Back in maybe second or third grade, circa 1987 at any rate, I was at school going through some old magazines in the classroom. I think it may have been art class and we were doing collages or something, but I honestly don’t remember. Just flipping through it until I spied car ads. Oh boy, car ads! It was a late ’60s Readers’ Digest, and out of all the advertisements contained therein, the best one was for the all new 1969 Grand Prix.
At least, I liked it enough that I carefully cut out the top picture from the magazine and kept it. It was pinned to a corkboard in my room for years. Odds are I still have it, somewhere in a drawer. Anyway, the above ad was the one, and the picture of the green car the one I finagled.
The 1969-72 Grand Prix breathed new life into the GP nameplate. Being based on the full-size Pontiac chassis since its introduction in 1962, in its last couple of years in that form, it lost some distinctiveness.
The ’68 in particular, despite being Henry Hill’s car in Goodfellas, looked an awful lot like a Bonneville or Catalina hardtop except for the hidden headlights and curved rear window. As I recall, one of the then-GM designers (can’t recall if it was Bill Mitchell or someone else) called the ’68 “…a big, fat turkey.” But that was all in the past with the debut of the all-new A-body derived ’69 Grand Prix.
Buyers responded as well, as sales jumped from 1968’s 31,711 to a very healthy 112,486 in 1969. They were lean and right with the times with their long-hood, short-deck body, up to the minute wraparound instrument panel, and huge option list. The Model J was the base model, with an upgraded “SJ” available with sportier overtones. The designations, of course, were a throwback to classic Duesenbergs.
In addition to the year’s longest hood, all ’69 GPs had Strato Bucket seats, center console with floor shift, hidden wipers, hidden radio antenna and a V8 engine as standard equipment. Base price was $3866.
Base engine was a 400 CID V8 with 350 horsepower, with the top option being a 390-horse 428 with 465 ft lbs of torque. A two-barrel 400 with 265 horsepower was available, apparently as an ‘economy’ option.
1970 models were much the same, with the exception of vertical grille bars, updated taillights and a newly-available leather interior.But really, it was so attractive that there was no need for drastic changes.
A more formal “neoclassical” facelift appeared in 1971; for ’72 a revised grille was the biggest change. 1973 saw an all new GP based on the new midsize ‘Colonnade’ body. Sales dropped to 65K in ’70 and 58K in ’71 (despite the revamped sheetmetal) but bumped up to over 91K in swan-song ’72. I’m sure the 1971 GM strike had something to do with that.
And since we’re on the subject, I need to mention that I like the Colonnade GPs too. While they may not have quite the same bold lines as the 1969-72, I still think they’re very sharp–especially the ’73 with its smaller bumpers and one-year-only tail.
This one (and the black ’73 GP) was spotted at the POCI national meet, which ran July 14th through the 16th at the conveniently-close-to-your-author Isle of Capri casino in Bettendorf, Iowa. I went all three days. I conservatively estimate that I took 1,200 pictures, and one was this ’69 GP in what appears to be Warwick Blue with most excellent white top and white interior.
I’ve always liked blue cars with white trim, and probably should have taken more of this one. But there were so many sharp Pontiacs that it was total sensory overload. I think I meant to come back to this one for more shots, but several hours and several hundred pictures later, said thought was erased from my mind!