By on August 1, 2012

The General produced quite a few not-so-quick front-drive cars with sporty-looking graphics and spoilers during the 1990s (e.g., the Beretta Z26), but the addition of an Eaton supercharger to the good old Buick V6 engine resulted in some fairly fast 90s machinery. Here’s a Grand Prix that had 240 horsepower at the front wheels during happier times.
These things managed to get into the 14s in the quarter-mile, which is quite hairy for a front-drive street car of the 1990s. Rapid depreciation and the resulting nothing-to-lose leadfoot drivers tended to kill them off in a hurry.
ABS was still special enough in 1998 to warrant badges on the wheels.
By the late 1990s, GM had finally figured out that the squiggly pink-and-green decals of the previous decade were considered passé by even the most out-of-touch car buyers. These more restrained GTP badges look much more dignified.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

58 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1998 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP...”


  • avatar
    JCraig

    Such a minor accident put this in the junkyard. I’m surprised a local shop or fix and sell guy didn’t grab this early. This car could’ve been right at home on a buy-here-pay-here lot after a new trunk…

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      I bet that what sent this thing to its doom was the supercharger and/or the transmission grenading, because the meth-head/redneck who beat on it never bothered to change those fluids.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Oddly enough, the belt tensioner is usually what does in the supercharger. Generally speaking this drivetrain is very robust but I would bet the trans is what put it in the yard. That interior is the antithesis of the drivetrain. Just look at that crap switchgear…

    • 0 avatar
      ranwhenparked

      There’s other issues though. The front fascia looks like its matte black plastic, as if it was replaced and never painted, and the hood looks a bit wavy. There was a poorly repaired front end collision at some point in the car’s history too, unless a lot was invested in cosmetics, this car would have been a tough sell.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    How many miles did it last?

    • 0 avatar

      The driver’s door latch mechanism was busted (no doubt a contributing factor to its junkyard destiny) and I didn’t feel like crawling over all the crap in the car to get to the odometer. So, that number remains a mystery.

      • 0 avatar
        tmkreutzer

        You could have gone in the back door and took the photo over the driver’s seat.

        But I know how it is with guys and going in the back door. You get told “no” enough and you don’t even thank about it.

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        This car probably had an electronic odometer readout anyways – Pontiac Bonnevilles (not sure about the Grand Prix though) since the early 1990s had them.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    Hmm, I wonder if those wheels will fit on my beater buick…I could use an upgrade from the woefully undersized 14 inch steelies it came with. Do you know how hard it is getting to find decent 14 inch tires for a full sized car?

    I’d grab the seats too if they weren’t trashed.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    I had the Regal GS. With just a smaller supercharger pulley the 3800 Series-ll was well into the low 13′ in the 1/4 mile. That was faster than Corvette/F-body with automatic transmission. With Addco rear sway bar and revalved shocks it was quite a performer at the time.

    • 0 avatar
      BigDuke6

      “With Addco rear sway bar and revalved shocks it was quite a performer at the time.”

      Lol. Relative to what?

      • 0 avatar
        psarhjinian

        Compared to a lot of cars. Before the 2003 Altima came out, this was pretty-much-unheard-of power for a family car. We kind of take it for granted now, but 240hp in a commodity midsizer, with a pulley away from much more, was a big, big deal in 1998.

        They sucked in so many other ways, but power wasn’t one of them.

      • 0 avatar
        MLS

        The second generation Chrysler LH sedans debuted in 2008, and the 3.5L V6 models (Intrepid R/T, 300M, LHS) offered ~250hp, which was an impressive figure for the time. I suppose those vehicles were a class above the Pontiac in question, but then the contemporary Acura TL couldn’t match the Chryslers’ power, either.

  • avatar
    cadarette

    Now this is a fine piece of American craftsmanship that anyone would be proud to own.

  • avatar
    Bill Owen

    After years of never buying a top-of-the-line model, I purchased a 1999 GTP loaded with everything. Mine, too, was black, except with a black leather-surfaced interior. I had transmission issues out of the gate and after 3 months, GM replaced it. I should count myself lucky, as GM wasn’t the most customer-friendly organization 13 years ago. The GTP was considered good-looking by most of my friends, although the rear spoiler looked like a boogie-board. As mentioned, the GTP was an OK performer all things considered. Torque-steer, however, was an issue with these cars. Better standard tires might have alleviated some of that problem. In hindsight, I must not have been that thrilled with it, as I traded it in for a new Mercedes SLK about 8 months later according to my car diary.

  • avatar
    jgcaulder

    My friend and his wife had one of these. With four adults in the car, this thing would et out of it’s way in a hurry. I was always impressed with it, and for the going rate latley, these are awesome bang for the buck beaters.

  • avatar
    cyberc9000

    Say what you will about GM in the 90s, but those 3800 motors were unkillable.

    • 0 avatar
      GoesLikeStink

      I had a $800 Bonneville with that motor. Hated the rest of the car, but that thing would have run forever if I had wanted it to. But I replaced it with a $1000 dollar 65 Dart wagon when the water pump blew in the Bonneville.

