Junkyard Find: 1992 Pontiac LeMans Sedan

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1992 pontiac lemans sedan

General Motors brought Opel Kadetts into the United States via several routes over the years. They came from Germany and were badged as Opels at first, Isuzu built “Buick Opels” a bit later, then Isuzu dealers sold them as I-Marks (the Chevette was also a Kadett sibling, but at least it was American-built). By the late 1980s, the Kadett’s American cousin was the Daewoo LeMans, a crappily-built Korean front-wheel-drive miserybox based on the Kadett E. Few were sold, and nearly all of those were three-door hatchback versions.

Here’s an exceptionally rare LeMans sedan, from the next-to-last year of American-market sales, that I spotted last week in a Denver self-service wrecking yard.

The Daewoo-made LeMans was available in the United States for the 1988 through 1993 model years, and in Canada (as the Asüna SE and GT) for the 1991-93 model years. This one never even touched 80,000 miles on the clock.

Sad to think that the LeMans name, which once graced cool-looking A-body machines, came to this.

Meanwhile, GM shoppers turned off by the extravagance of the LeMans could buy a Suzuki Cultus, known as the Chevrolet Sprint and, later, the Geo Metro.

In 1993, the LeMans sedan came with an MSRP of $9,854 (we can assume that most sold for quite a bit less than that). This was way cheaper than the far-superior-in-every-aspect $11,198 Toyota Corolla sedan, but the ’93 Pontiac Sunbird LE sedan listed for just $9,382 and would have made LeMans sales difficult for Pontiac salesmen, even those under threat of having one toenail torn out with pliers for every Daewoo left in end-of-month inventory.

We’ve seen this ’88 and this ’88, both hatchbacks, in this series prior to today. When will all of these cars disappear from the junkyard ecosystem?

The Asüna GT was the Canadian hatchback version.

In its homeland, the LeMans got some seriously macho voiceovers in its TV ads.

Daewoo felt great pride that this car was sold all over the world.

In the United States, the LeMans helped Pontiac build excitement.

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Writer d'Elegance Brougham Landau.

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  • Shortest Circuit Shortest Circuit on Feb 26, 2016

    The LeMans (also for canadians, the Passport Optima) was NOT based on the Kadett E, but the more robust Kadett D. It takes a bit of investigation, but the blower motor on the OUTSIDE of the firewall is a dead giveaway. GM gave the boxy D-Kadett some nicer E-clothes and rebadged it for the USA.

  • Webibeay Webibeay on Feb 28, 2016

    In 1990 I made the miserable mistake (college kid on a VERY tight budget) to buy one of these sedans brand new. LE sedan, all the options (even sunroof) for $7k. Everything, and I mean everything broke - (windshield fell out, rear bumper fell off, everything leaked, it overheated constantly amongst leaving me on the side of road numerous times!!!!) what a horrible, miserable, piece of crap!!! I managed to get 9,000 miles on it before finally giving up and trading it on a new GEO Storm.... Just can't explain how truly horrible this POS was....

  • SaulTigh I've said it before and I'll say it again...if you really cared about the environment you'd be encouraging everyone to drive a standard hybrid. Mature and reliable technology that uses less resources yet can still be conveniently driven cross country and use existing infrastructure.These young people have no concept of how far we've come. Cars were dirty, stinking things when I was a kid. They've never been cleaner. You hardly ever see a car smoking out the tail pipe or smell it running rich these days, even the most clapped out 20 year old POS. Hybrids are even cleaner.
  • Inside Looking Out Just put ICE there. Real thing is always better that simulation.
  • Inside Looking Out It still cannot oversimulate Telluride.
  • Jeff Doesn't appear to need much and it would be worth the asking price. Keep the straight 6 and keep it all original it is hard to find an almost 70 year old survivor like this. You are not going to race in this car it is meant for cruising and for smaller car shows. Just fix the mechanics including the brakes give it a good wax job and detailing.
  • VoGhost Hmmm. Odd that exactly zero Tesla dealers signed this lobbying letter.