Tuesday, April 14, 2015

5k: 1 of 1377: 1977 Pontiac Can-Am LeMans Sport Coupe

In 1977 Pontiac released a special edition of their mid-sized LeMans known as the Can-Am and only available as a 2-door coupe.  Internet data pegs the total production at 1377 units in the only model year they were sold, and the last one we featured was a $20k beauty.  This one is a little bit rusty and lot bit junky, but the price is right.  Find this 1977 Pontiac Can-Am Lemans Sport Coupe offered for $6,500 in Blue Springs, MO via craigslist. Tip from Lee.

If you believe an old codger who sold these things when new (DT's own Hunsbloger) the reason so few Can-Ams were produced has less to do with Pontiacs assembly line and more to do with buyers not plunking down the cash at the dealer.  The truth is they were a tough car to sell at the time because they were an ultra niche..even for Pontiac.  They were essentially the same idea as the GTO, but without the cachet of the GTO name (further confounded by Pontiac's odd decision to drop the GTO in '74).

image from http://www.tocmp.com/stuff/archive.php

The Can Am was essentially just a tarted up LeMans but it was the original GTO formula, offered with their bigger motor and their Pacific Southwest Airlines colored stripes.  At the time Can-Ams seemed decent for a '77 but their lack of color choice left them as a love it or hate it car, because Cameo White was the only option.  Problem was, the buyers in the market remembered the original GTO very fondly, but some respected how quickly the A-body Grand Am filled the void, so back to big-bucket-o-badges (tm) and voila...Can-Am!

The 1977 Can Am is powered by a tarted up version of the Pontiac 400 cubic inch (6.6 liter W72 T/A) V8 that made 200 horsepower when new.  Expect 0-60mph in about 10 seconds and fuel economy somewhere between a cruiser and a destroyer at full steam.  The T/A 6.0 seen in the above picture means this car has the Pontiac 400, whereas Olds 403 equipped cars would have 6.6 LITRE inscribed on their shaker hood scoops. 

Internet legend states that the mold to produce the fiberglass rear spoiler broke 6 months into production and the Pontiac upper management that was already spooked about cannibalizing sales from the Grand Prix, so they decided to can the Can Am with just about 1300 cars produced by that time.  For all the exterior issues this one has, the inside isn't too bad.

See another car that should be driven as a survivor instead of getting a concours restoration? tips@dailyturismo.com


  1. 400 cubes 200 horsepower. And some people question whether or not we really put a man on the moon.

  2. I haven't seen one for years...the horn is " European " with an almost road runner sound. My dad took delivery of the plain LeMans version with the front bearings cranked down so tight they ruined the axle. That was the beginning of a world of problems with the worst being the rust that ate it up in a few years.

  3. We've written about this before, but this is one of those rare cars where context is everything. (Poncho guys who are more informed than I can feel free to chime in or slap me down, but this is the way I remember these)

    Pontiac made a huge mistake switching the GTO to the Nova Bodied Ventura in '73 and that body style was still active when this car came out. So, they went back to the GTO's roots and went to the LeMans again, only problem was they couldn't affix the GTO name to it so they called it the GrandAm which was a tire smoking torque monster but had a very unusual nose treatment, so back to the drawing board again and here's the CanAM which borrowed really heavily from the TransAm down to the shaker hood with T/A logo.

    The nose of this is so much tighter looking than most of what GM was offering at the time and the dash was the most functional thing they had (Corvette included). Compared to the other stuff on the market (when new) these drove well, even if one really needed to be driving a mini-skirted, white-vinyl-boot-wearing, PSA stewardess home after a long flight, to fully appreciate that color scheme. Afterall, the Brady Bunch was only 3 years in the rear view mirror and polyester was still king!

    Their small cars were an abomination and their big cars (GrandVille) were in their first year of a new downsized body and the newer GranPrix body was still a year away, so this was their GAP car in a bunch of different ways.
    (Remember also; in 1977 'tire smoking monster' means a nose heavy car with light tail and skinny enough tires that even Ford 6-cyl pickup with a four speed manual could leave a stripe for a 1/8th mile-as I've demonstrated for beers in the past!)

    1. These things were crap. Utter crap.

      Yeah, dumb to plop the GTO on the Nova but past '72 the X-body (and the related F) was the one sane platform GM had.

      The '75-79 X-body was the best 'traditional' (that is, leaf-spring-stick-axle) platform Detroit ever did, sadly spoiled a bit by the bumpers and smog-control crap of the day but still better than anything else at the time.

      In '77 GM did a really clean big-car shape and dropped it on a revised version of this frame and built tons of 'em, the only thing wrong with them was that like everything else from Detroit at the time they were assembled by militant stoners and every last one of 'em needed days of rework at the dealer before it went out the door, if it was saleable at all.

  4. Collector friends tell me that 70s lard boat coupes are on the rise. Hmmm....

    "...can the Cam-Am..," I love it!

    1. Is my psychic bond with DT strong? I don't think so. And yet...


  5. Never thought I would see a pic of this car coupled with the words "mid-sized" in the copy. :D Gotta love the 70's.

  6. I had a buddy with one in high school, and also the guy up the street had one (that's 2 of 1377). The buddy had a 455 in place of the original 400, which was on a stand in the garage. I got to drive it once, and to this day it was the fastest car I've ever driven. Blinding. Good luck turning, or stopping though.

    1. Do you have another brother by the same name?

    2. Haven't heard that one in at least a week....

    3. Must've been a slow week. Actually I'm happy that people still get that reference.


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