March 21, 2023

Classic Wheels Spotlight: 1964 Pontiac Le Mans

Marvin Minarich’s 1964 Pontiac Le Mans Convertible

Photos by Steve Rubens - 1964 Pontiac Le Mans Front

The midsized 1964 Pontiac Le Mans was a body and platform change from the compact 1963 model. Chapters can be written about the Le Mans, but its real claim to fame was being rebadged by John DeLorean, adding a larger power plant, and becoming the legendary GTO, of which volumes have been written.

I was attracted to this spectacular Le Mans at the last big car show of the season in early October at the Grundy County Fairgrounds. Searching for the owner of this better-than-original car, I was not completely surprised to find out it was Marvin Minarich’s. He operates a shop in Morris that is capable of this level of auto restoration.

Marvin learned his skills from his Pontiac-obsessed father, Marvin Sr., whom I happen to know from back in the day. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and this gorgeous Le Mans is a perfect example of that premise.

Photos by Steve Rubens - 1964 Pontiac Le Mans Rear

Marvin Jr. found this already well-preserved Le Mans on a few years back on eBay, it was being stored in Delaware. He explained he found an original 1964 GTO that was, frankly, too nice to keep driving with its original paint.

With an eye for detail and rarity, this Le Mans was treated to a restoration and repaint of its original and very unusual, factory Sunfire red paint. Combined with its pristine white interior and convertible top, it is simply striking. Whoever originally ordered this gorgeous car must have just missed the introduction of the 1964 GTO, as the build sheet likely surpassed the price of a new GTO at the time.

As a point of reference, the base price for a convertible Le Mans was $2,800, a mere $300 less than a base GTO convertible!

Photos by Steve Rubens - 1964 Pontiac Le Mans Interior

If you were a Pontiac fan in late 1963, there was a definite wow factor when you saw this new, stylish 1964 body. It was a refreshing change from the compact 1963 model that was hanging onto the last vestige of gaudy 1950s styling.

You could order a budget Le Mans hardtop with a six-cylinder, automatic transmission, and an ‘open’ rear end. The distinct ‘open’ rear end was an indication that only one wheel powers the car from the differential. I can imagine the dealer rubbing his hands together while licking his lips and checking off the upper-end option list for this gorgeous car.

Upgrades begin with the 326 cubic inch V8 and super turbine 300 transmission, which in Chevy vernacular is a two-speed Power Glide, and a super unusual Safe-T-Track differential (positraction in Chevy parlance) with an ultra-highway-cruising 2.56 to 1 gear ratio.

Photos by Steve Rubens - 1964 Pontiac Le Mans Engine

Safe-T-Track, also known as “posi,” means both rear wheels drive the car for better traction and performance. Also included are the sporty, white parchment bucket seats with center counsel, floor shifter, and super-cool four-spoke optional steering wheel.

Of course, one cannot overstate the pièce de résistance for this Le Mans, the vanilla frosting on this delicious lavender cake, the perfect white convertible top. This highly factory-optioned Pontiac Le Mans is truly a one-of-a-kind from 1964.