Unlike the other cars, trucks and SUV in my stable, I have had either some kind of desire or a need to own them. They are cars that I have either always wanted to own from my youth (Charger, Road Runner, Grand National, Malibu,) cars that have some sort of sentimental value (Delta 88, Satellite, Grand Prix #1) or came from a need to own and just never left (Challenger, Durango & Ram pickups)
This Grand Prix came to me in a different way though.
Paul has them categorized as a GM Deadly Sin. https://www.curbsideclassic.com/curbside-classics-american/curbside-classic-1978-pontiac-grand-prix-gms-deadly-sin-14/
I don’t totally disagree, although I’d be more apt to the list this car’s 1988 W-Body replacement as the bigger Deadly Sin and did more damage to the brand than the G-Body cars. The G-Body Grand Prixes are not bad cars; they’re not poorly built and they’re certainly they’re not unattractive but does it live up to the power and style of the pre-1978 Grand Prixes? Nope. But the W-Bodys are cars that I truly love to hate.
Ick. Seen one at a car show lately? Seen one ANYWHERE lately? Good riddance.
Ah, that’s better. Unlike the white thing above, there’s not a bad line on any of the G-Body cars. The Aerobacks? I don’t hate them.
I’ve always liked the G-Body GPs. I remember reading here that they were the not best selling of the Gs but they were certainly pretty plentiful in my youthful 1980s and it was one of the cars that, if you had one in high school, you were cool.
My next door neighbor had one when he was a senior and I was a sophomore; it was an ’80 with a 301, it was light blue with Cragar spoked wheels, it had a sunroof, and he was cool, like one of the really cool kids in the neighborhood, and he would often give me a ride home in it.
Another neighbor, a divorced older professional lady that was friends with my parents and had two daughters around my age and we were all friends, had a dark blue one, an ’86 or an ’87, and she was cool; a very nice lady who sadly recently passed away from cancer.
Yet another neighbor at the other end of the street had one of the really cool black over gold ’85 LEs with T-tops, identical to the one below. I didn’t know him very well but that was a really sharp car.
Anyway, as far as I was concerned, an ’80s GP was a cool car with street creds, perfect for semi-innocent teenage cruising on Deer Park Avenue, but I never really had to have one. Same for Monte Carlos, Cutlasses and Regals, all nice cars that would have been an amazingly cool high school car and I enjoy seeing them on the road and at shows but have never chased after one, except for a Grand National of course.
Plus, remember, I had my ’77 Grand Prix in high school, which is hard to argue against as being a much better looking car, but by the high school kid standards of the late 1980s and early ’90s, it was more of just an old car that was rapidly losing its cool status as they were making their way down through their third, fourth, and probably final owners. Many of the colonnades by that time were rusty with faded paint, had engines that were barely running and bumpers that had been replaced with 2X4s.
I think all of the G-Bodys are great looking cars, and along with the B-Bodys, are the last of the great cars from the ‘old’ General Motors.
So why did I buy this car?
If you’re following my COAL series, you may remember that in 2016, my oldest daughter got her learners permit and was supposed to get my Durango as her first car. But life happened, and my new wife and resulting new baby needed an SUV and the Durango was recalled into service to provide active child-carrying duties. So now my driving age daughter would (theoretically) need a car as we had started her driving instruction.
My daughter started driving with, shall we say, a cautious optimism.
So as I started to teach her to drive in the Durango, I knew that we would have some time to work with in terms of when she would need a car since she was progressing at a snail’s pace. And believe me, I’m fine with that. She is very cautious behind the wheel and is not there yet, confidence wise, and if she’s not confident yet, Im not going to push her. 2 years later, we are still working on it and if it takes another 2 years, that’s fine too. I don’t want her behind the wheel if she’s not confident.
I belong to a couple of classic Pontiac Grand Prix pages on Facecrack and just before Thanksgiving, 2017, an ad for this car popped up on my feed one night with a tag line that read something like “must sell this weekend” with a ridiculously low asking price. Hmmmm…..
So Im thinking, man, that’s a cool classic Grand Prix for the price of a late model beater, this is worth a follow-up for my daughter’s first car.
