31 March 2014

Car Stuff: Random Sighting #24

There's an auto repair place on the corner diagonally opposite where I wait for the bus. There are always cars parked in their lot, some of which are for sale, while others I guess are in the process of being worked on. This car appeared in January and I thought it was being driven by one of the garage employees, but then I noticed it didn't have license plates.

I took pictures of it on a nice day mid-month when the early-season snow had melted, but I lost them in my iPhone mishap a couple of weeks later. Fortunately the car was still there, so I was able to go back and get more pictures, but by that point it was somewhat more boxed in by other cars and the shop's tow trucks, and I could not get as many good angles.
It's a 1972 Pontiac LeMans Sport convertible with some modifications. 1972 was the last year General Motors offered convertibles in its mid-size lines; convertible sales were declining, and Ford and Chrysler had already started to drop some or all of their offerings. GM held onto its full-size convertibles for a few more years, since they were more profitable. So this is definitely a rare car: according to data I found online, less than 3,500 1972 LeMans Sport convertibles were built. How many of those have survived for more than 40 years? Probably less than half of that number.

It disappoints me a bit to see such an unusual car as this get altered instead of preserved in its original form, though the changes are only cosmetic. The color appears to match up with one of three shades of blue Pontiac offered in '72, and while the stripes could be one of the other two blues, they were definitely added later. All the exterior badges have been stripped, and I think it's obvious these are not the original wheels and tires.
Then there are the bumpers, which have been painted to match the body color. The high-performance GTO offered a body-color front bumper from 1968-72, and later Pontiac made it optional on other LeMans models, but an entirely different bumper and grille assembly was used; someone tried to make this car evoke the look of a GTO from the same year without changing the existing parts (probably for financial reasons). It's aesthetically questionable, yet it does make this car look distinctive. (I'd be interested to know if they painted over the chrome or stripped the bumpers first.)

Around back the same thing was done to the rear bumper. I've seen customized GTOs with this treatment, but as far as I've been able to determine, Pontiac never offered it on any GTO or LeMans.
All '72 LeMans Sport convertibles came with bucket seats, which is nice, though you probably would have had to pay extra for a console. This car is a bit rough in spots but is solid overall, and could either be returned to its original specs, or driven as is and brought to car shows as a "restomod" due to its cosmetic alterations. Regardless, I'm glad it showed up in the repair shop lot.

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