Rare Rides: This Pontiac From 1990 Has All-Wheel Drive and 6000 Buttons

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides this pontiac from 1990 has all wheel drive and 6000 buttons

Deep from the catacombs of General Motors history comes this all-wheel-drive Pontiac 6000. While the 6000 was a fairly pedestrian car, this SE example seems in great condition and has the added rarity of a drivetrain not found in other vehicles from the General.

It’s only a good idea to keep reading if you like gold-tone alloys, many identically shaped buttons, and copious amounts of ribbed cladding.

Yeah, I thought so! The Pontiac 6000 was the mid-size, front-wheel-drive offering from Pontiac, first offered all the way back in 1981.

The interesting stuff started happening in 1984, when the STE (Sport Touring Edition) trim was added as the pinnacle of the model range. Using a 2.8-liter carbureted V6, this trim of the 6000 was intended to compete directly with European offerings from BMW and Audi. I’m not joking. I wish I were.

1985 saw the replacement of the carb with actual fuel injection (the wonders!), with buyers offered the choice of a three-speed automatic or five-speed manual transmission. In 1988, all-wheel drive was added as an option, in STE trim only.

This sort of mechanical, transverse witchcraft was uncommon for the General Motors of 1988. This is doubly so when you consider the other (rather sedate) front-wheel-drive-only vehicles sharing the A-body platform: the Buick Century, Chevrolet Celebrity, and the Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera. If not for that “SE All Wheel Drive” logo up there, I’d be drifting off right now.

The 3.1-liter GM LHO V6 was made available in the STE AWD in 1988, and the 6000 was the first car with that particular engine under the hood. It would go on for the next few years to power Buick, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, and Chevrolet models without complaint.

In a quick changeup, 1989 6000 STE models had all-wheel drive as standard. The following year, STE was dropped in favor of the SE trim you see here. Pontiac had reserved the STE trim for the newer, more sporty successor in the wings — the 1990 Grand Prix.

This tidy example appears to have minimal rust and is available on the Minneapolis Craigslist site. I suspect it has not been exposed to many Minnesota winters. Those three-spoke gold-tone wheels are a lovely example of what Pontiac brought to the wheel design table — arguably better than wheels offered by any other GM division at the time.

Pontiac added these wheel-mounted audio controls to the 6000 for the 1986 model year, and they became a market first. The rest of the dash area is awash in tiny buttons, grey plastic, and small gauges with needle-thin… needles. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Somewhere in there, a little green display will show you just over 96,000 miles on the clock.

An AWD steal at just $3,500.

[Images via Craigslist]

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  • Sgtjmack Sgtjmack on Oct 18, 2017

    Ah yes, the '80's... But hair bands, Madonna, Depech Mode, great movies like E.T., The Goonies, Top Gun, Back to the Future, excitement abound. But when it came to American auto makers, they all fell flat on their faces. To me, there were a few nice looking, great performing cars from that era. Although the trucks, oh the trucks,... Chevrolet 454SS and the Chevy Blazer, Ford Bronco and I'll even let the Dodge Power Wagon eek a position in there as fun, exciting and good looking. But the cars, eh. Although the later 80's Camaro, Firebird and Mustang finally hit the mark, albeit a little higher an the low mark, did start to look nicer and perform a little better. Even the imports were bread boxes on wheels. Only the Supra and maybe the RX7 was hitting the mark for me.

  • TransAm85 TransAm85 on Nov 09, 2017

    Wow I haven't seen this one in a long time! When I was about 13 or 14, I'd say '99 or 2000, my mother had to trade in her junk Chrysler 6000 and got a Bonneville SSE that was similar to this, but had more electrical operative things instead of the old manual. We thought it was fancy! But, eventually, that car had to be junked and she got an '88 Plymouth Reliant K! :)

  • NotMyCircusNotMyMonkeys for that money, it had better be built by people listening to ABBA
  • Abrar Very easy and understanding explanation about brake paint
  • MaintenanceCosts We need cheaper batteries. This is a difficult proposition at $50k base/$60k as tested but would be pretty compelling at $40k base/$50k as tested.
  • Scott ?Wonder what Toyota will be using when they enter the market?
  • Fred The bigger issue is what happens to the other systems as demand dwindles? Will thet convert or will they just just shut down?