So what if it’s 35 years old. While she does not yet have a drivers license, she does have some basic mechanical skills-she can change a tire, change oil, top off fluids, stuff like that, and she’s helped me out in the garage over the years so she has seen the inner workings of cars so driving an old car in good mechanical condition is not intimidating to her, in fact she’s more comfortable driving the GP than she is any of the later model cars. She can drive a stick and start and drive a carbureted car, too. Not a lot of 18 year olds can make that claim.
As to the car itself, it only had 75K miles on it and its not uncommon for the G-Bodys to go well past 150K, and when they do break, they are stupidly easy and cheap to fix and parts are still easy to find. Even the restoration companies are making parts for these cars now.
They are also safe cars. NHTSA doesn’t agree with me but my near 20 years in the field in accident investigation says that there is a lot to be said for a big car with large rear and frontal areas and that wonderful body-on-frame construction built from thick steel. I’d like a car with an airbag for a new driver but I’m more comfortable with her being in a safe, well-maintained car that doesn’t have any of the modern electronic screen distractions that can help her avoid getting into an accident in the first place.
See that Cutlass? The driver was hit head on by another car that had crossed the yellow line at around 30 mph. No injuries and the car suffered no damage past the front clip. In fact, the shop just finished the car last week and its back on the road. The other car was a late model sedan that was totaled, towed from the scene, the airbag deployed and the unseatbelted driver had some serious injuries. The crumple zones from the newer car absorbed most of the energy from the collision, leaving the heavy steel perimeter frame construction in the Cutlass mostly intact.
And then there is the visibility. As has been discussed here, the visibility in late model cars verges on being dangerous to the point where they have to rely on sensors and cameras to watch the road for us.
Sorry, but all of the automation in the world is not a replacement for a well-educated, safe and alert driver.
This is the view out of the Pontiac:
Versus the view out of my Charger:
Look at the difference in the size and area of the windows. Those pillars are very wide too and are difficlut to see around going around corners. That’s not even showing the blind spots to the rear, which leave you damn near blind. The trunk is so high and the rear window is barely more than a slit in the rearview mirror. It is impossible to see what is in the rear three quarter view of the car.
Which do you think is safer for a new driver?
I had some personal motivations as well. Boy would I have loved to have had this car in high school.
Remember the COAL on my first car? It was also a classic red Pontiac Grand Prix, albeit one generation earlier. A little bit of carrying on the torch I guess.
I got in touch with the seller, who was in Pennsylvania. He sent me some pictures, I made an offer on the car and now its in my driveway. After fixing the title that the seller goofed up, I got it tagged and insured and I went through my ritual of making it one of my DDs until my daughter is ready to assume ownership.
According to the ad, it had about 75K miles on it and was pretty much all original. Similar to my ’71 Satellite, the original owner lived in PA, became a snow bird in Florida and used this GP as his winter car until he either couldn’t drive anymore or passed away. I don’t know if the guy I bought it from was related to the original owner or not but he needed cash and had to sell it quick.
Its mileage is even similar to the Satellite’s.
Its an LE model and it has all the standard stuff you would expect in an up-level G-Body; landau top, velour interior, power windows, door locks and drivers seat, but even though the GPs have the nicest interiors and dashes of the era, this one only has idiot lights instead of actual gauges. It has a Chevy 305 with the Metric TH200 3 speed instead of the more desirable TH200R4 OD unit. It has, what I assume is, the puny 7.5″ rear with some really low gears in it, probably like 2.20s or something like that. A stoplight bruiser, it isn’t.
I think I picked it up the week after Thanksgiving, and it was pretty much as he described. And when he said original, he meant it-every wear item you can think of were the originals from the factory; the belts, shocks, plugs, wires, distributor cap, etc.; none of them had ever been changed and the car had never been tuned up; it felt like it ran on 4 cylinders. There was also some rust beginning to form at the bottom of the doors, a common spot on the G-Bodies. I got it home, tuned it up with Delco parts, put new shocks on it and fixed the rust on the doors and we were in business.
It came with dry rotted no-name WW tires. I tried driving it to work on them and it didn’t work, I had a blowout at 65 mph. Changed the tire, put the spare on and it blew out too. I wound up having to Uber a ride home and went back with TBT and my trailer to bring it home. The next day, I ordered the 245/60/14 BFG TAs that you see in the pictures and not only does it look cooler but it drives, handles and stops 1000 times better than the puny 205-series tires that it came from the factory with.
