Auto Trader Find of the Week: Pontiac 6000 STE


The 1980s must have been an interesting decade. I wasn’t around then, but I imagine that once you got past the cocaine and the leg warmers, you could find some pretty neat cars. Many of the enthusiast icons of that decade are European (read: F40) or Japanese (read: Corolla GT-S). America, on the other hand, was seemingly in the doldrums.

Sure, there were interesting cars made in the U.S., but the yuppy-types seemed far more interested in European offerings, especially those from Germany. I could certainly see why.

[Source: AutoTrader]


GM tried their hand at emulating the Germans, especially with Pontiac, and the results were anything but orthodox. What resulted was the 6000 STE, on of the most obscure sport sedans that I’ve come across. While the standard 6000 was as ho-hum as they get, the STE tried to make things exciting. I wouldn’t exactly call it successful, though.

Whereas the gold standard BMW 5-Series was rear-wheel-drive, the 6000 was front-wheel-drive, with the option of all-wheel-drive. Making the Pontiac all the more “sporty” is the fact that the all-wheel-drive STE was available with only a three-speed automatic. Three. In 1989. If that isn’t depressing, I don’t know what is.

The example for sale here seems to be in amazing condition considering what it is. If you’re in the market for an Eighties sport sedan with a three-speed automatic, look no further.

As per the ad:

Extremely unique/rare one owner California classic with only 85,000 miles. Pontiac made just 1,376 identically equipped examples in only two color options. All original with no modifications or body work performed. Full time All Wheel Drive (AWD) system powered by 3.1 multi-port V6 mated to 3-speed automatic transmission. Body is straight and clean with no rust or door dings. Interior is spotless with no signs of wear. New headliner installed. Runs strong and clean with no fluid leaks. Digital readout dash with unique options such as lumbar power seats, automatic load leveling system with built in compressor to inflate tires. Period correct Goodyear Eagle GT+4 tires with 75% tread remaining. Professionally detailed right down to the engine bay. Use it as a sure footed daily driver with superior winter traction or save it as a classic and take it to shows to enjoy. Very few of these cars still around in this condition. 


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46 responses to “Auto Trader Find of the Week: Pontiac 6000 STE”

  1. Rich Avatar

    "extremely unique" Something is either unique or it isn't, there's no gradation. It's like being pregnant.

    1. TheOtherMacLeod Avatar

      I dunno.. I think the "octomom" could be considered "extremely pregnant".

  2. MVEilenstein Avatar

    I love this car. We had a dark blue 6000 coupe, and I thought it was a cool car when I was a kid.
    [Aside: Dodge Neon offered a 3-speed automatic for a few years.]

    1. K5ING Avatar

      I had a dark blue 1982 Pontiac 6000 2dr coupe too. Bought it brand new in it's first year because I liked the way it looked. It had the fuel injected (albeit throttle body) iron duke 4 cyl. that would beat the same car with the V6. Wasn't a bad car especially when you consider what else was available back in 1982.

    2. Stumack Avatar

      Aside: Almost every car offered a 3-speed automatic from about 1965-85.

      1. dculberson Avatar

        Sure, but the Neon didn't even come out until 1995!

  3. stigshift Avatar

    An original AWD STE? That is beyond rare. That is the last one. Buy it and smile. I haven't seen ANY STEs in at least 10 years.

    1. Ian@JewelOrJalopy Avatar

      I see one around here, but then nothing seems to die in Portland.

    2. Bill Avatar

      My Father is selling a one-owner STE AWD with only 69,957 miles. Always garaged and lovingly maintained by a retired GM executive who knew how rare and special this car was.

      1. RonJon Avatar

        What kind of number figure is he thinking? I was a kid who grew up in one (mom had one from 89-96) so this car is very dear to me. I'd just be worried about obtaining replacement parts going forward, though fabrication is still an option.

        1. Bill Avatar

          Still working that out. Email me? bill dot thebert at gmail dot com

      2. Chris Avatar

        Is it still for sale?? Where do you live? I'm in Ontario Canada. Telephone num is 416 666 9251 call me if still available!!

  4. Guest Avatar

    There were awesome domestics in the 80s. I was around to see them…
    Buick Grand National
    Pontiac Firebird xs
    Turbo Callaway Corvette
    Mustang SVO
    Taurus SHO
    Shelby GLH

    1. P161911 Avatar

      And rare odd balls like the AWD Tempo and AWD 6000 and FWD Buick diesels.

