The N Platform-based 1985-1991 Pontiac Grand Am was sibling to such rapidly depreciating semi-sporty-looking coupes as the Buick Somerset and Oldsmobile Cutlass Calais, and there was a time when they were common sights on American roads.
Now most of them are gone, but this Iron Duke-powered, 5-speed-equipped rusty survivor showed up recently at a Denver self-service yard.
Ungodly horsepower and unbridled car lust? Check. [s]Gaudy[/s] awesome lettering and badges? Check. (Optional) Disco era moustaches? Check.
If you’re triggered by anything that isn’t subdued, then the Trans Am SE Bandit Edition is definitely not a safe space.
Trans Am Depot, the Tallahassee-based creator of custom-built Trans Ams (using 5th-generation Chevrolet Camaros as a canvas), is out to satisfy 77 lucky buyers who yearn for the heady days of the late 1970s.
While I certainly love roadsters, there is something special about the coupes derived from those roadsters. The MGB GT was a stunning Pininfarina tiptop riff on the classic MGB Tourer, and the BMW M Coupe was a flared Z3 styled like a ‘roided Reebok Pump. Both of them were iconic in their own way.
Considering how few small convertibles are actually sold, it’s surprising that General Motors decided to enter the market a mere 15 years after the Miata, and ten after the BMW Z3.
Well, perhaps not that surprising, considering GM launched the Kappa platform on not one, but two dying brands.
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.
While it was possible to buy a new W-body late-1980s/early-1990s Lumina, Cutlass Supreme, or Grand Prix with a five-speed manual transmission, almost nobody did so. These cars have become pretty rare by now, so the chances of finding a five-speed Grand Prix in the junkyard are about the same as finding a five-speed BMW 7-Series; it’s possible, but not likely.
Here’s an ’89 coupe I found in a Denver yard last week.
A federal judge Wednesday denied a request to make available communication between GM and its lawyers over certain cases involving defective ignition switches, Reuters reported. The documents will remain secret because of attorney-client privilege, the judge wrote.
Lawsuits against GM allege that the company tried to further cover up its defective ignition switches. Those lawsuits sought to uncover documents between the automaker and its lawyers in three separate cases.
“… the case evaluations have all the hallmarks of dispassionate, sober evaluations (perhaps, in hindsight, too dispassionate and sober for their own good) by counsel of the costs and benefits of litigating the cases to their conclusion — just what one would might expect in a defense file and in the absence of a crime or fraud,” Judge Jesse Furman wrote in his ruling.
As I continue my occasional look at cheap, mid-engine sports cars of the Eighties, one enormously popular car is clearly missing. The Fiero was GM’s attempt at producing an efficient, yet potentially fun car on the cheap.
Unfortunately, GM mostly succeeded at producing a platform for awful Lamborghini replicas.
Two sources have told Reuters that the government will levy a $900 million fine on General Motors for its failure to recall and subsequent attempts to cover-up of faulty ignition switches linked to at least 124 deaths.
Criminal charges will be filed against GM for its role in hiding the defect from regulators, but will defer prosecution while the automaker complies with its penalty. The agreement is expected to be announced Thursday.
The massive fine is smaller than the $1.2 billion Toyota paid in March 2014 for its role in concealing that its cars could accelerate suddenly.
For the last few months, the esteemed commenters of TTAC have welcomed me onto their screens. I’m here to tell you that I’ve been using you. I’m using the B&B as a sounding board to help me decide on my next car, and to help generate enough factual ammunition to sell it to domestic management.
So, let’s play the game again, shall we? This week, like last, Chris decides he wants a GM muscle car. Can’t buy new since the SS might as well be vaporware. Mark argues that the new Sierra with the 6.2 is a new hotrod, and he may have a point – but I’m just not a truck guy. I need four real seats, too.
When I’m walking the rows of a big self-service wrecking yard with lots of fresh inventory, it’s the weird and/or old stuff that tends to catch my eye. The endless supply of Chrysler Sebrings, Ford Tauruses, and Hyundai Accents camouflages the interesting newer stuff that’s worthy of inclusion in this series, so I’ll try to pay more attention to discarded 21st-century vehicles with stories to tell. Cars like this California Pontiac, from the final generation of the Grand Am.
Last week, we learned General Motors was recalling the majority of their Hummer H3 and H3T models due to a fire risk from a melting blower motor resistor and harness. We also learned GM didn’t issue the recall until they were threatened by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
A few days ago, Jalopnik’s Michael Ballaban pointed out the Chevrolet Colorado and GMC Canyon were also at risk due to similar components. These trucks may not be the last of the affected models as the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky also shared many HVAC components with the Hummer H3.
Searching through the NHTSA complaints database and user forums yielded many examples of melted and burnt blower motor resistors and harnesses for the GM roadster twins.
We had a 1970s movie-car QOTD last week, and that was so much fun we’re doing it again! So, here we go: in the beginning of Smokey and the Bandit, when Big Enos challenges The Bandit to fetch 400 cases of that Colorado Kool-Aid, a wad of cash of unspecified thickness gets handed over for expenses, including a “speedy car.” As we all know, The Bandit headed straight to the nearest Pontiac showroom and bought himself a brand-new 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. In the film, that car seemed to be the fastest imaginable motor vehicle (thanks to the magic of engine swaps, stunt drivers, and special effects). In reality, however, the ’77 Trans Am was kind of a bloated Malaise Era slug, and The Bandit probably had a lot of better escape-the-smokeys car choices available.
So, in his shoes and with a ’77 Trans Am-sized stack of C-notes, what car would you have bought for that run to Texarkana and back?
During April, the management of the Alamo Drafthouse Theater in Denver allowed me to select and introduce four car movies, and the final one was the 1971 road-trip classic, Two-Lane Blacktop. In the bar before the film rolled (and during my introduction in the theater, and in the parking lot afterward), a debate raged, triggered by a question I’d dropped: What are the 2015 equivalents to the full-race 1955 Chevrolet 150 two-door and brand-new 1970 Pontiac GTO that starred in the film?
Ah, the Pontiac Fiero. So much potential, but ultimately a disappointment for The General. I see the occasional Fiero during my wrecking-yard wandering, but it takes a special one to inspire me to shoot photos. This screaming yellow ’86 Fiero GT was one, and today’s final-year-of-production ’88 Fiero Formula is another.
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