Other than tires and a tune up, it needs a headliner as it suffers from the typical saggy GM headliner of the day. The air conditioner works but the system leaks and I traced it to the shrader valve on the low side that I just haven’t gotten around to fixing yet. I’ll get to it before this summer and there’s always R12 cans for sale on Craigslist so I hope to have working A/C in it soon.
I’ve read where some on here describe these choked-down smog-era V8s as having “adequate” power curves.
CC’ers, lets make something clear about these cars. These engines have NO power curves. The word “power” should never be used to describe any of these cars. There’s just not enough engine in too much of a car. By modern standards, they are dangerously underpowered.
But if I keep the car, we are going to change that. These are cheap and easy cars to desmog, and when they are, they are quite fun. I have a low mileage Pontiac 350/TH400 in my garage, or I might follow the crowd and do an LS swap.
Its a possibility, I guess, but despite what the magazines say, LS swaps are neither easy nor cheap. I’d rather keep it a real Pontiac and use the 350 I already have using mounting parts for a 3o1, which was available in these cars from 1978-81. Who knows; its low on my list of car projects as it runs fine for now and I have other cars I need to work on first.
For now though, it’s in my daily driver rotation until my daughter is ready to drive it. So, about once every other week, it makes my daily 114 mile commute and I’ve put about 8000 miles on it since I bought it and its a pleasant driving experience. I have to admit, I really like the car. There is nothing on the road like it today. The sexy bordello red interior. The long hood with the GP ornament at the end of the chrome spear. The quiet smoothness. When I stop for gas or at a traffic light, I often get compliments on the car and many think its a Cutlass.
Sometimes, this happens when you are #livingtheoldcarlife. This is what can happen with a remmaned alternator from a box auto parts store and driving an hour to work with the heat, wipers, lights and stereo on when its not completely charging and the idiot light never came on. Its why I have emergency road assistance on my insurance policy. Luckily, I don’t need it often. Generally I use genuine Delco or Mopar replacement parts when available but this time I cheaped out and this is what happened.
Getting back to safety, lets talk about these headlights. But first I’m going to give you all a little of my professional background so you know that I actually know what I’m talking about. I’ve built myself into a neat little automotive-based niche in the law enforcement world. I teach our new recruits pursuit and response driving as well basic vehicle control. Basically I teach police recruits how to drive both in normal, day-to-day operations as well as how to SAFELY get into, and bring to a safe conclusion, vehicle pursuits, as well as some other neat stuff that I’m not going to get into. I’m also an expert advanced accident reconstructionalist with over 15 years and more than 1000 accident investigations under my belt. With all of those accidents, I’ve learned a thing or two about what makes cars safe, and aside from a good driver, the most important safety features on your car is not the seatbelts and airbags, its the lights and tires.
Really? Yes. Actually, an alert and competent driver is the most important safety feature in a car and I find American driver training (and general attitude towards driving) to be severely lacking, but I can’t really do anything about that except advocate for a better driver’s education program in this country. Seat belts and airbags are vital to keeping you alive with as few injuries as possible in a collision but let’s prevent the collision from happening, OK?
I find most modern car’s HID and LED headlights, despite how effing bright they are to oncoming traffic, are inadequate for nighttime driving. Some cars now have adaptive headlights and truthfully, I think that’s a gimmick. In so many modern cars, including my own late model Dodge Charger and Challenger, you can hardly tell the difference between low and high beams. Just because they are ridiculously bright does not mean they are effective. Most newer cars low (and high) beams work great when it comes to lighting up the road directly in front of the car but do nothing for distance. Well, at 60 mph when you are travelling 88 feet per second, it doesn’t do you much good to stop or avoid an object or living thing that is only 20′ in front of your car.
On the GP, as well as most other cars from the era with 4 headlight designs, have excellent light dispersion, as long as they are in good working condition. The low beams easily light the road in front of the car and the high beams provide a nice, wide band of light exactly where it needs to be. Just my .02.
Now, my daughter has built up enough driving confidence that she is going to take her road test during this semester’s Spring Break. That will give her 2 months of high school, plus summer break, with the car before she heads off to college in the fall, where she won’t be able to have a car. And I hope so because so many warm fuzzy high school memories are focused around our cars that I’m hoping she gets to get enjoy it for at least a few months. But until then, I have a cool high school car.
