Rare Wagon: 1978 Pontiac Astre

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What is it about seeing a car that you know full well isn’t all that desirable, but when it wears the badge of a far lesser-known variant, it suddenly becomes cool? That’s a spell I often fall under despite knowing full well there’s very little added value simply by virtue of a different hood ornament. This 1978 Pontiac Astre is the lesser-seen cousin to the Chevrolet Vega and is offered here on craigslist as a barn find in surprisingly sound shape.

The seller is asking a reasonable $2,500 for the Pontiac, but he’s also open to trades for guns and ammunition or another project vehicle. My brother recently pulled a Pontiac LeMans Safari out of a garage in his neighborhood, and it has the same sort of vibe as this Astre. Sure, it’s near identical to a Vega Kammback, which was already a hard to find model – but I’m guessing the amount of registered Astres still on the road is in the double-digit range.

And truth be told, there likely aren’t that many Vega wagons left, either. This one needs an engine, which seems like an open door invitation to drop in a more powerful engine than anything that came from the factory. The seller doesn’t provide any context for how the Astre ended up in this sort of condition, but I like his line of thinking when he mentions, “…make into that dream racecar.” This Astra has period-correct drag car tribute written all over it.

The paint and the chrome is faded but I bet the single-stage finish will come back to life with a good buffing. The same could be said for the tired chrome bumpers. The bodywork is surprisingly sound for a car that hasn’t lived inside a garage, but the Texas climate is generally pretty hospitable to vintage tin. What do you think is the best future for this rare wagon – a drag car hot rod build or a daily-driver restoration?

Auctions Ending Soon

Comments

  1. Harvey HarveyMember

    I would trade a Red Rider bb gun and a pack of bbs for this gem.

    Like 13
    • Maggy

      Fred Harman would approve.

      Like 3
    • John H.

      Scut Farkus, he had yellow eyes….!!!

      Like 1
  2. HoA Howard AMember

    “and suddenly becomes cool”? Unless it had a blown 454 and 10 inch slicks, Astre wagons were never cool. I’m sure the intent here that never happened. “Trade for guns or ammo”,,,nice. I’m no gun nut, never had one, never will, but with all the emphasis on protecting yourself from the horrors about to unfold, hardly seems fair. I know, take your gun to the guy and say, hand over the car,,,kidding, relax,,
    To be clear, the ’78 Astre had the “Iron Duke” 4 cylinder, was actually not a bad car, but lived in the shadow of the Vega, and never had a chance. I read, the Astre was actually $200 cheaper than the Vega, WITH a better motor, but didn’t matter, folks minds were already made up, and a tough nut to crack.
    Guns for classics,,what next?

    Like 11
    • leiniedude leiniedudeMember

      Send lawyers, guns and money!

      Like 13
      • Big C

        I was gambling in Havana. I took a little risk…

        Like 5
      • Ammonezia on Car Sale

        “I went home with the waitress, the way I always do
        How was I to know, she was with the Russians, too?” 😉🎶

        Like 5
  3. Maggy

    LS it looking stealth and make it a sleeper and reinforce the chassis wouldn’t go too nuts with it to cage it but could be an option . Sorry all you LS haters but with no engine and a blank slate why not.We used call them Pontiac ashtrays.Looks like it sold.

    Like 7
    • Glen Riddle

      Since a Chevy 305 was optional in the Sunbird hatchback, the same platform, I would think adding an LS would be very doable.

      Like 8
      • maggy

        There was a 305 option in the bicentennial Monza too.My buddy double gasketed one on the oil filter and we stopped him as he was pulling out of the shop at the kmart.auto center we worked at when we were 18.I did not know sunbirds/ monzas and astres/ vegas had the same platform.

        Like 2
      • Glen Riddle

        @maggy
        GM called it the “H” platform. 1975-80 Buick Skyhawk and Olds Starfire also shared the platform.

        Like 5
      • maggy

        I thought you were saying the Sunbird and Astre were on the same platform . My bad. I know they are not I misunderstood the way you wrote your comment since the article is about a Astre wagon.

