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Pontiac Bonneville

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Bonneville
Vehicle Model

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Wikipedia: Pontiac Bonneville

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1966

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A full-size car produced by Pontiac from 1957 to 2005.

Awards and acknowledgements include:
A Complete Guide to Used Cars (1995 Edition) Best Late-Model Bet in the Full-size Car category (model years 1987-1995)

History

The following section is an excerpt from Wikipedia's Pontiac Bonneville page on 27 July 2016, text available via the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

The Pontiac Bonneville is a full-size automobile which was built by Pontiac from 1957 to 2005. It 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 19 feet (5.8 m) long, and were also some of the heaviest cars produced at the time (2.5 short tons, 5,000 lb or 2,300 kg).

Early development: 1954–1957

The Bonneville name first appeared in 1954 on a pair of bubble-topped GM Motorama concept cars called the Bonneville Special. It entered the production lineup as a high-performance, fuel-injected luxury convertible within the Star Chief line in the 1957 model year and was loaded with every conceivable option as standard equipment with the exception of optional air conditioning and continental kit, This put the Bonneville in a Cadillac-like price range of $5,782.00 - more than double the base price of a Chieftain four-door sedan. A fully equipped Bonneville could cost more than a Cadillac. Only 630 units were produced that first year, making it one of the most collectible Pontiacs of all time. The following year it became a separate model, and it would endure until 2005 as the division's top-of-the-line model. 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.

1958

Bonneville became a separate model in 1958, 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 300 horsepower (220 kW) 370 cubic inches (6,100 cc) V8 with four-barrel carburetor and dual exhausts was now standard equipment. The fuel-injection system 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 price tag of over $500 USD, which was not considered a very good value considering that for less than $100 USD, a Tri-Power option was available with three two-barrel carburetors and even more power. The electric clock was standard.

For 1958, GM was promoting their fiftieth year of production, and introduced Anniversary models for each brand; Cadillac, Buick, Oldsmobile, Pontiac, and Chevrolet. The 1958 models shared a common appearance on the top models for each brand; Cadillac Eldorado Seville, Buick Roadmaster Riviera, Oldsmobile Holiday 88, Pontiac Bonneville Catalina, and the all-new Chevrolet Bel-Air Impala.

1959–1960

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.

1961-1964

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".

1965-1970

For 1965, All GM "B" body cars were dramatically restyled. Swooping rooflines, rakish fender lines and the "Coke bottle" profile contributed to making one of the most popular body styles ever produced. The Bonneville got the new styling, with plenty of bright trim on the lower body sides and on the rear deck. Inside, new upholstery and instrumentation were featured. Drivetrains were essentially the same as 1964, except the Turbo Hydra-Matic transmission quadrant, which now featured "reverse" in between "park" and "neutral", instead of at the bottom of the selections (below "L"), the old arrangement having been sharply criticized as a safety hazard.

A General Motors corporate edict that took effect with the 1967 model year led Pontiac to discontinue the Tri-Power engine options on all of its cars. That year also brought a larger 400 cu in (6.6 L) V8 as the standard engine for Bonnevilles and other full-sized Pontiacs to replace the previous 389, while the 421 cu in (6.9 L) V8 was replaced by a new 428 cu in (7.0 L) engine that offered as much as 390 horsepower (290 kW). Also beginning in 1967, carburetion was changed. The previous standard 600 cfm Carter square bore four-barrel and optional Tri-Power was replaced with the new Quadarajet spread bore carburetor delivering 800 cfm, equivalent to the previous 1966 Tri-Power set-up. For 1969, a 360 hp (270 kW) 428 became the standard Bonneville engine, which in turn was replaced for 1970 by an even larger 455 cu in (7.5 L) V8 rated at 370 hp (280 kW).

1971–1976

For 1971, the Bonneville was moved down in the model hierarchy, as a new top line Grand Ville series was introduced. In effect, it replaced the discontinued Executive between the lower-priced Catalina and the Grand Ville. The Bonneville 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 in order to enable use of lower-octane regular leaded, low-lead or unleaded gasoline, thanks to a corporate edict in preparation for the introduction of catalytic converters in 1975 to help meet increasing 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 (190 kW) for 1973-74 and 200 for 1975-76. 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 2-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.

1976 was the last year of the Bonneville pillarless 4-door hardtop body style. Henceforth, all models would have a thick "B" pillar and metal-framed door glass. Adjustable pedals were optional.

1977–1981

Bonneville would continue its flagship duties on the downsized big car line that was introduced for 1977. The downsized 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 with much-improved fuel economy – a major selling point in the years following the 1973-74 energy crisis.

