04 August 2014

Car Stuff: Random Sighting #29

In stalking sometimes elusive vintage cars, I have learned that when I see something interesting, it's better not to procrastinate about getting pictures of it. (I'm planning a return visit to last week's featured garage to see what new stuff has rolled in.) I spotted today's specimen, parked in front of another repair garage, about five minutes after photographing the beige Matador, but I didn't want to make the Mrs. stop again, so I went back on my own a couple of days later. I was in the same area within the past two weeks and the car was gone, so I'm glad I shot it when I did.
There was no way I could miss a car painted this color, and at first I assumed that it had to be a repaint, but another quick visit to PaintRef confirmed that Monarch Yellow was indeed a factory Pontiac offering in 1972 for this car, a Grand Prix, and other models. Then again, friends of our family had a '72 Pontiac LeMans station wagon in Quezal Gold (this color), so I shouldn't have been surprised by the yellow; it was the '70s, after all. I'm not a fan of yellow in general, but it does look good with the white vinyl top and white interior.
The Grand Prix first appeared in 1962 as a specialty model of the full-size Pontiac line. Sales declined in the second half of the 1960s due to the popularity of smaller sporty cars like the Mustang and Camaro, so for the '69 model year the car was moved to the mid-size platform but given an extended wheelbase to ride on, and the longest hood ever fitted to a Pontiac. (For 1970 Chevrolet also got to build its own version of this car, the first Monte Carlo.)

This car helped bring the personal-luxury idea down from Thunderbird and Riviera territory to a more accessible price, and in the '70s this segment exploded with cars like the Grand Prix, the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, and the Chrysler Cordoba racking up hundreds of thousands of sales per model year.
The 1969 and '70 Grand Prixs had quad headlights, which I think look much better than these single units, which appeared with a '71 restyle and are a bit too baroque for my taste. The rear also got busier that year with an angled center section, but I couldn't get a shot of this car's back end due to how it was parked, so you can see how it looked over here. The choice of wheels is very unfortunate, but easy enough to change. I think the driver's door has been repainted; it looks a bit brighter than the rest of the car.
This car has lots of cool little details like a wraparound instrument panel, a console angled toward the driver, pop-out door handles, and rear side windows that retract horizontally instead of dropping down like most windows. Leather seats were also available, which was unusual on non-luxury brand cars at the time.

About 25 years ago I had a ride in a Grand Prix of this vintage, and it was a lot of fun. They're very cool cars, and if you're looking for something a bit unusual in a vintage car that will provide fun summer cruising (with voluminous fuel consumption), a 1969-72 GP would be an interesting choice.

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