Pontiac Bonneville


The Pontiac Bonneville is an automobile built by Pontiac from 1957 until 2005. Bonnevilles were full-sized, with the exception of a brief period of mid-size between 1982 and 1986. The brand was introduced as a limited production performance convertible during the 1957 model year. The Bonneville (known as the Parisienne in Canada until 1981), and its platform partner, the Grand Ville, are some of the largest Pontiacs ever built; in station wagon body styles they reached just over 230 inches (5.8 m) long, and at 5,000 pounds (2,300 kg) and more were also some of the heaviest cars produced at the time.

Pontiac Bonneville
Pontiac Bonneville -- 07-09-2009.jpg
2000–2005 Pontiac Bonneville
ManufacturerPontiac (General Motors)
1983–2005 (Canada)
Body and chassis
ClassFull-size car (1957–1981 and 1987–2005)
Mid-size car (1982–1986)
LayoutFR layout (1958–1986)
Transverse front-engine, front-wheel drive (1987–2005)
PredecessorPontiac Star Chief
Pontiac Executive
Pontiac LeMans (1981)
SuccessorPontiac G8

The name was taken from the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah, the site of much early auto racing and most of the world's land speed record runs, which was named in turn after U.S. Army officer Benjamin Bonneville.

Early developmentEdit

Pontiac Bonneville
1957 Pontiac Star Chief Bonneville convertible
Model years1957
Body and chassis
Body style2-door convertible
RelatedPontiac Star Chief
Engine347 cu in (5.7 L) Strato Streak V8 (fuel injected)
Transmission3-speed Strato-Flight Hydra-Matic[1]
Wheelbase124 in (3,100 mm)[1]
Length213.7 in (5,430 mm)
Width75.2 in (1,910 mm)
Curb weight3,860 lb (1,750 kg)

The Bonneville name first appeared in 1954 on a pair of bubble-topped GM Motorama concept cars called the Bonneville Special, sharing an appearance with the Chevrolet Corvette.

It entered the production lineup as a high-performance, fuel-injected luxury convertible version of the Star Chief in 1957, and was loaded with every available option as standard equipment to include leather upholstery, power adjustable front seat, power windows, power steering, power brakes and power convertible top with the exception of air conditioning and a continental kit.[2]

Standard only for the Bonneville was Pontiac's first-ever fuel injection system. A mechanical system built by Rochester, it was similar in principle, but not identical, to the contemporary Chevrolet Bel Air installed with the Rochester Ramjet [3] continuous mechanical fuel injection (closed-loop).[4] Pontiac did not release official power ratings for this engine, which had only been introduced earlier in 1955 replacing the straight eight, saying only that it had more than 300 hp (224 kW). Contemporary road tests suggest that it was actually somewhat inferior to the Tri-Power engines, although it did have better fuel economy.

This put the Bonneville in a Cadillac-like price range of US$5,782 ($55,785 in 2021 dollars [5]) - more than double the base price of the Chieftain on which it was built, with the result being a fully equipped Bonneville could cost more than a larger, entry-level Cadillac. Only 630 units were produced that first year, all of them fuel-injected, making it one of the most collectible Pontiacs of all time and was introduced to compete with the Chrysler 300C.[1] The following year it became a separate model, and it would endure until 2005 as the division's top-of-the-line model.

First generation (1958)Edit

First generation
1958 Pontiac Bonneville Catalina Sport Coupe
Model years1958
Body and chassis
Body style2-door convertible
2-door hardtop
LayoutFR layout
Engine370 cu in (6.1 L) Tempest 370 V8
Transmission3-speed manual
3-speed Super Hydra-Matic automatic
Wheelbase122 in (3,099 mm)[1]
Length211.7 in (5,377 mm)[1]
Width77.4 in (1,966 mm)[1]
Curb weight3,925 lb (1,780 kg)[1]

The Bonneville became a separate model in 1958,[6] available as a two-door hardtop or a convertible. It paced the Indianapolis 500 in its first year. As a separate model, Bonneville had a significantly lower price tag of around $3,000 thanks to the demotion of most of the luxury items found on the 1957 Star Chief bodystyle from standard equipment to the option list. Also a 255 hp (190 kW) 369.4 cu in (6,053 cc) V8, marketed as a "370", with four-barrel carburetor and dual exhausts was now standard equipment.[1]

The fuel-injection system continued to be offered with the standard engine on the 1957 Star Chief bodystyle was now listed as an extra cost option but very few 1958 Bonnevilles were so equipped due to a towering option price tag of US$500 ($4,696 in 2021 dollars [5]), which was not considered a very good value considering that for US$93.50, a more reliable Tri-Power option was available with three Rochester two-barrel carburetors and similar power.[7] The Tri-Power produces a claimed 300 hp (224 kW), while the fuel injected version was rated at 310 hp (231 kW) @ 4800 rpm and 400 lb⋅ft (542 N⋅m) @ 3,000 rpm on 10.5:1 compression.

The retail price dropped from the previous year to US$3,481 ($33,585 in 2021 dollars [5]) for the coupe and US$3,586 ($34,598 in 2021 dollars [5]) for the convertible adding leather interior and a power operated convertible top.[1] The fuel-injected engine became an option on any Pontiac model. Only about 400 were produced before the fuel injection system was quietly dropped and fuel injection would not be offered on the Bonneville until 1987 with the Eighth Generation.