    • 0 avatar
      psarhjinian

      The motor in isolation might have been okay. The plastic intake manifold GM slapped onto it did it no favours with the general public.

  • avatar
    gearhead77

    The cleanliness of the design compared to the car it replaced is astounding. The non-GTP versions didn’t look as muscular, though still a very clean if somewhat derivative design from the General. I loved the ABS centercap on the cars equipped with cross-lace wheels for the knock off BBS look. Inside was a vast improvement over the previous car too, although still behind the contemporary imports. I remember the Maxima of that time was the car everyone loved.

    I drove quite a few of these, albeit non-GTP versions, while I worked as a car prep for Enterprise through college. The 3800 powered ones went much better than the 3.1 equipped cars, I can only imagine the supercharged version. Still, a good redo of this car. Then they let it go way,way too long.

    • 0 avatar
      Roberto Esponja

      Yeah, unfortunately the design that came out after that was a mess, and IMHO contributed to Pontiac’s downfall.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        Which design, the 04-08 GP?

      • 0 avatar
        jayzwhiterabbit

        Yeah, IMO the ’04-’08 GP that replaced this car was a terrible step backward, at least in exterior design. It had weird proportions and that awful, thick piece of trim down the side of the body. Unfortunately the interior also suffered from that Pontiac cutesy-curvy design shittiness that seems to be a universal turnoff…I don’t know WTF Pontiac stylists were thinking for the last 20 years. They would take a car that would have looked good if it was cleaned up and then bolt on that awful side-cladding that seemed to plague most of their vehicles. Remember the Grand Am? In fact, that was the best thing about the ’97-’03 GP: it was a pretty smooth looking car, and the GTP looked even cleaner. The very last years of the Bonnevilles looked much better too, as they got rid of the stupid ribs all over the trim on the bottom of the car.

  • avatar
    millmech

    It looks like the scratches on the trunk lid are the result of the yard technician’s skillful manipulation of the lock in order to open the lid.

  • avatar
    C170guy

    I rode in one of those once when it was brand new. It was silver.
    It was interesting and exciting. You could feel the torque. It most closely reminded me of (turbo?) Volvo’s of that era. The leather felt good and the HUD projected on the windshield was a great idea, not to mention being one of the coolest things I had ever seen in a car. Being an older GM car it also had worthwhile A/C, unlike most cars from anyone else (still a problem today).

    What happened to the HUD idea? I would like to see that come hack unless there were glaring faults that could not be overcome.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    These cars do not age well here in the South.

    The interior seats rip easy. The door panels peel up. Fluid leaks aplenty. When a major repair hit, taking apart the engine was like trying to make your way through a maze.

    The best 3800′s are the plain ones. No superchargers for me or my customers.

  • avatar
    18726543

    My dad bought a 4-door ’99 back in 2003. It was a lot of fun to drive and didn’t suffer too many problems over-all. The HUD never worked quite right and after enough trips to the dealer he just gave up and used the regular gauges. We used to travel in it as a family and it was roomy and comfortable inside which was great. That stupid plastic switch-gear was everywhere though. I don’t remember it going through an intake gasket, though it probably did. It was eventually crushed by a lady in a Tahoe backing out of a gas pump. It was only worth about 5k at the time and she really mashed the B-pillar crushing both doors, rockers, and everything else.

    • 0 avatar
      bumpy ii

      The supercharged 3800s never got the plastic intake manifold that caused so many gasket problems on the regulae 3800s.

      • 0 avatar
        redmondjp

        But they still did have the plastic/rubber gaskets between the lower intake and the heads, just like the earlier 3800s with the one-piece aluminum intakes did back into the 1980s. I got 21 years and 212K miles before my 1988 started to leak there.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    These cars are getting a third life around here. Of course, they started out as new cars, then were sold/given to younger drivers, but lately I’ve noticed several nicely preserved models around town. I don’t know what to attribute that to, or if it’s just kismet…

    There were a few kids who took and hot-rodded these things in our area. Mostly just the pulley and exhaust mods. They’re quite quick for such a large car. A coworker had one of these when new, and I found I really liked the car. The 3800 has a lot of torque, and the car itself seemed to drive well. Oddly, I never found one of these in my driveway…

    Still a fan. Sad to see this one in the boneyard, though.

  • avatar
    GoesLikeStink

    These seem like they would be popular LeMons cars. Super cheap, afordable, plentiful parts, and sort of fast.

    • 0 avatar
      PunisherBass

      My LeMons (Final Gear Racing) team is one of only two in the series who’s racing a GTP currently, the other is Team Fubar. And there’s only been 4 SC 3800′s run in the series to date, and one of those engines has served time in two different cars.

      Most parts are plentiful, but not all, it took us 11 months to find a new engine that wasn’t overpriced or already run over 200k.

  • avatar
    99_XC600

    As a current owner of a 2004 Pontiac Grand Prix GT2 with the 3800 Series III (Currently has 174k on the clock). I couldn’t be more happier with the car. 7 Years of ownership and just a battery, wheel bearings and brakes. Hands down the most reliable car I’ve ever owned.