Neat car, and true comments on driver’s education. I’ve always felt that new drivers should be forced to get a car out of control regularly in a safe place during driver’s ed. Only then will they start to understand vehicle dynamics. I doubt, however, that that kind of instruction will ever happen.
We home schooled our boys, but our State does not allow home driver’s education, so we enrolled them in the local high school just for that one class (it was an eye-opener for both of them). We chose the Winter semester on purpose so they’d get snow and ice experience.
They had both been driving the ’69 F-100 and ’50 Ford 8N tractor around the farm for several years already, and I made it a point to take them out in the hay field after a good snow and have them practice getting into, and out of skids and slides in the pickup truck. To my knowledge (!), neither have had an accident to date (10 years later).
Sorry, but all of the automation in the world is not a replacement for a well-educated, safe and alert driver
We chose the Winter semester on purpose so they’d get snow and ice experience.
My father thought the same, but the problem was that we hardly got much snow in Dallas. Whenever it snowed that day, my father took me to the car park and taught me more about winter driving skills. I practised for a while until the cop came round and told us to go home.
After I moved to Colorado in 1996, I gained more skills from my brother, especially the driving in the mountains. When California economy tanked due to massive military spending cut, many Californians came to Colorado due to its white hot job market. Once the snow came, I could spot the “refugees” very easily: they were clueless about winter driving, spinning around, driving very agonisingly slow, braking at least a mile from the traffic stop, etc.
In rural Wisconsin, we used frozen lakes to “self-educate” about how to both cause and recover from skids.
Occasionally, some kid would gain access to a closed-for-the-season cottage. That provided 1st hand experience with the effects of alcohol on driving without being on the road.
Drinking and driving on ice isn’t something I recommend, but it did teach me when I was too drunk to stand steady, a seat behind the wheel was not the answer.
Totally agree on the tires. Not many drivers here in the Los Angeles area give it a thought it seems. When the rain hits there are thousands of accidents that could of been prevented if those vehicles had adequate thread for the conditions.
Thank you for talking driver’s safety and education. You hit the nail on the head – seat belts and airbags are great, but that’s a secondary treatment. Prevention from headlights and tires are the key, as is a competent driver who isn’t falling prey to distractions. I’ll refrain from getting on my soapbox about cell phone use while driving and how all this infotainment shit in new cars is nothing but a wreck inducing distraction also. Are we here to drive or to be entertained? I’ve worked from a different angle of highway safety, so I’ve seen a lot of this also; this is experience talking, not age induced grumpiness.
But that Grand Prix is sweet! Your power curve statement is true; an engine with no power curve saddled with horribly low gearing is a bad combination. A little bit of judicious work on what you have will likely reap huge dividends.
May she been in the LTDan stable for a long time to come!
KNOW your car, how it handles, how it feels in adverse conditions.
A lot of drivers don’t know how the car will “break” at the limit. That goes back to the Corvair, and continues now.
When my father-in-law first got a car with antilock brakes, I advised him to go to an empty parking lot on a rainy day, and try them out to “get the feel.” Slam on ’em, hard, so he would feel the vibration in the brake pedal and recognize it as “working as designed.”
A year or so later he lightly rear-ended another car, fortunately without injury (he was belted in), and the air bag did not deploy. He told the reporting officer that his brakes had failed…they vibrated so he let up on them.
Good luck with your daughter’s drivers training. My daughter was also not a quick study. I taught her what I could, but also sent her for lessons to earn the insurance discount. Here in Toronto she pays $200 a month for car insurance with her clean driving record and the car is in my name to keep costs down!
I have a 305 four barrel in my 1980 Camaro. A set of headers and dual exhaust really woke the car up. No one will ever accuse it of being fast, but at least now it can get out of it’s own way.
Nice car, I thought the 1981 restyle’s on the Pontiac and Buick G body coupes were a major improvement over the 1978-80 models (I normally favor the original design), I bet the car would be a lot of fun to drive with the 350/TH400 combo.
The 305 should have more than enough power to move the car. The one in my ’79 Malibu works really well. Could there be something wrong with it?
