1968 Pontiac LeMans Revived After 22 Years in Mojave Desert, Serves “Mad Max” on 36-Inch Tires

The classic Pontiac LeMans doesn’t receive nearly as much credit as it deserves (we’ll get back to that). However, every now and then, we come across a build that puts this Poncho under the spotlights—in the case of this 1968 Pontiac LeMans, that would be the sizzling sun of the Mojave Desert, where the vehicle spent at least 22 years before being brought back to life as a Mad Max-like contraption.

The Pontiac LeMans has rather humble beginnings. This first entered production in 1961, as a trim level for the brand’s entry-level compact, the Tempest.

And while that form of the car even saw it featuring a four-cylinder motor, the following years would bring a ferocious climb, leading to the LeMans becoming its own model and even spawning the much more famous GTO, which was born as a package for the former. Fun fact: they were both designed by John DeLorean, during what many regard as his best years.

Having been moved to GM’s A-Body for the second generation, the LeMans could now be had with meatier V8s, but the obscenely large muscle didn’t arrive until 1968 when the third generation was introduced. This brings us back to the car we have here, whose builders list as a 1967 model on social media, but this clearly sports the Coke bottle-styled body of the said Gen III, hence our ’68 assessment.

From target practice to off-roading weapon

The history of this particular LeMans—the story we get is brief and yet it tells us quite a lot. Apparently, this Pontiac was left to bake in the Mojave Desert for over two decades. And either the eagles over there had beef with the body of the car, or those are bullet holes—given how the builders mention that the Pontiac was used as target practice, we’ll probably go with the latter version.

Now, the 1968 Pontiac LeMans, which is now known as “Sharkbait” was given a new lease on post-apocalyptic life by Blackthumb. This is a California-based collective whose Facebook description reads “a feral bunch of greasy gearheads and fabricators creating post apocaly“.

The man you see next to the once-a-muscle-car in the image gallery? He goes by Spud Innit on social media and sees himself as a feral welder of the wastelands. And if you somehow feel that’s less than accurate, please zoom in on the welds applied to Sharkbait and you might change your mind.

BBC muscle and Suburban strength for this LeMans

The newfound, rusty raison d’etre of the Pontiac means the vehicle now rides on a 1982 Chevy Suburban chassis, while touching the sand via 36-inch flotation tires.

Motivation comes with a 454 TBI (throttle body injection) Big Block Chevy, which is mated to a 700R4 overdrive four-speed automatic. Sure, the hardware bits are eclectic, but they all come from the GM garage.

The 1968 Pontiac LeMans Sharkbait, which happens to remind us of the Bone Dog 1972 Chevelle we covered back in April, gets its fair share of action, too. For one, this was one of the machines that Blackthumb took to the recent 2022 Wasteland Weekend and it seems the Poncho came back with a trophy.

We’re talking about a five-day post-apocalyptic-themed, independent festival held in the Southern California desert, which feels as close to the Mad Max universe as one may get until director George Miller brings along the next iteration of the franchise (i.e. Furiosa spin-off) next year—you can check out the second Instagram post below for a taste of this year’s edition of Wasteland Weekend.