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Our Cars--1973 Pontiac LeMans Sport Coupe

1973sc Submitted by Richard McCallum

My affection for the 1973 Pontiac LeMans started in 1973, when my kindergarten bus would pass a local business where there was a new 1973 LeMans Sports Coupe parked every day. It was the same color as the one I own now, and with a factory original stripe kit. I lusted after this car every day we passed it.

 As a teenager, I dreamed of owning a 1973 LeMans, but instead I ended up with a '73 Ford Maverick. While in college in 1988, I found and bought a 1973 LeMans in Fargo, N.D. for $350. After owning it for a year, I cut the roof off. Happily, it was the drought summer of 1988 in Minnesota; it didn't rain all summer. People loved this car; they thought it was a real convertible.

Cl4 I won my current LeMans on eBay for $1,200. It had originally had the stripe, but it was painted over.  I have been hitting the junk yards in my spare time finding parts and slowly restoring her.

It has a 350-cubic-inch, 2-barrel V-8. It is by no means a performer, but I have always liked the heavily sculpted lines and tapered rear (which prompted my sister to say it looks tapered like a turd). Yes, the styling was controversial; that's probably why I don't see too many '73's around these days. That, or because of the crappy quality!

Actually, it is pretty tight and solid for a 36-year-old car.  The only thing I don't like about it are the oversized and clunky 5 mph bumpers.

--Richard McCallum


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I really liked the style of the rear end on these cars when they came out. They were unique, drawing the car to a point, if you may. A year or two later, larger rear bumpers ruined this effect.

GM's mid-sized cars of this vintage were greatly underappreciated back then, imo. They offered about everything the land barges had, but with better handling and a more sensible size.

Nice article, Richard. Is this a car like yours, but with the tape stripe?:

One of the best "old" cars I ever had was a '76 Grand LeMans coupe (same colonnade bodystyle). Bought it in '98 from the original owner who was an older guy, he special-ordered it new with most of the bells and whistles and had the 400 engine (most had the wheezy 350) and he took impeccable care of this car - it still looked and ran nearly new. The downside of that car is that it constantly averaged about 11 MPG (it did have quite the appetite), but in the 2 years I had it all I ever had to replace was the muffler. Even took a few long road trips in that car (not something I normally do with a 20+ year old car) and it never missed a beat.

Would love to find another one but those are really getting hard to find, especially in the shape I found mine.

This particular LeMans is a "Disgust" for me (not to be hating on your own lust!). When you cut up your first one and removed the roof, you fixed the very problem that makes me dislike these cars - the rear roof line. As a convertible a 73 LeMans would be stunning, but they ruined the overall aesthetic for me with that chunky side and nearly flat rear window. I had and uncle with a 68 LeMans and that is the one that set the tone for me.

I drove a decomissioned 1976 Pontiac LeMans Patrol car on the range in driver's ed. One thing I remember about it is that the dashboard had a bunch of badges proclaiming features like 'ENFORCER SUSPENSION!', 'CALIBRATED SPEEDOMETER!', '400CI 4-bbl V8', 'HEAVY DUTY TH400 TRANSMISSION', and 'ENFORCER FRONT DISC BRAKES.' It would also do a mean burnout in reverse when I was on the part of the range obscured from the observation tower by a hill. This was in 1985, and some of the students were assigned brand new cars donated by the local Oldsmobile dealer. One thing that stood out was that the used police car was holding up better than the new cars that only had a couple thousand miles on them. GM cars apparently did not improve between the '70s and '80s.

Ahhh yes. This was my first car. Started out dark red and rusty then went to bondo'ed and resprayed seal gray. I'll get another one of these someday...sniff.

Richard, if you like these cars so much, then the GTO version must've been wet-dream material, right?
I HIGHLY recommend that you go and search for the latest issue of Pontiac Enthusiast (November 2010) in which one of the 4,806 1973 GTOs (1 of 926 with manual trans) is shown.
Lemme tell you that the owners love the thing, and not only consider it having one of the easiest dashes to work on (GM actually design the cars to be easy to service! Now that's innovative.), but one of the best handling and comfortable of them all (not counting the Aussie-GTOs)!

Yeah, there may not be as many of these Colonnade bodies around, but that doesn't mean that restoring them would be extremely tough. Many pieces interchange between this one and its Chevy/Buick/Olds kin. Heck, the gauges on the previously mentioned GTO are Firebird items!

I hereby nominate the 1973 Pontiac LeMans GTO as a candidate for a Car Lust post.