Lt Dan owns some pretty quick machinery. All things are relative.
That said, it is extremely easy to hop one of these up. Votec heads, intake, cam and dual exhaust will give you 100 hp easy.
We owned several LG4 305s over the years and they were always decent power-wise, even in a heavy B-body wagon. In the context of the times, they had decent power. My brother’s Cutlass Supreme had a LG4 305. When he first bought it it was almost as slow as my heavy Olds 307 station wagon. A decent tune-up got it running pretty well. After some distributor timing tweaks, dumping the cat and running true dual exhaust and a carb overhaul, it ran very strong for a 305 car. It out-ran my ’88 Grand Marquis I had at the time. It certainly was not a fast car, compared to modern stuff, but it was far from under powered, especially compared to some of the slugs on the road back then.
No, the engine runs fine. Whats wrong with it is, its a 150 HP engine in a 3800-lb car. That’s a 25:1 power to weight ratio. Theoretically, a John Deere lawn mower should be faster. These are cars that, at best, ran high-17 second 1/4 mile times when they were new. Not cool, and like I mentioned, dangerously slow in modern traffic; think merging onto a busy interstate with short acceleration lanes or passing on a two lane road. I drive these cars daily and that’s an issue.
I want around 300 HP/375 lb/ft in this car. That’s an easy lift for the 350 Pontiac engine I have in the garage; those are basically stock numbers for a 1960s 350 HO Tempest or Firebird.
You’re pretty bang on on the performance times Dan. The Pontiac Grand Prix 2+2 aero ran 0-60 in a bit over 10 secs and 1/4 mile in 17.6 seconds. Still this was not bad compared to the 307 Olds powered fullsizers I had, which probably ran about 19 second quarter mile times. Even Motor Week only got a 13 second 0-60 time out of a 307 powered Cutlass Supreme. How times have changed…
I think a 300 hp Pontiac 350 would awesome engine for this car.
Good lord 3800 LBS? My 1987 Cutlass coupe with a 307 and the heavier overdrive weights in at 3350 according to the title so I doubt you car is that heavy unless your counting a full tank of gas and a passenger or two of course.
The 305 was decently powerful enough for these cars at the time but your car is saddled with those pathetic 2.29 rear gears and the metric power robber transmission which when combined with the LG4 that makes it’s power off idle up to 4000 RPM’s is decidedly handicapped with too little gear. I drove several 86/87 Monte Carlo LS’s with the 305 and 200R-4 and optional 3.08 rear gears that put the power down to the ground so much better that it baffled me that GM even offered these engines with the 3 speed after 1983.
Also keep in mind that swapping over to so much more power will also require axing the 200 metric, 7.5 rear end and require some bracing and extra body to frame mounts. But I’m sure you already know all of this. Best of luck with the GP. It’s a cool car indeed and defiantly not worthy of Dead Sin status.
Me. Want. Car.
The color. The wheels and tires. The interior. I love it.
The g bodies get very skittish in the rain. The g bodies get very skittish in the rain. The g bodies get very skittish in the rain. I cannot emphasize this enough.
Regarding the airbags, nhtsa data from the early 90s shows that the same car with an airbag had a higher incidence of injury than the same car without an airbag. Those things are dangerous. The newer cars have worse visibility because of the airbags in all the pillars, for one.
If the car has only 75k miles, something may be choked or carboned up. I think the 305 made 140 ish hp in carbureted form, which is not a lot by today’s standards, but this is also a relatively lightweight car by today’s standards and there should be torque. I have a tbi 305 in a 1991 Cadillac which is about 1000 lbs heavier than this car, and even then it’s . . . Adequate, but it’s not really the sort of car one drives with a great deal of gusto. It certainly isn’t close to a Challenger, but it shouldn’t be bog slow either.
It’s a beautiful car and y’all are lucky to have it.
“Carbon” doesn’t really exist much in modern engines. When I opened up a Ford 400 with easy 400,000 km on it, there were no carbon deposits on the pistons.
Most coke build up in the past was due to the low quality fuels available long ago. In reality, since unleaded fuel became widespread and emissions were mandated, better fuels became available.
With modern fuels, it is uncanny how clean the combustion chamber in an engine is, even with high kms.
If it is low on power, the first thing to do is replace the cat. GM cars are famous for this.
