With the 1997 model year the Grand Prix celebrated its 35th
anniversary. And what better way to do that than with an all new design. Pontiac fans got a sneak preview of the new GP by watching the NASCAR Winston Cup races.|
The original Grand Prix debuted in 1962 as Pontiacís answer to the four place T-Bird, which began the start of the personal-luxury coupe market segment. Helping the GPs introduction along was Buick getting the nod from GM to build the new E-body coupe. Pontiac thought it was going to get the new design and when they found out they didnít , they went ahead and designed their personal-luxury coupe form the existing B-body. The rest is history!
There were many generations of the Grand Prix. The '62 model was the first. The '63-'64 was the second. '65 to '66 was the third. 1967 and 1968 were stand alone model years, so they would be the fourth and the fifth, respectively. The '69 through '72 model was the sixth generation . The '73-'77 was the seventh. 1978-'80 was the eighth. 1981 through 1987 brought us the ninth generation. And the current generation, started in 1988 and running until 1996, is the tenth. When the new GP arrives in the Fall, it will be the eleventh generation.
Now the Grand Prix may not be the fastest or most recognizable Pontiac, it must be given its credit in the Pontiac hall of fame. The GP could be had with an engine from a GTO and a suspension specially designed for touring. It was the best of both worlds. It has often been said that the Grand Prix is a world class athlete in a fashionable tuxedo.
--- All of the 421s were built between 7/27/62 and 8/9/62. All were Roto-Hyramatic, 4 barrel cars. This engine replaced the 425-A-Trophy 389,which was dropped toward the end of the model year. Some of these 421s were reputed to be early 1963 421 H.Os.
--- All of the 16 421 S.Ds were dual 4 barrel cars and all had the Borg-Warner T-10 4 speed manual transmission. Of the 16, 5 were painted dark burgundy with only one of those having the parchment interior. This particular car is the only one known to have survived. It appears as the 1st of the 16 had factory A/C and a 3.42 axle and that the 15th had a non- posi axle and special paint.
--- Of the 3 '63 S.Ds , 2 had aluminum front ends and both of those had the 405 HP dual 4 barrel 421. These were the 1st and 3rd cars. The middle car had a steel front end and the 390 HP single 4 barrel 421. All 3 had the heavy duty 4-speed manual transmission. None of the 3 are thought to survive today. Because of GMís ban on corporate racing at the end of '63, the 421 S.Ds were never produced after 1963.
--- Of all the 1964 production, 3,124 were equipped with a manual transmission.
--- Of all the 1965 production, 1,973 came with a manual trans. The rest came with the new for '65 M40, Turbo-Hydramatic 400.
--- Of all the 1966 production, only 917 were ordered with a manual transmission. 1966 would be the last year Pontiac offered Tri-Power.
--- 1967 was the only year a convertible GP was offered from the factory.
--- All Pontiac V-8s were revised in 1967. Due to bore increases, the 389 became the 400 and the 421 became the 428.
--- Pontiac also used new cylinder heads with completely redesigned ports and larger valves.
--- The spreadbore Quadrajet was introduced replacing Tri-Power.
--- Of all the 1968 production, just 306 came through with manual transmissions.
--- 1968 marked the last year that the Grand Prix was based on the full size B-body.
--- 1969 marked an all new GP built on a Pontiac exclusive G-body
--- Model designations ěJî and ěSJî were taken from Dusenbergs (the 'J' being the regular model and the 'SJ' being the supercharged models). Pontiac only followed these designations in nomenclature only. The ěSJîs referred to a sportier GP.
--- Of the 1969 production, 1,014 G.Ps came with a manual trans. and just 676 of those were 4-speeds.
--- In 1970, the 455 made its debut replacing the 428.
--- Of the 1970 production, only 500 came with a manual trans. and only 329 of those were 4-speeds.
--- The limited edition Hurst/SSJ G.Ps were introduced in 1970. Pontiac painted a Model J either Cameo white or Starlight black. Interiors were ivory,black,or sandalwood. The cars were then shipped to a Hurst plant in Southfield,MI were Frost gold paint was added on the hood,front part of the roof,and around the side glass. It also included hand painted pin- stripes, a half vinyl top(antique white,white,or black), and a power sunroof. Hurst Roll Control and Performance Computer were options. Gold Rally II wheels were standard. -no breakdowns for engine/trans combos or colors for the SSJ yet-
--- For 1971, compression ratios were dropped in the line leaving just 1 400 and 1 455.
--- Of the 1971 production,only 116 came with a manual trans. and just 58 of those were 4-speeds.
--- The TH-400 became the standard transmission in March of '71.
--- The SSJ continued for 1971 with the gold paint applied to the boat-tail area of the trunk lid. American Racing rims and B.F. Goodrich Radial T/As were optional. The standard rim became a gold colored version of Pontiacís Honeycomb rim. -no breakdowns for engine/trans combos or colors for the SSJ yet-
--- For 1972, the manual trans. did not make it back. The automatic was the only choice.
