I was on business travel a few weeks ago, spending time in the Garden State. Traveling for work can be a drag, but the initial discomfort of being in an unfamiliar environment can be mitigated somewhat when you’re traveling with a fun group of colleagues. Seven of us went into the picturesque town of Somerville for Italian cuisine on the first Sunday night there. Anticipating an uneventful evening, I left my camera back at the hotel. Big mistake.
As the unmistakable shape of this late-Mitchell-era (I love how those door window openings are V’d like on the Corvette) personal luxury coupe glided into my peripheral vision, then past me, I ran to the intersection where it stopped to get a few more snaps on my phone. The two best shots are the images featured here. The nice gentleman behind the wheel, noticing my enthusiasm, paused in traffic to allow me a few more frames.
This ‘Prix was one of just under 100,000 produced for the model year and base-priced at just under $5,000 (about $24,000 / adjusted). It came standard with a 225-horse, 400-cubic inch, small-block Pontiac V8, and had a starting weight of just over two tons. It’s another example of a once-everywhere and now-nowhere car I remember seeing regularly when I was growing up.
This spotting called to mind a different, Colonnade-era GP from years ago. Back home in Flint in the summer of ’91, I was attending a two-week summer program at what was then called GMI (now Kettering University) for teenagers interested in science and engineering. The intent of the program was to give us kids some exposure to college-level courses and dorm life. At some point during this program, a black ’74 or ’75 Grand Prix (much like our featured car) was parked on a wide walkway on campus and ruthlessly sledgehammered. It was a hideous sight.
I think that perhaps it might have been a school- or fraternity-sponsored event, but it still broke my heart. I remember seeing the broken plastic of the round dashboard vents on the floor near the driver’s seat afterward, and wondering what final indignity to which that GP had subjected its final, private owner in order to deserve such final and undignified punishment. As for our featured car, it is clearly cherished, judging by its condition and the driver’s apparent pride of ownership. Maybe the kid in the passenger’s seat (his grandson, perhaps?) will be the next, proud owner.
Somerville, New Jersey
Sunday, October 9, 2016.