Trans Am Alternative: 1977 Pontiac Can Am

The majority of motoring enthusiasts who are old enough to remember it don’t hold many fond memories of the Malaise Era. They were dark and gloomy times for performance car enthusiasts, but the occasional bright spark illuminated that darkness. One of those sparks was the 1977 Pontiac Can Am. While its performance figures provided a modest improvement over a standard Pontiac LeMans Sport Coupe, it was a car that still managed to generate its fair share of interest. With only around 300 of the original build total of 1,133 cars known to remain in existence today, good examples are not a common sight. This particular car does look to be a nice example, and this is a chance for someone to park an attractive car in their driveway today. Located in Patchogue, New York, the Can Am is listed for sale here on eBay. With bidding now hovering at $14,995, the reserve on this classic Pontiac has been met.

The product of the fertile mind of marketing guru Jim Wangers, Pontiac’s original intention with the Can Am was to produce 2,500 cars. Much to the company’s surprise, public enthusiasm meant that they could easily have sold more than twice that figure. However, fate stepped in when the mold used to produce the duck-tail rear spoiler broke, so Pontiac management decided to cease production of the Can Am at a point when less than half of the production run had been built. From an appearance perspective, the Can Am was a distinctive car. It started life as a LeMans Sport Coupe finished in Cameo White. The car was then shipped to the workshops of Motortown, where the hood was cut and the T/A shaker was fitted. At the same time, the spoiler and graphics were installed, along with the black-painted rockers and window frames. The result of this work was a car that really stood out in a crowd. The widely accepted wisdom has been that 1,377 cars were built before production ceased. However, in a 2010 interview, Jim Wangers stated that the figure was actually 1,133. This particular car is a nice example, with no signs of any rust issues. It features a Hurst Hatch T-Top, which makes it even more unusual and rare than your average Can Am. The panels are straight and clean, while the stripes and Can Am graphics all look to be in great condition. Standard fitment to a Can Am was white Rally II wheels with chrome beauty rings, although the Snowflake alloy wheels from the Trans Am were available as an extra-cost option. This car features the standard wheels, and they appear to be in excellent condition. At the bottom of this article, you will find a walk-around video, and this reveals the fact that the Pontiac both looks and sounds pretty impressive.

Essentially, when you climbed inside a Can Am, what you were confronted with a number of items that had been “borrowed” from the Grand Prix parts bin to make the interior of the Can Am distinctively different to the LeMans. This included the dash, which imparted a more upmarket feel to the car’s interior. One interesting aspect of this car’s interior is that it must have originally been ordered without the Grand Prix’s floor console and shifter, which further adds to the car’s rarity. The console was standard fitment, but it could be deleted when the vehicle was ordered. Interior trim colors were limited to black, red, white, and tan. The red interior of this car presents extremely nicely, with no obvious issues or problems. All of the trim and the carpet are in good condition, while the dash is free of any cracks or splits. There have been no aftermarket additions to the car, and in addition to the Grand Prix’s sports gauges, this car features an AM/FM radio and air conditioning.

The Can Am was more than just an appearance package, and really was an attempt to inject some excitement into the American motoring landscape during pretty dark times. To that end, under the hood could be found Pontiac’s W72 400ci V8, producing 200hp. This power was sent to the 3.08 rear end via a Turbo Hydramatic 400 transmission. The Can Am also featured Pontiac’s Radial Tuned Suspension, giving the car a sharper ride and handling, along with power steering, and 11″ power front disc brakes. The under-hood presentation of this Can Am is probably as impressive as the rest of the car and is above average for a vehicle of this age. However, this isn’t all about looks, because the owner says that the car runs and drives extremely well.

With only 1,133 cars being produced, the 1977 Pontiac Can Am was already a fairly rare car when new. It is estimated that today there are as few as 300 roadworthy examples in existence. Finding a nice vehicle such as this is a rare treat. Its authenticity has been confirmed, and it has been placed on the National Pontiac Can Am Registry. Values on these have been trending upwards quite significantly in recent times, meaning that this one could represent a pretty fair investment proposition.


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  1. Miguel

    I have always like this body style, but it need the floor shift and console.

    Like 16
    • Moparman Member

      Of all the colonades, I really liked this one; and I’ve never seen one w/ T-tops. Personally, though, I agree w/Miguel on the console! :-)

      Like 2
    • Leo

      I would buy this car in a heartbeat, except it lacks the center console! I does have the very rare T-Tops though!

      Like 2
    • CEE

      Yes, should have had the console. A high school buddy got to drive his moms 1976 or 77 Gran Prix to school occasionally & it had the console/shift setup, so it shouldn’t have been too hard for Pontiac to do it.

      Like 1
    • Will Fox

      90% of these built DID have the console automatic; this is the first column-shift model I’ve seen in Can Am’s. It’s also the first one I’ve seen with T-Tops. This particular car appears as if it was mid-ordered. Who would want a column shift & no center console?!! I’m calling this one a factory mistake, but interesting. Probably one of the cleaner one I’ve seen in the past couple of years.

