Chet Krause had a nose for the hobby publishing business when he started Old Cars in 1971. He had built his company on the numismatic hobby, but the coin collecting hobby slowed going into the 1970s. Chet thought about entering several hobby markets, but old-car collecting looked like it was ready to boom. Since Chet had a personal interest in old cars, especially Model T Fords, he followed his nose and it paid off.
Pontiac did the same thing in 1971, but in a different way. In 1968, the GTO had won Motor Trend magazine’s coveted “Car of the Year” award for innovation. One of the 1968 GTO’s new ideas was the impact-resistant Endura rubber front bumper. Those original rubber-on-steel Endura bumpers came in five colors and were tested on push trucks used at the Pontiac factory. By 1971, the GTO nose was made entirely of Endura rubber and buyers of LeMans Sport models could add the reworked GTO nose to their car for less than $75.
Revisions to mid-size ’71 Pontiacs included new model names and series designations, new grilles and the Endura option. The cheapest Tempest model was the T-37. Two GT-37s were offered and advertised as “The GTO For Kids Under 30.” The base LeMans models were actually one step up the price scale and came with a choice of six-cylinder or V-8 engines. LeMans models had the word “Pontiac” on the left-hand grille. They carried vertical-slash louvers behind the wheel wells and “LeMans” lettering under the rear fender crease lines. Extra features on LeMans included richer upholstery, loop-pile carpets, rear armrests with integral ashtrays, a woodgrained dash, concealed wipers, rocker moldings, rear-edge hood moldings, side window reveals on coupes and vent windows on four-doors. Wagons had two-way tailgates and power front disc brakes.
Standard equipment in LeMans Sport models included all items found in LeMans models plus dual horns, pedal trim, ashtray and glove box lamps, courtesy lamps on convertibles, carpeted lower door panels, custom cushion steering wheel and wheel well moldings. “LeMans Sport” model nameplates were also seen on the sides of rear fenders. Buyers of two-door hardtop LeMans Sport models could choose between knit-vinyl bucket seats or the notch-back bench seat (which had bucket seat-like seat backs) while the four-door hardtop used only the notch-back bench seat. The convertible only received bucket seats.
The GTO Endura rubber nose was a $73.72 styling option for all three LeMans Sport models. This front end was listed as the code 602 LeMans Sport Endura styling option and included the GTO-style hood, Endura bumper and headlamp assembly as shown on the car in the accompanying photos at a Pontiac Club (www.POCI.org) show.
The convertible was Model 23767 and the V-8 version carried a base price of just $3,545. The base V-8 was a 350-cid job with a two-barrel carburetor, but buyers could add a 400 with a two-barrel, a 400 four-barrel or several 455 four-barrel options, including the 455 H.O. for $358.09. It had a pretty low production run of 3,865 units and only a fraction of those came with the Endura styling option found on the featured convertible. This car also has air conditioning ($408), optional body-color mirrors ($26) and front bucket seats.
SHOW US YOUR WHEELS!
If you’ve got an old car you love, we want to hear about it. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you like stories like these and other classic car features, check out Old Cars magazine. CLICK HERE to subscribe.
Want a taste of Old Cars magazine first? Sign up for our weekly e-newsletter and get a FREE complimentary digital issue download of our print magazine.
*As an Amazon Associate, Old Cars earns from qualifying purchases.