Pontiac Grand Prix Super Duty

With a production figure of just 16, the 1962 Grand Prix with the 421 Super Duty big block V-8 is an extreme rarity in the hobby. When Milton Robson saw this burgundy coupe for the first time about 20 years ago, he had never seen another. Several years later, he did get news of another authentic 421 Super Duty Grand Prix. The number remaining is probably less than five. So many of the Detroit hot rods were abused that survival rates tend to be low.

Super Duty was “Pontiac-speak” for the ultimate performance engine in the lineup. GM’s #2-selling division was a huge force in the early 1960s on the NASCAR ovals and in NHRA drag racing. Bunkie Knudsen, president of Pontiac, was a big block enthusiast and pushed these engines into the hands of racers. GM had signed the AMA Manufacturer’s Ban on organized racing but still fed privateers engines and other high performance parts. “Win on Sunday and sell on Monday” was the division’s M.O.

In late 1961, Pontiac enlarged the Super Duty 389 to 421 cubic inches to be even more competitive on the racetracks. NASCAR rules mandated engines had to be factory installed in order to be eligible for racing. PMD sold the 421 Super Duty in limited edition 1961- and 1962-model Pontiacs.

The likely platform to race the 421 SD was the Catalina with the lightweight front-end components. Making a full-sized vehicle lighter seems today to be an exercise in futility. The Catalina is certainly a very big car. However, chopping off a few pounds here and there did help. Plus, there really were no mid-sized cars the Detroit automakers wanted to promote. The big car was the big seller and the heavyweight on the street and racetrack in those days.

In 1962, Pontiac replaced the Ventura with their new Grand Prix, a name straight from the racetrack. A small checkered flag logo adorned the front and rear grilles. A Grand Prix, however, was a luxury car. Basically, the Grand Prix was a Catalina with less outside chrome trim, a distinctive grille and taillights for a sporty personal car appearance. Pontiac’s Grand Prix sought to fill the personal car market uncovered by Ford’s popular Thunderbird.

Inside, Morrokide vinyl bucket seats came standard along with a center console, out of which either an automatic or a four-speed shifter protruded. Other Grand Prix features included a tachometer, cruise control, air conditioning and power windows. The Grand Prix became an instant hit and sold well through the 1960s.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in November of 2010 at the Robson Estate, Gainesville, Georgia.

405 bhp, 421 cu. in. Super Duty, four-speed manual gearbox, independent front suspension with A-arms and coil springs, 10-bolt rear axle, eight-lug aluminum wheels. Wheelbase: 120"

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Darin Schnabel

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