For 1958, GM was promoting their fiftieth year of production, and introduced Anniversary models for each brand; Cadillac, Buick, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, and Chevrolet.[8] The 1958 models shared a common appearance on the top models for each brand; Cadillac Eldorado Seville, Buick Limited Riviera, Oldsmobile Starfire 98, Pontiac Bonneville Catalina, and the all-new Chevrolet Bel-Air Impala. 1958 was also the year the "Silver Streak" styling feature was no longer offered, which was first used in 1933.[1]

Second generation (1959–1960)Edit

Second generation
1960 Pontiac Bonneville Convertible Coupe
Model years1959–1960
AssemblyPontiac, Michigan, U.S.
Flint, Michigan, U.S.
Ypsilanti, Michigan, U.S.
Body and chassis
Body style2-door convertible
2-door coupe
4-door sedan
4-door station wagon
4-door hardtop
LayoutFR layout
Engine389CID Tempest 420 300 hp V8[1]
Transmission3-speed manual; Super Hydra-Matic[9]
Wheelbase124 in (3,150 mm)[1]
Length220.7 in (5,606 mm)
Width80.7 in (2,050 mm)
Curb weight4,086 lb (1,853 kg)

In its third year, the 1959 Bonneville became a full top-line series with the addition of the four-door hardtop sedan and Safari station wagon body styles. The Bonneville played an important part that year in the introduction of two of Pontiac's greatest marketing inspirations — the split grille and the Wide Track slogan.

The latter was not just ad copy, either, as Pontiac pushed its wheels further out toward the fenders than anyone else and created what were considered to be the best-cornering full-size cars in the industry. Both the grille design and the Wide Track phrase remained part of Pontiac's image up to its termination. A "Safe-T-Track" differential, used to minimize wheel spin, was an option beginning in 1959.[10] As the platform expanded to add sedans and station wagons, they were also used as a basis for various specialty cars such as hearses.

Third generation (1961–1964)Edit

Third generation
1962 Pontiac Bonneville convertible
Model years1961–1964
AssemblyPontiac, Michigan, U.S.
Flint, Michigan, U.S.
Ypsilanti, Michigan, U.S.
Body and chassis
Body style2-door convertible
2-door hardtop
4-door hardtop
4-door sedan
4-door station wagon
LayoutFR layout
RelatedBuick LeSabre
Chevrolet Impala
Oldsmobile Starfire
Engine389 cu in (6.4 L) V8
421 cu in (6.9 L) V8
Transmission3-speed manual; 4-speed manual; Hydra-Matic[11]
Wheelbase123 in (3,124 mm)[12]
Length218.9 in (5,560 mm)
Width78.7 in (1,999 mm)
1961 Pontiac Bonneville Tri-Power Sports Coupe
1962 Pontiac Bonneville Custom Safari
1963 Pontiac Bonneville convertible
1964 Pontiac Bonneville Sports Coupé
Pontiac eight-lug rim. Full-size Pontiacs from 1960 to 1968 were available with these unique, eight-bolt rims with exposed finned-aluminum brake drums which aided brake cooling compared to the standard iron drum enclosed by a steel wheel.[13]

The Bonneville remained Pontiac's costliest and most luxurious model throughout the 1960s and was instrumental in pushing Pontiac to third place in sales from 1962 to 1970.

The distinctive protruding grille made its appearance on all Pontiac products during the early 1960s, and was a modern revival of a similar appearance on Pontiac products during the 1930s and early 1940s, as demonstrated on the Pontiac Torpedo.

The Bonneville differed from its lesser Catalina and Star Chief counterparts by featuring more luxurious interior trim with upgraded cloth and Morrokide vinyl or expanded Morrokide upholstery in sedans and coupes, expanded Morrokide in Safari wagons and genuine leather seating in convertibles. Bonnevilles (with the exception of Bonneville Safari station wagons) were also (along with Star Chiefs) built on a longer wheelbase version of GM's B-Body. Also found in the Bonneville were instrument panels and door panels with walnut veneer trim, carpeted lower door panels, grab bar on the passenger side of the dash and courtesy lights and a rear arm rest. Beginning in 1964, a Bonneville Brougham option package was available that included an even more luxurious interior trim level with front and rear seats featuring center armrests, upgraded door panels and a standard Cordova (vinyl) roof with "Brougham" nameplates. The two-door hardtop was marketed as the "Sports Coupe", the four door pillarless models were called "Vistas".

Bonneville models were standard equipped with Hydra-Matic (through 1964) or Turbo Hydra-Matic (1965-on) automatic transmissions. Options included power steering and power brakes as well as air conditioning. Other popular options included power windows, power seats, radio, cruise control, and 8-lug aluminum wheels that included integral brake drums for improved stopping power.

The Bonneville also had more powerful standard V8 engines than other full-sized Pontiacs, including the 389 cu in (6.4 l) or 400 cu in (6.6 l) V8s with four-barrel carburetors (power ratings of 303 to 340 hp (226 to 254 kW) depending on year) with many optional V8 offerings, such as the availability of the Tri-Power (three two-barrel carburetor) options on both the 389 cu in (6.4 l) and 421 cu in (6.9 l) V8s that offered up to 376 hp (280 kW) through 1966.

For 1963 only <1963 Pontiac shop manual>, Pontiac offered the 421 cu in (6.9 l) Super Duty with two four-barrel carburetors, rated at 425 hp (317 kW), as a US$2,250 option ($19,659 in 2021 dollars [5]) whereas the base Bonneville was listed at US$3,349 ($29,261 in 2021 dollars [5]).[14]

