There is a story circulating here in Toronto (and was mentioned on the radio) about an auto mechanic who is approached by a man who asks if he can fix a "Pontiac Goolie." The bewildered mechanic tells him to bring it in, and discovers that the customer, whose second language is English, is actually seeking help for his Pontiac 6000 limited edition: the 6000 LE.

-- Urban Legends (at

The Pontiac 6000 was introduced in 1982 as part of General Motors' A-Car series, along with the Buick Riviera, Chevrolet Celebrity and Oldsmobile Ciera. For most of its run, the 6000 was available as a front wheel drive, two- and four-door sedan, and briefly as a station wagon. 6000s were equipped with either the four-cylinder, 2.5L "Iron Duke" engine (named for its cast-iron engine block) or a six-cylinder, 3.1L engine.

Initially, 6000 sales were tepid. The whole Pontiac line was given an image makeover in 1983 with the introduction of the "We Build Excitement" campaign. That year, the Special Touring Edition (STE) of the 6000 was introduced. This version was a spruced-up version of the 6000 (minus the 6000 badging, of course), with gold-colored accents, all-wheel drive and upgraded wheels and tires. The STE was later rebranded as the 6000 Special Edition (SE); the other versions available were the base model (simply the 6000) and the mid-level 6000 Limited Edition (LE).

Due to flagging interest, Pontiac discontinued the 6000 after the 1991 model year. Its nearest analogue in the current Pontiac line-up is the Grand Am.

Personal experience:
When I met my wife in January 1998, she owned a gold 1987 6000 LE, which she had named Orville (I). The car had seen better days (having accumulated 150k miles by this point), so her parents pressured her to use their more roadworthy Buick Le Sabre when she made the three-hour drive to see me. Orville I was sold a few months later, only to be replaced by a newer model. Orville II, a white 1988 6000 LE, proved to be a reliable replacement.

Orville II served my wife well for almost two years, at which point she purchased a 1996 Pontiac Grand Prix. I, being carless at the time, inherited Orville. I literally drove the shit out of the poor fellow. He made the round trip from Minnesota to Dallas/Ft. Worth a total of two-and-a-half times, and lasted through nine months of a 90 mile daily commute through the streets of the DFW Metroplex. In the 18 months that I owned Orville, we amassed 30,000 miles on the odometer.

In April 2002, Orville II began showing his age. He sprang a serious oil leak (a common problem with the Iron Duke engines), spewing oil and smoke from both the rear main seal and the oil pan gasket. As the repair costs likely would exceed Orville's Kelley Blue Book value, we made the decision to drive it as long as possible (topping up the oil every two days). In mid-May of that year, Orville II died. (/me misses Orville II) He was sold to an auto parts company owned by an Arab family living in Arlington, TX.

As a footnote, we have very reliable reports indicating Orville I is still functional (although looking very battered), and is still seen regularly on the streets of Moorhead, MN. Because of their durability and ubiquity, there are still thousands of 6000s on the road today. And because a number more have died premature deaths, parts for 6000s are readily available and usually dirt cheap.

General Motors A-Cars Automotive Repair Manual (1998); Gradon Mechtel, Larry Warren and John H. Haynes; Haynes Publishing Group; Somerset, England
Urban Legends Reference Pages -
Pontiac History -
1990 Pontiac SE AWD -
6000 Page -

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