GM Almost Let The Pontiac LeMans Live On

Few cars from the early '90s were as utterly wretched as the Pontiac LeMans. Built by Daewoo during the Jurassic period of South Korean cars, it's hard to justify the existence of this undercooked entry-level washout other than the fact it gave the Yugo GV tough competition for the title of America's Most Abominable Car.

The Pontiac LeMans first debuted in 1988, just in time to see the dawn of a new self-depreciated flannel-clad era overtake the camp hairspray-stiffened 1980s. It replaced the old Chevette-cum-T1000 and was more or less based around the last-generation Opel Kadett. But the fact that it was built by a prepubescent Daewoo Motors meant that the build quality was frighteningly leprous instead of obsessively Germanic.


Other than the fact it was poorly made, it was also hatefully slow. Even if you ordered it in the (and I say this liberally) performance-spec GSE trim with a blistering 95 horsepower on tap, you'd still find your car was slower to 60 mph than wind erosion.

Thankfully, a year before the Grunge rock scene tragically burned out with a black tar induced bang, someone at GM decided to do the sane and proper thing in 1993 by allowing the LeMans to quietly fade away, declining to introduce a replacement model.

Except they almost did.


As the images above clearly show, General Motors was seriously on the verge of introducing a follow up to the LeMans, likely to be introduced in the mid '90s.

Despite some intensive digging, there isn't much information out there about it. But, going by what we can assume, it was more than likely going to be based around GM's front-drive T-Body platform again, which was used by the Opel Astra F.


Unlike its predecessor, it didn't look completely terrible. The way the tailgate glass integrates with the rear taillights and filler panel is especially a fairly nice design touch. Around front, the styling was more Bonneville and less boner-kill.


Even more interesting is that it appears GM considered renaming the LeMans for its second go-round, which would've been wise considering that at one time the LeMans name was sort of legendary — after all, the original model spawned the mighty GTO back in the '60s — and the unwholesome Korean hatchback certainly wasn't doing it any favors. Although it's hard to decipher, there appears to be a new name starting with an "s" plastered to the rear quarter panels just aft of the front doors.

With a lack of information on the next-generation LeMans project, it's hard to assume what engines were going to go under that sloping hood or where it was going to be built. But despite its prettier design, it's probably best that GM left this one high up on the shelf if they were going to let Daewoo take the helm again.


Photo credits: GM, Scott Dolan

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