With the downsized 1977 models, 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.

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.

1982–1986

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 "Bonneville Model G", 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.

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.

1987–1991

For 1987, the G-body Bonneville was dropped and replaced by a new FWD car that was in fact the Pontiac version of the one-year-old H Body platform with the Buick LeSabre and Oldsmobile 88. Initially, a 150 hp (110 kW) 3.8 L V6 was the sole engine, mated to a four-speed Hydramatic 4T60 automatic. The new Bonneville was placed on Car & Driver's “10 Best” list for 1987, offering both a base model and LE model. For LE models, an SE 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.

1988

A host of trim level changes and a new engine became standard for the front wheel drive Bonneville's second year. First, a revised version of the LG3 was introduced. Renamed the LN3, it was the first use of the "3800" name. Featuring sequential-port fuel injection, the LN3 produced 165 hp (123 kW) and 210 lb·ft (285 N·m). Also new for 1988, the base model is dropped making LE the base model. Two new models are added, the midlevel SE (went from option package to trim) and line-topper SSE. The latter features an extra deep rear valence, lower body cladding, a digital compass/trip computer, an eight speaker premium sound system and much more.

1989–1991

For 1989, a compact disc player became optional and in 1990 a remote keyless entry system was added to the options list for all models. A facelift was made for the Bonneville in the 1990 model year by changing the grille & headlights. Suspension changes greeted the 1991 model year.

1992–1999

In 1992, the interior and exterior of the car were completely redesigned. 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, while ABS was available as part of the sport appearance package. The SSE models came with standard ABS and traction control. 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. According to GM's Pontiac division, these trim acronyms have no implied meaning. 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 (350 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.

1996–1999

In 1996, the exterior of the vehicle had undergone design changes. 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 1996 until it was retired from the Bonneville in 2003.

2000–2005

The 2000 Bonneville was redesigned from the ground up with significant advancements in design, engineering and technology which Pontiac dubbed "luxury with attitude." The Bonneville was now built on GM's G platform; however GM chose to continue to refer to it as the H platform. 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.

The Bonneville regained a V8 option on the GXP trim for 2004, its first since 1986, 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) and giving 0 to 60 mph (0–97 km/h) in 6.5 seconds.

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.


Reference Desk

The Crittenden Automotive Library's "Reference Desk" is a collection of materials that cannot be shared due to copyright restrictions. Information from these resources, however, can be shared. Go to the Reference Desk page for more information.

TypeTitle
1983 BookChilton's Repair & Tune-Up Guide: Buick/Oldsmobile/Pontiac 1975-83; Chilton Book Company


Photographs

1958 Pontiac Bonneville 1958
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Woodstock Cruise Night: 2 August 2016
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1958 Pontiac Bonneville 1958
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1958 Pontiac Bonneville 1958
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1958 Pontiac Bonneville 1958
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1958 Pontiac Bonneville 1958
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1958 Pontiac Bonneville 1958
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1958 Pontiac Bonneville 1958
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1958 Pontiac Bonneville 1958
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1958 Pontiac Bonneville 1958
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1958 Pontiac Bonneville 1958
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1959 Pontiac Bonneville 1959
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1959 Pontiac Bonneville 1959
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1959 Pontiac Bonneville 1959
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1959 Pontiac Bonneville 1959
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1959 Pontiac Bonneville 1959
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1959 Pontiac Bonneville 1959
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1959 Pontiac Bonneville 1959
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1959 Pontiac Bonneville 1959
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1959 Pontiac Bonneville 1959
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1959 Pontiac Bonneville 1959
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1959 Pontiac Bonneville 1959
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1959 Pontiac Bonneville 1959
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1959 Pontiac Bonneville 1959
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1959 Pontiac Bonneville 1959
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1959 Pontiac Bonneville 1959
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1959 Pontiac Bonneville Model Car 1959
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1959 Pontiac Bonneville AMT Car Model 1959
Original AMT kit
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1959 Pontiac Bonneville Station Wagon 1959 Station Wagon
Photo courtesy
The John Walczak Collection

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1960 Pontiac Bonneville Advertisement 1960 Advertisement
From National Geographic, March 1960
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1961 Pontiac Bonneville 1961
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1962 Pontiac Bonneville Seats 1962
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1962 Pontiac Bonneville 1962
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1962 Pontiac Bonneville Speedometer 1962
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1964 Pontiac Bonneville 1964
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1967 Pontiac Bonneville 1967
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1967 Pontiac Bonneville Engine 1967
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1970 Pontiac Bonneville Model Car 1970
MPC
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2008 Summer NNL

