1981 Pontiac Grand LeMans Safari Wagon

8

81cutlass

Royal Smart Person
Feb 16, 2009
2,266
113
Western MN
Trans still holding in there?

I like my Buick wagon but I like the pontiac wagons more :)
 
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blk7gxn

blk7gxn

G-Body Guru
Feb 7, 2019
850
93
Trans still holding in there?

I like my Buick wagon but I like the pontiac wagons more :)
I think my favorite in order would be 78/79 Century wagon then the 78-81 lemans wagon, 78/79 malibu wagon
 
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P

PBGBodyFan

Master Mechanic
Mar 3, 2009
400
63
Wisconsin
Trans still holding in there?

I like my Buick wagon but I like the pontiac wagons more :)
It's doing well, no lockup as I didn't bother to try and make the vacuum style of the 80' work in my 81' that is setup for computer control lockup. I don't drive it enough to worry about the mpg difference and was told by a trans builder of 200-4r's I know that not having it working isn't hurting it either, even a little more wear wouldn't bother me either as it just needs to last another year or two :D. I think I put on 400-500 miles last year, not a lot. *Should* be more this year but who knows.

That 81 nose is similar to a 61 Catalina, also a one year only. I really like the wagon and the wheels, IMO white lettered tires look out of place on a luxury model. Just MO, don’t nobody throw a hissy fit. I got tired of RWL tires period, in the 70s
No offense taken, I used these tires partly because I had a pair laying around and was able to get another new pair for nothing, both are old but hold air fine and aren't dry rotted. If I drove this more or planned to keep these wheels as the permanent choice, I'd invest in new. But I admit I did also want RWL on these, since for the most part I haven't run RWL tires on my Monte's in over 15 years I wanted to have them again. As of now I don't plan to keep these snowflakes, I'm eyeing up the 17" Year One snowflakes which would be blackwalls. Not sure if I'd go the all aluminum look or the aluminum/black plus need to do the math on the backspacing they come in, to see if/how it would work. Down the road, baby steps.
 
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8

81cutlass

Royal Smart Person
Feb 16, 2009
2,266
113
Western MN
They cost a decent amount but the Year1 17" ralleys work great and look awesome. 17x8 front 17x9 rear on mine. Snowflakes would be awesome.

1585685209409.png
 
D

Doug Chahoy

Royal Smart Person
Nov 21, 2016
1,940
113
I put 17X8 with 4.5 backspace with 245X45 tires ( blackwall LOL ) on my Elco without issue
 
hangar401

hangar401

Greasemonkey
Supporting Member
Oct 3, 2019
103
43
About a year ago I purchased this so I figured this might be a good place to post a build thread as I go along. A little over a year ago on a Facebook g-body group someone posted it for sale in CA. I wasn't looking for another car, even a short term project but started digging wagons in recent years and being partial to g-bodies it caught my eye. I'm more of a Chevy guy but the LeMans being a little different, it being in a CA so I presumed a naturally rust free car, plus the 81' only front end and wood paneling helped seal the deal for me. First time dealing with transportation and it was a pain but the owner was very cool and understanding as he has previous experience dealing with transport companies and didn't mind keeping it at his property until I figured it out. He's a Pontiac guy and has two other LeMans wagons, plus other older Pontiacs/cars. This wagon was bought with the intent for some parts for his but he felt it was too nice to part out. Trans issues otherwise in good shape. Finally in January a company picking it up and dropped it off close to my house, due to some streets/turns they didn't want to get closer, so it got it's first exposure to salt immediately :D .

Soaking in the sun still in CA (Hesperia, west of L.A.)
View attachment 125110

View attachment 125111

He was nice enough to pull and load up 5 Monte Carlo doors for me as well after telling him that's what I was into and the appreciation for clean CA metal. Definitely a car guy who understood looking for parts and hated to see things wasted. His g-body LeMans wagon collection before I plucked one. He plans to sell the 79' also in front, the one in the rear is a factory bucket/console wagon he is keeping:

View attachment 125116



Late January it arrived just as we had some snowy/slushy roads:

View attachment 125112

View attachment 125113

View attachment 125114

The first things I did was put in a full set of gauges in the correct style, happened to find a set for a reasonable price on eBay and a local guy with a 78-80 GP had some very clean Rally II's. To keep with the overall look of the car I had to do whitewalls on the 14"s. Tach works but acts a little wonky, oil pressure wiring isn't figured out and I might not bother until I decide what engine ultimately will power it. Also peeled off most of the stickers on the rear window. View attachment 125115
Neat Wagon
 
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TURNA

TURNA

Rocket Powered Basset Hound
Jul 24, 2009
11,010
113
Socialist NY
They cost a decent amount but the Year1 17" ralleys work great and look awesome. 17x8 front 17x9 rear on mine. Snowflakes would be awesome.

View attachment 140863
I have a set of one year only 1978 ABody 15x7 snowflakes...........................................................................
 
P

PBGBodyFan

Master Mechanic
Mar 3, 2009
400
63
Wisconsin
They cost a decent amount but the Year1 17" ralleys work great and look awesome. 17x8 front 17x9 rear on mine. Snowflakes would be awesome.

View attachment 140863
Yea, those also look really good too, they crossed my mind. I suppose I could change my mind. Either way plan to keep it a Pontiac wheel style. I think the snowflake 17”s are 17x9, which is good but has me concerned about rubbing. I still haven’t seen anyone use them on a g-body. Would be great if someone did the work figuring it out before me :D.
 
8

81cutlass

Royal Smart Person
Feb 16, 2009
2,266
113
Western MN
Yea, those also look really good too, they crossed my mind. I suppose I could change my mind. Either way plan to keep it a Pontiac wheel style. I think the snowflake 17”s are 17x9, which is good but has me concerned about rubbing. I still haven’t seen anyone use them on a g-body. Would be great if someone did the work figuring it out before me :D.
I had 17X8.5's with 275's up front and they were really too wide. They rubbed on the inside at full lock and were flush to the outside of the fender. With a z28 steering box you could do it on 17x9's up front. I'm more than happy with 245's and 8's.
 
P

PBGBodyFan

Master Mechanic
Mar 3, 2009
400
63
Wisconsin
I had 17X8.5's with 275's up front and they were really too wide. They rubbed on the inside at full lock and were flush to the outside of the fender. With a z28 steering box you could do it on 17x9's up front. I'm more than happy with 245's and 8's.
Good info. I have the 16" wheel (XH or whatever) box on my LS, with 17x8's and 245's no rubbing last I checked. Ran the same setup on my SS for years, same box and size wheels/tires, no rubbing, was a nice combo. On my SS now with different 17x8's I have 255's and a Lee steering box which doesn't have those stops. Tempted to contact them and see if I can send it back to them and they add them, if possible/worth it. I guess I got used to not rubbing or worrying about it for so long.

275's seem pretty meaty especially on a front, will hopefully find a f-body 16" wheel steering box, drove the wagon with the F-41 box, the feel is improved but still rubs pretty hard at the rear portion of the wheelwells, 235/60/15's. The wagon feels more sporty and handles better for sure, as these modifications are made the lack of power in the 3.8 for some reason becomes more apparent though :D .
 
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