Junkyard Find: 2005 Pontiac Vibe, Gambler 500 Edition

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 2005 pontiac vibe gambler 500 edition

Several hooptie-centric road rallies take place every warm season in Front Range Colorado, including the 24 Hours of Lemons Rally, the Rocky Mountain Rambler 500 Rally, and the Colorado Gambler 500 Rally. Teams will build crazy stuff— say, a Lincoln Continental Mark IV filled with three tons of engine-heated water or a gutted Volkswagen R32 converted to a doorless post-apocalyptic Astroturf nightmare— or just acquire some random cheap car, decorate it, and beat it half to death on Rocky Mountain fire roads. As you’d expect, many of these cars go right to the nearest boneyard when the rally is over, and I find quite a few of them during my junkyard travels in northeastern Colorado. Here’s the “Good Vibes” Pontiac Vibe, found in Denver over the summer.

These cars are easy to spot because each organization applies a commemorative stencil. I think my influence has had something to do with this practice.

I couldn’t find any online information about the Good Vibes Pontiac, so I can’t say how well it did in the rally (presumably in 2020).

This is the base front-wheel-drive version with five-speed manual transmission; the Vibe GT had a more powerful engine and an available six-speed manual, but nearly all Vibe buyers got the automatic. Note the 115VAC power outlet, which Pontiac believed would induce millions of laptop-addicted youngsters to buy Vibes (it didn’t).

The Vibe was built on a Toyota platform and was closely related to the Matrix (not to mention the Corolla).

All Vibes were assembled at the NUMMI plant in Fremont, California, which is now the site of the Tesla Motors Factory. Production ran from the 2003 through 2010 model years, and the Pontiac Division sold new Vibes until the bitter end (however, the final NUMMI-built car was a red 2010 Corolla, not a Vibe).

The Vibe is getting around… fast.

A Toyota-badged, right-hand-drive version called the Voltz was exported from Fremont to Japan, where it was marketed to facially-pierced Tokyo skateboarders and their robot friends.

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  • Vibe Vibe on Nov 23, 2021

    I do miss my 2005 5 speed manual transmission silver 2005 Vibe dearly just like the one here without the striping. When it was totaled in accident (not my fault as I was rear ended), it had over 190K trouble free miles with the original clutch and regular maintenance (brakes, tires, radiator fluid changes, battery, etc.) Sorry to see it be totaled as it being replaced by a Mazda 6 speed manual transmission CX5 now with over 145K miles with regular maintenance and the original clutch. The Vibe was a rugged little car for my family and me. The CX5 is great too.

  • PlannedObsolescence PlannedObsolescence on Nov 29, 2021

    I had a 2006 Vibe GT that I put over 300K miles on before we got rid of it a couple of years ago. It still ran and drove well, but needed a new clutch and the rear main seal was leaking. The odometer stopped at 299999, which is apparently a known issue on the Vibes and Corollas. That car was the perfect size for us, and I loved the 6-speed, but the clutch always was a little touchy - the amount of pedal travel between no engagement and full engagement wasn't as much as you expected.

  • MaintenanceCosts We hear endlessly from the usual suspects about the scenarios where EVs don't work as well as gas cars. We never hear the opposite side of the coin. From an EV owner (since 2019) who has a second EV reserved, here are a few points the "I road trip 1000 miles every day" crowd won't tell you about:[list][*]When you have a convenient charging situation, EV fueling is more convenient than a gas car. There is no stopping at gas stations and you start every day with a full tank.[/*][*]Where there are no-idling rules (school pickup/dropoff, lines for ferries or services, city loading, whatever else) you can keep warm or cool to your heart's content in your EV.[/*][*]In the cold, EVs will give you heat from the second you turn them on.[/*][*]EVs don't care one bit if you use them for tons of very short trips. Their mechanicals don't need to boil off condensation. (Just tonight, I used my EV to drive six blocks, because it was 31 degrees and raining, and walking would have been unpleasant.)[/*][*]EVs don't stink and don't make you breathe carcinogens on cold start.[/*][*]EV maintenance is much less frequent and much cheaper, eliminating almost all items having to do with engine, transmission, or brakes in a gas car. In most EVs the maintenance schedule consists of battery coolant changes and tire maintenance.[/*][*]You can accelerate fast in EVs without noisily attracting the attention of the cops and every passerby on the street.[/*][/list]
  • MaintenanceCosts Still can't get a RAV4 Prime for love or money. Availability of normal hybrid RAV4s and Highlanders is only slightly better. At least around here I think Toyota could sell twice the number of vehicles that they are actually bringing in at the moment.
  • Tree Trunk Been in the market for a new Highlander Hybrid, it is sold out with order time of 6 months plus. Probably would have bit the bullet if it was not for the dealers the refuse to take an order but instead want to sell from allotment whether it fits or not and at thousands over MRSP.
  • AKHusky The expense argument is nonsense. My mach e was $42k after tax credit. Basically the same as similarly equipped edge. And it completely ignores that the best selling vehicles are Rams, F150s, and Silverados, all more expensive that a bolt, MAch e or ID4. As an owner, I'd say they are still in second car territory for most places in the country.
  • Johnster I live in a red state and I see quite a few EVs being purchased by conservative, upper-class Republicans (many of them Trump-supporters). I suspect that it is a way for them to flaunt their wealth and that, over time, the preference for EVs will trickle down to less well-off Republicans.
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