Depends on your areas gas I guess. This is how the pistons looked at 80k miles on my modern modular 4.6 before the wire wheel.
Also, you are right re the ls swap. Those are way more complicated and expensive than people think. Even for a basic used motor you’re looking at something like 10 grand for something which isn’t a hatchet job.
I think what’s often misjudged is how much it snowballs to actually achieve expectations. So much of the hype surrounding this engine family is that an LS of any stripe is a guaranteed 400+HP car, 4.8, 5.3, 5.7, 6.0, no matter, but to actually get there at the wheels, particularly the lower displacement variants which are the most common and cheap, you end up needing tons of aftermarket parts, including superchargers to actually make expectations a reality.
These engines are an excellent basis for a ludicrously high horsepower buildup, probably the best factory based engines ever in fact, but as far as their junkyard jewel, “LS swap everything” status, meh.
A 383 SBC is a GM factory engine, for like C$6000. This is not a rebuild, it is new:
A 290 HP 350 is C$4000. That is cheap horsepower and makes rebuilds a waste of time.
I just built a Ford 400 for the fun of it. I spent triple the above amount and I still didn’t have a new engine. Mind you, every part that moved up an down or around and around was replaced. There is no point in doing a half-assed engine rebuild, like the last one on the 400 was.
As for HP claims, on my Lincoln I got 270 rwhp, tested on a dyno. It makes 365 ft/lb of torque at 3000 rpm. These are real numbers, not made ones.
You can get a Chevrolet Performance Parts 250 hp (gross) 350 brand new for $2000 USD from Summit Racing. It probably nets about 170 hp as it seems to be basically a LM1 engine. An extra $500 gets your a 290 hp (gross) engine. It’s hard to justify building a SBC these days at those prices (especially for a mild build),
That said, when it comes time to pull and rebuild my 350, I will be doing it myself. There is some satisfaction reusing the original engine and building it yourself.
As for the LS swap, I think the way to go is a GM Connect and Cruise packages. It comes with the engine, transmission, all the stand alone computers. No messing with factory harnesses. Plus, unlike other crate engines, since these are essentially OEM engines, they have net hp ratings. I was going to do a build for my brother with an LS3 connect and cruise kit, but he decided to by a modern performance car instead.
Here is a LS3 kit we looked at buying:
And FWIW, the 305 in our Parisienne was very carboned up with about 300k kms on it when the intake was pulled. It saw a lot of short city trips. Mind you that was well 25 years ago or so. Cleaning it up made big difference in how it ran.
Agreed about modern cars and headlights. My 2016 Nissan is, shall we say, LACKING in down the road brightness. I researched headlight bulbs and found some brighter bulbs (Phillips X-treme Vision) that help to where I’m not itching to adjust my headlight aim anymore. The catch is they won’t last as long as OEM bulbs according to the package, they’re rated for 200 hours of use – but at $34 for a pair, that’s a cheap price for the extra second or two of warning I get when a suicidal deer decides to jump onto the 2 lane backroad Arkansas and Oklahoma highways that I drive at night.
A friend at work had one of these Grand Prix’s, it was a beauty. It was done in some kind of a creamy yellowy colour that looked great on it. He was the guy that always had the greatest looking ties and wardrobe, had the greatest looking bunch of people in the department that he managed to go along with his image I suppose, and he married the most beautiful woman in Sales. Anyway he would go out with many from his department every Friday for lunch in that Grand Prix, several of them would pile in and go to the latest trendy restaurant along the airport strip. Since there was so little parking in our parking lot, several of us would go out and make sure to take the spot he had so he would have to park in the back 40 when they all got back.
A nice car, and a great choice for Father-Daughter GPs. I wonder if that THM 200 has been rebuilt? If not, you should budget for it.
Am I the only one who sees the tail end of a 63 Tempest in the right side of this GP dash?
DO NOT rebuild that Shovitt THM200
Amazing it lasted this long.
Keeping the 200 is not even an option. It doesn’t look like its been rebuilt (why would anyone even rebuild one? Most GM guys I knew that had them either swapped in a TH350 or a TH200R4) but it still shifts fine and the fluid looks OK.
