Curbside Classic: 1995 Pontiac Grand Am – American Graffiti

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(first posted 3/13/2013)   It should not surprise you to know that I would never have stopped for a Grand Am of this vintage. And you would never have gotten a Niedermeyer CC on this car; at least not for another twenty years, if any survive that long. By that time it will be very worthy of my attention. But when I saw this one yesterday, I instantly pulled over and whipped out my jaded camera. Can you blame me?

Pontiac Grand Am 1973 -03-04

I apologize about my Grand Am-nesia; it’s just a car that I’ve never paid a moment’s attention to once that shrunken little dwarf  appeared in 1985 bearing the name.  The original 1973 Grand Am was a bold stroke by Pontiac, with the most dramatic face of any of the new GM Colonnades. Just goes to show the that brand new five-mph bumpers didn’t have to look like battering rams.

Regardless of whether the gen1 Grand Am was your thing or not, it certainly left a lasting impression, despite its short run of three years. By 1975, folks were more interested in fuel economy than a 455 cubic inch mega-midsize-luxury-performance-mobile. The Grand Am lineage should have ended there forever: a unique attempt to re-create some of the old-time Pontiac excitement that just didn’t really catch on. But you just knew they couldn’t leave well enough alone.

pontiac grand_am 1978

Three years after its grand death, it was reincarnated, on the new down-sized platform that arrived in 1978. It turned out to be an even bigger dud. Whereas the ’73 sold some 45K before dropping off substantially in t1974 and 1975, the neo-GA never sold more than four figures per year; yes, they brought it back, but as a zombie.

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True confession: I actually shot this gen3 GA a couple of years ago, probably for a GM Deadly Sin that I just couldn’t get inspired enough to write up. I would have preferred it be a bright red coupe with a spoiler, a vehicle that a TTAC commenter once described as inevitably belonging to a hair dresser with long nails who lives in a trailer with an out-of work boy friend. A little stereotyped, but what can I possibly add to that?

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Ironically, this gen4 GA is (was) bright red with a spoiler, but its owner undoubtedly doesn’t fit the description above. The big question though: is his choice of a GA as his “blank canvas” intentional? Would he have done this to a Honda Civic? We’ll never know, but the odds lean somewhat in the direction of that speculation. Or maybe it was just really cheap. Well, that already is making a statement about it, isn’t it?

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What do I know? And why speculate? Live in the moment, and just enjoy how artfully this GA has upon (click for larger view). One barely notices those sweet quad exhausts.

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Those quads exhausts trumpet to the world that GM’s infamous 3100 V6 engine is under the hood; the one that was guaranteed to have a failed intake gasket within 90 days of the warranty expiring. Hopefully, one of the owners of this one got some benefit from the numerous class action suits against GM for this egregious little mistake. The EGR valves have an unfortunate attraction to carbon too, with the effect of increasing the consumption of more hydro-carbons. I don’t seem to see any messages on the hood regarding any engine issues, so maybe it was all taken care of earlier.

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Such a unique and original vehicle deserves something from me that I almost never do: a shot from the other side. Yes; it is quite different. Now I do like the top carrier; Grand Ams are not the kind of car one typically sees with one.

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It may not be apparent, but the new custom dash cover is mad from a mat of old paper maps, among other things. It appears they were all soaked first, so that they would conform to the dash’s contours. Success!

Well, I’ve shown you all my photographs, and I can’t really work myself up properly to denigrate this Grand Am. Conveniently, someone already did it for me. Feel free to whip out a marker and jump in too. You could even say something nice; I doubt anybody would too offended.

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