Home Car Stories 20 Years + 1972 PONTIAC Luxury LeMans- Vancouver, BC
1972 PONTIAC Luxury LeMans- Vancouver, BC PDF Print E-mail
Written by Double Dragon
Saturday, 15 July 2017 17:59

1972 PONTIAC Luxury LeMans- Vancouver, BC


Writing and photography copyright D. S. Brown

The Pontiac Luxury LeMans was introduced as a 1972 model blatantly emulating the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme. The Supreme was conquering the family car market in the 1970s. Customers of the full size General Motors cars such as the Chevrolet Impala, Pontiac Catalina, Oldsmobile 88 or Buick Electra downsized to the cheaper, easier to park intermediate sized Cutlass Supreme.

Notably, it was the Cutlass Supreme that received the lion's share of customers for this downsizing trend partly due to the good reputation of the Oldsmobile 'Rocket engines' but in large part because the Supreme offered the same comfort level as a well appointed full size car. Pontiac got their piece of this market with the Luxury LeMans.

Pontiac went through some name shuffling for 1972. Pontiac cut out the Tempest and T-37 names, leaving the LeMans name assigned to the bottom rung of the intermediate Pontiac model line. Upscale packages like LeMans Sport, LeMans GT and GTO were options, not separate model lines.

New for 1972, the Luxury LeMans was a separate model with its own VIN code "G" instead of the "D" used for the rest of the LeMans line. The Luxury LeMans was only available as a hard top, with the majority ordered as 4 doors. The Luxury LeMans had a grille with the 2 horizontal bars, unique to the Luxury LeMans. The expanse below the bumper is accentuated with a chrome lower valance panel. The chrome accent is picked up at the rear of the car with a chrome strip unique to the Luxury LeMans running the width of the trunk lip and quarter panel ends above the bumper.

The exclusive removable fiberglass fender skirts provided with the Luxury LeMans create a a bulging 'whale look' to the rear of the car. Many owners keep the skirts off. The skirts dictated relocation of the main side body length chrome strip to a lower placement than on the standard LeMans. The LL low beltline creates one continuous line through the skirt. The chrome strip is much heavier and wider than the thin accent line used on the regular LeMans.

The Luxury LeMans identity crest was added to the vinyl top C pillar and on the dashboard above the glove box. Seats had plusher foam, extra carpeting covered the bottom of the doors including reflectors and extra sound deadener was added to the car.

The OOCC Luxury LeMans is an Oshawa, Ontario, Canada factory car built Friday Jan 14, 1972 subjecting it to the new safety required seatbelt buzzer implemented on January 1, 1972. Also effective Jan 1 was the single point pushbutton release for combined lap and shoulder belts. In conjunction with this law, all controls had to be within reach of the driver while belted in, including the shoulder belts. The controls had to be labeled with words, not just symbols. Aside from these small details most of the 1972 LeMans shell was a carryover from the 1971 body.

On Jan 17, 1972 the OOCC Luxury LeMans was shipped out to the Empress Pontiac Buick GMC car dealership at 2867 Douglas St, Victoria, BC, Canada. To read about Empress look up the story in the DEALERSHIPS section of this website.

The first owner averaged less than 4,000 miles a year. The second oil crisis spurred the original owner to trade into the Victoria, B.C. econo car dealership of choice: Metro Toyota. On Sep 30, 1981 a comprehensive inspection of the car revealed that the car was perfect except for a weak radiator cap. The oil was changed and a tune up was performed. An ad appeared in the Victoria, BC newspaper The Times Colonist October 3, 1981: "1 owner. Only 36,000 miles on this immaculate silver car. 2 dr ht. Do not miss this rare opportunity."

I seems owner number 2 didn't want to 'miss the opportunity' and the Luxury LeMans was sold several days later on Oct 9, 1981. It made its way north to Campbell River, BC with it's second owner. The LL caused no problems. It was still under warranty and received free dealer repairs to a door rattle and the articulated wiper arm. Windshield wiper arm chatter was noted as an issue for these cars right off the line. Another notable feature of these cars when new was especially sensitive 'grabby' power front disc brakes, which the OOCC LL exhibits to this day.