1963 Pontiac Bonneville sport coupe

Fourth generation (1965–1970)Edit

Fourth generation
1965 Pontiac Bonneville 2-Door Hardtop
Model years1965–1970
AssemblyPontiac, Michigan, U.S.
Flint, Michigan, U.S.
Ypsilanti, Michigan, U.S.
Body and chassis
Body style2-door convertible
2-door hardtop
4-door hardtop
4-door sedan
4-door station wagon
LayoutFR layout
RelatedBuick LeSabre
Chevrolet Impala
Oldsmobile Dynamic 88
Engine389 cu in (6.4 L) V8
421 cu in (6.9 L) V8
400 cu in (6.6 L) V8
428 cu in (7.0 L) V8
455 cu in (7.5 L) V8
Transmission3-speed speed synchromesh manual
4-speed synchromesh manual
3 Speed Turbo-Hydramatic 400 Automatic
Wheelbase124 in (3,150 mm)
Length222.6 in (5,654 mm)
Width79.7 in (2,024 mm)
1965 Pontiac Bonneville Convertible
1966 Pontiac Bonneville 4-Door Hardtop
1967 Pontiac Bonneville Hardtop Coupe
1968 Pontiac Bonneville convertible
1969 Pontiac Bonneville convertible
1970 Pontiac Bonneville Convertible

In 1965 B-Body Pontiacs received a dramatic restyle, featuring fastback rooflines on coupes, rakish fender lines, and even more pronounced "Coke Body" styling. Bonnevilles followed largely the same styling cues as on other 1965 Pontiacs, but was 8 inches longer thanks to its new 124-inch wheelbase chassis. The interior featured new instrumentation and dashboard styling as well as new upholstery.

Engine options remained unchanged from the 1964 model year, with a 389 cu in (6.4 L), 333 hp unit being standard, equipped with a Carter AFB 4-barrel carburetor. A 421 cu in (6.9 L) engine was an optional upgrade. Both engines had choices of Tri-Power multi-carburetion setups and higher compression ratios.[15]

New for Pontiacs in 1965 was GM's Turbo-Hydramatic 400 transmission, which was released the year prior. This new 3-speed unit had a torque converter, unlike the old fluid-coupling based Super-Hydramatic featured on past Bonneville models. The new transmission also changed the shift pattern from "P-N-D-S-L-R" to a safer and ultimately more modern "P-R-N-D-S-L."

In 1965 Pontiac Motor Division received the Motor Trend "Car of the Year" award. As part of this award, Motor Trend reviewed GTO, Grand Prix, Catalina 2+2 and Bonneville.[16]

In 1966, Bonneville featured a minor update, with new front and rear sheet metal, trim and bright work. The interior saw some updates, including a more squared-up dashboard and minor changes in instrumentation. Powertrain components were the same as 1965.

Bonneville for 1967 received a major update over the previous years. Styling was changed dramatically and featured a new grille-in-bumper front design, more creases to accentuate the "Coke body" styling and an updated rear fascia. The interior featured a new wrap around style dash with new switchgear, instrumentation and trim. As per the up-and-coming US Title 49 legislation, 67' Bonnevilles were equipped with seatbelts as standard, as well as other government mandated safety equipment.

1967 also saw a large power-train and chassis refresh for Pontiac. The 389 cubic inch plant was replaced with 400 cu in (6.6 L) one, and the 421 cubic inch plant was replaced with a 428 cu in (7.0 L) one. As per GM's internal edict, the multi-carburation setups found on earlier cars were replaced with the new Quadra Jet "spread bore" carburetor. Carter AFB carburetors were still standard, but the Quadra Jet was featured as the new "High performance" upgrade. A myriad of horsepower ratings were optional. A dual-circuit master cylinder was standard as per legislation and disc brakes became an optional extra.[17]

1968 also saw a large styling update for Bonneville. The front fascia was heavily revised with new side-by-side headlights, however, the side and rear styling stayed largely the same from 1967. The interior saw some minor updates to styling with less chrome, as well as an available 8-Track Tape player.

Power was upgraded to 340 horsepower on the base 400 CI engine, up from 333 on the 1967 model year, the 428 CI engine remained an option

In 1969 the rest of Bonneville's styling was updated. The front fascia stayed similar to 68', however, the rest of the car saw a restyle. The creases on the side were removed and the overall "Coke Bottle" effect was lessened. The rear end saw widened taillights and a color coded bumper insert. The interior saw even more updates, featuring more padding, wood trim and a slanted dashboard.

Power trains were upgraded to a standard 360 hp 428 CI engine.

1970 saw the most dramatic update to styling for Bonneville, featuring an entirely new front fascia, with more square features and an updated vertical twin grille design. Wrap around amber turn signals were integrated into the lower bumper. Side body lines remained similar to the 69' model year, however the rear design was completely revised with lowered tail lights and bumper, with a design more similar to that of 65' and 66' model years than those directly prior.

The interior was similar to the 1969 model year, retaining the slanted design and minimal chrome trim.

A new 455 cu in (7.5 L) V8 was made standard for the 1970 model year, with the 400 CI engine being an option.[18]

Fifth generation (1971–1976)Edit

Fifth generation
Model years1971–1976
AssemblyPontiac, Michigan, U.S.
Flint, Michigan, U.S.
Ypsilanti, Michigan, U.S.
Body and chassis
Body style4-door hardtop
2-door coupe
4-door sedan
LayoutFR layout
RelatedBuick LeSabre
Chevrolet Impala
Pontiac Catalina/Laurentian
Chevrolet Bel Air
Chevrolet Caprice
Oldsmobile 88
Engine455 cu in (7.5 L) V8
400 cu in (6.6 L) V8
Wheelbase126 in (3,200 mm) (1971-72)[19]
124 in (3,150 mm) (1973-74)
123.4 in (3,134 mm) (1975-76)
Length226.2 in (5,745 mm)[19]
Width79.5 in (2,019 mm)[19]

For 1971, the Bonneville was downgraded in the model hierarchy, as a new top line Grand Ville series was introduced. In effect, it replaced the discontinued Executive above the lower-priced Catalina. The Bonneville had new "Monocoque" styling[20] and was offered in three body styles, a pillared four-door sedan, four-door hardtop sedan and two-door hardtop coupe. The standard engine for 1971-72 was a 455 cubic-inch V8 with two-barrel carburetor that was rated at 280 gross horsepower for 1971 and 185 net horsepower for 1972 and optionally available was the four-barrel version of the 455 rated at 325 gross horsepower in 1971 and 250 net horsepower in 1972. The on-paper power ratings reflect the change in power measurement undertaken by the industry for 1972. 1971 was also the first year for Pontiac and other GM divisions to reduce compression ratios on all engines across the board to operate on lower-octane regular leaded, low-lead or unleaded gasoline, reflecting a corporate edict anticipating the introduction of catalytic converters in 1975 to help meet increasingly stringent federal (and California) emission requirements.

