This is a 1977 Pontiac Can Am. Being a big fan of the 1970’s, I really wanted a cool, big bodied "colonade" car from that era, but is there really a car that is collectible, unique, and truly made for performance from the mid 1970’s? Well there is: enter the 1977 Pontiac Can Am.
During the 70’s, Pontiac already had a following for the Firebird and Trans Am, but lacked a mid size Lemans/Grand Prix class with performance. The main demand at the time was based on luxury—not performance. Pontiac wanted to change that so they hired back the man who was responsible for designing the GTO Judge and put his skills to work, to rework the base Lemans. What he did was simple: he took a Pontiac Lemans, added the Grand Prix sport luxury interior, and for the power plant, put the Trans Am 6.6 litre 400 (200 horsepower) under the hood backed by the turbo 400 transmission.
For handling, he used the Trans Am’s famous RTS (Radial Tuned Suspension) and put in a 3.23 limited slip rear end. For the mid 1970’s, this was unheard of. Most cars of the time had 120-150 horsepower. So basically Pontiac, made a Cameo white lemans at the factory with the Trans Am power plant and handling package.
After that, the cars were sent to a company called Motortown USA to be converted into Can Am’s. At Motortown, the following was done:
The finished product was very impressive, to the point that over 5,000 orders were taken from dealers before the car was even ready. All Can Ams came in Cameo White only. The car ended up being a limited production car, unfortunately. Pontiac has official numbers at 1,377 to roll of the line but only 1,100 became Can Ams. What happened is that the mold Motortown used to make the rear spoiler cracked and had to be repaired, this happened right after the 1,100th car was finished. It would take 90 days to get the mold retooled and ready.
Pontiac still had, sitting and waiting to go to Motortown, another 277 Cameo white Pontiac Lemans to be shipped but this never happened. Pontiac decided not to wait and pulled the plug on the project. This decision instantly made this a limited production car. There are supposedly around 220 still in existence.
My 1977 Pontiac Can Am never left Michigan. I purchased the car from the second owner. What I really liked about the car was all the documentation it had: I have the original window sticker, all documents and service records from day of purchase, original pictures of the car back in the day, etc. The car interior is Firethorn Red in excellent, original condition, interior choices for the Can Am were Firethorn Red, white, black, and tan. Mine has the optional tachometer, 8-track, dealer installed air, deluxe seat belts, tilt.
When I got the car, the original Rally II rims were in the trunk along with the original space saver spare. The second owner put 1980’s Camaro IROC rims on it, which will be promply removed once the car is restored. The body was in nice condition for being a Michigan car; I could tell the car was garaged and taken care of for most of its life. Most rust issues were confined to the rear wheel wells and passenger floor pan—that’s really it. My plan is to take it completely back to original specs. (I may do some internal things to the motor to bump the power.) Currently, the motor and tranny are being rebuilt and the car is in primer, awaiting paint. I have the factory decals ready to be reinstalled. This really is a unique car that not many people know about. I look forward to when the car is finished.
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