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Canadian Poncho Superstar!

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April 2017 Feature Car


We don't often get to feature those Pontiac models that were well known both in Canada and in the U.S. As most of you know those models built in Canada were often quite different from those built in the U.S. Specifically, many of these Canadian built cars had Chevrolet engines under the hood. John Bernier owns this month's feature car. It's a 1972 Pontiac LeMans that was built in Oshawa. John's LeMans was sold new at Sinclair Pontiac Buick which happens to be the same dealer my dad bought his 1969 Pontiac Strato Chief (the car that inspired me to start Canadian Poncho) and his 1977 Pontiac LeMans Sport Coupe. John's car was built with a Chevrolet 350 but as you will read he decided to spice things up a bit with something a little larger. Here's the details:

I had grown up with an Uncle who talked muscle cars from his childhood and in particular a 1970 GTO that he once owned, this was the start of my obsession with old Pontiacs.  It was in the middle of the summer in 2007 that I acquired my first old car, an Oshawa built 1972 Pontiac Lemans that I purchased from CP member - Darren (64 sport wagon)   

 

 

After getting the car home, I quickly realized I had a lot of work ahead of me so I cut all the body mounts and lifted the body in the garage and got started learning.  After lots of cutting, welding, grinding and about 5 years worth of work the car finally hit the body shop late July 2012.  I decided  that I'd paint the bumpers body colour as I didn't have the funds to rechrome the front one and changed the shade of green from OEM to what is called POLO GREEN.  

My original plan was to build a decent looking car that I could enjoy and still appear "stock"  I had seen a photo of a Lemans with the D98 option side stripe and I decided I wanted to add it as well. The body shop returned the car to me in August and I was stunned at how it turned out, way beyond my expectations.

 I first built the car with a 350 sbc and a 700r4, it appeared stock for a Canadian Built car and I drove a couple summers like that, when the trans went I installed a built 350 turbo from  a very good friend/family member Carl!! He also convinced me that a Big Block would be a nice upgrade and it would be a car that GM never built but really should have.  We sourced out a 454 to install and cleaned it up to make it appear "1972"

 

 

 With the added torque, I added an original 8.2 BOP rear-end with factory 3:36 posi from a 68 GTO and it has been driven like that since.

 The interior on the car is nearly all original with the exception of the seat covers/foam that I had lots of help replacing (Carl did the work, I "helped").  I want to thank Todd for featuring my car and putting together a great website for people to chat, share and encourage others on their builds.

 

Safe travels everyone!!!

 

Thanks,

John

 



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Todd
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1969 Pontiac Laurentian 2 door hardtop **SOLD**
1975 Firebird Esprit 350/4speed **SOLD**
Canadian Poncho World Headquarters - Prince Edward Island



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very nice car



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A Poncho Legend!

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Excellent choice!    thanks Todd...  nice write up John !      

 

He didn't tell you about the problem with 454 Lemans  biggrin  ( They are very hard on rear tires)



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Canadian Poncho Superstar!

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Yes, I am anxious to hear how she runs with the BBC!

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Todd
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Like us on Facebook. http://www.facebook.com/CanadianPoncho

1969 Pontiac Laurentian 2 door hardtop **SOLD**
1975 Firebird Esprit 350/4speed **SOLD**
Canadian Poncho World Headquarters - Prince Edward Island



Canadian Poncho Superstar!

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Very nice and thanks for sharing.

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Jerel


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Really looks sweet John, I hope a little bit of inspiration for that 454 swap came from your's truly, but I know the majority came from the Godfather of Big Blocks. He's got a real knack for finding the strong runners. 



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Ray White, Toronto ON

1973 LeMans 454 

Built March 9, 1973 - Oshawa ON

Tweet me @BigRaySays






Poncho Master!

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Great looking ride John. I like the BBC!

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Sweet car! Looks great and it must be a real blast to drive. Looks like you have a painted aluminum intake and maybe cast iron exhaust manifolds? How do you like the 3:36 gears?



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Poncho Master!

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Great looking Pontiac power machine......and yes. a car GM definitely should have built.



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Thanks for the kind words, the car really is fun to drive. Thanks so much for the feature Todd!!!
Ray it's no secret that your car was a huge inspiration for the BB transplant and to attempt to make it appear somewhat stock appearing.
Painted aluminum intake is correct but no manifolds, set of headers 3:36 gears are good, they rev a bit on the Hwy at 100km/hr but nothing that's unbearable. I didn't install the 454 for mileage biggrin

Carl is correct, it's hard on tires....

 

IMG_6316.JPG



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John

1972 Pontiac Lemans (daughter's car) 
2005 Pontiac Grand Am
2004 Ford Explorer Sport Trac



A Poncho Legend!

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Is your car on fire?

Just kidding, nice car and nice story John.

I really love the underhood look. It's so refreshing after seeing aluminum valve covers and braided hoses day after day after day.......

Another cool feature car!

