This Week’s Klockau Lust Object: 1978 Bonneville Brougham Coupe

This Week’s Klockau Lust Object: 1978 Bonneville Brougham Coupe
This Week’s Klockau Lust Object: 1978 Bonneville Brougham Coupe

So, this Wednesday afternoon, it’s a little gloomy and just a bit too cool for sitting out on the deck with a cocktail, but as usual I was perusing car classifieds online, and lo and behold, espied this gem. A 1978 Pontiac Bonneville Brougham coupe.

I’ve always loved the 1977-79 Bonnevilles. The first cars I remember riding in, ever, were my mom’s blue on blue ’77 Volvo 245DL wagon, and my dad’s metallic root beer brown ’79 Bonneville sedan. I have memories of walking around that Pontiac when Dad was washing it, and not being much taller than the bottom of the window sills.

The dash is permanently etched into my memory banks, with the logo above the glovebox, and the ‘hidden’ A/C vents in the matte black panel above the plastiwood trim. So, I always noticed them on the road. That is, until they started rapidly disappearing from traffic, let’s say, around 1999 or so.

Oh sure, I still see one every now and then, but it’s pretty uncommon. So my Brougham radar went beepbeepbeepbeepBEEPBEEPBEEPBEEPAWOOGAAWOOGA! when I saw this car.

Yes, we had a sedan, but the coupes were especially sharp. And even more so, in your author’s opinion, when the Landau top with opera windows was omitted. Because then the razor-edge quarter windows and brushed aluminum B-pillar were in full view and not covered up with padded vinyl. This roof was shared with the contemporary Buick LeSabre coupes, and combined with the Pontiac sheetmetal and those fender skirts, well, I simply loved the look.

And this one, which at the time of this writing is available for $6500 in Oxford, Maine, is even better. First, because it has the attractive optional two-toning, and two, because it has those optional finned wheel covers I love. And it appears to be a very nice car.

According to the Craigslist ad, it has the 301 CID V8, runs like a top, and needs nothing. Even the A/C works. Not bad. If it wasn’t so far away, I might have done something stupid like buy it. But I can still gawk at the pictures. And share it with you fine folks! And remember, friends. Keep calm, Brougham on, and always tip your bartender!


  1. I had a 1981 Pontiac of similar type with 301 V8 – good car. I really appreciated the 301 V8.
    Bench seats front and rear for six to eight people… depending on the comfort level one desired.
    I sold it at 160,000 miles to a friend. He was still driving it, original drivetrain, at 197,000 miles.
    I still remember its’ wet-bed-mattress ride.

    1. “I still remember its’ wet-bed-mattress ride.”

      A car that rides like a water-bed would be awful enough, but that sounds like torture.

      1. Not the best ride quality in my assessment – especially in emergency situations. It did have redeeming attributes… I paid $500 for the car at 97,000 miles. It required very little maintenance throughout the time I owned it.

  2. It’s fun to revisit these cars all this time later. The “sheer” look seemed to highlight two tone paint really well and this car does it justice. Vinyl tops were still the order of the day, so this cooupe was a bit of an outlier; they were rare-ish when new, they’ve got to be rare by now.

    This is real close to my MM garage car; mine would be the two tone medium/dark blues, with a nice blue velour interior, the Pontiac 400 with turbo 350, snowflake wheels, FE3 suspension and the CB radio, just for fun…

  3. You nailed it on all eight cylinders their Tom. My dad and I were car nuts back in the day and when the new B body 77 GM types came out we fell in love with the same two door coupe that you show here. Ala without the padded vinyl top. And I too loved the fender skirts with this roof line. In 1987 or so a coworker had the 77 four-door sedan Bonneville. With the awesomely 70s tritone valore seats. It was an Arizona car and I paid roughly $1500 for it. Although not a coupe, I was still in enamored with the great Bonneville vibe. Rock on and stir your drinks well!

  4. Car and Driver tested a 301 ci Catalina in 1977. Covering the standing quarter mile took 19.9 seconds with a trap speed of 70.4 MPH. Obamagate’s CAFE is bringing back genuinely slow cars that are being called compact CUVs, but that is still the sort of performance one might expect out of a car that blew up at the 60 foot mark.

    1. Is the 301 known for being unreliable? Sounds like it was a relatively decent performer, 170 hp and 245 tq, nothing special but should keep up with 70’s stuff and foreign up and comers.

      1. I had a ’79 Grand Prix SJ with the 301. It did need a top-end rebuild (at around 90,000 miles when I had it, I think), but that was more because of spotty maintenance from the previous owner. After that it was fine. Not fast but adequate for when I had it, around ’88-89.

        1. Do you realize that Pontiac cribbed the SJ model identifier from Duesenberg? The 1929 Duesenberg Model J had a 265 horsepower 32-valve inline 8 cylinder engine that made it the most powerful production car in the world. Pontiac called their 300 horsepower 6.6 liter 1971 Grand Prix the J-series, as a tribute to the car that marked American cars as the best cars in the world before the Depression. The Duesenberg SJ was a Model J with a Supercharger, resulting in a 320 horsepower engine in an era when anything over 65 horsepower was exotic. That GM put an SJ badge on a 301 ci engine that couldn’t outrun a motor-scooter is to auto enthusiasm what voting Democrat is to American heritage.

          1. If only Pontiac had honored automotive ruler of the world in 79 Honda by calling the high end Grand Prix an LX instead of SJ than CJ would finally ready to go all in for American heritage.

          2. If that offends you, what do you make of BMW still using an “i” on its model names, still bragging about fuel injection 50 years later…..


          3. BMW is dead to me, but at least the cars are still fuel injected. Porsche calls their compliance cars Turbos even though they don’t have engines, let alone turbochargers. BMW keep the i because their names have equity with their buyers, sort of the flipside to all the times Ford and GM have changed the names of their volume models to try to shake the awful reputations of the outgoing cars.

  5. I like these. I am sure somebody bought one the way I imagine. The older larger Catalinas with the hardtop, 400 inch engine, RTS, and even bucket and console interior really differentiated the Pontiac full size in the early 70s. The one huge advantage of the downsize was the 700 pound weight loss. It would have been great to see a test of a Catalina/Bonneville downsized with all those options. Most of the sporty options existed for the Lesabre sport coupe 3.8t V6 that was the future. An old school 400 with the same sport touches and in my opinion better detailing, would have showed that the future was not so bright as the past updated.

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