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Oracle of Delphi

A History of the Pontiac Grand Prix - By Don Keefe

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By the time the 1960s rolled around, Pontiac's reputation as a performance marque had been firmly entrenched on all fronts: stock car racing, drag racing, and most importantly, on the street. Most of the hot Pontiacs sold in those years were carefully optioned Catalinas and Venturas, and while they were unquestionably high-performance cars, they had the same trim levels as the ubiquitous family transporters of those same model names. Pontiac wanted to create a car that embodied performance, luxury, and style—one that didn't owe its existence to a couple of option groups on an order sheet. This was to be the flagship of the fleet, the Grand Prix.

With the four-seat Thunderbird in 1958, Ford had defined a new type of vehicle—the personal luxury car. Product planners all over Detroit quickly realized that this new market was indeed lucrative. Pontiac wanted to take the concept a step further, though. Whereas the T-Bird was a decent performer, the new Pontiac would have the potential to be a real mauler, if the customer desired.

If you noticed the similarities between the 1959 line drawing and the photo of this very rundown 1960, you're not alone. After taking photos of this discovery at a wrecking yard, I sent them to Pontiac Historian John Sawruk and GM Design Staff's Floyd Joliet. They determined that the car was an early Grand Prix production proposal. It was painted in what appeared to be Firefrost Blue and sported such features as a fiberglass roof, fiberglass headlight buckets (like the 1960 X-400), metallic blue leather/cloth interior, power everything, and 8-lug wheels. Unfortunately, this car vanished without a trace during the first week of 1990. Pieces of the car have been found, such as the engine, exterior trim, and interior. It was apparently stripped, but the fate of the rest of the car is now unknown. We hope to have more on this unfinished story in next issue's Department X. —D.K.

As far as automotive historians can surmise, the Grand Prix's beginnings came from the desire to design a successor to the 1957-58 Bonnevilles. Remember, in 1959, the Bonneville gained 2 inches in wheelbase and a full 9 inches in length. A car with a leaner look was needed to carry the upscale performance tradition.

Article continues: http://www.pontiacserver.com/gph1_1.html

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I always love reading this kind of stuff. It seems the mindset at GM was so different then, when there was no question as to which car company was at the forefront.

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All I know is that I built one of those scale models of a '69 Grand Prix, which I loved and I lovingly referred to it as my Grand Pricks. (Okay, I was 11 at the time). I couldn't figure out why my dad snickered every time I said it. He thought I was mispronouncing my model car.

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I meet with Don Kefee 3 weeks ago and if you like his present book he has another coming out next year.

It is going to be on many of the project X stories he did over the years in High Perfomance Pontiac Magazine.

If not familier with the Project X storied they were all directed at prototype Pontiac and Pontiac parts. He also road drives cars like the restored X400 and highlights many cars no longer around. IF you like Pontiacs and love the history this is a must book to buy.

I was thrilled to know there will be a story in the book that I helped with on my finding of some 1990 Fiero nose emblems a friend of mine found and my getting the documented. The nose of my car made the magazine and I hope it and one of my emblems and blue print make the book.

Don today is Editor of Smoke Signals magazine for the POCI. I miss his writing in HPP but POCI will be so much improved with his work in their magazine.

If you don't have the GP book it is a good book. Not rea in depth but still packed with very interesting stories and many fact.

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