Friday, February 3, 2012

Junkyard Adventures: Parts search uncovers pile of 1969-1977 Pontiac Grand Prixs

The accidental Pontiac Grand Prix junkyard crawl. It was actually a Junkyardlife Adventure day when Anthony, Jody and I took to the highway to spy our eyes on some cool out of the way junkyards. I, however turned the day into…drum roll, please…. Ron’s Grand Prix Adventure!

Although, more realistically we were all on quest for other things-like a whole host of things for a 1955 Chevy sedan, that I am wrenching on, and odds and ends for Firebirds, which we all three own. I just have a strange addiction to Pontiac Grand Prixs and I had a feeling these off-the-beaten path junkyards may produce.

‘69 - First of the second gen Grand Prixs
This 1969 Grand Prix Model J (top photo) was one of the first things we saw at Gibbs junkyard in Attalla, Alabama. Also the belly of the GP was one of the last things seen by the unfortunate Mustang II beneath it. How did this happen? This blue beauty was full of great parts and didn’t need to be there in the first place. Odd find of the day # 1: This car was equipped with a 400 engine and 2-barrel carburetor. This gentleman’s muscle car could have used a bit more to drink in its day. You never associate, or even hear of, Grand Prixs of this era to have a miserly, 2-barrel carb. Did John DeLorean know about this?

2-barrels are not better than one 4-barrel.

1969 Grand Prix 400-cubic inch engine
See what’s missing? Three years earlier, Pontiac offered three 2-barrel carbs on top of your motor! You can bet John DeLorean knew about THAT!

Park the classic ’71 Grand Prix on top of the econobox!

Smacked black ’71 Pontiac
May I direct your attention to the 1971 Grand Prix in this painful slide? It’s on the bottom. Of course it is. I studied this car for a while and determined the damage this Model J sustained did not come from an accident during road duty. I feel the damage was done after someone’s bad decision to allow the Grand Prix to come here. I also noticed a Gadsden State parking sticker from long ago. The white thing on top we will never miss. The El Camino in the middle is also a shame, making lots of readers cringe, but the Grand Prix on the bottom? Unforgivable.

Bench seat, no tilt in a Grand Prix. What happened?

Low-buck Grand Prix
Odd find of the day # 2 is really more of what you don’t find on the black 1971 GP. Most Grand Prix models even in basic form had some options. Most restored and rescued models you see are equipped with bucket seats, consoles and power everything. This character has a basic bench seat and a column shifter. It doesn’t even have tilt wheel. Weird. Factor in the manual windows and it makes you wonder why the original owner sprung for the spendy Grand Prix, seeing as they could have gotten a much cheaper car with these same features. Grand Prixs without power options are unusual.

I think I had a refrigerator this color when I was growing up.

1975 Model J
This ’75 Model J was wearing its original Rally II wheels. It appeared to have lost a battle with a fork lift. This car didn’t have tons of options either. It did have bucket seats, though! Despite not having an attractive color and lacking a lot of options that I would prefer to have, this may have been my favorite Grand Prix of the day!

1975 Model J Grand Prix interior.

1977 Grand Prix

Base 1977 Grand Prix in red This ’77 was pretty much a base model with a lot of standard issue equipment. By 1977 the Grand Prix was losing its somewhat pricey reputation. Pontiac offered more entry-level priced cars due to harsh economic times and a “do what you have to do to sell cars” mentality.

Want to bash your Toyota Camry into this bad boy?

Tail dragging ’77, no SJs
This 1977 GP we found off the beaten path in the weeds was very intact. Again, a base model. I am starting to see a pattern here. SJ’s! Where art thou?

What year is that Pontiac Grand Prix?

Brer rabbit, er Grand Prix
Wait! Another Grand Prix! I couldn’t believe it! I could see no good way to get to it, as it was surrounded by huge barriers and briars that were trying to eat us. I had to check this out. Jody and I still got luckier than Anthony — while we were “Indiana Jones”-ing our way to this white Pontiac GP — he was simultaneously finding his elusive Buick at the bottom of a ravine. It turns out free-falling is much better if one has a parachute.

What's a Grand Prix like you doing in a place like this?

Crud! Another ’77
Made it to the white GP. Crud! Another ’77. It’s not that I don’t like the 1977 models. When I endure physical strain and pain to see a Grand Prix, I would prefer it be a ’73-’75 SJ model or LJ model with a 455-cu. inch engine and tons of comfort and go fast options. These cars were special! Not so much an entry-level ’76 or ’77 with square headlights and base equipment. Although in ’76 and ’77 you could still get a big but not super-powerful engine (455 for ’76 and in ’77 a 400 was top dog.) Still with the SJ package you got bucket seats and often comfy velour. 

Dare I say a ’76 or ’77 was (gasp) “common place”? No, I will not go that far because they are far from common today and if the right ’76 SJ came along I would fall into its loving trap. They were just easier to get with run of the mill options by then. Pontiac actually commemorated their 50th Anniversary in 1976 with a Golden Anniversary Edition Grand Prix. 4,807 of these “golden opportunities” were produced, many of them with Hurst Hatches in the roof. Think how cool that would have been — a brand new 1976 Golden Anniversary 455 Grand Prix with bucket seats and the tops out on a cool fall night with Starbuck’s “Moonlight Feels Right” playing on the stereo… See? Can you feel it? I can! Although the ’73-’75 models pull me in like a classy magnet, I can see the attraction to any Grand Prix of this generation. Happy Hunting!

— Ron Kidd, The Earth Roaming Car Guy at

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“The wind blew some luck in my direction I caught it in my hands today
I finally made a tricky French Connection
You winked and gave me your Okay”
      "Moonlight Feels Right" by Starbuck, 1976


Anonymous said...

Nothing better than a 1969 Grand Prix. I miss mine terribly. Patty

Keith said...

Painful. Not really a fan of the '73-77 GPs myself, but as someone who grew up with '71s and '72s all around, and as the proud owner of a triple-black '71 SJ (resto in progress), my heart goes out to those poor Ponchos.

Even with access to off-the-grid yards and connections from 20+ years ago, I don't find many GPs around here (central MN). Nobody's restoring them, and even nice ones are greatly undervalued. But on the flip side, the limited market for parts means they're cheap (as opposed to the more "popular" models) when I do find them :-)

Pictures of one such recent find:

Good job with the site... keep 'em coming!

Unknown said...

Would like to see who is selling parts for a 71 Pontiac grand prix..