A good friend of mine is a Chevy dealer service manager and has been at the same dealer for 35 years so he worked on all of these when they were new. When I told him I bought this car and it had a 200, he winced and asked how many times it had been rebuilt. They were basically designed to last as long as the warranty.
Speaking of parking spots it reminded me of a fellow at work that just retired. I work for a large company that operates two 10 hour shifts seven days a week, 364 days a year. This fellow was obsessed with getting the parking spot closest to the door. Not an easy task seeing that we work the second shift. He would arrive at work a minimum of 2 hours early and move from spot to spot as a few of the office workers went home. He would even start his SUV to move one spot at a time. If he didn’t get the first spot by the start of shift, he would go out on his lunch break to try to get it. Many times he would say that he forgot an item in his vehicle so that he could go out midshift to move his car. Management finally caught on after about 10 years and threatened to fire him if he left the building between breaks. People would joke that he worked a 12 hour shift but only got paid for 10 hours. The funny thing was that he saved maybe 5 minutes going home by sacrificing 2 hours each afternoon!
As regular variants I would agree, the GP is the most cool G-body. The Grand Nationals, and to lesser extent MC SS and 442/Hurst too easily overshadow them, oddly the Aero 2+2 was the only real sport variant for the Pontiac, and I for one find those hideous. Those aside, which were always uncommon, I totally get the more youthful appeal of the GP despite the requisite broughamy bits, they simply wear it better and seem relatively devoid of clutter. Most seemed to have nice rally wheels or alloys too, never the chintzy wire covers so common on Regals and Cutlasses.
I also vote nay on the LS swap, I have nothing against them, and they’re excellent engines, but power isn’t everything and they’re not the only way to make it like the internet leads everyone to believing. On a car this clean I wholeheartedly support a mildly warmed over Pontiac mill, which in reality will probably match or exceed a budget 5.3 swap.
I 100% agree with your points and observations about the merits of these old cars, and especially drivers ed.
Great car — the Grand Prix was my favorite of the 1980s G-specials, in part because of its relative rarity, and in part because of the neat-looking dash with those round gauges and vents. Little things mean a lot, I guess! But in Philadelphia where I grew up, it seemed that Grand Prixes were outnumbered by other G-specials by about 10-to-1.
Good luck to your daughter! When I was buying my first car, I desperately wanted an older, American coupe (and even test-drove a ’67 Olds), but my father — who was far from a coddling scaredy-cat — demanded that I buy a newer car. As disappointed as I was, I can’t say I blame him, but times have changed. I agree with your assessment that older cars, without the many distractions and poor visibility issues of modern cars, can be a viable choice for beginning drivers these days. I have no hesitation to have my kids (who are still 5-7 years away from driving) drive our ’95 Thunderbird.
I’d have no problem sticking my kids in an MN12 T-Bird. They are good, safe cars and damn near indestructible with a 4.6. Theres still quite a few on the road in my area.
I originally intended to get the kids into a Crown Vic but the deal on the GP was too good to pass up and then I recently found a clean, low mileage 2000 GMC Sonoma for my next daughter, who gets her license next year.
Everyone I went to high school with, wanted one of these (or another G-body variant) I graduated in ‘88, if that matters… anyway these were considered just as “cool” as a Firebird/Camaro, but they (usually) were cheaper, and the insurance was WAY cheaper than an F-body. Plus you were a lot more likely to get a G-body handed down from a relative, than a Camaro… The insurance: in 89 I tried buying a V6 Firebird, and they refused to cover me, but were OK with a V8 Regal… go figure. The G-bodies were ridiculously easy to steal, so you could buy a “Chicago Collar” (stainless steel band that armored the steering column) Maybe that would be something to look into?
Oh, and these rusted like everything else in Wisconsin, most of these were missing their rear bumpers and had flapping door bottoms and rear quarters when they were approaching 10 years old…
The 305 Chevy engine seemed to be a LOT more powerful than the 301 Pontiac, my parents had a Malibu and it was noticeably faster than the GP a freinds’ parents had… Nothing wrong with Pontiac motors, the Chev ones are just cheaper (and easier) to hop up than anything else.
I remember G-body Cutlasses were the most stolen car in the U.S. well into the 1990s
I had a white 1981 GP when I was a kid. Nice smooth ride, I loved the design. The 231 V6 was S-L-O-W. it was a fun cruiser on Deer Park Avenue, and the perfect car to hide a few friends in the trunk when going to the drive in movie. Great times.
