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Check Out This Factory Pontiac LeMans Ute! Why Weren’t These More Popular In The States?


Check Out This Factory Pontiac LeMans Ute! Why Weren’t These More Popular In The States?

(Photo courtesy of Hemmings Motor News and LeadedGasClassics.com) I’ve got a soft spot for utes. El Caminos, Rancheros, even the Rampage/Scamp twins…I like the idea of a car-based ute more than I do a small truck. They get the job done just as well, work for the majority of what anyone who daily drives a truck uses them for, and have the handling of the car when unloaded.

The story behind this 1968 LeMans Sport Truck is pretty simple: in late 1967, General Motors was exploring how to make the most out of it’s next generation coupe utility. This LeMans S/T was the answer for the moment. A full on preproduction mule with a 350ci V8 and TH350 trans, it even has a prepared window sticker. GM was very serious about getting this thing into production, but at the last minute recanted. It is believed, however, that as a result of this search that the GMC Sprint twin came about. Maybe it had something to do with the Pontiac noses being more expensive because of the Endura materials…whatever the case, can you imagine a GTO/Judge version of this thing? I’ve seen a custom Olds 442-based Elky before, and I think that the boat was missed. Unfortunately for Pontiac, this thing happened again with the G8 S/T…and the Aussies keep having all the fun.

You can see more of the LeMans S/T here.

What do you think? Is the LeMans S/T a winner, or best left as a concept?

1968-pontiac-safari-prototype-2-002


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22 thoughts on “Check Out This Factory Pontiac LeMans Ute! Why Weren’t These More Popular In The States?

  1. Whelk

    I’ve been shopping for a light truck lately. I was just thinking how much I wished I could buy a new El Camino or something like that.

    1. GuitarSlinger

      You and about a half a million other car/truck buyers have been hoping and praying for a 21st century El Camino / Ranchero for years . Every time anyone features those GM/Ford Antipode Utes the demand goes up even further . Unfortunately the ADD idiots at GM as well as Ford would rather listen to their MBA infused marketing ‘ experts ‘ than their customers who’ll actually buy the damn things !

  2. GuitarSlinger

    Why weren’t these more popular in the US …. as well as why is it GM and Ford never brought those Aussie Utes over our way you may ask ? Because like everything else we’ve created …. Blues – Jazz – Mt Bikes and MTB racing – Rock & Roll – Customs – Hot Rods etc . We never appreciate what we’ve got . Always thinking the grass is greener on the other side . Until that is the other side proceeds to trump us left and right with the very things we’ve created . Because we are and have been a bunch of ADD idiots for decades ;

    Thats why 😉

  3. 3nine6

    I have an ’01 F-150, (short bed, cuz I still care about style), that works hard and looks the part, Back in the ’80’s, I had a ’69 el Camino SS, L-78, 4 speed, 3.73 12 bolt…. The bed was perfect, so I never hauled anything in it. Well, maybe a keg or six, but always wrapped in a blanket! Point is, not sure if I could or would ever use a newer type “ute” like I do my F-150.

  4. Cletus T Rickenbacher 3rd

    I have read that this was NOT built by GM itself, but by some Pontiac dealers( in Ohio I think) and brought to GM to try to convince them to approve it.

    1. Mark Potter

      Don’t think this was a factory job. I’ve seen this “Palomino” (half Pontiac-half El Camino) in an article in Musclecar Review in 1987. It cannot be a factory-built ’68 LeMans Camino by Pontiac Motor Division for a number of reasons. 1. The Pontiac 350 V8 (and the 350s from Chevy, Olds and Buick) was not offered with a 3-speed automatic transmission in 1968 – the only automatic available with the 350 V8 or OHC 6 that year was the 2-speed Buick-built Super Turbine 300. 2. The Turbo-Hydramatic 350 referenced in this car was not offered until the 1969 model year. 3. The “LeMans” nameplates on this car are not correct for 1968 – this design didn’t appear until the 1970 model year. Also note that the GMC Sprint did not appear until the 1971 model year and that since many, if not most, Pontiac dealers also sold GMC trucks at that time, GM didn’t feel there was a need for 3 versions of the El Camino. The Sprint as it turned out would be far less distinctive from the Chevy than the Pontiac mock-ups built through the years – and like other GMC models, the Sprints would have exactly the same drivetrains as their Bow Tie counterparts.

  5. Turbo Regal

    I read about this creation a few years ago in High Performance Pontiac. While I can appreciate the work it took to make it look factory (a dealer pieced it together an Elky body and a 68 Lemans sedan in 1968), $69K for this? You can get a 1970 Elky with an LS-6 for that.

        1. 440 6pac

          I’m familiar with the lead sleds. I’ve blown enough of them into the weeds over the years.

    1. Lee

      If it were a factory concept car, then the price would be cheap. But being a pieced together car I agree . . . $69K is WAY too much. It’s another case of rare not being valuable IMO.

      BTW, just saw an ad for a 1987 El Camino with 1307 original miles. Literally looks brand new. Sell wants $25K OBO.

  6. 440 6pac

    I’ve never heard of theses things until now. And I’ll bet most folks haven’t either. Maybe that’s why they weren’t popular.

  7. Lee

    Neither the EL Camino nor the Ranchero were what many would deem successful. That was because they were a compromise . . . Not a true pickup truck nor a car. Their seating was very limited. They couldn’t handle the payloads that a regular 1/2 ton pickup could.

    But they were successful enough (the car/truck hybrid) to be made for many years beginning in 1957 with the Ranchero and ending in 1987 with the El Camino.

  8. Jim

    Maybe the owner will be able to get that rocket scientist that just paid $3.5 large for that Hemi Cuda convertable to buy it. This would be pocket change for that dude.

  9. dirwood

    the only thing wrong with it is the wheel arches dont match, otherwise its all win as a judge? waaaay cool!

    1. Dan-O

      It all depends on whether there is anything in the back. Could go either way. GM classified it as a truck.

  10. Threedoor

    I bet they were popular overseas for tax listen inch and insurance reasons. Light trucks often fall into the commercial tax ect realm overseas whereas a car based ute dosent. Some American states are backwards like that too, imagine owning an insuring a one ton pickup in New York

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