One Year Only: 1977 Pontiac Can Am

The year was 1977 and Pontiac decided to introduce a new performance car called the Can-Am which was based on the Pontiac LeMans. The car was the brainchild of Jim Wangers, the godfather of the GTO. Pontiac expected to sell 2,500 cars but got orders for 5,000.  Unfortunately, the mold used to make the fiberglass spoiler broke and, instead of fixing it, only 1,377 Can Ams were produced. This Pontiac Can-Am is for sale here on eBay and can be picked up in Newington, Connecticut. With 4 days remaining, the car is bid to $11,900 which I think is pretty healthy after examining its condition.

Considering the base engine in the Corvette had 180 horsepower, the Camaro Z28 was just a sticker package with 175 horsepower and the best engine in a Mustang produced 129 horsepower, Pontiac alone carried the performance torch. With 1976 being the last year of the 455 cubic inch engine, Pontiac Motor Division developed a high performance 400 cubic inch V8 engine called the W72 that could be ordered in Trans Ams, Formulas, and the new Pontiac Can-Am. Most Can Ams were produced with the new W72 400 cubic inch V8 engine which delivered 200 horsepower. California cars (42 total) received the 403 cubic inch V8 engine that produced 185 horsepower. Unfortunately, this car has had an engine swap but the original block does come with the car.

All Can Ams came with the Turbo 400 automatic transmission. This car is a column shifted automatic. No manual transmission Can Ams were produced. After being stored for a long period of time, the brakes, fuel system, and other components have been gone through to make it a reliable driver. This car still has its original rear spoiler intact. The car will need paint but the interior looks very nice. The odometer shows 63,133 miles.

While many consider this car to be a barge, it has a lot of 1970’s flair and enough power to get out of its own way. I had a friend of mine with one of these and he swapped the stock automatic transmission for a 4-speed transmission. It made the car a lot more fun. For interior colors, you could order red, black, white, or tan. Most of the Pontiac Can Ams that I have seen have red interiors. So who likes this car and is ready to take it home and finish the restoration?

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Comments

  1. Big_Fun Member

    When I was a pre-teen, I read a then current article about someone taking their new Buick Grand National and painting it white, and calling the the “GN X-ray”…or something like that.
    That article always had me wanting to take a ’77 Can Am (or the ’86 Pontiac Grand Prix 2+2) and have it painted black – with the decals and striping reapplied. That would take the bulkiness away. Pontiac’s trick of black painted rockers, lower doors, fenders, and quarters help.
    I know that these are somewhat rare, so prices are higher than average – I still think painting one black wouldn’t hurt the value. It may even improve it (purists be dammed)!

    10
    • KEVIN D

      I am curious if anyone on this post remembered the 1977 Lemans GT? My brother had a super clean one. At one time, he was told they made fewer GTs than Can Ams. Can anyone give me any info on this? Anyone familiar with the GT for 1977?

      6
  2. Big_Fun Member

    Oh, and what about black power coated bumpers, and, if sticking with the Pontiac rally wheels, go with Wheel Vintiques chrome version.
    Just some late night suggestions…

    6
  3. Superdessucke

    That is one sexy sashaying little penny for one of these in this kind of worn shape. What do they sell for restored – 4k more than the current bid? You’ll barely have the new tires, belts and hoses, and A/C system repaired before you hit that! GLWS.

    12
  4. Mitchell Member

    Build up the 400, swap the Rally IIs for a set of Snowflakes, and do some burnouts

    5
  5. TimM

    Always liked the CanAm but there hard to find and the fact that none of them had standard transmissions was a bummer to me!! This looks like a clean well kept car that doesn’t have the rust issues around the rear window like most of them do!! The interior looks clean with no rips or worn spots!! It will be interesting to see what it sells for!!!

    6
  6. Vance

    I am not an automotive engineer, but how hard would it have been to outsource another company to build the rear spoilers, Its not like it was a safety issue like brakes, seat belts, or glass. It was a freaking spoiler, this excuse always amazes me. I have always had a weakness for these, fun car in a boring era.

    12
    • AMFMSW

      Pontiac cancelled the ducktail spoiler option on the ’72 GTO because of mold breakage. Subcontracting construction of such parts may well have been prudent.

      5
    • Rick Rothermel

      I worked with Jim Wangers ghosting the PONTIAC PIZZAZ! book over a decade ago and got the whole story. The spoiler issue was only a part of the story.
      Pontiac had greenlighted the project grudgingly, having been saddled with the ugliest of the Collanade bodies. The car was ‘high-content’, using the instrument panels from the ’77 GRAND PRIX, which was having its own sales boom for being the last year of the ‘big’ Grand Prix. After planning for 2500 CAN AMs, suddenly there were 5000 orders, cars that would take those instrument panels from the higher-ticket GPs.
      When CAN AM production was halted at 1177 cars because of the spoiler mold issue the ax fell quickly- any excuse would work- and the GP production line got its’ parts inventory allotment back..
      Even that, though, bit Pontiac in the ass because now there were acres of solid white V8 equipped LeMans coupes parked outside waiting to be ‘CAN AMmed’. .
      There was a prototype ’78 Can Am built and awaiting approval, a really handsome car that would have been extremely popular.