      1. SSurfer321 Avatar

        I had an AWD Tempo. It was a piece of shit that did well in the snow. You know why Ford named it the Tempo? Because it had one speed…slow.*
        *not actually why Ford named it Tempo

    2. dukeisduke Avatar

      I knew a guy that bought a brand new loaded '82 Firebird SE. We were in awe.
      Like this, only in charcoal grey with burgundy leather.
      <img src=""&gt;

  5. Van_Sarockin Avatar

    6000 was about the best of that GM line and very good for the time. That said, cars in the eighties got better as the years went on. And the 6000 isn't that much to write home about any more.

  6. Stu_Rock Avatar

    As a former A-body enthusiast (yes, they exist), I am wowed by this car.
    These are incredibly odd cars. The front and rear axle ratios were different, and the "transfer case" (which I think was more of a PTO on a THM125C) had gears to reconcile the two. Typical A-bodies had coil spring twist beam rear suspension, while the STE-AWD had an independent rear suspension with a transverse monoleaf spring. Yup–like a Corvette.
    For almost two decades now, absolutely none of the AWD parts have been available. If one ever turns up with a blown drivetrain, I've thought it might be interesting to transplant a minivan Versatrak setup into one (some fabrication required!).

    1. vwminispeedster Avatar

      This would pwn LeMons!!!!!!!!1!!!11!!!! Do it!

    2. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      When it was first introduced, I read an interview with one of the engineers from GM Canada that worked on the STE AWD (I think it was Dave Hensley, the product manager). From what he said, it seemed as though the design team really, really tried to make the engineering as good as they could. Right from the get-go, they insisted on a proper, geared center diff instead of a cheaper, simpler AMC-Eagle-style viscous coupling. (which he memorably referred to as "a box of vaseline"). He claimed that they successfully pushed back against a lot of cost-cutting compromises that higher-ups wanted by repeatedly asking "just once, don't you want to do one of these right?"
      <img src=""&gt;
      As a postnote, the STE AWD drivetrain was designed to be adaptable to a number of vehicles, but I have no idea if it was ever used in anything else. Does anybody know for sure?

      1. Stu_Rock Avatar

        There may have been some concept cars (I'm thinking W-body), but otherwise, it was just the 6000. I think the rear differential shares some parts with the front of an S-10.

  7. Kris_01 Avatar

    Literally the only thing that could make this better would be if it was a wagon with this drivetrain, and maybe a 3400 upgrade.

    1. stigshift Avatar

      And a manual trans…

      1. Kris_01 Avatar


  8. schigleymischke Avatar

    What do you mean you weren't around for the 80's? Everyone was around for the 80's. I mean, if you weren't born in 80's you could only be… 24 years old. Crap.

    1. dukeisduke Avatar

      I remember the '80s. Hell, I remember going to the Chevy dealer the day the Citation launched in April, 1979. I'd been driving my '78 Fox for just a few months.

  9. Paul E Avatar
    Paul E

    This one is very much a unicorn sort of ride. I had a 'normal' STE in the early 90s, not long out of college. At the time it actually was pretty impressive… for an American car….

  10. mr smee Avatar
    mr smee

    I drove a bunch of these when I worked at a Pontiac dealer in the 80s-90s, I thought they were great. They were probably the best assembled of the A-bodies. Handling was very solid and style was nice, before Pontiac got crazy with the plastic.

  11. C³-Cool Cadillac Cat Avatar
    C³-Cool Cadillac Cat

    I had a similar steering wheel in my '88 Bonneville LE.
    That was actually quite useful.
    I've always liked the STE. In fact, I remember it being on a C&D cover, all four wheels in the air. I have that issue in my now…damn…33 year old library of them.

    1. stigshift Avatar

      Ditto. On the C&D and the / and //.

  12. salguod Avatar

    The 6000 STE was among the best American sports sedans of its time. It actually got a fair bit of praise in the buff books, making C&Ds 10 best for 3 years.
    I had not remembered that there was an AWD version. Seems crazy and very cool, except for the mandatory 3 speed auto. Regular, non AWD STEs since 1986 had a 4 speed auto or a 5 speed stick (according to Wikipedia) but the AWD was 3 speed auto only.

    1. stigshift Avatar

      We never got the promised stickshift. I believe they built a few engineering mules, but that's it.

      1. Jeremy Toyer Avatar
        Jeremy Toyer

        Not true! I had one – an '88 – that I drove in college. It was an early build (9/87) car that had been a brass hat car in Utah. I bought it from the original owner with 97k on it and drove it through college and grad school rolling up over 200k on it (not sure how much more as the digital odometer stopped at 199,999). It was a great car. Rare, but they were made for public consumption!