In mid-1971, a Turbo-Hydramatic transmission, power steering and power front-disc brakes became standard equipment on Bonneville and other full-sized Pontiacs (as well as other full-sized GM cars).

From 1973 to 1976, the Bonneville's standard engine dropped to a 170-horsepower 400 cubic-inch V8. Optionally available was the 455 four-barrel V8 rated at 250 horsepower (186 kW) in 1973 and 1974 and 200 in 1975 and 1976. In 1973, Bonneville was the only full-sized Pontiac to offer a "Radial Tuned Suspension" option package which included the steel-belted radial tires along with an upgraded suspension with Pliacell shock absorbers and front and rear sway bars. The RTS option was expanded for 1974 to all full-sized Pontiacs and radial-ply tires became standard on all 1975 models though an upgraded "RTS" package was still available as an option.

1975 saw the end of the pillarless two-door hardtop model, replaced by a coupe with frameless door glass but with a thick "B" pillar and fixed rear "opera" window. The 1975 model year introduced rectangular headlights - its frontal appearance was similar to the Cadillac DeVilles and Fleetwoods of the same era.

With the demise of the Grand Ville series after 1975, Bonneville once again became the top-line full-sized Pontiac series, with a Bonneville Brougham model featuring the luxurious interior appointments from the departed Grand Ville.

Adjustable pedals were optional in 1976, the last year the Bonneville was offered as a pillarless 4-door hardtop; all subsequent Bonnevilles would have a thick B-pillar and metal-framed door glass.[21]

Size comparison between 1974 and 1984 full-size Pontiac sedans

1974 Pontiac Bonneville 1984 Pontiac Parisienne
Wheelbase 124 in (3,150 mm) 116.0 in (2,946 mm)
Overall length 226.0 in (5,740 mm) 212.0 in (5,385 mm)
Width 79.6 in (2,022 mm) 75.2 in (1,910 mm)
Height 54.2 in (1,377 mm) 56.4 in (1,433 mm)
Front headroom 38.9 in (988 mm) 39.5 in (1,003 mm)
Front legroom 42.3 in (1,074 mm) 42.2 in (1,072 mm)
Front hip room 62.0 in (1,575 mm) 55.0 in (1,397 mm)
Front shoulder room 64.3 in (1,633 mm) 60.6 in (1,539 mm)
Rear headroom 38.0 in (965 mm) 38.2 in (970 mm)
Rear legroom 38.8 in (986 mm) 38.9 in (988 mm)
Rear hip room 61.9 in (1,572 mm) 55.7 in (1,415 mm)
Rear shoulder room 63.5 in (1,613 mm) 60.5 in (1,537 mm)
Luggage capacity 19.5 cu ft (552 L) 20.8 cu ft (589 L)

Sixth generation (1977–1981)Edit

Sixth generation
Model years1977–1981
AssemblyWillow Run Assembly in Ypsilanti, Michigan, U.S.
Fairfax Assembly in Kansas City, Kansas, U.S.
Body and chassis
Body style2-door coupe
4-door sedan
4-door station wagon
LayoutFR layout
RelatedBuick LeSabre
Chevrolet Impala
Pontiac Catalina/Laurentian
Chevrolet Caprice
Oldsmobile 88
Engine231 cu in (3.8 L) Buick V6
265 cu in (4.3 L) Pontiac V8
301 cu in (4.9 L) Pontiac V8
350 cu in (5.7 L) Pontiac V8
350 cu in (5.7 L) Buick V8
350 cu in (5.7 L) Chevrolet V8
305 cu in (5.0 L) Chevrolet V8
350 cu in (5.7 L) Oldsmobile diesel V8
400 cu in (6.6 L) Pontiac V8
403 cu in (6.6 L) Oldsmobile V8
Wheelbase116.0 in (2,946 mm) (1979)
Length214.3 in (5,443 mm) (1979)
Width76.4 in (1,941 mm) (1979)[22]
SuccessorPontiac Parisienne (1982-1986, U.S. only)

Bonneville would continue its flagship duties on the downsized big car line that was introduced for 1977. Bonnevilles (and Catalinas) were 14 inches (360 mm) shorter in length, over four inches (102 mm) narrower and 800 pounds lighter compared to their 1976 counterparts, but had increased headroom, rear seat legroom and trunk space, and much-improved fuel economy – a major selling point in the years following the 1973-74 energy crisis.

Only a pillared four-door sedan and two-door coupe (with optional opera windows) were offered as the hardtop sedans and coupes offered in previous years were discontinued across the board at all GM divisions. The Bonneville also regained the Safari station wagon as part of its model lineup for the first time since 1970 with woodgrained exterior trim and interior appointments shared with Bonneville coupes and sedans. The Safari was available in both 6 and 9-passenger configurations and featured a dual-action tailgate that could be opened to the side as a door or downward as a tailgate, rather than the disappearing clamshell tailgates found in 1971-76 full-sized Pontiac wagons.