CJinSD, I highly recommend that you share with us your story with the 1976 Pontiac LeMans ex-patrol car. Hope you took pictures. ^^


Sadly, that is about the whole story of the police car. When I went out on the road, it was in one of the new Oldsmobiles. I have a couple of range stories, but the LeMans was just a faithful serving car that was huge enough to require accuracy in the figure 8 and 3 point turn parts of the range and had power to spin the tires in reverse. We did a passing exercise on the long back straight of the range where the leading car was instructed to drive at 30 or 35 mph and the passing car was allowed to make the pass as quickly as possible provided they did all the proper signaling and following distance aspects properly. I think the Oldsmobile drivers were talking about hitting 55 mph while I was getting on the binders at closer to 80 mph as I approached the 90 degree left at the end of the passing area.

It was dark blue, but it looked like this one which was driven by Buford T. Justice:

If we ever have an article about the Olds Cutlass Ciera, I'll tell the rest of my drivers' ed experiences. Hopefully without offending too many A-car fans.

My first car I drove was my parents hand-me-down 1976 Malibu (akin to the Lemans, but 4 doors instead of two). While the ride was comfortable and the engine made the right noises, the 'Bu had all the characteristic GM foibles of the dreaded 1970's. The 2 bbl 350 was woefully underpowered, the car took to rust like a baby to a blanket, and it had a nasty habit of dislodging hubcaps for no apparent reason(there was actually a service bulletin on that). Also, when my dad took delivery of the car,he had to retrun the car after the first 2 blocks away from the dealership. The car had come from the factory missing a right front shock absorber....Oh GM quality control in the 1970's. Mind you, with being over 30 years, a new crate 350 and a properly sorted suspension can assuage all the earlier GM problems.

This was my childhood best friend's first car... he was a a year older and saved for a summer to give his uncle who had it stored in a backyard the $500 to take it home. So just before school started we cleaned, polished, painted and added a Bass heavy stereo to this land yacht. never really thinking to look under the hood. it ran, that's all we needed. So we drove... not walked to the first day of the 1987 school year... we thought we were the $#!t. we went around the long way so we passed by the bus stop with all of the girls all in their first day finest... we looked over...gave a nod, flashed a smile... and the car died.


a block from school.


"and had power to spin the tires in reverse"

Not to rain on your parade at all, but my 1970 Dodge Dart Slant-6 could easily smoke the rear tires in reverse too... unless you're talking about a Vega or a Pinto, that was hardly a huge feat for a car back in those days.


I had a '71 Valiant Scamp at the time, so I realize that spinning tires in reverse wasn't much of an accomplishment for a RWD car with no weight over the back axle. A Pontiac Enforcer 400-4 still sounded better doing it than most cars. By the time the smoke rose into view of the angry observer in the tower, I'd be working on another driving exercise in the next stage of the range. Incidentally, the new Cutlass Cieras donated by Brown Oldsmobile could barely turn their wheels, let alone spin them.

Anyone remember the white with red & blue stripes scheme?
Was that a Grand Am?
IIRC, the 74s ad body colored bumbers, but the chome rear bumper isn't too bad.

Compared to todays Camry/Corolla/Accords, the body style is looking better every day.

I bought a 73 LeMans Sport Coupe brand new in January 1973; my dad worked for the local Pontiac dealer and I got it for $4000. 400 CID engine, AC, AM radio and a vinyl roof(!!!!). 15 MPG no matter where and how drove it. I enlisted in the Army and July and Dad sold it in January 74 after I left for Germany. This was of course right in the middle of the first "gas crisis". He got enough out of to pay it off and buy a cup of coffee. Loved it while I had it but then I discovered BMWs.....

it looks like a, "hot wheels" come to life - luv those louvers on the sail panels - just amazing!

I had a 73 LeMans Sports Coupe as my first new car. I really liked it. Sold it after three years when I moved to NYC. In 1980 I bought my first foreign car (Celica Supra). After three years with the Toyota, I thought back about my experience with the Pontiac. It included:

heater core leak
Stuck thermostat leading to burst radiator hose
Paint on rear side marker light mounting rusted within 18 months on every one of these
failed voltage regulator on long Christmas trip
Plastic base of bucket seats broke off
Center cap of the fake mag wheels spring came loose and was lost
Oh, and the odometer didn't work when I drove away after taking original delivery. Had to have the dash pulled to have a new one put in. (Dealer dented the hood while doing this!)

Having said all that, when I had it I loved the car and thought that type of stuff was just normal. It was sharp looking. As I got older, I cared about other things.

I have my 73 Lemans Sport coupe after 20 years. Still a runner! I bought it for $850 in 1993, drove it for 4 years. Rarely see any on the road, at car shows or in magazines.
Just bought a pair of 16x8 vintage torque thrust wheels for the rear.
NEVER SELLING THIS CAR!! My kids have been fighting over it for 10 years.
Full restoration is on the menu next year. Can't wait to show it off!

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