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1979 Pontiac Bonneville 1979
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1985 Pontiac Catalog - Pontiac Bonneville 1985 Pontiac Catalog
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1985 Pontiac Catalog - Pontiac Bonneville 1985 Pontiac Catalog
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1985 Pontiac Catalog - 1985 Facts & Figures 1985 Pontiac Catalog
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Documents

DateDocument Name & DetailsDocuments
9 May 1961To: Mrs. Evelyn Lincoln, The White House
From: Gertrude Ball, Office of Joseph P. Kennedy
Text & JPG - 1 pages
19 December 1973NHTSA Recall 73V250000
1974 Buick Century, 1974 Buick Electra, 1974 Buick Estate, 1974 Buick LeSabre, 1974 Buick Regal, 1974 Buick Riviera, 1974 Chevrolet Bel Air, 1974 Chevrolet Camaro, 1974 Chevrolet Caprice, 1974 Chevrolet Caprice Estate, 1974 Chevrolet Chevelle, 1974 Chevrolet El Camino, 1974 Chevrolet Impala, 1974 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 1974 GMC Sprint, 1974 Oldsmobile 88, 1974 Oldsmobile 98, 1974 Oldsmobile Cutlass, 1974 Pontiac Bonneville, 1974 Pontiac Catalina, 1974 Pontiac Firebird, 1974 Pontiac Grand Prix, 1974 Pontiac Grand Safari, 1974 Pontiac Grand Ville, 1974 Pontiac Le Mans
Suspension:Front:Control Arm:Upper Arm
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page
2 September 1976NHTSA Recall 76V132000
1977 Buick Century, 1977 Buick LeSabre, 1977 Buick Regal, 1977 Buick Skylark, 1977 Chevrolet Bel Air, 1976 Chevrolet Camaro, 1977 Chevrolet Camaro, 1977 Chevrolet Caprice, 1977 Chevrolet Chevelle, 1977 Chevrolet El Camino, 1977 Chevrolet Impala, 1977 Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 1977 Chevrolet Nova, 1977 GMC Sprint, 1977 Oldsmobile 88, 1977 Oldsmobile 98, 1977 Oldsmobile Cutlass, 1977 Oldsmobile Omega, 1977 Pontiac Bonneville, 1977 Pontiac Catalina, 1976 Pontiac Firebird, 1977 Pontiac Grand Prix, 1977 Pontiac Le Mans, 1977 Pontiac Ventura
Steering:Wheel And Handle Bar
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
Recall Page - 1 page
February 2000Veridian On-Site Front Driver Air Bag Deployment/Fatality Investigation
Vehicle - 1994 Pontiac Bonneville
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

PDF
- 335KB - 14 pages
May 2005On-Site Child Safety Seat Investigation
Vehicle - 1997 Pontiac Bonneville SE
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

PDF
- 18.9MB - 31 pages
November 1998Remote Air Bag Deployment Report
Vehicle - 1998 Pontiac Bonneville SE
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

PDF
- 196KB - 7 pages
classified date 2002Special Crash Investigation Report
Case Vehicle: 1998 Pontiac Bonneville, SE, 4-door sedan
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

PDF
- 11.0MB - 160 pages
classified date 2001Special Crash Investigation Report
Case Vehicle: 1999 Pontiac Bonneville SE, 4-door sedan
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

PDF
- 3.2MB - 85 pages
March 2002Veridian Remote Advanced Occupant Protection System Crash Investigation
SCI Technical Summary Report
Vehicle - 2001 Pontiac Bonneville
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

PDF
- 174KB - 13 pages
November 2002Child Safety Seat Combination Investigation / Vehicle to Vehicle
Vehicle - 2001 Chevrolet Cavalier / 1992 Pontiac Bonneville
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

PDF
- 3,318KB - 29 pages
September 2003On-Site Advanced Occupant Protection System Investigation
Vehicle - 2003 Pontiac Bonneville
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration

PDF
- 695KB - 12 pages


Merchandise

Type & Item #NameDetails
Model Kit - AMT 381741965 Pontiac BonnevilleBuyer's Choice, 1:25 scale
Die Cast - Hot Wheels G6826-0916Pontiac BonnevilleRed Lines, small scale, metallic green
Model Kit - MPC 968-2001968 Pontiac Bonneville Hardtop1:25 scale


Article Index

DateArticleAuthor/Source
4 August 20153.8L Engines for Pontiac Bonneville Cars Added to Web Inventory at Motor Reseller WebsitePreownedEngines.com
4 March 20162016 Edition 1962-77 Pontiac Grand Prix & 1959-76 Bonneville/Catalina Restoration Parts CatalogOriginal Parts Group


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