AJ’s Car of the Day: 1981 Pontiac Grand Lemans 2-Door Coupe

AJ’s Car of the Day: 1981 Pontiac Grand Lemans 2-Door Coupe

Car: Pontiac Grand Lemans 2-Door Coupe

Year: 1981

What makes it special: Pontiac’s LeMans was a model name that was applied to intermediate-sized car marketed from 1962 to 1981. Manufactured in five generations, the LeMans line was replaced by the downsized Bonneville for the 1982 model year. In 1978, the Le Mans and other GM mid-sized cars were considerably downsized and lost some 600-800 lb in the process, as part of GM’s corporate downsizing program following the aftermath of the Arab Oil Embargo induced energy crisis of 1973-1974.

What made it famous: The final year for the mid-sized Le Mans was 1981 with only base and Grand Le Mans models offered initially. They were joined mid-year by a new LJ trim level positioned between the base and Grand models. The car was given a new Firebird-esque slanted nose which made the 2-door coupe popular in NASCAR, especially as a superspeedway race car in 1981 which was the first year these cars were used in the series. Engine offerings by this time included Buick’s 231 CID V6, Pontiac’s 4.3 L 265 CID V8, Pontiac’s 301 CID V8, and Chevrolet’s 305 CID V8 in California only.

Why I would want one: Only recently have I found these to be a cool, midsized alternative to such models as the Chevrolet Malibu and Oldsmobile Cutlass.

Fun fact: A Le Mans driven by Cale Yarborough won the 1983 Daytona 500, and one driven by Tim Richmond at the 1983 Pocono 500.

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