Classic Auto Mall
6180 Morgantown Road
1988 Pontiac Bonneville SSE
The Bonneville name first appeared in 1954 on a pair of bubble-topped GM Motorama concept cars called the Bonneville Special, sharing an appearance with the Chevrolet Corvette. It entered the production lineup as a high-performance, fuel-injected luxury convertible version of the Star Chief in 1957, and was loaded with every available option as standard equipment with the exception of air conditioning and a continental kit. This put the Bonneville in a Cadillac-like price range of US $5,782.00 ($53,278 in 2020 dollars) - more than double the base price of the Chieftain on which it was built, with the result being a fully equipped Bonneville could cost more than a larger, entry-level 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.
For consignment, GM took the Bonneville and mixed gold with plastic to create the SSE editor seen for this consignment from 1988. An SSE sport package features 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. People ask what does the SSE stand for, basically get outta my way!
No rust panels are all bathed in gray. Also, plenty of extra plastic molded parts are added on, particularly on the bottom end with a chin spoiler, rocker flares, a rear spoiler and another aero flare below the rear bumper. A black trimming encircles the entire car at the mid section and this presents in black. This continues on the body matching bumpers at the same level and shows up as a rubber protector for the bumper. A thin gold stripe is also making its orbit just below and gold badging is reserved for the grille badge and rear SSE nameplate on the passenger's side of the trunk lid. Black trimmings surround all the passenger glass and black side view mirrors and door handles are attached. This car has a sunroof on top, and 15-inch body colored "euro" styled wheel coverings all around.
Sumptuous wide gray leather buckets with tuck and roll inserts and smooth bolsters are the chairs of the day for the front passengers. In the back is just a comfy bench in the same pattern stretched from door to door. A central fold down armrest is neatly tucked into the back of the bench. Between the front buckets a console/armrest is installed which has plenty of wood appliqu inlay around the gear shift lever. The tuck and roll gray leather, more wood appliqu and power amenities in button form within the wood panel. Looking at the dash we see black clean line dash front housing analog gauges along with a panel for the odometer and some warning lights. There is also a small screen which displays various states and a car graphic (door ajar etc.). Within a thin wood panel stretching across the lower portion of the dash are more controls, a power seat graphic and toggles and climate controls. Just below this the wood widens and within this section is a digital display sound system which has a cassette player and a built-in equalizer. The remainder of the dash, mostly the top, is molded padded gray vinyl which shows no cracks. Gray carpeting is flooding the floors and shows some smudging from use. Above is a gray fuzzy broadcloth headliner which is in the beginnings of pulling away with some sag folds. A note to the seat leather which has aged nicely with a few folds due to usage, but no rips or tears.
A 3.8 liter V6 is within the unrestored original engine bay. It is fed by EFI and has a 4T60 4-speed automatic on with a 2.73 rear axle.
Spotty areas of surface rust are on the framing, areas of floor pans, exhaust piping, mufflers and some wire protectors. The car remains structurally sound just the aforementioned parts have developed rust over time. Independent suspension is all around, and power disc braking is upfront, and power drum braking on the rear.
She fired right up and on the test track performed well on all fronts. The left rear door jammed due to rust forming on the latch, the A/C has a slow leak, the antilock warning light is on although the consignor states he had the system checked out and it is all fine. Also, of note the car has new tires, new front brakes and newer brake lines, along with a new A/C compressor.
A sportier version of the Bonneville, bringing it back to its original roots as a faster car, hence the name. Out first SSE in house and this one is a fine rust-free body example that runs nicely.
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