CC Capsule: 1971 Pontiac Grand Prix – Better Than The Original?

I’ve endlessly ranted about how new first-year designs almost inevitably get mucked up. Sort of understandable: the designers work for a long time nailing down a fresh new car design, and then have to figure out a way to refresh or re-skin it a year or two later, making it look somehow different, but rarely better. But occasionally,  the Take Two approach works; sometimes even quite well. The 1971 Grand Prix falls in that category, it managed to enhance the very handsome 1969 GP’s looks, making it a bit more dramatic and chiseled without coming off affected or desperate.

Not that the ’69 really needed much help there, one of the most dramatic and expressive beaks around. Obviously, I shot the ’69 under more advantageous circumstances (full CC here). That was pure coincidence too, not a staged shot. Sometimes you just get lucky.

Not so much so with this poor old bird, stashed away under a tree, waiting for a change of fortunes for its owners so they might be able to afford to get it back on the road. Looks fundamentally sound.

The ’71’s tail got even more attention than the beak, developing a distinctly boat-tail quality to it. The ’69’s is a bit bland; not its best end.

The new nose dropped the bumper surround for a more dramatic and classic grille, which given the GP’s stated intent of evoking the Duesenberg SJ, it certainly does so relatively more convincingly. I’m somewhat surprised that they put a bumper bar across it. The single headlights enhance the neo-classical look.

Here it is in more flattering circumstances. Ironic: It’s shown here in Monaco, and the one I find is in the very poorest neighborhood right next to the freight yard. Another classic Pontiac rendering by Fitzpatrick and Kaufman.

Update: The famous 1963 neo-classic renderings by Virgil Exner led to the ill-fated 1966 Duesenberg revival, which undoubtedly influenced the ’69 and ’71 GP.

Here’s a somewhat better look at the tail. I’m seeing that the newly-creased sheet metal is all in the trunk lid and the new bumper; the fenders look like carry-overs. Probably the same with the front.

Needless to say, the GP’s new protuberances were only a mild foreshadowing of things to come; when the new ’73 Collonade GP appeared in a rather garish new suit. I know where there is one…