  2. Arthell64 Member

    I don’t remember seeing one with t-top either. I always liked these cars.

    Like 1
  3. Superdessucke

    The values have really gone up. I remember when you could get one for less than 10k. Top was maybe 15k. We’re over that with this driver example now.

    Cool cars but you would need to add mods to have performance fitting the looks. Stock, they took around 10 seconds to hit 60 MPH due to the 400s relatively low horsepower and the high weight of vehicle. That’s about on par with a current Nissan Versa with an MSRP starting at $14,730.

    Like 4
    • TimS Member

      So buy a Versa. Why even make such a comparison on a site like this?

      Like 20
      • Superdessucke

        Why would I do that? Geez. I’d get the Honda Fit. It’s about a second quicker than both of these!

        All kidding aside, I guess I made the comparison because I’m amazed at the amount of money being spent on cars that were, not all that long ago, considered kind of an afront to the muscle car era. Nowadays, you could probably clear 10 grand for a Volare Road Runner.

        Like 3
  4. TimM

    These were cool cars but in reminds me it was the end of an era!! I agree with everyone that it looks weird with the buckets and no console or even an automatic floor shifter!! I know it was stock but this is why the era ended!! The muscle cars getting hit by government emissions regulations and the insurance companies raising rates on them!! Someone’s always got to end the party!!!

    Like 5
    • Dave

      I owned a 69 Charger R/T that had a bench seat and column shift in 1976. The third nail in the coffin was the Arab Oil embargo.

      Like 1
  5. Timmyt

    I have 2 of them does anybody know how many were fitted with t-tops that was not on the option list but one of mine is t-tops so far this one makes only 2 I’ve seen with Hurst hatch

    Like 5
  6. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Not to much help but the ad states ‘ This car has the Hurst Hatch T-Tops (which makes it among a small handful of cars in the world) ‘.

    Like 2
    • W72

      The T-Tops were NOT installed at the Pontiac Michigan assembly plant where all the Can Am’s were built. The lift off roof panels were not available from PMD as a RPO Regular Production Option.

      Like 2
      • Will Fox

        ASC did these. (American sunroof corp.) They put T-tops on Volares, Malibus, Cutlasses, etc. that the factory never did.

        Like 1
  7. Hyman Roth

    I find anyone selling a car with fuzzy photos, like this seller, to be doing themselves a disservice. My phone takes better photos than these.

    Do look at the Ebay photo straight on the front of the car. The front rubber bumper strip is broken right in the center. This was very hard and expensive for me to find and replace on my own car.

    Like 1
  8. Camaro guy

    Is it just me or does anyone else think the idle is a little to choppy for a stock cam and mufflers aren’t either

    Like 3
  9. Rosco

    Yes, it’s a low option car and author states that not having a console adds to the rarity. In reality, fewer options makes it less desirable. Owner of this one needs to adjust, repair or replace passenger side door hinges as the fit is horrible.

    Like 3
  10. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    T-Tops were all the rage at this time….they – T-Tops were stolen as much as tailgates now !

    Like 1
  11. Dave

    I just bring myself to like this CanAm more than the more subtle styled and much more potent Pontiac Grand Am of few years prior to this model. To me the Grand Am is just more-better

    Like 1
    • RH

      Instead of comparing this to the Pontiac Grand Am of a few years prior, wouldn’t it make more sense to compare it to another 1977 Pontiac model?

      Like 2
      • CEE

        1977 Gran Prix!

  12. Stevieg

    The seats appear to me to not be the right ones for the car. The shade of red seems off to me (although GM was never good at that lol) and I don’t recognize the stitching pattern as being for that car. I’ll bet it started life with a bench seat.
    I have never seen one with the tee tops either. One of the other readers has one with them. I hope for his sake, and for the sake of the next owner of this car, that the installation was done properly. Whether factory (aftermarket, whatever) or done by a body shop or back yard mechanic, there is additional bracing that should be installed. If not, the body integrity could be compromised.
    I know a guy who had a bondo’d up 1973 Chevelle with tee tops, home made mud fender flares, an L88 hood scoop, everything that is wrong with 1980’s “taste”, and I tease him about needing to grow back his mullet lol. That roof on his car flexes & twists as he drives down the road. It wasn’t good enough driving like a rubber band, so he dropped in a 427.

    Like 1
    • W72

      Seats don’t look correct. Material and pattern on front buckets. Would like to see the PHS on this car.

  13. Dex

    Prices of these are going up and will continue to climb. With the low production numbers and a great look, better get one now while still some what affordable. And don’t whine about the performance and compare it to previous years of muscle cars. Some of you seem to forget that this is what you got in 1977!

    Like 2
  14. W72

    As of 1020 hours EST, bid to $18,800.(28 October 2019)

  15. W72

    Sold. $19,600.

    • Rosco

      Seems reasonable considering the work it needs.

      Like 1

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