Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Beware of craigslist! You may find your dream car or a 1973 Pontiac Grand Am for sale


1973 Pontiac Grand Am bites new owner online. The Junkyard Life Colonnade Coupe score card could read: Anthony-1, Jody-0, Ron-0. Fellow Junkyard Life Galoot Anthony has scored one of our dream cars via craigslist. A 1973 Pontiac Grand Am. Actually, the three of us happened upon this car on a past Junkyard Life adventure about two years ago. This unique Pontiac changed hands a couple of times since then, despite being right in the same spot that we found it. Anthony landed the Grand Am when he least expected and needed it. He already has several project cars to deal with, but that's what happens when you feed your craigslist habit by looking for your dream car online every day. 
  So, what is this future fun mobile? First, let’s get a little history on Grand Am itself.


1973 Pontiac Grand Ams featured a host of gauges, Custom Sport steering wheel and a stalk-operated headlight dimmer control.


1973 Grand Am facts
  The Pontiac Grand Am was introduced in 1973 to make its mark in the dark years of American car performance. These Colonnade models, otherwise known as GM's A-Body or mid-size cars (built between 1973-1977), featured dramatically different styling from the 1972 A-Bodies. Design revisions for 1973 included the elimination of pillarless hardtops due to proposed federal rollover standards. These beefier-bodied A-Bodies were a bit heavier and slower due to new government pollution and safety regulations. Also, if you add in the rising price of fuel and insurance costs, you can see why Grand Am's didn’t exactly fly off the dealer's lots. Only 43,136 Grand Ams were built for the ’73 model year. 
  Pontiac put the Grand Am on temporary hiatus after three years of production (1973, 1974, 1975). In 1977, the LeMans-based Can Am model featured a tribute to the Colonnade-based Grand Am — louvered side windows. The Grand Am nameplate returned in 1978 on the downsized, G-Body platform. Unfortunately, the sexy shell of the 1973 Grand Am design was replaced by the boxy sculpture of the next generation Pontiacs.


Flowing curves extend from the 1973 Grand Am's painted urethane nose all the way to the rear bumper. Need more trunk space? Not if I have to sacrifice style!


Nose job
  The Grand Am was all about style even though they were offered in both two and four-door models. All featured a beak-like, flexible, urethane nose perched atop the body-colored front bumper. Unfortunately, Anthony's Grand Am is missing the nose, its most distinctive styling element. Not to worry, fiberglass replacements can be had for under $800. I believe that is a bit more than Anthony paid for the car! 


Anthony's Grand Am needs a restoration, but at least it was rescued before the crusher got it.


Pontiacs aplenty
  It was a challenge for Pontiac and their sister companies to build exciting, performance cars without the performance under the hood. Pontiac's designers and engineers made the most out of what they had to work with. They developed and marketed the Grand Am as an American car with European flavor. 
  Pontiac loved to name their cars after exotic automobile races. That sounds like the case here, but the Grand Am race didn’t exist until years later. Could Pontiac have had a crystal ball? I've also read that Pontiac took the luxury-implying “Grand” name from the Grand Prix and “Am” from the performance-oriented Trans Am. Bam! A new car model that also happens to be a future race. Perfect.


Strato bucket seats with lumbar adjustment were standard in the 1973 Grand Am.


Fred CarSpender has choices
  Keep in mind that Pontiac alone had three entries into that mid-size market at the time. The LeMans, The Grand Prix and the Grand Am. Four, if you count the 1973 GTO as its own model. Imagine trying to sell the corporate bean counters that they too, needed three (or four) models on a 112-inch wheelbase (116-inch wheelbase for four door models) platform, when all the other divisions had several models already cooking. How specific could each demographic be? How could Fred CarSpender ever narrow it down to pick one? Imagine selling them on the production costs of parts specific to each one. These days, that would lead to the cleaning out of one’s desk and a security escort to the front gate.


Ron Kidd guides the ’73 Grand Am off the trailer. Anthony Powell, right, works the wench on the trailer.


Closer look
  A brief stroll through Craigslist caused Anthony to stumble onto a car that he had to buySo, what does Anthony have here? A great, restorable example of a moderately optioned Grand Am in Starlight Black, that’s what! Standard on the Grand Am were a lot of cool toys. 
  A quick inventory of this car went well. A 400 C.I.D Pontiac mill with a four-barrel carburetor for power. Strato bucket seats, which recline and have adjustable lumbar support. A center console and Rally gauges to look at as you grip the Custom Sport steering wheel. Front and rear sway bars and 15-inch Pontiac Rally II wheels, which will make riding a downright pleasure in this Pontiac. 
  Anthony's Grand Am is an odd combination of "haves" and "have nots." It has cruise control, but no tilt wheel. It has power windows, but manual door locks. There are only a few obvious options this car doesn’t have. A tachometer and a sunroof are missing. The obvious thing it doesn’t have, and we are so glad of it, is the vinyl top. That’s why the car is still here today after all those years in the weather. That evil option is responsible for so many deaths of otherwise solid cars that were eaten alive by rust. Not in this case. A "thank you" goes to whomever was responsible for not ordering it on this car.


Anthony, left, and Ron, right, unload the ’73 Grand Am.

Another rescued
  Anthony grabs a Grand Am but Jody and I are not left out entirely in the cold. Him having it, is just like us having it. Hopefully, it will be on the road soon for us all to enjoy. One day I will have my 1974 Pontiac Grand Prix SJ and Jody will have his dream 1973 Pontiac GTO. But, in the mean time, we will all have the satisfaction that we rescued a very cool car.

Happy Hunting!

Ron Kidd 
- junkyardlife
  

Know of a junkyard I need to visit or want to send me photos and info about a car or junkyard?  Send emails to Ron at Kidd403@bellsouth.net or Jody at junkyardbull@gmail.com.




1973 Grand Ams featured plenty of eye candy in the instrument cluster.

Ron steers and wonders why Anthony didn’t buy a 1973 Grand Am with an engine installed in the car.

How many Starlight Black 1973 Pontiac Grand Ams do you own?

This ’73 Grand Am was originally equipped with a 400- cu. inch engine and automatic transmission.

Colonnade Grand Ams were designed to meet tougher government rollover standards. Sometimes we wish we had a rollback wrecker. 


The sun sets on the day we rescued a 1973 Pontiac Grand Am.


Production totals for 1973-1975 Pontiac Grand Am
  Changes for each model year

1973 - 43,136 Grand Ams built
  • Urethane nose featured 6 grill opening.

1974 - 17,083
 Grand Ams built
  • Redesigned nose and grill with 12 openings with small horizontal bars inside each opening. 
  • The rear end styling was redesigned for the 5-mph crash standards 
  • Vertical rear taillights. 

1975 - 10,679
 Grand Ams built
  • Body-colored rear bumper
  • Louvered rear quarter windows were standard on Grand Am coupes, while a formal rear quarter window was a no-cost option.

Know of a junkyard I need to visit or want to send me photos and info about a car or junkyard?  Send emails to Ron at Kidd403@bellsouth.net or Jody at junkyardbull@gmail.com.