Pontiac Grand Prix

Picking up where the Pontiac Ventura model left off, the Grand Prix first appeared in the Pontiac line for 1962. It was essentially a standard Pontiac Catalina coupe with minimal outside chrome trim and a sportier interior (bucket seats and a center console). The performance-minded John De Lorean, head of Advanced Engineering at Pontiac, contributed greatly to the development of both the Grand Prix and the GTO. Early models had full access to the Pontiac performance option list, including the factory-race Super Duty 421 powertrain installed in a handful of 1962 and 1963 cars.

The full-size Catalina-based Grand Prix did very well through the 1960s, and is often credited with the move towards minimal exterior trim seen in the 1960s. Yet its clear resemblance to the other full-size Pontiacs caused some to consider it a lesser model than the other personal luxury cars. At the same time, the Grand Prix had a much stronger performance image than its competitors.

Aside from the minimal exterior chrome trim and distinctive grille and taillights, the first Grand Prix was much like other full-sized Pontiacs. It was essentially a Catalina hardtop coupe trimmed to standards similar to the larger top-line Bonneville.

Inside were bucket seats upholstered Morrokide vinyl and separated by a center console including a floor shifter, storage compartment and tachometer at the front end. The rear seat was of the bench type with a center armrest below a radio speaker grille (which could be made functional with the extra-cost Bi-Phonic rear speaker), along with nylon loop-blend carpeting covering the floor and lower door panels. Other standards including a padded instrument panel, deluxe steering wheel, courtesy lights and other items.

The standard engine was the Bonneville's 303-horsepower 389-cubic-inch V8 with four-barrel carburetor and dual exhausts. Optionally available were a 389 Tri-Power with three two-barrel carburetors and 318 hp (237 kW), and two other higher-output 389s including a four-barrel version rated 333 horsepower (248 kW) and 348 hp (260 kW) Tri-Power option. Late in the model year a "street" version of the larger 421, primarily a racing engine in 1961 and most of 1962, became available, but only in a four-barrel form rated at 320 horsepower (240 kW). Pontiac also offered the 421 cu in (7 l) Super Duty with two four-barrel carburetors, rated at 405 hp (302 kW), as a US$2,250 option (when the base Grand Prix listed at US$3,490). Also standard was a three-speed manual transmission, while optional transmissions included a Borg-Warner T-10 four-speed with Hurst shifter or the three-speed Roto Hydra-matic.

Source: Wikipedia, 2011

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