Nouveau Nova: 1978 Pontiac Phoenix 45K Survivor – STILL $9,950

by | Aug 2023 | Classifinds, Malaise Monday

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August 30, 2023 Update – The seller replaced their expiring listing with a fresh Craigslist ad.  The pictures, description, and already-lowered $9,950 asking price remain the same.

July 29, 2023 Update – After a brief pause following the expiration of their original listing, the seller of this survivor-quality, one-family-owned, 1978 Pontiac Phoenix posted a fresh Craigslist ad.  This time around, they lowered their asking price from $10,500 to $9,950.

July 3, 2023, Update – We confirmed the listing for this “Classifind” expired, so with no replacement found, we’re assuming this ride is “Sold?”

June 7, 2023 Update – Six days after posting their Craigslist ad, the seller of this survivor-quality 45K ’78 Pontiac Phoenix lowered their asking price by one thousand dollars from $11,500 to $10,500.

In Egyptian mythology, the Phoenix was a desert-based bird that, every 500 years, would spontaneously combust and rise from its ashes. The modern use of the word “Phoenix” thus often refers to a rebirth. It’s no coincidence Pontiac marketers chose to rebrand its mid-cycle refresh of its Nova-based Ventura with the name Phoenix for the 1977 model year.  Facing an onslaught of increasing competition from more fuel-efficient Japanese competition, General Motors (“GM”) divisions had to make do with a stop-gap updated version of their rear-wheel-drive Nova platform for 1977 that would last until the company’s clean-sheet, front-wheel-drive, compact X-Body offerings launched in the fall of 1979 as 1980 models.  As part of the 1977 refresh, the top-trim level of the Ventura became known as the Phoenix.  The Phoenix differed from the Ventura in that it sported a square headlight grille with yellow turn signals as well as the availability of more optional features. Just one model year later, Pontiac marketers rebranded all Ventura models and trim levels as Phoenix.

This maroon over red 45K-mile 1978 Pontiac Phoenix coupe for sale, first seen on Craigslist in Lancaster, New Hampshire, in June 2023, provides a glimpse into just how cheap General Motors had to make these cars in order to try to compete with much less expensive Japanese sub-compact imports. The seller reports their survivor-quality example was purchased new by their mother and, unlike most other cars of the period, benefitted from being stored every winter to avoid the inevitable rust GM X-Bodies generated when exposed to excessive road salt.  The original owner’s child reports they have owned the car since 2007 and that it remains original save for the tires, shocks, and exhaust system.

Now offered for $9,950 (the original request was $11,500), Classic.com, the analytics and search engine for the collector car market, confirms the ask is slightly below the five-year rolling average of this guide’s summary for first-generation Pontiac Phoenix of all body styles produced between 1977 and 1979.  By clicking on the green dots in the graph below, you can navigate to each comparable car sold as a way to help you evaluate the price of the Phoenix coupe featured here:

As a second data point, the  Collector Car Market Review Online Tool reveals the seller’s ask falls between this guide’s #2 Very Good” estimate of $7,950 and its #1 “Excellent” appraisal of $12,050 before making adjustments for equipment and powertrain.

The 1978 Pontiac Phoenix was a compact car produced by the American automaker Pontiac from 1977 to 1984. It was introduced as a replacement for the Pontiac Ventura and was part of the X-body platform, which was shared with the Chevrolet Nova, Oldsmobile Omega, and Buick Skylark.

Exterior: The Pontiac Phoenix featured a classic American design with a two-box body shape. It had a length of approximately 193 inches, a width of around 72 inches, and a wheelbase of 111 inches. The exterior design was characterized by a long hood, a relatively short deck, and a sloping rear end. The front end showcased a wide rectangular grille with the Pontiac logo in the center, flanked by rectangular headlights. The rear end featured large taillights that stretched across the width of the car.

Interior: The interior of the 1978 Pontiac Phoenix offered seating for up to five passengers. It provided a comfortable and relatively spacious cabin given its compact size. The seats were upholstered in cloth or optional vinyl, and the dashboard design was clean and functional. Standard features included a heater, defroster, AM radio, and full instrumentation, while options such as air conditioning, power windows, power locks, and a tilt steering wheel were available.