I was a regular on Deer Park Ave in my ’77 Grand Prix. Good times. Usually ended the night with a late night drive down to Robert Moses
Great find Lt Dan. It looks to be a pretty solid old car and once you get all the kinks worked out, I am sure it will be a great driver. I think it’s pretty cool that you and your daughter both have red GP’s as their first cars. I love the pic of the two generations side by side. I am also very familiar with that Pontiac steering wheel, our ’84 Parisienne had the same one. I am kind of planning a similar project for my son with my Malibu. I want him to help me fix up the car a bit, and then I will give it too him (when the time is right) and it can be his classic car. That’d make it owned by three generations of our family.
I hope you plan to get rid of that god awful TH200 sometime soon before it self destructs. A TH200-4R would be a nice swap along with some rear gears. It should liven up the car a bit. I bet the cat is clogged too. Dumping it for modern cats and dual exhaust will help too. I take it this car likely has an E4ME (feedback Q-jet) since it’s likely a US market car? I rebuilt one years ago, they aren’t too different from a regular Q-jet, but it did make quite a difference on how my old 307 Olds ran afterwards.
My 1987 Cutlass has the 140 Hp 307 tied to the 200R4 overdrive and optional 3.08 rear gears and has no problems whatsoever keeping up with traffic on the highway. Of course it wasn’t all that great when I first got it but a tuneup, carb re-build and some tweaking make it run worlds better than when I first obtained the car.
Compared to a current Camaro/Mustang it would be considered underpowered. But lets put into context that the majority of vehicles I see on the road are small to mid size CUV’s with 170-180 Hp 4 cylinders pulling around 4000 LB high sitting boxes so 8-9 second 0-60 times are the norm for these. You have to go into an expensive V6 T or V8 powered pickup or SUV’s to get into the 6 or less second range or one of many sports cars like above or the preverbal V6 powered FWD family sedans.
But as is the old Cutlass holds it’s own and I’m happy enough with the power for what I do with this car. As you say a properly tuned 307 with better flowing exhaust and a correctly setup carb are key.
Best of luck with the Malibu Vince. I love hearing about family heirloom cars.
Yes, it has the E-Q-Jet. The car runs fine, its just underpowered. I’ve driven a lot of 305 G-bodies going back to when they were new and they are all pretty much the same.
But that’s an easy fix. It just takes time, patience, and a credit card.
Thank you all for the nice comments, as always, its much appreciated. I have 4 more COALs to go and the next one doesn’t have a problem with being underpowered.
See you soon
Upon a day’s reflection, I have decided:
Me. Still. Want. Car.
Would you consider selling it to me for much less than it is probably worth? Figured it can’t hurt to ask…
All serious offers will be entertained 😁
I just now checked and saw you actually responded!
I wish I could. But I have to invest a little in the (practical, blah) cars we have.
I honestly couldn’t hurt the Pontiac like that by bringing it here to Northwest Indiana as I don’t have a garage, and the salt/potholes/thefts it would have to endure.
BTW, my auto correct tried to turn “potholes” into “potatoes”. I almost sent the post out without seeing it. (“Potatoes! There’s potatoes everywhere!”)
I will continue to enjoy your Pontiac as it is my tablet wallpaper now.
Awesome find, purchase, and piece! (I’m catching up on CC, as it has been a busy week.) What a treat for your daughter – enjoy it yourself, in the meantime. As I read, I was waiting for a picture of your ’77 GP next to the newer one and you came through in the end. This is another neat way to share your GP legacy with her.
In the right color and combination of wheels, etc., some of these latter-day G-Body Grand Prixes could be quite stunning. This one looks great.
I remember back in the late 1990’s a guy at my local Chevy dealer was selling a black 1985 Grand Prix with a built 305 and Vortec heads and what he claimed to be 3.73 rear gears attached to a re-built awesome shifting 200R-4. Seat of the pants it felt like a 14 second 1/4 car! He got the engine from a 1996 Silverado that was totaled for 350.00 bucks and converted it to the GP. That car put a grin on our faces whenever I put the go pedal down. Quite a difference from the 150 HP stock 305. The LS series engines would only improve on this