Monday, April 13, 2015

1k: Forgotten By Not Forgiven: 1982 Pontiac Phoenix

 The Phoenix was the predecessor to Pontiac's popular reboot Grand Am that sat on a compact family car chassis.  The Phoenix was first available on the rear-drive Nova platform (1977-1979) and later switched to the front drive Chevy Citation X-Body platform shared with the Buick Skylark & Oldsmobile Omega.  Find this 1982 Pontiac Phoenix offered for $750 in San Rafael, CA via craigslist.  Tip from Kaibeezy.

I couldn't tell you the last time I saw a Pontiac Phoenix on the road, or if I've ever seen one for that matter. It is hard to distinguish from a Citation and it isn't like those are falling out of trees these days.  I believe this funky shaped fastback version qualifies for Kaibeezy's enigmatic wagonback shape from the twister a few weeks ago.

The Phoenix even had a performance version called the SJ which was available with a 135 horsepower 2.8 liter V6 and 205/70R13 radials (this one is a base model with the 2.5 liter inline-4 rated at around 86 horsepower).  Pontiac's "With 6 You Get H.O." should not be confused with BMW's  "With a 6 You Get A Ho" ad campaign. 

See another oddball from the 80s? Send it here:


  1. Stick that bird back in the fire. If it rises, just shove it back where it belongs.

    1. Kinda hard to tell from those pictures, but it does appear to be pretty clean.

    2. I used to wonder why so many bad cars end up as clean survivors. The answer to that question came to me at the bottom of a glass of bourbon and coke one quiet evening; because people who buy cars like this hate to drive. I mean how often would you use a nipple twisting machine (don't answer that)?
      Cars like this Phoenix are bought by people who pray for the day that all cars are illegal, but in the mean time, need some way of getting to their Sierra Club meetings.

    3. This car would have sold in the millions if they'd just gotten Hall & Oates to market it.

    4. The lovely Pontiac Phoenix featured the following.

      1) Tendency to rust
      2) Horrific quality control
      3) Excessive oil consumption
      4) Dull performance
      5) Frightening brake failure
      6) Terrifying lift-off oversteer
      7) Chronic steering bush wear
      8) Underseal applied by the blind
      9) Interiors that are better seen and felt by zombies
      10) About 18 mpg

      ...and it was a hatchback on top of it all. The stigma was as bad then as it is now, right or wrong. Let's not even discuss the color of this particular example.

      The point that this is actually not bad for $750 is a good one. That's true. But you won't necessarily enjoy it. It's better than walking, I guess...

      This one sports the cloth seats which was so much better than the thigh-scorching vinyl.

    5. I take that back. It would be much healthier and safer to walk.

    6. Ok, Ok K2MC, you convinced me. I'll walk.....

      But I would still rather buy this thing than that 1977 Pontiac Can-Am dinosaur that showed up this morning on DT.

    7. Ha ha! You're your own man, B. I would never presume to suggest what you should do. Still, I'd worry that the combination of the over-tight hoses and hydraulics flex that cause brake failure in these cars would result in an accident. There are plenty of cars at this price range that would be better. Okay, maybe not HUGELY better. But still!
      ...etc, etc, etc.

  2. GM should buy this thing and send it to the crusher tout de suite - just in case anyone remembers just how terrible the X platform was.

  3. Beautiful, Elegant, Refined

    All words I would never use to describe this

  4. Remember, the platform was named -Nova, -Omega, -Ventura, -Apollo [NOVA], from Chev, Olds, Pontiac, Buick, respectively. Not an endorsement by any means...

  5. Let me be the dissenting voice: a clean car, rust free, with 28,000 original miles, for $750. And it's a hatch to boot. Sorry guys, but I think I would buy this if I came across it locally. You can think less of me if you wish....

    1. Bobinott, I have no problem with your logic, and would agree had I not spent all of middle school riding in the back of one of these that a Mom owned in our middle school carpool group. The plastics in the car smelled eerily like vomit and the repulsion runs too deep---I couldn't ride in one again if I wanted to.

  6. Anyone else thinking LS3 turbo but leave the stock outer appearance?
    Could be a crazy sleeper.

  7. That "Phoenix" emblem below the beltline on the door, at this distance, bears a striking resemblance to the rank insignia for a "full bird" Colonel / Navy Captain. The number 6 is the Officer pay grade of a full Colonel / Navy Captain... as in "O-6". Coincidence? I for one can't imagine any self-respecting O-6 wanting to be seen in one of these either today or in it's "prime."

    Nostalgia time: My Dad was 'issued' an X Body as his company car by Proctor and Gamble in the early 1980's. I have fond memories of that 2-tone gold-and-brown turd as it sat for 2 years immobile and unused at the end of our cul-de-sac. Fitting, then, that none of those memories involve actually being inside it when it was moving under it's own power. We used it as a fort, a clubhouse, a jungle gym, a tent, and even a storage shed... but never as a car.

    It was so bad, so unreliable, that my Dad drove his late 70's TR-7 because it was more dependable. I'll say that again: my Dad chose to drive his (then) 6 year old TR-7 over his (then) 2 month old X-Body.

    The reason this Pontiac has so few miles is because it probably remained parked, immobile, in someone's yard for the past 30+ years while the owner slowly tried to correct all of the mistakes this toilet left the factory with.

    Yes, they really were that bad. No, you really do not want this car.

  8. This makes me want a Plymouth Cricket.

  9. Sometimes the commenting thing here just barfs on my shoes... I was saying...these were not the worst car in the world, and when you look at what surrounded them in the marketplace of 1980 they weren't all that bad at all.

    Shopped Citations with my girlfriend at the time, she ended up buying a Celica which - given that she (and later, I think, her brother) was still driving the thing long after she had...spit...belch...grumble...married someone else - could be considered to be the correct choice in cars if not in husbands.

    At any rate, this car is not deserving of derision. It was an adequate mechanical design, and some GM engineers actually turned the Chevy version into a Showroom Stock competitor in the form of the early X-11.

    What is unfortunate is that by the time this thing hit the showrooms GM was well on their way to retooling all their other mainstream products as FWD, and many of THOSE were disasters.

    So, don't blame this thing the next time you see some mid-'80s big Buick crawling down the road on collapsed rear springs.


Commenting Commandments:
I. Thou Shalt Not write anything your mother would not appreciate reading.
II. Thou Shalt Not post as anonymous unless you are posting from mobile and have technical issues. Use name/url when posting and pick something Urazmus B Jokin, Ben Dover. Sir Edmund Hillary Clint don't matter. Just pick a nom de plume and stick with it.
III. Honor thy own links by using <a href ="http://www.linkgoeshere"> description of your link </a>
IV. Remember the formatting tricks <i>italics</i> and <b> bold </b>
V. Thou Shalt Not commit spam.
VI. To embed images: use [image src="" width="400px"/]. Limit images to no wider than 400 pixels in width. No more than one image per comment please.