and graphics are holding up well, and the seller claims the only rust worth mentioning are some pinholes in the front passenger side floor. Really, the only other area of concern may be the salvage title the Can Am was issued by the state of California in the late 80s stemming from a front-end collision. Though it’s not a big deal for some of us, certain states do make it tricky to register cars that have previously been issued a salvage title. Still, on a vehicle this old, it likely doesn’t matter for most states. Although they are rare cars, they’re not exceedingly valuable, so hopefully, the seller’s reserve isn’t much higher.

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Comments

  1. angliagt angliagt Member

    Located in El Cajon,California.

  2. Sam Shive

    How do you wear out the whole carpet. The original drivers seat look like it’s got something growing on it. I’m thinking this was in some water at one time. Not worth $10,000 for me….BUYER BEWARE

    Like 16
    • Terrry

      and what’s with the salvage title? Either flooded or wrecked once in its life.

      Like 1
  3. TimS Member

    I love these and want one but not this one.

    Like 15
  4. Stephen Miklos

    I would say window was open and big rain storm came by. And the car sat with water in it. The carpet probably smell like mildew. The seat was ruined as we could tell from the photo. They replaced it with some generic brand seat. Definitely buyer beware.🙄

    Like 9
  5. Bakes

    Looking at the gauge cluster on the original seat, the undercarriage, and the inside of the doors and trunk, this car was likely in a flood. Might explain the salvage title. Interesting car but like others have said, not this particular example.

  6. md

    I clearly sold mine too cheap…

  7. mainlymuscle

    Rare and Beautiful cars .Best in the world type just set a record on BaT , at over $60k .
    “…in some water at one time …” ??????
    Okay Mr.glass half full .Plenty of pics showing floors,trunk and chassis , and this car looks to be dry as the proverbial popcorn fart .

    Like 2
    • Sam Shive

      Fresh Water …As in flood. Saw many that had a few inches of water inside for a couple of days….Yes you can dry then out. BY TAKING OUT THE SEATS AND CARPET.

      Like 2
  8. Car Nut Tacoma

    Beautiful looking car. This has always been my favourite year for the Pontiac.

    Like 1
  9. S

    This is one of those cars Pontiac should have made for more model years. The styling came out great on these! And in the one model year (1977) they were made, they should have made more of them. I heard of 2 reasons why so few were made was that 1. the mold for the rear spoiler broke and couldn’t be repaired for some reason (still you’d think Pontiac could have used a different spoiler or not put one on there), and 2. the dash/instrument panel was the same as what was used in the Grand Prix. Since the Grand Prix sold for more money (from what I understand – I don’t know if that is actually true), the powers that be wanted to use the dash / instruments in the GP and few were left over for the Can Am. It’s unfortunate, since I think this model furthered Pontiac’s image of offering sporty cars. I don’t know what the origin of the model name is, but I think calling it a GTO would have been perfectly appropriate. I’m not sure why they didn’t – since there was a 1973 GTO offered on this platform.

    Like 1
  10. t-bone BOB

    Located in:
    El Cajon, California

  11. Tom

    Fewer than 100 with the Olds 403 is a good thing, in my opinion. It’s a good engine but the T/A 400 was a great one, and the one that belongs in these cars. Deal breaker for me…

    Like 6
  12. wesley alker

    Pontiac was gonna build 5000 of these . . . . . and then the mold broke. STILL Pontiac HAD created 5000 of these cars with the suspension, brakes and performance powertrain (400/403 motor and THM400 trans). The other 3,623 were sold WITHOUT the body modifications and, from what I know, which isn’t much, to the people “in the know” those cars are worth more, if you can find one. It should also be noted, the (Pontiac) engines designated for the Can Am’s were sent to a Pontiac engine specialist for balancing, blueprinting and general performance massaging, resulting in power estimates of around 260HP instead of the advertised 200HP. Unfortunately, 1977 was THE ONLY year that, due to CAFE concerns, the engine block of the Pontiac motor was “lightened” and therefore weakened enough that it shouldn’t be built to produce any more than 400 HP. If you have one, and you want to maximize torque and horsepower, pull the original motor, save it “as is”, and look for an earlier motor and build that one up. OR, you can get an ALL ALUMINUM Pontiac clone motor at over 550 CID from Butler Performance! I’m thinkin that, that is what I’m gonna do with mine. That, and a THM 200R4 from Monster Transmissions.

    Like 4
    • W72WW3

      Olds 403 cars had the THM 350 trans.

      Like 1
    • W72WW3

      Enlighten me, Wesley. Who did Pontiac “outsource” the W72 engines to???
      That would’ve required a second EPA durability test that Pontiac would not have paid for.

      Like 2
  13. Vance

    I always liked these, my sister had one in her garage that was her B-inlaw’s. I really wanted to buy it, but they wouldn’t talk about it. It was either stolen or he was behind on the payments. Never bought the broken mold theory, the 2nd story makes more sen$e. Nice looking car

  14. t-bone BOB

    Ended:
    Oct 04, 2021
    Winning bid:
    US $10,850.00
    [ 42 bids ]

  15. wesley alker

    None of the articles that I have read name the specialist but, from what I have read, they were fairly local to the plant. I do believe however that Pontiac didn’t want to raise any regulatory eyebrows and, as far as they were concerned, it was still a “Standard Pontiac motor”. I used to work in a Pontiac dealership in my youth and, I can tell you, the Can Am’s were definitely MUCH faster than the T/A’s. I think that there may have been one article that named the builder but, I can’t for the life of me, remember. I’ll try to find it.

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