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1966 Strato Chief 2 door sedan 283 "survivor"


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Congrats on top of the page! The side stripe really sets it off (good choice). 3 rim choices and they all look great! Just noticed your last post......burn't them down to the rims Eh!wink



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Thanks Carl, I wanted it to appear stock at first glance,that big air breather hides the Holley and HEI.

Hawkeye, there's actually only 2 sets 8" rally's with disc brake caps and the current aluminum wheels, not sure of the brand Carl might chime in and let us know as I got them from him. I didn't burn them off, just made them more round confuse



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John

1972 Pontiac Lemans (daughter's car) 
2005 Pontiac Grand Am
2004 Ford Explorer Sport Trac



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nice car john after all that smoke you have to buy new tires



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Poncho Master!

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Nice!

I should have held out for a BB. Love the torque. Nothing like a burnout with a car full of people...

The body & paint look terrific. The body coloured bumpers look like they came from the factory.

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Poncho Master!

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Congratulations you car looks great. The burn out picture is a nice ending to the article. ADIOS.
Brian

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Great work, the painted bumpers look stock and that's a very nice green.
Don

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63 Pariesienne sport coupe (The Big GTO), black, maroon interior, 409 4 speed; former owner of a 59 El Camino, 63 Corvette SWC, 62 Chev Bel Air SC.

Mahone Bay, NS Still not old enough to need an automatic



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I was super happy with how well the body match on the bumpers turned out. The car load was taking a new family member from the Dominican Republic for a drive, he smiled for hours!! This is the first BBC I've ever owned and I don't regret it one bit, the car will destroy the tires through first gear in a hurry and pulls solid to 4500tpm with ease. I could only imagine what it was like driving the big HP cars in the late 60's and early 70's

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John

1972 Pontiac Lemans (daughter's car) 
2005 Pontiac Grand Am
2004 Ford Explorer Sport Trac



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unclebernie wrote:

I was super happy with how well the body match on the bumpers turned out. The car load was taking a new family member from the Dominican Republic for a drive, he smiled for hours!!

 

This is the first BBC I've ever owned and I don't regret it one bit, the car will destroy the tires through first gear in a hurry and pulls solid to 4500tpm with ease.

 

I could only "imagine" what it was like driving the big HP cars in the late 60's and early 70's


         It was the SAME    lol lol      I was there    not much faster than your 454,  back in the day.... 



-- Edited by 427carl on Saturday 1st of April 2017 09:02:18 PM

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A Poncho Legend!

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https://youtu.be/gAuUR_WJcB4



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Canadian Poncho Superstar!

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unclebernie wrote:

I was super happy with how well the body match on the bumpers turned out. The car load was taking a new family member from the Dominican Republic for a drive, he smiled for hours!! This is the first BBC I've ever owned and I don't regret it one bit, the car will destroy the tires through first gear in a hurry and pulls solid to 4500tpm with ease. I could only imagine what it was like driving the big HP cars in the late 60's and early 70's


 I don't recall exactly what year truck your 454 came out of but it doesn't really matter. These 454 truck engines were rated pretty consistently from the early 80's to 1995 at 230 NET HP and 385 NET lb-ft. Up until 1972 manufactures used GROSS ratings. There is a mathematical relationship between the two measurement standards and the NET ratings translate roughly to 330 Gross HP and 450 Gross lb-ft. Now your NET rating includes  an AIR system, catalytic converter and single exhaust all things I suspect got lost or fell off during the swap. Gross ratings were usually done without exhaust or engine accessories such as a fan , belts and pulleys. So you can see that this swapped in 454 isn't giving much if anything away, especially when you consider you are running a good carb and intake and good dual exhaust. Its all about Torque anyway and there was a good reason why the 454 powered so many motorhomes and one ton farm tucks.



-- Edited by 73SC on Saturday 1st of April 2017 10:03:35 PM

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Ray White, Toronto ON

1973 LeMans 454 

Built March 9, 1973 - Oshawa ON

Tweet me @BigRaySays






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You are correct Ray, there might have been a few parts "misplaced" when we got it ready for the lemans. It doesn't resemble the big bulky '86 smog motorhome engine it started life as.

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John

1972 Pontiac Lemans (daughter's car) 
2005 Pontiac Grand Am
2004 Ford Explorer Sport Trac



Canadian Poncho Superstar!

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You've done a good job putting the long side stripes on the car. Pontiac Engineering's John Sawruk had a 71-1/2 GT-37 with those long stripes, and said it was really tough getting them on straight when his car was restored.

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70 Parisienne hardtop
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NICE CAR! GREAT COLOR.smile



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   MIKE



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I have to give credit to Pete Rozell at Classic Metal north of Clinton for the stripe install, he did an amazing job!! It was also his shop that did the body/paint on the car and helped me choose the shade of green that you see in the pics. I was/am very happy with how it turned out!!!



-- Edited by unclebernie on Wednesday 5th of April 2017 03:04:00 PM

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1972 Pontiac Lemans (daughter's car) 
2005 Pontiac Grand Am
2004 Ford Explorer Sport Trac

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