Pick of the Day: 1965 Pontiac LeMans Convertible

Do you have a problem with clones? Those cars that pretend to be a superior model often grab the goat of enthusiasts, but what’s the harm of making a car appear like a sassier, more stylish model? This brings to mind our Pick of the Day, a 1965 Pontiac LeMans convertible for sale on ClassicCars.com by a dealership in Goodrich, Michigan. (Click the link to view the listing)

1962 LeMans

General Motors’ 1961 “senior compacts” were an interesting trio of Corvair-derived vehicles, each having a certain engineering novelty. In Pontiac’s case, the Tempest featured a rear-mounted transaxle, giving it a near-50/50 weight distribution. The LeMans was introduced mid-year 1961 as part of the bucket seat trend that seems to have been popular with American compacts in the early days. A pillared coupe was the only available body style, adding a convertible for 1962-63, plus Pontiac’s very own 326 V8 added for 1963.

For 1964, as the Tempest series grew to a mid-size platform, the LeMans continued with its place at the top, with a hardtop joining the pillared coupe and convertible. That was the year the GTO package was introduced, which substituted the 326 V8 for the 389 from the big cars. This was a violation of sorts with GM rules that limited cubic-inches in mid-size cars, but the GTO being a package exploited a loophole in the rules. By the end of the model year, sales were such that GM decided to limit cid to 400, paving the way for Buick, Oldsmobile, and Chevrolet.

Styling was refined for 1965 to bring the Tempest series in line with the full-size cars, especially the vertical headlights which was starting to be a Pontiac trademark. A four-door sedan was also added to the LeMans lineup, making it a complete top trim level, though two-doors continued to feature sporty buckets seats standard. Power was a mix of interesting and less so. Interesting was Pontiac’s 326, which was offered with a two-barrel or four-barrel carburetor, the latter a 285-horsepower 326 HO that gave brisk performance. Less interesting was the 215cid inline-six that featured no gee-whiz engineering like the Trophy 4 or Buick’s aluminum 215cid V8. (For 1966, an interesting six would come in the form of the OHC 230).

Due to being overshadowed by the GTO, it’s not easy to find a LeMans in nice shape. All too often they turn into GTO clones, but not this Tuxedo Black 1965 Pontiac LeMans convertible. Though an original 326 car, the engine has been substituted with a 389 with updated cylinder heads, Edelbrock aluminum intake, Quadrajet four-barrel, plus several other heavy-duty parts like radiator and six-blade clutch fan. “This strong-running 389 is backed up with a Saginaw four-speed trans, Hurst Competition Plus shifter, 10-bolt limited-slip rear with 3.31 gears,” says the seller. Imagine that—a LeMans with the GTO’s heartbeat that hasn’t been cloned into a GTO!

Inside, you’ll find Parchment bucket seats with a console. “Dash has been refinished, original instrument cluster with factory in dash tach in very good condition,” adds the seller. “Woodgrain has been replaced, [plus] factory optional passenger grab handle [and working] original AM radio.”

This is basically a GTO without the baggage of pedigree, which would add a lot of dollars. It’s also not a poseur—this LeMans had classic Pontiac style and performance with a top that folds down. Sounds like a win-win for $45,900 OBO.

Click here for this ClassicCars.com Pick of the Day.