Rear view of a 1978 Bonneville sedan
1980 Pontiac Bonneville 2-door coupe
1981 Pontiac Bonneville Safari

For 1980, all GM B-bodies received revised styling and aerodynamic improvements along with reduced weight.

The standard engine for Bonneville was Pontiac's new 301 cubic-inch V8 rated at 135 horsepower (101 kW) and optional engines included a 170-horsepower 350 or 180-horsepower 400 cubic-inch V8. A 185-horsepower Oldsmobile 403 cubic inch V8 was also an option. In later years, increasingly stringent fuel-economy standards mandated by the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) regulations would lead to the discontinuation of the larger engines with a 231 cubic-inch Buick V6 becoming the standard engine on Bonneville coupes and sedans for 1980 and 1981 with the only optional V8s offered including 265 and 301 cubic-inch Pontiac-built gasoline engines or an Oldsmobile-built 350 cid diesel powerplant.

The Bonneville and Catalina, already the smallest-selling of GM's B-body line, suffered a serious drop in demand following the economic recession that began in the spring of 1979. With that, GM decided to pull the plug at the end of the 1981 model year. Along with them went the 301 engine, marking the end of Pontiac V8s. From now on, the division would use Chevrolet engines.

Seventh generation (1982–1986)Edit

Seventh generation
Also calledPontiac Grand LeMans (Canada)
Model years1982–1986
AssemblySainte-Thérèse, Quebec, Canada
Body and chassis
Body style
LayoutFR layout
RelatedBuick Regal
Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme
Engine3.8 L (231 cu in) Buick V6
5.0 L (305 cu in) Chevrolet V8
5.7 L (350 cu in) Oldsmobile Diesel,
4.4L 267 Chevrolet V8
Transmission3-speed THM200 automatic
4-speed 200-4R automatic
Wheelbase108.1 in (2,746 mm)
Length198.6 in (5,044 mm)[23]
Width71.3 in (1,811 mm)
PredecessorPontiac LeMans

The Bonneville nameplate didn't go anywhere following the discontinuation of full-sized Pontiacs and instead was simply swapped onto the midsized LeMans, which also suffered from poor sales. Thus, GM planners reasoned that attaching a more well-known model name to it would spark demand. This model had been produced since 1978 along with its siblings the Chevrolet Malibu, Oldsmobile Cutlass, and Buick Century, and sported a Buick 231 cid V6, Chevrolet 305 cid V8, or Oldsmobile 350 cid diesel V8. (A Buick 4.1 liter V6 was available in 1982.) The 1982-1986 models were officially known as the Pontiac Bonneville Model G (built on the GM "G" platform), although later models were not badged as such. Styling was revised to bear a closer resemblance to the departed B-body Bonneville and coupes were dropped. GM also began marketing the Bonneville in Canada for the first time starting in 1984 (1982 and 1983 Canadian models carried the Grand LeMans name), as GM's full-size Bonnevilles in Canada were referred to as Parisienne.

While the previous LeMans, on which the new Bonneville was based, was classified as an A-Body, introduction of GM's new front wheel drive A-bodies (e.g. Pontiac 6000) in 1982 prompted the change to "Model G" on these RWD cars. 1983 was the last year for the G-body station wagon as the Pontiac 6000's wagon replaced it. The Bonneville sedan continued in base, Limited Edition (LE), and Brougham versions through 1986. The 1982-1986 Bonnevilles are direct descendants of the 1964 Pontiac Tempest. These 1982-1986 Bonnevilles were the smallest and the last of the old breed of Bonnevilles, having rear wheel drive, full perimeter frame (body on frame), and old-fashioned American car ride and styling.

Rear view of Bonneville "Model G"

However, some Pontiac customers did not take to the "downsized" Bonneville as a portion of new-car buyers were switching their preferences from compact and mid-sized cars back to full-sized, V8-powered cars thanks to improving gasoline prices. Late in the 1983 model year, Pontiac reintroduced a full-sized car to the American market by bringing over the Canadian-built Pontiac Parisienne (which was essentially a restyled Chevrolet Caprice and powered by Chevrolet V6 or V8 engines). The Bonneville was then again one notch below the top of the line from late 1983 through 1986.

However, exactly as before, a downsizing proved its salvation. In 1987, the Parisienne was discontinued and the Bonneville was completely redesigned as a front-wheel drive car, rejoining its pre-1982 platform mates: the Buick LeSabre and Oldsmobile Delta 88 and it regained its status as the senior Pontiac.

Eighth generation (1987–1991)Edit

Eighth generation
Model years1987–1991
AssemblyYpsilanti, Michigan, U.S. 1986–1989 (early)
Wentzville, Missouri, U.S. 1989 (late)–1991
DesignerIrvin Rybicki (1983)[24]
Body and chassis
Body style4-door sedan
LayoutTransverse front-engine, front-wheel drive
RelatedBuick LeSabre
Oldsmobile 88
Engine3.8L LG3 Buick V6
3.8L LN3 3800 Buick V6
Transmission4-speed THM440T4 automatic
Wheelbase110.8 in (2,814 mm)
Length198.7 in (5,047 mm)
1987–89 SE: 198.3 in (5,037 mm)
1990–91 SSE: 198.6 in (5,044 mm)
Width1987–89: 72.4 in (1,839 mm)
1990–91: 72.1 in (1,831 mm)
Height1987–89 LE & SE: 55.5 in (1,410 mm)
1987–89 SSE: 54.7 in (1,389 mm)
1990–91 LE & SE: 54.1 in (1,374 mm)
1990–91 SSE: 54.6 in (1,387 mm)
Curb weightLE 3,325 lb (1,508 kg)
SE 3,413 lb (1,548 kg)
SSE 3,601 lb (1,633 kg)
Rear view of a 1987 Pontiac Bonneville SE
H-body Bonneville

For 1987, Pontiac introduced a radically different Bonneville. Instead of using traditional rear-wheel-drive, Pontiac decided to change the car from the rear wheel drive G-body with the V8 to the more economical front wheel drive one-year-old H Body platform with the Buick LeSabre and Oldsmobile 88. Initially, a 150 hp (112 kW) 3.8 L V6 was the sole engine, mated to a four-speed Hydramatic 4T60 automatic and performance was adequate from this pairing. The new Bonneville was placed on Car & Driver's “10 Best” list for 1987, offering both a base model and LE model. The base model was only used for 1987. For LE models, an SSE sport package was also available that featured a quicker gear ratio, sportier suspension and more standard features, as the Bonneville was intended to have a more sporty, European flavor than the LeSabre and 88.

