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Perfect Punchy Poncho: 1976 Pontiac Bonneville

031016 Barn Finds - 1976 Pontiac Bonneville 1

This 1976 Pontiac Bonneville, found here on craigslist in Cincinnati, Iowa is in almost showroom condition according to the seller. The asking price is $4,000 for this classy cruiser. But, this is no pedestrian Pontiac, there’s a surprise lurking within.

031016 Barn Finds - 1976 Pontiac Bonneville 2

This is Pontiac’s last true full-sized luxo-cruiser. In fact, most of GM’s cars would be downsized in the next year by a little over a foot in length. The owner says that this car has perfect leather and all power equipment works and there isn’t even a crack in the dash on this four-decade old car.

031016 Barn Finds - 1976 Pontiac Bonneville 3

It sure looks nice in there. The driver-centered dash layout is just what I remembered from the late-1970s and riding in a friend’s 1974 Catalina. That car was also in Iowa, come to think of it. Why are there so many Pontiacs in Iowa? The owner says that this car is rust-free and that you won’t find a better one. The hidden surprise here is that this car doesn’t have the semi-anemic 200-hp 455 or the even worse 170-hp 400 engine. Nope. This one has a “350 Chevy bored 30 over, 9/16ths stroker, steel crank, heads ported and polished, crower cam, lifters and valve springs. New headers, 2 barrel ford racing carb, complete fresh new motor….runs awesome.” Unfortunately, after that tease, there are no photos of that punchy puller lurking under that long, perfect hood. The engine alone sounds like it’s worth at least half of the asking price and it surely has more power than 170 or 200hp. What do you think of this perfect Pontiac with the punchy powertrain?


  1. Avatar photo Dairymen

    And after all of that it’s still a 4 door with a non original drivetrain.

    Like 1
  2. Avatar photo DrinkinGasoline

    For 1976, PMD offered four luxury vehicles. The Parisienne (originally Canadian),
    the Grand Ville, Bonneville, and the Grand LeMans. By ’76, EPA emissions strangling began it’s choke hold on GM products, as well as other makes, reducing horsepower . The engine replacement in this example may very well prove to be a benefit. I have owned both the ’76 Grand Ville
    (455 cu.in.) and the ’76 Grand Lemans (350 cu.in.) and both were a pleasure to drive. Both were four door hardtops and looked very sharp cruising the boulevard and I received a ton of compliments on them.

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo DrinkinGasoline

      EDIT: I also owned a ’71 Catalina four door hardtop 350 car which was a daily driver…no power anything but it was a very reliable car.

      Like 0
    • Avatar photo Mark

      Go to 7 eleven and buy your chevy parts. Don’t ever try to justify ruining a real car with a chitty engine.

      Like 0
  3. Avatar photo Charles

    Sounds like a Frankenstein. Chevy engine means a Chevy trans because the Pontiac trans has a different bolt pattern. Ford Racing two barrel Carburetor? This sounds like odds and ends. No pictures of the engine? I’ll bet that the A/C is not connected, and it probably does not have a compressor installed on it. It sounds like someone had an old Bonneville that did not run and an old Chevy that ran, but was ragged out. Easy enough to swap the whole engine and transmission making a running car. If it were a case of wanting more power a stock anemic Pontiac 400 or 455 can be built into nicely performers easy enough.

    Like 0
    • Avatar photo DrinkinGasoline

      On average, I turn over six vehicles a year. With the diminishing availability of vehicles and ever increasing costs associated with restoring pre 1980 vehicles, I can see why they did, what they did. Unless someone is willing to take out a second mortgage for OEM/NOS parts, or on the flip side, dive into the unknown of the aftermarket repro when they are simply wanting to drive a slick ride, they do what they can. I have restored numerous vehicles to manspec over the years and currently own two cars and one motorcycle which are “purist” restorations but… I will never turn my nose up to a “backyard builder vehicle” as they can surprise from time to time. If a Concours restoration is desired, then those undertaking that project should know full well what is required and will approach any sale accordingly.

      Like 1
    • Avatar photo G.P.

      Lot’s of transmissions back then had both bolt patterns to fit either car.

      Like 0
  4. Avatar photo Ed P

    $4k sounds like a fair price for a Bonneville in this condition. The car appears whole and in very good condition. The interior is a big plus.

    Like 0
  5. Avatar photo bluzemn1

    no smog cert in California too bad

    Like 0
  6. Avatar photo grenade

    Gawd awful back then and gawd awful even worse today.

    Like 0
  7. Avatar photo Roseland Pete

    I’d prefer the car to have the original motor.

    Like 0
  8. Avatar photo Mark

    Very sad, take the pile of crap generic chevy engine out. Give me the “eneimic ” Pontiac engine that trompt all over the best that chevy could build. I would be happy to put a torque monster poncho 455 under the hood. That chevy, would be a great boat anchor.

    Like 0
  9. Avatar photo Karo

    The “leather” is Morokkide, aka vinyl.

    Like 0
  10. Avatar photo Jubjub

    Yeah, I second or third that they should’ve kept the anemic Poncho motor.

    I bet anything the seller is a demo-derby guy and that’s last season’s drivetrain. At least they decided it was too nice to run in derbies.

    Last year I had the Olds contemporary of this, a 98, with a low compression Olds 455. Thing is, it still had gobs of torque and it had the distinct sound of an Olds Rocket V8. This once had the unique sound of Pontiac motor but now just had that Chevy “shick-shick” idle and that “bunch of air” sound under throttle.

    Years ago, I had a ’73 Grand Am with an anemic, 400 2bbl and it was no slouch. Behaved and sounded like a proper Pontiac.

    Like 0
  11. Avatar photo CJay

    I had two Bonneville Broughams with 455s, run them up to about 200k miles. Comfortable cruisers. OK on gas as long as the 4 barrel was kicked in. We used call it a power slide now they call it drifting. These boats required both lanes!

    Like 0

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