        1. stigshift Avatar

          Wow! You had a rare one, for sure. Must have been a blast to drive.

    2. salguod Avatar

      Not according to Wikipedia. All were FWD from '83-'87, AWD was optional in '88 and be came standard in '89, the 6000 STE's final year.

    3. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar
      Peter Tanshanomi

      Ignore my deleted comment — I realized quick quickly that it was thoroughly wrong.

    4. RonJon Avatar

      I collected a bunch of Pontiac dealer brochures complete with the car lineups and engine/drivetrain configurations, here's what I know. The 6000 STE's used a 3-speed automatic through 1986, and starting in 1987 they began using 4-speed automatics, though 3-speed automatics remained the transmission on other 6000's. The 5-speed was available as an option on 1987 6000 STEs, 4-speed auto was standard. The 6000 S/E, using the same fuel injected 2.8L 125hp v6, had the getrag 5-speed manual as the standard transmission with the 4-speed auto being the option on those. For 1989, the 6000 STE AWD only had the 3-speed automatic. For 90, they stopped calling it the STE and instead called it the S/E which was AWD. The STE badge designation went to the then-new Grand Prix sedan which was the spiritual successor to the 6000 line. Whew.

  13. P161911 Avatar

    I get the 6000 STE and the Bonneville SSE confused. I was around for the 1980s and even had a drivers license in 1988, but i wasn't near as car aware as i am now. I worked at a drugstore in high school. One of our regular customers was a local real estate magnate. He and his brother seemingly owned or developed half the county. One of them drove one of the sporty top of the line Pontiac sedans, I can't remember if it was the 6000STE or the Bonneville SSE. The brothers were both Jewish Holocaust survivors, down to the number tattooed on their arms. I'm pretty sure German sedans were out for them.
    I didn't think a three speed automatic was uncommon in 1989. Some quick wiki research proves most other cars had switched to 4-speed autos by the mid-1980s.

    1. dukeisduke Avatar

      A friend of mine had an '88 Bonneville SSE, black with grey cloth interior. Loaded with cool features, he drove it to 200k before trading it for an Explorer.

  14. JayP2112 Avatar

    The AWD STE was right in my wheelhouse… being all eat up with quattro in the late 80's driving my 5000.
    This car reeks of 80's GM plastic.
    Kinda falls in line with my old-home week.
    Edit- looking at the pics, interesting concession had to be made with the spare tire. I think that 3.1 made a strong 140hp (10 more than my 5000). I want it.

  15. humblejanitor Avatar

    Why were 1980s GM interiors so crap-tasticly boring?

  16. Norm Avatar

    Yes it is strange that the 6000 STE with 4 wheel discs and rear headrests has a 3 speed auto. My 89 Ciera "International Edition" has the FE3 suspension yet doesn't have 4 wheel discs unfortunately. Though it has a 4 speed auto and a 3.3 w 160hp.

  17. Dimitar Avatar

    "STE was available with only a three-speed automatic. Three. In 1989. If that isn’t depressing, I don’t know what is."
    Jeep Wrangler was offered with a three speed automatic until 2002. How is THAT for depressing?

  18. dui classes online Avatar

    I tend not to leave a leave a response, but after looking at a few of the responses here Auto Trader Find of the Week: Pontiac 6000 STE |
    Hooniverse. I do have 2 questions for you if you don’t mind.
    Could it be simply me or do a few of the comments appear as if they are left by brain dead individuals?
    😛 And, if you are posting on other sites, I would like to follow anything new you have to post.
    Would you post a list of the complete urls of all your public sites like your linkedin profile, Facebook page
    or twitter feed?

  19. RonJon Avatar

    Sorry to bring up an old thread but my Mom got a maroon 1989 6000 STE AWD and had it through 1996 when she replaced it with a Bravada. Boy this thing was capable in any snowy weather you threw at it. Would love to get my hands on another one. Definitely a drivetrain ahead of its time and not ready for the public, wish GM would pull something out of their ass and give us a modern equivalent – an AWD mid-sized sedan for the family that doesn't suck. Loved the 8 buttons to adjust the front seats, the air pump in the trunk (mainly to air up your friends' tires, why don't more cars have this today) and the AWD lock button to send power to at least one front and rear wheel. Great car, a bit of good ole' nostalgia here.

  20. The KING Avatar
    The KING

    I owned this car and I consider it to be the biggest piece of crap I ever owned. It is what single handedly made me change all of my car purchases since then to imports. GM’s last good years were maybe 69′ or 70′. Anything since then has been flashy crap and the government bailout proved it.

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