The interior of a Bonneville SSE. It features the Driver Information Center, automatic climate control and the Delco UT4 stereo.

For the 1988 model year, which was the front wheel drive Bonneville's second year on the market, a host of trim level changes and a new engine became standard. First, Pontiac replaced the LG3 with a revised version of the same engine platform, which has the RPO code of LN3, and features an increase of 10 hp and 10 ft⋅lbf (14 N⋅m) of torque. It features sequential-port fuel injection and produces 165 hp (123 kW) and 210 lb⋅ft (285 N⋅m). Other models on the H-body platform were fitted with the updated engine one year later, in 1989. The LN3 was used through 1991, since the Bonneville was redesigned for the 1992 model year. Also in 1988, it marks the first time that the Buick 3.8 is called the 3800 V6.

Also in 1988, the LE model, which was previously the top trim level for 1987, becomes the base trim. The base model, which was used for 1987, is dropped. Additionally, two new models are introduced, the midlevel SE, which went from an option package to a trim level, and the line-topper SSE. The SE and SSE trims were then available with many more comfort and convenience options standard such as: electronic climate control, a digital compass, Driver Information Center, 8-way (14-way for the SSE according to GM material) power leather seats, heated power mirrors, CD player with the premium sound package and many more.

The SSE features an extra deep rear valence, a spoiler, lower body cladding, a digital compass/trip computer, an eight speaker premium sound system and much more. One notable feature of the SSE was the addition of an automatic leveling rear air suspension, which also included an inflator in the trunk. The SSE trim was exclusively equipped with an exterior sport appearance package that included body cladding, assorted ground effects, a body color grille and removal of the Bonneville door badges and Pontiac trunk badge, and replacing the Bonneville trunk badge with an SSE Bonneville badge.

For 1989, a compact disc player became optional. For all 1990 models, a facelift was introduced for the Bonneville, with revisions to the grille, headlights, and the taillights were revised to include amber rear turn signal indicators. Also, a remote keyless entry system was added to the options list. In 1990, for the 1991 model year, suspension revisions greeted these models. 1991 was also the last year for the first front-wheel-drive generation of the Bonneville.

A grey 1990 Pontiac Bonneville SSE.
Production by trim level
1987 53,912 69,904
1988 72,859 20,872 14,832
1989 66,636 15,944 13,056
1990 55,926 16,854 13,064
1991 34,405 2,734 5,665

Ninth generation (1992–1999)Edit

Ninth generation
Model years1992–1999
AssemblyWentzville, Missouri, U.S. May 1991–1993 (1992-1993 model years)
Lake Orion, Michigan, U.S. 1993–1998 (1994-1998 model years)
Flint, Michigan, U.S. July 1995–June 29, 1999 (1996-1999 model years)
DesignerJohn Folden (1988)[25][26][27][28][29]
Wayne Cherry (facelift: 1993)
Body and chassis
Body style4-door sedan
LayoutTransverse front-engine, front-wheel drive
RelatedBuick LeSabre
Oldsmobile 88
Oldsmobile LSS
Engine3.8L Series I L27 V6
3.8L Series I L67 V6
3.8L Series I L67 V6
3.8L Series II L36 V6
3.8L Series II L67 V6
Transmission1992–97: 4-speed 4T60-E automatic
1992–96: 4-speed 4T60E-HD auto
1998–99: 4-speed 4T65-E automatic
1997–99: 4-speed 4T65E-HD automatic
Wheelbase110.8 in (2,814 mm)
Length1992–95 SE: 199.5 in (5,067 mm)
1992–95 SSE & 1992–93 SSEi: 201.1 in (5,108 mm)
1996–97 SE: 201.7 in (5,123 mm)
1996–99 SSE: 203.1 in (5,159 mm)
1998–99 SE: 202.0 in (5,131 mm)
Width1992–97: 74.5 in (1,892 mm)
1998–99: 74.4 in (1,890 mm)
Height55.7 in (1,415 mm)
1998–99 SSE: 56.0 in (1,422 mm)
Curb weight3446-3588 lb

Unveiled on February 8, 1991, at the 1991 Chicago International Auto Show and launched in July 1991 for the 1992 model year, the interior and exterior of the car were completely redesigned. Developed over a 4+12-year period from 1986 to early 1991 under program director Dave Mitchell, styling work took place from 1987 to 1988, with a final design by John Folden being chosen in 1988 and frozen for production that same year. The first prototypes were built in 1989 and went into testing in mid-1989. In August 1990, production preparation began, with early production "builds" being constructed during late 1990. The first series production models were assembled in May 1991, with SE variants being launched in July 1991.[30]

The trims were redone once again, the LE trim (which had standard six-passenger seating) was removed, the SE was now the base model (the only model to offer six-passenger seating as an option), the SSE was now the mid grade and a new top of the line trim was now added, the SSEi, which received a standard passenger-side airbag. According to GM's Pontiac division, these trim acronyms have no implied meaning.

