Saturday, August 13, 2016

Going for the Bronze: 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix, one owner, time to sell after 47 years

One-owner Model-J Grand Prix hit the roadway with a For Sale sign. It was more than the low price of $1000 pulled us in for a closer look.

Going for the Bronze. I thought perhaps I was having my usual Grand Prix fantasy as I drove past an unassuming automotive repair shop. I do a double take on a vast array of everyday spectacles, trying my hardest to turn something into one of my top favorite carsthe Pontiac Grand Prix. If I got caught during all of my illegal U-turns, committed for the sake of seeing a car that usually turns out to not be a Grand Prix, I could kiss this license goodbye.
  Only, this time, it was a Grand Prix! Not just a Grand Prix, but one that wears my favorite exterior flavor. The amazing Castilian Bronze” paint, and furthermore, despite not being born yet, I am convinced Pontiac did it just for me.
  To make matters even tastier, they matched this Castilian beauty with parchment interior. To a car salesman, it was just a light colored interior, but to us Pontiac guys, it was downright heavenly.

400-V8 air cleaner sits inside the 1969 Grand Prix on the bucket seat.
1969 Pontiac Grand Prix parchment interior is all original and a bit worn.

For The Grand Story
  So, what is this car exactly? It is a 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix Model J. Born with paint code 89 Castillian Bronze (if I didn’t mention that already), with code 287 Parchment Interior. This GP supposedly still has its original engine. The engine designation decal was no longer on the radiator and just guessing from the other options (I know that is not an absolute), I am thinking it is a 400. The original owner thinks it is also, so I can’t argue with that!

  The rest of the car was not exactly a base model, but for a Grand Prix it was not what we would call loaded either. It has 14-inch Rally II wheels, a halo-style vinyl top, and bucket seats with a console. That is about it. It didn’t have cruise control. It didn’t have power windows or seats. It didn’t have an FM radio. It didn’t have (I don’t think) any performance or handling enhancing options. It did have air conditioning, however the compressor and brackets were long gone.

Rust has made a mark on several areas of the ’69 Pontiac.
A vinyl top covers the roof of the Castilian Bronze Grand Prix. Rust has taken hold of a few areas of the body. It should surprise no one what we may find under the vinyl top.

Original-owner history lesson
  The car was purchased new by the gentleman owner and his wife from Birmingham, Alabama. I interviewed them, to the point of interrogation, and had a great time talking to them. The couple were shopping for a new Pontiac in 1969. They liked the redesigned Grand Prix body style and wanted one. So, what do you do if you want a new Grand Prix in Birmingham? You go to Brownell Pontiac, and find the only one in Castilian Bronze on the showroom floor, and you point to it and say, “Sold!” 
  That sounds like a fantasy for most of us, but Mr. Charles and his wife did just that. His wife told me the Pontiac’s paint was her favorite color. It was not a hard sell. 

The original owner claims the Pontiac made several trips cross-sountry in the 1970s.
The original owner said the Pontiac made several trips cross-sountry during the 1970s. The 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix wears a window decal from its trip to Mexico in 1972.

Life is a highway
  Once they grew accustomed to the new fangled door handles, the Grand Prix took them around the country in style. Mr. Charles told me of touring the Grand Prix along the coast line in New Orleans and even going to “Old” Mexicotwice! The car was well traveled and super dependable. He always maintained it to a high standard. 

  When time came to replace the car, Mr. Charles still kept it. Now, he is ready for it to go to a new home. His wife wants it out of the yard. And what do you know? Along comes Junkyard Life. The car may eventually be sold, but who knows? We may be the next chapter. Keep your fingers crossed!

Ron Kidd
— Junkyard Life

More than 112,000 Grand Prix sold in 1969. Well ahead of the 32,000 in 1968.
More than 112,000 buyers flocked to the redesigned beak on the 1969 Grand Prix. Well ahead of the 32,000 sold in 1968.

Top 10: 1969 Grand Prix Fun Facts
  1. The name “Castilian” is Spanish. It refers to the primary language that is spoken in Spain. They are mainly Castilian or Catalan in Spain. A very fitting color and name for Pontiac, who loved to make their product at home in any exotic or affluent location.

  2. The new for 1969 door handles on the Grand Prix confused unaccustomed patrons. They were Pontiac’s appropriate accent to the “cockpit”-like interior.

  3. 1969 was a total body style change that went over very well. Thanks to our hero, John DeLorean, sales doubled in 1969 over the 1968 model year. Well received, indeed.

  4. 1969 was the first year for the “SJ” option that could provide a buyer with luxury and performance options galore. 

  5. A rumor bounced around Pontiac circles for years that the “Model J” and the “SJ” were a reflection of John DeLorean – standing for “John” and “Super John”. The name was actually a nod toward the heritage and influence from Duesenberg.

  6. Not a fact, but a fun and very real possibility that a few of the first 100 1969 Grand Prixs to roll off the assembly line went to Stutz.

  7. In 1969, it was possible to get a 370HP or a 390HP 428 C.I.D. and a manual 4-speed transmission in a Grand Prix. Imagine!

  8. New glass for 1969 Grand Prix buyers. They could impress their friends with a new game called “Find the Antenna” (It was located in the windshield).

  9. Grand Prix owners could also wow their friends with the new electronic defroster in the rear window-keep in mind this was a time when a rear defrost equipped car was merely a fan mounted in the package shelf. This consisted of elements inside the rear glass, like we have in modern cars today.

  10. There is something special about a 1969 Castilian Bronze Grand Prix — and that’s a fact!
Plenty of room to work under the 6-foot long hood.
Original 400-V8 engine under the 6-foot-long hood of the 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix. Plenty of room to work!

Castilian Bronze paint was a special order color on 1969 Grand Prix.
Model J fender emblem on the 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix. Not quite as powerful or luxurious as an “SJ”.

Not many 1969 Grand Prix are still owned by the original title holder. Do you think you’ll keep your car 47 years? Would you sell it for $1,000? 

Do you have a classic or muscle car barn find? Send us details and we’re on the way!  Send emails to Jody Potter at or Ron Kidd at

No comments: