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V.I.S.I.T.– Two Winnemucca Pontiac Bonnevilles


Just before I bought my Phaeton, I decided to take a final road trip with my 2004 Acura TSX. Truth be told, I miss the little guy. It was easy to park, had a perfect six-speed manual transmission, and was easy to park. For its last hurrah, I took it on Highway 50 in Nevada, the Loneliest Road In America. 

For all you Hoons out there, I highly recommend the drive. Contrary to popular belief, it is not an infinite, straight, and flat stretch of road. There are a number of regularly spaced low mountain ranges. The scenery is spectacular and the entire time, I saw just one patrol car, and it was parked in one of the three small towns between South Lake Tahoe and Ely. 

On the way home to California, we took a shortcut and spend the night in Winnemucca, on Interstate 80. The reason– the best lamb chops in the world at a Basque restaurant.


The morning after the meal, we left our motel and headed for the Interstate. However, I had to make a detour and stop when I saw the green Mark 6 Bonneville. And once there, I saw the burgundy Mark 8 Bonneville parked across the street.

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I know next to nothing about these cars, other than the fact that I saw a lot more of them as a child. What do you know about these Bonnevilles, fellow Hoons?


Images source: Copyright 2013 Hooniverse/Jim Yu

  • Kris_01

    Wow, that '78 boat is a time capsule. We had them here in Canuckistan too, except they were Parisiennes.

    • MVEilenstein

      US had some of those, too, I think.

      • They used the Parisienne name in the US in '85-'86 I believe.

  • MVEilenstein

    I see the Mark 6 is doing the dog squat, like all others like it did/do. I had a 94 88 that had the same issue.

  • The Winnemucca Bonnevilles … Single A or Double A?


    If you could bottle that green Bonneville…

    <img src="http://skidmorecontemporaryart.com/images/neil-wax-malaise-l.jpg&quot; width="600">

    *EDIT* Just to be clear, I do think it's fabulous!

  • Devin

    On the red: A friend of mine used to have that generation of Bonneville, except hers was the high class SSE model, painted in '80stastic White w/ White Wheels. It was an interesting vehicle, since it had extremely complicated electrical systems wired with the finest indifference and cost cutting the American auto industry of the late '80s had to offer, coupled with the neglect that comes standard on a teen girl's first car. So, wires were sticking out all over the place, the dashboard was lit like a sad Christmas tree, and the radio would cut out if you drove under a bridge, especially curious since it was playing either a CD or cassette at the time (I believe it was a CD, this was a high class automobile on the cutting edge.)

    It also had the most amazing seats, 12 directions! You could adjust individual cushions! And you could adjust the individual cushions of the driver's seat from the passenger seat. This was possibly not the best feature to have on a car driven by young adults who decided to distract the driver by getting their seat all out of place.

  • CJinSD

    I think the newer one is a 1989. My neighbor had one just like it, but not for long. I think it was the car that finally sent him to Subaru.

    • Paul E

      I'm thinking that one's an '87 or '88 "LE" trim car in the picture. I owned two different '87s back in the early -mid '90s, both the SE flavor, in between a string of Saabs– one in that same shade of red, one gunmetal gray. They drove well enough, got decent mileage with the 3800 V6. The seats in the first '87 were torture devices, requiring chiropractic attention after a long road trip, the latter one much better with the leather interior. Mechanically the first '87 was reasonably durable (for that vintage!), the second one required an engine rebuild shortly after purchase. Pontiacs went bye-bye as soon as a Saab 9000 Turbo arrived in my driveway…

  • If that had been an SEI in all over red with red wheels, I might have had a litte bonnegasm.

    My '89 Pontiac brochure is one of my favourites.

  • The Bonnevilles were the mid-range of the Catalina-Bonneville-Grand Ville trifecta for the first part of the '70s. The Grand Ville (I had a '73) was the shortest lived, and got axed in '75 and the Catalina (Laurentian) barely made it 'till the '80s. The Catalina and Bonneville had both been around since the '50s.

    They're just big fat Chevys.

    • MVEilenstein

      You say that like it's a bad thing 🙂

  • david42

    And don't forget about the bonus B-body! (Caprice wagon in the driveway.)

    • I noticed it, too. Respect the longroof! *bumps chest*

      • MVEilenstein

        Yep, I want to hear more about that.

  • What happened to vertical bug deflectors like that? Used to see them all over the place up until the 1990s when they were replaced by the more aerodynamic ones.

    I still have fond memories of that style deflector. My dad's '86 Chevy C20 had one in blue when I was growing up, complete with chrome trim around the edge. He also had a push bar, side steps, and dual whip CB antennas on the mirrors. Total redneck special, despite the fact that we're Australian, heh.

    • Velocitré

      When I worked at Mallory in Carson City, Deflecta-Shield was right down the street, and they cranked out a bunch of those bug deflectors. Very handy during the June bug invasion of '73.

  • Trouble

    You were going thru a bad hood and lucky you got away with your KFC dinner

  • He was totin' his pack
    Along the dusty Winnemucca road…

  • C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

    I saw just one patrol car, and it was parked in one of the three small towns between South Lake Tahoe and Ely.

    Probably Austin, NV.

    That road is great, on two wheels, both at night and during the day, at WAY elevated speed on a long-distance rally.

    Nevada is so sparsely populated, fuel management is crucial. Yeah…my calculations were off by about five miles on one rally. DNF'd that one, but I got greedy and had to haul serious ass to get back to Austin, from Vegas.


    On the '89. I had a gray on gray '88, with a 1/4 landau roof, no less, for a few years back in the mid-to-late 90's. The steering wheel stereo controls were an incredibly good idea. Not a bad car, mine was an LE, but over time, the front seat became almost unbearable.

    I always liked the SSE, I think it was, wheels, so I called salvage yards 'till I found four of them. Made a huge difference in looks.

    The 3800 V6 is the 80's version of the Mopar Slant-6. That motor was nice.

    Transmission OTOH… I sold my car with 192K on it for 2K, I do believe, in 1997. Needed a true 4×4 for the move to the CO mountains. And yes, 4WD was required about four months of the year if you wanted to leave the driveway. Even then, it was occasionally a challenge.

    • It was in Austin!

      • C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

        That's an odd little town. I think it exists soley to sell horribly expensive fuel, which you'll likely need, because IIRC, the towns on the south and west sides are are at least 30 miles. Tonopah, to the south, is a decent size, but it's like 70-80 miles, I think.

        I bought $4/gallon gasoline there for the ST1100, 'cause you always start an LD-rally with full tanks…yes, plural…and that 8 gallons was painfully expensive, but I had to have it. This was 1999, IIRC. May have been '98.

        I've spent the night in Austin, NV, as well. You ain't missing anything…. Oh, wait, yes you are. The awesome trailer park, I mean, 'motel'.

        Ely, OTOH, is a neat little town.

  • Velocitré

    You can travel from SLT to Ely on US 50, but it doesn't go through Winnemucca. We can verify that you were probably in Winnemucca from the HU plate on the Bonne (Humboldt county), but US 50 doesn't get anywhere near Humboldt county. I can only assume that this was the return trip, wherein you cut north on 93 (the site of the Silver State Challege, only south from there) from Ely to Wells, where you returned through Winnemucca on I-80. Did you divert to the east and get a ticket for driving on the state park (Salt Flats)?

    • You're right, we cut across to 80 on the return trip.