The base and midlevel models were provided with GM's naturally-aspirated 3.8-liter V6, while the SSEi received the supercharged version. All engines came paired with a 4-speed overdrive automatic transmission. SSEi models got dual airbags and antilock brakes. SE and SSE models made due with a driver-side airbag and optional ABS. This generation hosted quite a few Bonneville firsts, becoming quicker and considerably safer. One of the most notable improvements over the previous generation was that the Bonneville SE now came standard with a driver airbag and was the first General Motors product equipped with a passenger airbag, while ABS was available as part of the sport appearance package. The SSE models came with standard ABS and traction control.

The new N/A 3800 Series I (RPO: L27) engine was used, producing 170 hp (127 kW) and 225 lbf⋅ft (305 N⋅m), as well as the newly designed force inducted Series I 3800 (RPO: L67) equipped with an Eaton M62 roots type supercharger which made 205 hp (153 kW) and 260 lbf⋅ft (353 N⋅m). The newly revised N/A L27, for the 1992 model year only, was not equipped with an EGR Valve, and can be distinguished by its white intake manifold, as opposed to black from 1993 and on. Abridged safety options list:

ABS Traction control Driver airbag Passenger airbag
92 SE Optional (SLE) Optional Standard N/A
92 SSE Standard Optional Standard Optional
92 SSEi Standard Standard Standard Standard
93 SE Standard Optional Standard Optional
93 SSE Standard Optional Standard Optional
93 SSEi Standard Standard Standard Standard
94 SE Standard Optional Standard Standard
94 SSE Standard Optional Standard Standard
94 SSEi Standard Standard Standard Standard
95 SE Standard Optional Standard Standard
95 SSE Standard Optional Standard Standard
95 SSEi Standard Standard Standard Standard
1995 Pontiac Bonneville SSE

For 1993, the Sport Luxury Edition (SLE RPO: H4U) was offered. This is essentially an SE sub-trim with more standard features such as leather seats, electronic climate control, automatic headlights, premium sound, and "crosslace" alloy wheels, though certain items such as electronic climate control and premium sound could be deleted from an SLE equipped car. This option package designation remained only on the RPO sticker until 1998, when SLE badges were added to the exterior of the vehicle. This continued onto the '99 model year. Many more standard options were available with the SSE. The SSEi came standard with most of the available options in the lower models, including the supercharged 3800 (RPO: L67).

For 1994, a new Generation III Eaton M62 supercharger came, along with new OBD-1.5 capabilities, raising the horsepower to 225 hp (168 kW), while torque was raised to 275 lbf⋅ft (373 N⋅m). Also, this year introduced the new five-spoke "Torque Star" wheels. A resonator also became standard on the exhaust to lower the raspy tone that the engine produces. Passenger airbags also became standard on all models. However, the former SSEi has been relegated to a new SSEi Supercharger Package. Newly optional for the '94 SSE models equipped with traction control is GM's Computer Command Ride suspension. It was designed specifically to reduce body lean and pitch and it automatically adjusts the suspension from soft to firm when cornering, accelerating, or stopping.

For 1995, the car retained the same appearance, but the SE and SSE trims received a new naturally aspirated engine, the Series II (RPO: L36). This engine made 205 hp (153 kW) and 230 lbf⋅ft (310 N⋅m). The SSEi remained equipped with the Series I SC 3800 (RPO: L67) engine until the 1996 model year, when it too was updated.

In March 2008, GM announced that these engines and other GM engines supplied with Dexcool antifreeze coolant might be prone to intake manifold failure and other problems with the cooling system if proper regular maintenance is not correctly performed. After settlement of a class-action lawsuit, GM agreed to compensate owners of many vehicles that suffered damage, regardless of negligence on the part of the consumer, if the consumer can prove damages.[31]


1996-1999 Pontiac Bonneville
Pontiac Bonneville Rear View

In September 1995, styling changes were introduced for the 1996 model year facelift. Some things were subtly reshaped, and other things, such as the tail lights, headlights, grille, and lower body cladding were drastically changed. The gap narrowed quite a bit regarding the exterior trim between packages. The previous generation showed an entirely different style of cladding and rear lighting for the SSE and SSEi, while this generation, at first glance, remains the same between the trims, with of course, the exception of the unique front bumper and grille. Also for 1996, the supercharged version of the 3800 Series II engine was introduced for the Bonneville. The SSEi and optionally the SSE got a new Eaton M90-supercharged L67, producing 240 hp (179 kW) and 280 lbf⋅ft (380 N⋅m). This engine was used from 1995 until it was retired from the Bonneville in 2003.

According to GM, all L67 equipped SE's are just SE's. But, it also means that in order to have this engine, they needed to have the RPO H4U: Sport Luxury Edition (SLE). But since this was not a model, it had no badging in 1995 (and supposedly not for 1996 and 1997), it was just an option for the SE. Since the L67 was not part of the SLE option, ordering an SE with H4U would get you the mini console in the headliner, the cobra head shifter, performance/normal shift selection buttons, leather interior, chrome delete side and bumper moldings, center shift console, and touring suspension—but no supercharger. In order to get the supercharger in an SE, you needed to also pay for the SLE option. The SLE optioned SE was supposed to compete with European sedans in appearance and performance, whereas the SSEi was to be more of an American muscle sedan.

In 1997, the Bonneville returns virtually unchanged. The heavy-duty version of the 4T65E-HD was introduced for the supercharged 3800 installed in the SSEi models. Also in 1997, to mark the 40th year of production of the Bonneville, Pontiac made a 40th Anniversary Edition. There were six models produced: the SE, the 40th Anniversary SE, the SSE, the 40th Anniversary SSE, the SSEi, and the 40th Anniversary SSEi. The 40th anniversary models all had a VIN with Y40. With a total production of 637 units, the 40th Anniversary SSEi is the rarest model.

