Hagerty.com

The unpredictable life cycle of Pontiac’s Bonneville nameplate

Some car models have very linear, predictable lives. Take the Lincoln Town Car. All throughout its long life, from Continental option package in 1969 through the final Panther-body models in 2011, it remained a full-size, rear-wheel-drive, V-8 luxury car. Chevrolet’s Camaro has the same story; to this day, it’s a sporty two-door, available in mild six-cylinder or wild V-8 SS trim. The elegance of its exterior styling has varied a bit in recent years, but that’s a cosmetic matter.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2020/03/23/unpredictable-life-cycle-of-pontiacs-bonneville-nameplate
1 Like

Bang on with the Canadian comments (we didn’t get Bonnevilles for many of the early years as the Canadian Pontiac lineup was reskinned Chevrolets for a long time).

Partway through childhood our family ride became a 1982 Caprice in the grey on grey two tone. A look that has aged well actually. My father has a soft-spot for that generation having gone through several cars after that 82 Caprice:

-a 1981 Bel Air (that was apparently cop spec according to the seller but we were never convinced of that)
-an 86 Parisienne
-a parts car Caprice Classic
-and his last-one-driving 1989 Caprice Classic

My Poppa also had a Parisienne from that era and his last car was one of the Chevys (with Impala badges? Did they do that in this generation I may be remembering that wrong). The Pontiacs seemed a bit more plush an optioned than the Chevys but our sample size is pretty small. The Bel Air was hand crank windows and very spartan finishes–my favourite interior in hindsight except for the Olive green colour.

My sister had the first or second year B-body Parisienne, black on black with every option. It wasn’t a bad car as far as ride and luxury, not a Grand Am, for sure :wink:

1 Like

My sister had one of the 86? or 87? Bonneville SEs, with the 3.8L and 4 speed autobox, it was a good car for her and the family. They had it well into the 90’s and it amassed well over 300K miles before it was sold off.

Largely, Pontiac Division did a pretty good job of staying true to the Bonneville’s mission over the four decades it existed. Most often it was the top of the heap; with a few exceptions in the 70’s and 80’s. Unfortunately by the end, it had been ignored and lost in the search for CAFE compliance. How else would the Pontiac Division’s last car end up being the G3 (Aveo clone)?

LIke so many other cars you feature, what was once common is now rare. Nice to still see one, anywhere.

1 Like