--- The SSJ continued for 1972. -no breakdowns for engine/trans combos or colors for the SSJ yet-
* breakdown for 'J' and 'SJ' to follow
--- In 1973, early Pontiac literature shows that the 455 SD was to be an option. Just before launch of the '73 models, the SD was pulled from the option list.
--- In 1975, unleaded gas and catalytic converters were required. Also, the HEI ignition debuted.
--- In 1976, the special 50th Anniversary edition GP was an LJ painted gold,with special hood and trunk emblems and striping,and included removable T-tops. It was released in recognition of Pontiacís 50th anniversary.
--- 1977 marked the first year that a non-Pontiac engine was available in a GP.
* breakdown for 'J' and 'SJ' to follow
--- 1978 marked the first year that the GP did not come with a Pontiac V-8 (or any V-8,for that matter) as standard engine.
--- A manual transmission returned in 1978.
--- The Buick 231 CID V-6 was the standard engine in 1978.
--- In 1978,the GP debuted in an all new G-body that was 700 pounds lighter and 17 inches shorter than its predecessor.
--- For 1979, a 4-speed manual transmission was available as an option.
** The production numbers of the Sterling Edition of 1980 are unknown at this time but they are believed to be a very limited production Grand Prix.
At this time, the production breakdowns for the rest of the model year Grand Prixs are unknown. I am working to get the rest of them. I have compiled some notes for the remaining years.
1981 -- The Model SJ was dropped and a more luxurious version of the GP was created. It was called the Brougham. This year also marked the last year in which a Pontiac V-8 would power a Grand Prix. The GP was redesigned this year with a definate wedge look.
1982 -- The only V-8 offered this year was the Olds 350 diesel.
1983 -- The General Motors ěCorporate V-8" became available. This was really a small block Chevy.
1984 -- The LJ moniker was replaced with LE. A 4-speed automatic transmission was made available for the first time in a GP.
1985 -- Only trim changes for this year.
1986 -- In order to be more competitive in NASCAR racing, Pontiac introduced a special version of the GP called the Grand Prix 2+2. In order for this special car to be legal on the racetracks, it had to be released to the public. It included a special sloped nose, bubble rear window,large front spoiler,rear spoiler,and special paint that consisted of a silver top and a gray bottom divided by a red stripe. Richard Petty and his team helped Pontiac develop this special car. Underneath the special body though,the 2+2 was standard GP fare. Production of the 2+2 equaled just 1,118 units. Only trim changes for the rest of the line.
1987 -- Again,only trim changes this year. 1987 marked the last of the G-body Grand Prixs and the last of the rear wheel drive Grand Prixs.
1988 -- The new GP was introduced this year. It was the first front wheel drive Grand Prix ever. It was based on G.Ms all new GM-10, W-body platform. There were 3 trim levels; base, LE, and SE. The only engine available was a 2.8 liter V-6 with either a 4 speed auto or 5 speed manual trans.
1989 -- The 2.8 was stroked to 3.1 liters,but this engine was only available with an automatic. The 2.8/5-speed combo remained. Bowing to outside pressures, Pontiac finally introduced a high-performance version of the new GP. It was a basic car that was fitted with Pontiacís new 3.1 liter turbochaged V-6 and then shipped to McLaren/ ASC for final conversion. It consisted of the turbo V-6,special 4-speed auto trans, special suspension and wheels with 245/50R16 Goodyear Gatorbacks,and extensive aero body cladding. All of them were red and it was produced in very limited numbers.
1990 -- This year marked a couple of firsts for the GP. 1990 was the first year a 4-door Grand Prix was offered and the first year a 4-cylinder engine was available. It was the 2.3 liter Quad-4. Trim levels became: LE coupe and sedan, SE coupe, STE sedan,and the McLaren/ASC Turbo coupe. The turbo coupe was again all red and limited production.
1991 -- The turbo coupe was dropped this year. It was replaced with the Grand Prix GTP. The GTP offered everything the turbo coupe had but had the the turbo engine replaced with the 3.4 liter, 4 cam V-6. All noses on all the coupes were restyled. The STE sedan also had the 3.4 V-6. A GT coupe was also available. It was just like a GTP but the regular 3.1 V-6 replaced the 3.4 V-6. The LE coupe was discontinued.
1992 -- Just trim changes for this year.
1993 -- No changes this year.
1994 -- Pontiac simplified the GP line-up for '94. There were just the coupe and sedan. If the 3.4 V-6 was ordered on the sedan, it was called the GT. In the coupe,it was called the GTP. Otherwise,there was just the SE with the 3.1 V-6. A Special Edition Coupe Package made the SE coupe just like the GTP coupe but with the 3.1 V-6. The aero cladding on the GTP and Special Edition SE coupes were cleaned up slightly and the dashboards were redesigned incorporating dual air-bags.
1995 -- 1995 saw just trim or package changes.
1996 -- All coupes received the aero cladding as standard equipment. Only trim or package changes otherwise.
1997 -- All new Grand Prix due in Fall of '96. Look for a hot 240 HP supercharged V-6 as top engine in GTP. Stay tuned.
Many thanks to Mark DeCarlo for the above information. If you would like to send him a comment go to his contact page.