Engine and Performance: The Pontiac Phoenix offered a range of engine options to cater to different performance needs and fuel efficiency requirements. The base engine was a 2.5-liter inline-four that produced around 85 horsepower. There was also a 3.2-liter V6 engine available, generating approximately 90 horsepower. For those seeking more power, Pontiac offered a 4.1-liter inline-six engine that delivered around 110 horsepower. The engines were mated to a three-speed automatic transmission or an optional four-speed manual transmission.

Safety and Features: In terms of safety, the 1978 Pontiac Phoenix was equipped with features such as power-assisted front disc brakes and rear drum brakes, energy-absorbing bumpers, and a dual master cylinder braking system. It also featured a collapsible steering column and lap-shoulder seat belts for the front occupants. While not as advanced as modern safety technologies, these features were standard for the time.

Legacy and Impact: The Pontiac Phoenix aimed to capture the market for compact, fuel-efficient cars during the late 1970s, as the demand for smaller vehicles increased due to rising fuel prices and changing consumer preferences. However, despite its initial popularity, Phoenix faced tough competition from both domestic and foreign rivals, such as the Ford Fairmont, Dodge Aspen, and Volkswagen Rabbit. Over time, sales declined, and Pontiac discontinued the Phoenix in 1984.

Today, the Pontiac Phoenix is considered a classic car from the late 1970s and early 1980s era. It represents a time when American automakers were adapting to changing market demands and fuel efficiency concerns. Restored and well-maintained examples can still be found in the hands of collectors and enthusiasts who appreciate its unique place in automotive history.

The Classic Cars Today Online YouTube Channel features this 1977 Pontiac Ventura commercial with no mention of the upscale Phoenix model. Note this car’s round headlight, and clear turn signal grille:

Cars are only original once, and this one-family-owned 1978 Pontiac Phoenix appears to be a nice survivor-quality example that will likely do well in preservation-class judging events.  The prime advantage to buying a one-family-owned car, such as this 1978 Pontiac Phoenix for sale is that you get the entire history of the car you can pass on as you show and drive it.

If you are serious about buying this Phoenix, you can start the conversation by following the seller’s contact instructions provided in their Craigslist ad.  When you connect, please remember to mention you saw their mom’s Pontiac featured here on GuysWithRides.com. Good luck with the purchase!

This is the seller’s current description:

“We are offering up our one-family owned 1978 Pontiac Phoenix 2-door coupe with only 45K original miles! My mother purchased this new car in Sept. 1978 off the showroom floor.   it was stored every winter and has never seen salt! RUST FREE! It has always been garaged. It is totally original except for the tires, shocks, and exhaust. The original vinyl interior is near perfect. I have owned it since 2007 and it has been run a little every summer. It runs great and could drive anywhere. This model Pontiac is very rare and, according to Hagerty Insurance, is the ONLY 1978 coupe in their data-base. The engine is a 231 V-6, and it is automatic. The only exterior defect is a ping-pong ball size dent on top of the driver’s front fender, where my father dropped something on it many years ago. I have all paperwork and manuals from the 1978 purchase. We are asking $9950. FIRM in CASH and will not respond to low-ball offers.”

Here’s the seller’s original description:

“We are offering up our one-family owned 1978 Pontiac Phoenix 2-door coupe with only 45K original miles! This car was purchased new by my mother, was stored every winter, and has never seen salt! RUST FREE! It has always been garaged. It is totally original except for the tires, shocks and exhaust. The original vinyl interior is near perfect. I have owned it since 2007 and it has been run a little every summer. It runs great and could drive anywhere. This model Pontiac is very rare and, according to Hagerty Insurance is the ONLY 1978 coupe in their data-base. The engine is a 231 V-6, and it is an automatic. Only exterior defect is a ping-pong ball size dent on top of the driver’s front fender, where my father dropped something on it many years ago. We are asking $11,500. CASH and will not respond to low-ball offers.

Show or go: What would you do with this survivor-quality 1978 Pontiac Phoenix for sale?  Please comment below and let us know!

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