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.



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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....

  • Jeff S Corey--We know but we still want to give our support to you and let TTAC know that your articles are excellent and better than what the typical articles are.
  • Jeff S A sport utility vehicle or SUV is a car classification that combines elements of road-going passenger cars with features from off-road vehicles, such as raised ground clearance and four-wheel drive.There is no commonly agreed-upon definition of an SUV and usage of the term varies between countries. Thus, it is "a loose term that traditionally covers a broad range of vehicles with four-wheel drive." Some definitions claim that an SUV must be built on a light truck chassis; however, broader definitions consider any vehicle with off-road design features to be an SUV. A [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crossover_(automobile)]crossover SUV[/url] is often defined as an SUV built with a unibody construction (as with passenger cars), however, the designations are increasingly blurred because of the capabilities of the vehicles, the labelling by marketers, and electrification of new models.The predecessors to SUVs date back to military and low-volume models from the late 1930s, and the four-wheel drive station wagons and carryalls that began to be introduced in 1949. The 1984 [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeep_Cherokee_(XJ)]Jeep Cherokee (XJ)[/url] is considered to be the first SUV in the modern style. Some SUVs produced today use unibody construction; however, in the past, more SUVs used body-on-frame construction. During the late 1990s and early 2000s, the popularity of SUVs greatly increased, often at the expense of the popularity of large [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sedan_(automobile)]sedans[/url] and station wagons.More recently, smaller SUVs, mid-size, and crossovers have become increasingly popular. SUVs are currently the world's largest automotive segment and accounted for 45.9% of the world's passenger car market in 2021. SUVs have been criticized for a variety of environmental and safety-related reasons. They generally have poorer fuel efficiency and require more resources to manufacture than smaller vehicles, contributing more to climate change and environmental degradation. Between 2010 and 2018 SUVs were the second largest contributor to the global increase in carbon emissions worldwide. Their higher center of gravity increases their risk of rollovers. Their larger mass increases their stopping distance, reduces visibility, and increases damage to other road users in collisions. Their higher front-end profile makes them at least twice as likely to kill pedestrians they hit. Additionally, the psychological sense of security they provide influences drivers to drive less cautiously. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sport_utility_vehicleWith the above definition of SUV any vehicle that is not a pickup truck if it is enclosed, doesn't have a trunk, and is jacked up with bigger tires. If the green activists adhere to this definition of what an SUV is there will be millions of vehicles with flat tires which include HRVs, Rav4s, CRVs, Ford Escapes, Buick Encores, and many of compact and subcompact vehicles. The green movement is going to have to recruit millions of new followers and will be busy flattening millions of tires in the US and across the globe. Might be easier to protest.
  • Sckid213 I actually do agree that most Nissans are ultimately junk. (I also think many BMWs are also). I was talking challenging the 3 in terms of driving dynamics. Agree all were failures in sales.
  • THX1136 More accurately said, we are seeing exponential growth in the manufacturing capabilities in this market. Unless, of course, all those vehicles are sold with customers waiting until more a produced so they can buy. Indeed, there are certainly more EVs being purchased now than back in 2016. Is demand outstripping manufacturing? Maybe or maybe not. I sincerely don't know which is why I ask.
  • ToolGuy The page here (linked in the writeup) is ridiculously stupid https://www.tyreextinguishers.com/how-to-spot-an-suvLike, seriously stupid, e.g., A) Not sure that particular Volvo is killing the planet as quickly as some other vehicles we might choose. B) A Juke is "huge"??? C) The last picture shows a RAV4 Hybrid?
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