Pontiac Grand Prix (1969-1972)

1970 Pontiac Grand Prix Model J

The second generation Pontiac Grand Prix was all new for 1969. Even though it was a second generation vehicle, Pontiac General Manager, John Z. DeLorean, ordered the an all-new Grand Prix based on a slightly stretched version of the intermediate GM A platform, which was to be known as the the G-body. The new Grand Prix was smaller, lighter and had its own body. The previous model had been based off the Pontiac Catalina.

The new Grand Prix brought a new level style and luxury into the intermediate class and created a new market segment: the intermediate personal luxury car. Other makes followed as quickly as they could: Chevrolet with the 1970 Monte Carlo,  Oldsmobile with the 1970 Cutlass Supreme, Ford responded initially with a version of the Ford Torino until the introduction of the 1974 Ford Elite and 1974 Mercury Cougar XR-7, and Chrysler also entered with the placement-holder Dodge Charger until the introduction of the 1975 Chrysler Cordoba. The Grand Prix offered consumers with a smaller and lower-priced alternatives to the full-size personal-luxury cars of the day that included the Ford Thunderbird, Buick Riviera, Oldsmobile Toronado, and pricier Cadillac Eldorado and Lincoln Continental Mark III.

1969 Pontiac Grand Prix

1970 Pontiac Grand Prix Model J

Key design elements of the 1969 Grand Prix included a redesigned radiator, “Coke bottle” body shape and Duesenberg styling cues, such as a long hood, which gave the Grand Prix a luxury look without the luxury cost. For 1969 the new Grand Prix would only be offered as a hardtop, with two trim levels, the J and SJ, which were borrowed from the old Duesenbergs.

The interior of the 1969 Grand Prix featured a sporty and luxurious appointments with a wraparound cockpit-style instrument panel, that was named the “Command Seat”. The “Strato” bucket seats were separated by a console slanted toward the driver which included the floor shifter, storage compartment and ashtray, integrated into the instrument panel. Upholstery choices in the Grand Prix included standard Morrokide vinyl, Morrokide and cloth, or extra-cost leather. The leather option included a thicker more luxurious cut-pile carpeting.

1970 Pontiac Grand Prix Model J

The Grand Prix also focused on performance. Two engine sizes were offered with two power options were available in each engine size: a 265 hp 400 CID (6.6 L), a 350 hp 400 CID , a 370 hp 428 CID (7.0 L), or the high output 428 CID . Other innovations introduced on the 1969 Grand Prix included a concealed radio antenna,  an optional built-in window defogger, side-impact beams inside the doors, and flush-mounted “pop-open” exterior door handles.

Changes for the 1970 model included a new grille, movement of “Grand Prix” nameplates from the lower cowls to the rear C-pillars and the vertical chromed louvers from the C-pillars down to the lower cowls. Engine options included a new 370 hp 455 CID V8. The standard engine was the 350 hp 400 CID and a low-compression 400 CID engine was available with a two-barrel carburetor. An automatic transmission was no cost option.

The interior also received minor revisions. A bench seat with center armrest was added as a no-cost option to the standard bucket seats. The bench seat option included a steering column-mounted shifter with the automatic transmission along with a dashboard-mounted glovebox, which replaced the console mounted shifter and glovebox of bucket-seat cars. Power front disc brakes were standard equipment this year.

1971 Pontiac Grand Prix

1971 Pontiac Grand Prix

1971 brought slight changes to the front and rear of the Grand Prix. The car received a new integrated bumper/grille with larger single headlights that replaced the quad lights and a new slanted boattail style rear with taillights integrated into the bumper. The interior received revised patterns for cloth and vinyl upholstery for both the bench and bucket seats. The leather interior option was discontinued. Engine choices included a standard 400 CID V8 with four-barrel carburetor and dual exhausts, rated at 300 hp and an optional four-barrel 455 CID V8 rated at 325 hp. Transmission were carried over unchanged, but at mid-year, a Turbo Hydra-Matic automatic became standard equipment and the manual shifters were dropped. Variable-ratio power steering was made standard.

1972 Pontiac Grand Prix

1972 Pontiac Grand Prix

1972 was the last year for this generation. As such the Grand Prix received minor styling revisions, which included a new cross-hatch grille and triple cluster taillights. Burled-elm trim interior was replaced by a new teakwood design. Upholstery trim patterns for vinyl and cloth selections were revised again. Engine offerings were unchanged. Mid-year, Pontiac released a radial tire option for the Grand Prix. At that same time, a new “Fasten Seat Belts” light with buzzer was added per Federal safety regulation.

An all-new 1973 Grand Prix was supposed to be 1972 model. However, a 67-day corporate-wide strike at GM in late 1970 that delayed the 1971 model introduction set back 1972 model production plans. All of which caused the new A and G-body cars planned for introduction to 1972 to be delayed by one year for a 1973 introduction.

For other Pontiacs, see our post on the 1964-1967 Pontiac Tempest. For other classic cars see our post on the 1964 – 1967 Chevrolet Malibu or the 1961 – 1969 Lincoln Continental.

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8 Responses to Pontiac Grand Prix (1969-1972)

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