      18
      • Big_Fun Member

        Rick – thanks for your insight on this. Someone at Wikipedia told the same story, the the GP dash in the Can Am was a sore spot for the Pontiac Brass.
        Interstesting you talk about the “leftover” white 400 CID cars. Out on the internet, a dealer has a Z vin code Can Am for sale. It has the standard dash, and someone converted it to a 4 speed. I thought it was a clone, but the vin code was a Z. That car makes more sense now, whatever it really is, lefover, clone or ?
        Thanks again.

        5
      • Doc

        Would love to see a pic of that 78 can am coupe prototype

        4
  7. jokacz

    Interesting name Can Am, since I doubt there ever was a Pontiac powered car in that series. But since they got away with using Trans Am when they sucked in that series….

    2
    • W72WW3

      SCCA received a royalty from Pontiac of five (5) dollars for each Trans Am sold. By the late seventies, a pretty substantial source of income for the SCAA…

      6
  8. Joe

    ” Unfortunately, the mold used to make the fiberglass spoiler broke and, instead of fixing it, only 1,377 Can Ams were produced. ” Planned to make 2500, had orders for 5000, and when the mold broke, they stopped at 1377. And GM wonders why they had problems… Hmmmm….

    12
    • Bruce Johnson Bruce Johnson Staff

      It is mind baffling. Complete incompetence. I remember Herb Adams telling me that he sat in a meeting and the new Pontiac boss was complaining that they have all these orders for SD455’s and they have all the parts in inventory. Herb told him “Why don’t you build some !X@#& cars!” and then quit and started his own company.

      6
  9. Dave

    Yawn- what’s all the fuss about. It’s the GrandAm that really is the model to lust over. Much more classy, it could be had with a 455 and a manual transmission. It was also available in a 4 door version.

    5
    • Keith Eisenbrei

      Yes the Grand Am was a great car and the manual trans although only available with the 400 made for some spirited driving

      2
    • Big_Fun Member

      I agree. The curator at the Pontiac Museum in Pontiac, IL (and now Pontiac, MI) has at least one, maybe two by now, 4 speed Grand Am 4 doors. I believe the Grand Am and the Cutlass Salon sedan were built to have great handling and to take on the imports.

      3
    • JoeNYWF64

      We are talking 1977 here!
      The Grand Am was made only model years ’72-75 with 455 & you would not want the ’75 (back then anyway) …
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pontiac_Grand_Am#1975
      (grand am discontinued in ’76 because of the upcoming damn rectangular headlites, among other things).
      Grand Am returned in ’78, downsized with either 301 or 305.

      With dual exhaust & PELLET converter removed, this CAN am
      for sale probably has 40 more hp.
      &, unlike on the ’74 grand am, 1 can open up that kewl earlier style t/a shaker for perhaps 10 more hp.

      3
  10. Timmyt

    I have 2 of these one is a t-roof I’ve spoke to the seller yes they’re rare but in this condition,not the y6 engine installed it’s simply over priced,the 11,600 bid is his so I guess that’s his reserve I’ve been watching it

    2
  11. Jay

    I really like these but,
    Idk……….
    Sellers friends may be bidding this up ?

    3
    • Fritz

      Looks like something a group of bored rednecks did to Moms’s old car late one night after a couple 1/5’s of Jack Daniels.
      Wouldn’t pay over $2000 for the fugly beast, but let me tell you what I really think! Lol

      2
  12. Roger Clites

    My Mom had a lime green 77 Lemans Sports Coupe with White interior. It had the bucket seats, floor console with shifter on the floor. Surprised they didnt put buckets seats in the Can Am, rather drab interior.

    3
    • Rick Rothermel

      Buckets and Console were options, probably half the CAN AMs were so equipped.

      1
  13. Stevieg Member

    I really like Big_Fun’s ideas! Swap in a 4 speed from a 1973 Lemans along with a 455, this could be a great fun ride! I would love the bench seat intact because I want a center armrest, which the center console cars don’t have. I would prefer the look of the console, but I like to be comfortable when I am driving.
    Bonus points if it had the sliding sunroof!

    1
  14. Johnny

    I knew a guy who had one and junked it out. I got the console out of it and have had it for about 40 years up in the building. I think its a dark blue color.

  15. John Oliveri

    I owned a loaded 73 Luxury Lemans w every option in the book, in 1978/79, regret selling it to this day, Can Am not of interest to me, but the Grand Am produced from 73 up is a real nice car,

    2
  16. jerry z

    I am confused about the quarter windows. Some Lemans have the Grand Prix style but the Cam Am have the Grand Am style window.

  17. W72WW3

    The louvered quarter windows were standard on the LeMans Sport Coupe model. The small opera windows were a no charge option, if memory serves me correct..

    1
  18. John

    Colonnade abomination. JMO.

  19. Bmac777 Member

    I’m not a big colonnade fan but I’ve seen a few that I really like. But one thing for sure those one’s had the side louvers . IMO they change the whole look and feel of the cars.
    I hate the way they look with the big bare windows that give them the family sedan look and a fish bowl feel.

  20. W72WW3

    The Ventura based Sprint WAS NOT a factory approved RPO. It was a dealer installed package only.

    1

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