Pontiac Grand Prix
The Grand Prix first appeared in the Pontiac line for the 1962 model year, as a performance-oriented replacement for the Ventura, which became a luxury trim level of the full-size Catalina. The performance-minded John DeLorean, head of Advanced Engineering at Pontiac, contributed to the development of both the Grand Prix and the GTO.
All A-bodies, including the Grand Prix, were redesigned for 1973. This generation was larger and heavier, due partly to the federally mandated 8 km/h crash bumpers. The most notable styling feature of this generation was the appearance of the fixed opera window, replacing the previous disappearing rear side glass. This year’s Grand Prix switched from pillarless hardtop design to a pillared “Colonnade” hardtop with frameless door glass as did all GM intermediates in response to proposed federal safety standards regarding roll-over protection.
Front and rear styling of the 1973 Grand Prix turned out be an evolution of the 1971 and 1972 models with a vertical-bar V-nose grille and single headlamps along with the new federally mandated front bumper. The rear featured a revised boattail-like trim with square-taillights above the bumper.
Inside, a new instrument panel continued the wraparound cockpit theme of previous models with new African Crossfire Mahogany facing on the dashboard, console and door panels, which was “real” wood in contrast with the simulated woodgrain material found in most car interiors during that time.
The standard drivetrain consisted of the four-barrel 6.6 L (400ci) V8 rated at 170 kW (230hp) and the Turbo Hydra-Matic transmission. Also standard were power steering and power brakes.
Although the Third Generation Grand Prix was indeed bulkier and heavier than its predecessor, handling was good for a large car, due to improvements in suspension design. GM’s “A” body cars’ front suspensions were based on the Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird during this production run.
Grand Prix production set a new record of over 150,000 units, despite intense competition from a similar restyled Chevrolet Monte Carlo, and luxury coupes such as Buick’s all-new Century Regal and Oldsmobile’s Cutlass Supreme.
The success of the Grand Prix led to direct responses from Ford Motor Company the following year with a larger Ford Elite and Mercury Cougar, which were followed by Chrysler entries in 1975, the Dodge Charger and Chrysler Cordoba.