        Like 2
      • Glen Riddle

        @maggy Vega/Astre and Monza/Sunbird/Skyhawk/Starfire are all the same “H” platform.

        Like 5
      • maggy

        You are correct Glen.My bad again .I never thought they were. I was never into these cars.I was always a B body fellow. A guy at my HS had the I think the olds version or maybe it was a Monza it was black with a big spider on the hood that he dumped a built 350 into.It had a manual trans of what orgin or speeds I don’t know. It was fast though.If the spider logo was factory I don’t know either.

        Like 2
  4. C Force

    You could keep it pontiac under the hood,room for a 400 or 455 in there.?you could have the quickest grocery getter in town.it would be a unique build with plenty of potential

    Like 9
  5. BA

    The engineers down at GM still sing the praises of the Pontiac 400 motor which the EPA killed off for all the wrong reasons. Young kids only know the recent LS but had the SD 455 got financial backing & a waiver from the EPA things might have looked a lot different in automotive history. It was only when there was no answer to free horsepower & the automotive industry was shrinking from no profits from ridiculously slow & uninspiring offerings from every automaker common sense was once again restored . Not saying a LS is a bad motor but put it head & shoulders above sacred Detroit iron from 1960s & 70s not to me

    Like 0
  6. Rumpledoorskin

    Instead of an LS, how about a V6? Supercharged 3800? I don’t know if they’re lighter, but I tire of the “LS everything.”

    Like 16
    • Glen Riddle

      Actually the Buick 3.8 was optional in these cars starting in 1978, so sounds like a great option. A 3.8 intercooled turbo from a Grand National would be interesting.

      Like 6
  7. Bill the Engineer

    If it was mine to do, I’d go electric with as much motor as I could get under the hood. Plenty of room in the back for Tesla batteries!

    Like 2
    • Big C

      I’d go with steam. The boiler would fit perfectly in the back.

      Like 9
      • ACZ

        I’d go with water. It’s a great boat anchor. Still a Vega.

        Like 2
  8. CCFisher

    If it’s really a ’78, then it’s a Sunbird, not an Astre.

    Like 9
    • Glen Riddle

      Gold star, sir!
      Sunbird Sport Safari.

      Like 5
    • Richard

      That’s right. I had a ’76 Astre hatchback. My dad had a ’77 Astre wagon.
      The ’76 had an improved version of the 2300cc Vega engine, the “Dura Built.” My dad’s car had the 2500cc “Iron Duke” engine.
      The Astre name died with the Vega, after the 1977 model year.
      Yes, this car would have been badged as a Sunbird.

      Like 1
  9. Rob

    Agree on the “lesser known” variant being interesting. An Isuzu Oasis, Oldsmobile Firenza, VW Routan, Pontiac Ventura all day long (insert rocking out emoji)

    Like 3
  10. Neal Jacobsen

    It needs an engine but it looks like it needs a transmission also. I owned one of these back in the 70s. Great little car! Not sure what would fit in the engine compartment. I do like the idea of a V6 though. That would really make this little girl fly.

    Like 1
  11. jwaltb

    There’s a reason it’s rare!

    Like 3
  12. Riffraff

    El anuncio ha sido borrado por su autor!

    Like 0
  13. Robert Levins

    We had one – in 1978. Ours was a 1976 model and had the same engine, the famous “Iron Duke “ 4-cylinder. We all “ clapped and cheered “ when we got up to 60 mph. How long did it take? Just pass the chips and we’ll wait it out! They are Cool, and fun just slow. But they got 23-25 mpg average – pretty good for a 1976 car, in 1978. I was 14 years old in 1978 so I could only ride around in it. But I remember it – cool little car. THIS ONE ? Keep it original, they are relatively cheap, easy and simple, and it WILL draw a crowd at car shows ect. If you keep it original – you can experience what I did in 1978. Good luck!

    Like 2
  14. Duaney

    sold

    Like 1
  15. Threepedal

    On the Vega bumpers were aluminum. Heard about a guy who sold his to buy a six pack.

    Like 2

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