The Grand Prix's instrument...
The Grand Prix's instrument panel added upscale luxury to the Can Am's interior. Full instrumentation was standard with the GP dash. The three-spoke Custom Sport steering wheel was an extra-cost option.
In the meantime, Wangers was charged with promoting the Can Am. Doing what he did best, Wangers put together a magazine ad using shots of the Can Am and the headline, "Remember the Goat!" "It was the first and only time," Wangers says, "that Pontiac ever acknowledged the nickname for the GTO."
Wangers also prepared Can Ams for the automotive press, just as he had with GTOs 10 years earlier. The enthusiastic press praised the Can Am as a well-balanced performance car. Suddenly, there was interest in the LeMans, where only months before there had been yawns. Wangers was proven right again, as orders for more than 10,000 Can Ams came pouring in from dealers just six weeks after production had begun, although only 5,000 units were planned.
Production at Motortown was running full blast, with 30 to 40 cars converted daily. It had just completed the 1,133rd Can Am when disaster struck: The tooling for the rear spoiler had broken, and there was no backup unit. Production at Motortown ground to a halt as news arrived that it would take 90 days to replace the tool. Motortown weighed its options. It could turn out Can Ams without the spoiler and release a kit later on for a dealer installation, or the spoiler could be deleted from the Can Am altogether.
With news that production was frozen at Motortown, opposition within Pontiac against the Can Am came out of the woodwork and leapt on Motortown's dilemma. Critics pushed to have the project canceled.
Meanwhile, the Pontiac assembly plant was still cranking out white LeMans coupes earmarked for Motortown and the Can Am conversion. The parking lot around the executive offices was awash in white LeMans coupes, and Mair was getting an earful that these were cars initially scheduled for Grand Prix production, now lined up in Pontiac's parking lot and costing the company money. To compound the problem, dealers who had sold their customers Can Ams on the basis of the magazine ad or the one-page brochure were screaming for Pontiac and Motortown to deliver on the car.
Parked in front of the Motortown...
Parked in front of the Motortown facility, this is Jim Wangers' original Carousel Red 1977 LeMans Judge proposal rejected by Pontiac management. The car was later fitted with the Can Am emblems.
Pontiac refused to wait 90 days for the new tool, and it didn't accept the proposal to ship the spoiler to dealers at a later time so Motortown could complete the 5,000-car production run. Instead, it canceled the Can Am in mid-June 1977. Dealers were noti- fied that there was an oversupply of white LeMans sports coupes with T/A engines, and GP interiors would be coming their way on the floor plan. The Can Am was dead.
After the tool was replaced at Motortown, spoilers were produced for service replacement needs. Wangers remembers that about 10 more white LeMans sports coupes were converted for a few dealers who were willing to ship the cars to Motortown. Other dealers, wanting to take advantage of the Can Am's quick reputation, ordered stripe kits and attempted to convert their own LeMans equipped with 301- and 305-cid engines. These cars did not have the shaker hood, GP interior, Turbo 400 transmission, and were never considered legitimate Can Ams.
In the end, the Can Am was a noble failure. But Wangers did prove again what he had always believed-that a unique and highly imaged product can wake up a sleeping car line. For a short time in the spring of 1977, the Can Am did just that for the failing LeMans.
What Made The Cam Am Special?The Can Am wasn't cheap, but it did include many highperformance options that made it one hell of a ride. The Can Am Appearance Identification Package added $375 to the $4,204 LeMans base price. Then the Can Am Option Package ($1,214) was nailed on to the sticker.
The Can Am Appearance Identification Package Consisted Of:
* Tri-Tone colored-accent tape stripe on hood, front fenders, doors, and sport mirrors
* Black lower-body side with accent stripe
* Black-painted rocker moldings
* Full-width rear deck spoiler with Tri-Tone colored-accent stripe
* Tri-Tone Can Am identification on front end, rear deck, and front fenders
* Blacked-out windshield, backlight, door window, and belt moldings
* Unique Cam Am interior ID
* Trans Am-type shaker hood scoop with Tri-Tone T/A 6.6 identification and accent stripes
The Can Am Option Package Included:
* Cameo White body color
* Grand Prix instrument assembly with Rally gauges
* Turbo Hydramatic transmission (manual transmission not available)
* Power front disc brakes, rear drum brakes
* Variable-ratio power steering
* Rally RTS handling package
* GR70 x 15-inch steel-belted radials
* Front and rear stabilizer bars
* Body-color Rally II wheels
* Protective rubber bumper strips, front and rear
* Body-color twin sport mirrors (LH remote)
* Blacked-out grille assembly
* T/A 6.6 (400-cid) 4bbl V8 engine (not available in California and high-altitude counties); 6.6L (403-cid Olds) 4bbl V8 (available in California and high-altitude counties)