A dome light lens, alternator belt, and accelerator pump were also replaced during this time. Exhaust fumes discolored the chrome strip along the base of the trunk lid which is a unique trim piece on the Luxury LeMans. This strip was replaced in 1982 and the vinyl top was also redone due to the harsh weather in this area of Vancouver Island.

On Aug 12, 1982 the OOCC Luxury LeMans was traded in to Strathcona Motors in Campbell River, BC with a mere 39,200 miles showing. Two days later it sold to owner number three; a woman who received a "Senior's discount" on her garage bills. The LL morphed into a "Granny car"! The OOCC LL was now in line with the majority of the Luxury LeMans models out there. Most LL models were four door cars typically owned by older more affluent buyers.

The LL was driven sparingly over the next seven years, still receiving warranty work right up until 1986 when it finally passed 48,000 miles. Because the LL was driven so few miles per year, the bi- annual maintenance seems a bit excessive with oil changes and tune ups every 1,000 or 2,000 miles. In June, 1988 the starting motor was replaced along with battery cables and neutral safety switch in an over-reactionary response to a no start scenario. Otherwise no major components on the car were touched with mileage sitting at a mere 55,000 miles.

In 1990 owner four poured money into tuneups, and even a replacement original spec carburetor. He was plagued by surging and hesitation which all of the 1972 General Motors cars were hampered by right off the factory line due to emission controls. Campbell River is cold and gets snow in winter which exacerbated the frustrations the carburetor caused. Owner four sold the car with 65,000 miles in 1994.

The fifth owner had the first accident the car ever had within a month of ownership. A rear quarter was straightened and repainted. His neighbor liked the car and briefly became owner six. With a yard full of boats, recreational vehicles and cars he had too many toys and didn't need the hassle of finding parking for it. He sold it June 1, 1997 to owner seven.

The interior photo above was taken at 69,000 miles. The LL door pull strap was not provided on lower end models. The door panel style on the LL is unique to this model only and caused a problem. The OOCC Luxury LeMans chrome strip on the inner door panel runs above the carpeting on the lower portion of the door panel. The low position of the strip can catch on the edge of your foot when exiting the car. Someone had caught the tip and bent it necessitating replacement. The LL also features a chrome trimmed red reflector built into the carpeted portion of the lower door to alert cars at night when the door is open.

The remote control for the driver's rear view mirror is forwards of the pull strap. The custom three spoke steering wheel was optional on lower models but came standard on the LL. The wood pattern in the wheel matches the fake wood grain insert in the dash. The original AM radio is still functional and features a control dial for the optional rear package tray speaker. The clock stopped, but all other controls worked fine with no apparent wear until the rear defroster switch gave up the ghost at 90,000 miles.

The Luxury LeMans model came standard with extra foam packed plush notchback seats. Instead of the standard bench, the Luxury LeMans uses a split bench with a fold down center armrest. The front bench can seat three if needed. There are 6 individual sets of seatbelts in the car but in general its more of a 4 seater. With the center armrest folded down it gives the impression of two individual bucket seats. The seat is vinyl with breathable ribbed inserts to keep occupants cool.

The seam on the driver's seat suffered a 2 inch separation at about 65,000 miles and had to be re-sewn by an upholstery shop. Unfortunately, by the early 1970s Pontiac's "Morrokide" interiors weren't as durable as before. A 1960s Pontiac seat wouldn't have had this problem at such low mileage. In defense of the LL, the bulletproof Morrokide seats from the 1960s also had much less flex in the seat due to less padding.

The rear seat repeats the ribbed 'breathable' material inserts. Note the rear armrests with ashtrays which were standard in the Luxury LeMans. The rear defroster consists of thin wires embedded in the rear window glass.

Below is a shot of the dirty but lightly worn pedals and original carpet with built in rubber foot pad. The chrome surrounds on gas and brake pedal indicate power brakes.

The OOCC Luxury LeMans was plagued by cold start carburetor surging and stalling right from the time it was brand new until a 1971 GTO carburetor was substituted. The LL now runs perfectly. The original 1972 spec carburetor was saved in case the car undergoes a restoration.

A fussy carburetor was also a major issue for another 1972 General Motors car profiled in the GAS LOGS section of this site. See the story on the 1972 Buick Skylark which suffered from similar problems.


Last Updated ( Saturday, 15 July 2017 18:45 )