1962-1977 Grand Prix
Although the GTO and Trans Am are synonymous with Pontiac performance, the Grand Prix played an important role in transforming the brand’s image in the 1960s. Previously, it was seen as a somewhat stodgy brand, but the 1957 and ’58 Bonneville provided the figurative foot in the door that allowed the Grand Prix to muscle its way into the hearts and minds of performance-minded buyers.
The full-size 1962 Grand Prix was an extension of the Catalina/Ventura line, built on the company’s B-body platform, and while unquestionably a large car, it was surprisingly trim looking. It sat lower than its other B-body brethren and most of the chrome gingerbread that was typical of the era had been left off the sheet metal. The result was a leaner, sleeker car with a sporty stance. It was only offered as a sporty two-door hardtop, too, and the base engine was a four-barrel-fed 389 V-8 rated at 303 hp.
The Grand Prix’s street cred was bolstered by Pontiac’s back-door support for Super Stock drag racing, including “Super Duty” versions of the big-displacement 421 engine and over-the-counter engine parts. Although most racers used stripped-down Catalina bodies, there was a significant rub-off effect on the Grand Prix, which offered regular-production versions of the 421 engine and other performance options, including unique an integrated wheel/brake drum system commonly known by its eight-lug bolt pattern.
The Grand Prix remained the flag bearer of full-size style and performance throughout its first decade, although revised styling in 1967 packed on visual weight that detracted a bit from its early image. It was also the one and only year for a Grand Prix convertible, while the following year would be the final for the car on the B-body chassis.
Resized and Reimagined
If the car that helped wean Detroit off its addiction to chrome trim got a little chubby around the edges in 1967 and ’68, the redesigned 1969 Grand Prix was the effective result of a diet-and-exercise plan. It was reimagined as a luxury-minded midsize coupe – a response to shrinking full-size two-door car sales, as customers turned to smaller personal coupes, such as the Buick Riviera.
A stretched version of GM’s A-body platform was the foundation for the new Grand Prix, which was 3 inches narrower and had a 3-inch-shorter wheelbase. Performance ranged from a base 400-cid engine with 265 hp to a 390-hp version of the 428 H.O. The 455 engine was also offered in the Grand Prix’s pivotal second generation, which only lasted four model years: 1969-72.
The third-generation Grand Prix debuted in 1973, along with other midsize GM vehicles of the “Colonnade” era. They were cars developed to accommodate new federal crash standards, which made them longer and heavier. Pontiac’s designers made the most of the dimensions they had to work with, giving the Grand Prix a more formal appearance, but with a long dash-to-front-axle proportion that conveyed performance. Styling was largely the same throughout the third generation, although quad rectangular headlamps distinguish 1976 and ’77 models.
Popular Personal Coupe
Despite the industry-wide double-whammy of heavier cars and the erosion of engine performance through the mid-1970s, the Grand Prix thrived in the popular personal coupe market. More than 228,000 examples were sold in 1976 – including 4,807 Golden Anniversary models to mark the brand’s 50th anniversary. Production topped 288,000 in 1977, the third generation’s final year – and the Grand Prix’s best-ever sales year.
The brand that was once known for stodgy cars was now associated with responsive handling and strong performance. Pontiacs were cars for driving enthusiasts and the Grand Prix was fundamental in that vital transformation in perception.
Original Parts Group offers thousands of 1962-77 Grand Prix parts and accessories, with new parts added daily. Our extensive catalog offers nearly everything from sheet metal, chrome and upholstery to engine parts and the hard-to-find details to finish a restoration with show-winning attention to detail. Our prices make that restoration more affordable, too! Shop online or order your OPG 1962-77 Grand Prix catalog today!