Greg's List: Pontiac Grand Prix
By Greg Warner
The 1969 Pontiac "Grand Prix" was a totally re-designed version based on the new mid-sized 118" wheelbase (some 3" shorter than the 1968 model and exclusive only to the Grand Prix for 1969) "G" body platform from General Motors. John DeLorean, then General Manager for G.M.'s Pontiac Division (who would later become infamous for other reasons), instructed his designers and engineers to build a fresh new vehicle for the 1969 model year release. They started development in April of 1967 and ended up with what many believe to be a perfect combination of great looks, high-performance and good handling (for a car of its size), all wrapped up in a luxurious package! The new Grand Prix would only be offered in a 2-door, semi-fastback, hardtop coupe (no convertible) and would have the longest hood (approx. 6 feet long) to appear on a Pontiac to date. The hood had a large, pointed "beak" at the front and finished off the protruding, "V" shaped grille which split the dual, same-sized, side-by-side, square trimmed, round headlamps. In fact, Pontiac claimed, in their sales brochures, their new Grand Prix had the "longest hood in the industry". The taillights were two long, horizontal, rectangular units, set into the chrome rear bumper. By massaging the current "A" body platform to create the new "G" body, they shaved off critical development time and major costs for most of the expense on the chassis, but the body and interior was entirely brand new. New and stylish, exterior "lift-to-open" door handles replaced the old, standard grab handle with push-button door handles. The base price for a new 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix started out at around $3,866.00 and went to over $6,000.00 fully optioned.
Of the nearly 112,500 Pontiac Grand Prix's built for 1969, the bulk of them, almost 99%, were ordered with the 3-speed, Turbo-Hydramatic, automatic transmission (a $227.00 option). The heavy-duty 3-speed manual transmission came standard (only approx. 338 were produced) and the optional 4-speed, wide or close ratio, manual transmission was only a $185.00 option (approx. 676 were produced), after all, this was mostly a luxury/performance vehicle, so why would you want to waste effort on all that shifting of gears? Only two engine sizes and four powertrain choices were available for the 1969 Grand Prix. The "base" 400 c.i. V8 with 2-bbl carburetor, producing approx. 265 hp, the optional 400 c.i. V8 with 4-bbl carburetor, producing approx. 350 hp, the optional 428 c.i. V8 with 4-bbl carburetor, producing approx. 370 hp and the optional big, bad, "high-output" 428 c.i. V8 with 4-bbl carburetor, producing approx. 390 hp. The Grand Prix "J" models were considered the base models and the "SJ" models were the top-of-the-line only using the 428 c.i. power plants. The "J" and "SJ" model designations were rumored to have been borrowed, by DeLorean, from Duesenbergs of the past, as well as, the long hood and short rear deck areas. However, the "S" did not stand for Supercharger as it had with Duesenberg! The "SJ" (identified by the special badging located on each front fender) also came standard with high-performance suspension components and rear axle, 8.25x14" wide-oval, low-profile tires on "Rallye II" styled rims, dual-exhaust, automatic leveling-control with dual-stage, vacuum activated compressor, power-brakes with front disc/rear drum, chromed valve covers, air cleaner and oil filler cap. Other options were air-conditioning and power steering of course.
On the Interior of the, new for '69', Pontiac Grand Prix, you were surrounded by an aircraft, cockpit-style cluster of "Rallye" style gauges. Once in the drivers or "Command" seat, you were enveloped with all sorts of switches and controls, conveniently located within easy reach. The "Strato-Style" bucket seats were comfortably wrapped in fully expanded "Morrokide" vinyl, fine leather upholstery or vinyl/fabric combinations with “Morrokide” were options. Also an option, at no extra charge, was a split-bench seat with center armrest. A vinyl "Carpathian Elm" burlwood appliqué was used on the dashboard keeping with the luxury "look and feel". All cars had a floor console, slanted towards the driver, which also contained the shifter, ashtray and a storage compartment. An integral "anti-theft" steering/ignition lock was now used on the tilt-wheel column and "pulse-action" intermittent dual-speed windshield wipers with the arms/blades "hidden" from sight (which they promoted as an industry first, which is arguable) by the back edge of that extra-long hood. Another "first" was the nearly-invisible, "hidden" antenna, which was embedded in the center of the front windshield (which frustrated owners due to poor radio reception), power windows were optional, as was a sporty, hood-mounted tachometer. A vinyl "Cordova" style roof was an available option as well as an embedded wire, electrical rear window defroster.
This Poncho "gunboat" of a luxury/performance car was no slouch, just because it weighed in at about 3,900 lbs., it handled well even in corners and best of all . . . it would still go from 0 to 60 mph in about 6.5 seconds or run the 1/4 mile in about 14.1 seconds at around 97 mph! (Est. with the 390 hp, 428 c.i. V8). "Car Life Magazine" actually awarded the new for 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix the prestigious "Engineering Excellence Award"! The new Grand Prix also helped Pontiac hold onto third place in the industry for model-year production, which it had held since 1962! Check out this beautiful, numbers matching, 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix (lot# F-163)offered at auction by Mecum Auctions in Indianapolis this May 17th thru 22nd at their Indy Spring Classic Event and while you're at it check out the many other fine vehicles offered here on ClassicCars.com! Enjoy!!!
Thanks for reading and remember... drive safe, but have fun, spring is in the air and we all want to get out and drive our lil' dreams!
Quiz of the week: Starting in 1969, what did the U.S. Government mandate for all motor vehicle manufacturers to install on "outboard" front seats?
Answer: Head restraints
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