For 1998, the Bonneville gets no major changes. However, a new transmission, the 4T65-E was introduced for the naturally aspirated 3800 installed in SE and SSE models. For 1999, the Bonneville essentially stood pat since an all-new model would arrive in 2000.

Engine availability

  • 170 hp (130 kW) L27 - SE (92-94), SLE (93-94), SSE (92-94)
  • 205 hp (153 kW) L36 - SE (95-99), SLE (95-99), SSE (95-99)
  • 205 hp (153 kW) L67 - SSE (92-93) optional, SSEi (92-93)
  • 225 hp (168 kW) L67 - SLE (95) optional, SSEi (94-95)
  • 240 hp (180 kW) L67 - SLE (96-97) optional, SSE (97) optional, SSEi (96-99)
Production by trim level
1992 95,402 13,034 7,566
1993 79,764 12,792 6,168
1994 66,727 7,462 5,968
1995 80,852 6,168 4,822
1996 61,568 3,833 4,060
1997 61,287 8,282 4,446
1998 58,411 3,641 3,413
1999 No production breakdown available

Tenth generation (2000–2005)Edit

Tenth generation
ProductionMarch 1999 – May 27, 2005
Model years2000–2005
AssemblyLake Orion, Michigan, U.S. 2000–2005
Hamtramck, Michigan, U.S. 2004–2005
DesignerWayne Cherry (1996)
Body and chassis
Body style4-door sedan
LayoutTransverse front-engine, front-wheel drive
PlatformG platform[32]
RelatedOldsmobile Aurora
Buick LeSabre
Cadillac Seville
Engine3.8L Series II L36 V6
3.8L Series II L67 V6
4.6L Northstar LD8 V8
Transmission4-speed 4T65-E automatic
4-speed 4T65E-HD automatic
4-speed 4T80-E automatic
Wheelbase112.2 in (2,850 mm)
Length2000–01 SE: 202.5 in (5,140 mm)
2000–01 SLE & SSEi: 203.2 in (5,160 mm)
2002–05: 202.6 in (5,150 mm)
Width74.2 in (1,880 mm)
Height2000–01 SE: 56.0 in (1,420 mm)
2000–01 SLE & SSEi: 56.4 in (1,430 mm)
2002–05: 56.6 in (1,440 mm)
Curb weight3,596 lb (1,631 kg) (SE)
3,656 lb (1,658 kg) (SLE)
3,745 lb (1,699 kg) (SSEi)
Rear view (2000-2003 SSEi)
2000 Pontiac Bonneville Salt Flats Custom Racer which set a 204 mph world record for a front wheel drive sedan on display in the Martin Auto Museum
2003 Pontiac Bonneville
Pontiac Bonneville GXP

The 2000 Bonneville was redesigned from the ground up with significant advancements in design, engineering and technology which Pontiac dubbed "luxury with attitude."[citation needed] The Bonneville was now built on GM's G platform, but GM chose to continue to refer to it as the H platform.[32] Staying true to Pontiac's Wide Track heritage it had the widest overall track in its competitive class at 62.6 inches up front and 62.1 inches (1,580 mm) in the rear. GM's StabiliTrak stability control system was introduced on the top-of-the-line supercharged SSEi model, later replaced by the GXP.

Trim levelsEdit

Pontiac Bonneville SLE

The Bonneville came in three time levels: SE, SLE and SSEi. The SE came with a 3.8L V6 engine, 4-speed automatic transmission, air conditioning, cruise control, front bucket seats (a 55/45 split front bench was available on the SE only), 6-way power driver seat with lumbar adjustment, AM/FM stereo with CD player and 225/60/R16 tires. The SLE added traction control, OnStar, leather-wrapped steering wheel, rear spoiler and 17-inch alloy wheels wrapped in 235/55/R17 tires. The SSEi adds a 3.8L supercharged V6 engine, front-side air bags, leather upholstery, 12-way power driver seat and Monsoon AM/FM stereo with cassette and CD player.[33]

For the last year of production, Pontiac gave the mid-level SLE the new GXP styling. The 2005 SLE featured all GXP styling cues, except the wheels, badging, muffler tips and engine all remained unique to the GXP.

Return of the V8Edit

For 2004, the Bonneville regained a V8 option on the GXP trim. This was the first time since 1986 that a Bonneville had a V8 engine. As a result of the discontinuation of the Oldsmobile Aurora, this opened up a "hole" in the GM lineup between Pontiac and Buick, allowing Pontiac to expand upmarket somewhat. The engine is Cadillac's 4.6 L (280 cu in) Northstar V8, producing 275 hp (205 kW), 300 lbf⋅ft (410 N⋅m). As Pontiac's website said, "With GXP, V8 power gets reintroduced into the Bonneville line in the form of the world-renowned 4.6 L (279 in³) Northstar V8 engine, giving 0 to 60 mph (0–97 km/h) in 6.5 seconds demonstrates better performance than BMW 330i and 530i, and Lexus ES. Its 3.7:1 final drive ratio is the most aggressive found on any car in its class."


NHTSA crash tests for the 2005 Pontiac Bonneville resulted in a safety rating of 4-stars for the Driver and 5-stars for the Front Passenger.[34]


GM announced on February 8, 2005, that the Bonneville would be dropped from Pontiac's lineup for 2006. The last Bonneville left the assembly line on May 27, 2005. Only about 12,000 Bonnevilles were sold in 2005. With more than half of Pontiac dealers also selling Buick models, the Buick Lucerne along with the Chevrolet Impala continued as GM's only mainstream full-size cars until the introduction of the 2008 G8.


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