    I just wish it would break down at times so it would give me a valid reason to replace it.

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Funny you should mention that, my Dad had a GT2 and replaced it after the alignment kept going out.

      I drove it a few times and never cared for it, cheap interior, too much power at the front wheels, bad visiblity in the back, and to top it all off it was a reddish purple.

      • 0 avatar
        99_XC600

        Had the alignment issue as well early on in the life of the car. It turned out to be a bad rack.

        Yes the interior is drowning in a sea of dark grey. However with it being 8 years old, I don’t have any broken or loose trim, not even a busted seam in the drivers seat.

        For my daily 80 mile commute, it’s a great highway car.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        3800 lives for the highway.

        Go, go, gadget TORQUE!

  • avatar
    ajla

    I had a black 2000 GTP for awhile. At the time, it was the most money I’ve ever spent on a car and I genuinely did everything I could to take care of it. It was also my first experience with a supercharged 3800.

    My favorite part of it was the engine, but overall I was hoping for a bit more “driving excitement” out of this one as my Bonnevilles were just as nice of a drive and seemed to have better durability. I also thought my ’94 Grand Prix coupe was better looking.

    I didn’t really miss the GTP when it was replaced.

  • avatar
    N8iveVA

    I remember reading a review when this model came out and how the reviewer talked about how this car looked and felt like a 5 year old car.

  • avatar
    ChevyIIfan

    My buddy had a 2000 model with just the plain 3800, no supercharger. All the interior was falling apart as of 2010, he beat on it, never changed anything, but it got him to right at 198k before the transmission grenaded on him. Still ran well until the tranny bombed. He dumped it then.

  • avatar
    JLGOLDEN

    I think this was an elegant body style – one which still looks fresh today. Even the interior design (note, NOT materials, textures…just the design) could be directly out of a new 2012 any-mobile.

  • avatar
    SqueakyVue

    I have 98 Regal Gs and it has been a money pit. That said I have yet to see another American brand offer the same power and comfort in a midsize family sedan. The 2013 MKZ looks promising but who has the coin for that? Makes me wish for a four door mustang.

  • avatar
    jayzwhiterabbit

    The GTP’s from these model years were arguably the best-looking W bodystyle ever, with the exception of the Olds Intrigue. The Intrigues I see driving around today still look wonderfully proportioned. The interior on the Olds version was also way nicer and fresh, although materials were still a little cut-rate compared to the mainstream imports of the time.

  • avatar
    carbiz

    Never cared much for the look of the Grand Prix (well, not since the ’69-’72 dissolved into dust), but Bob Lutz took the Toronto Star to task in 2005 when they printed the usual scathing (and biased) crap about GM: the Star showed up at the GM proving grounds with the all new Maxima, whereupon the Grand Prix proceeded to wipe the tarmac with the Nissan. That’s good enough for me.
    The Intrigue was the better vehicle, but with the usual GM fit and finish, the car was embarrassing in its price class. GM should’ve known: strip the car of useable gadgets (drum-in-hat parking brake, automatic headlights, ABS, etc), make it so the pundits can’t slip a dime between the fender and door frame, and ensure the dashboard is so soft they can hump their ho on it, then they will gush all over the vehicle……

    • 0 avatar
      jayzwhiterabbit

      Agreed! A car can have the panache of a refrigerator on wheels, but if it’s got soft interior plastics the mainstream magazines/reviewers just rave about it. Camcords prove that over and over…

      The style of the Intrigue made up for the less-than-stellar interior materials, though. When that car came out in late 1997 it looked sensational compared to the majority of midsize sedans at that time. It made the ’98 Toyo Camry look like a 1980′s Volvo 240 in comparison….I remember plenty of Camry and Accord drivers expressing interest in our car – asking who made it (the early 1998 Intrigues had no Oldsmobile badging). We bought one of the very first ones in the fall of ’97, and everywhere we went we got looks and compliments. GM did a customer opinion styling preview just before launching the car, and the majority of those surveyed thought it was a new Lexus before they knew it was an Olds. I wish Oldsmobile could have been saved because it got some outstanding products and styling at the end, certainly the best of GM at the time….the original Aurora was a beautiful car. The second generation Aurora was also great-looking, if a little less-so IMO, and the Alero was a very nice little car ten times better than it’s Pontiac Grand Am platform sibling. I was saying all along in the late ’90s that the Intrigue should have really been the Chevy Impala or Malibu, and the Alero should have been marketed as a small Chevy.
      The Intrigue was also available starting in mid 1998 with the 3.5 DOHC V6 “Shortstar” motor, an engine that was exclusive to the Olds version of the W body (to the best of my knowledge). Our 1998 Intrigue had the Autobahn package (bigger brakes, very attractive 17″ alloy wheels, upgraded suspension, rear spoiler, special badges) and handled like it was on rails….it was the best-handling sedan I’d ever driven by far. The interior was quite elegant and very unique among the other W bodies, with much higher quality materials than the Grand Prix or Regal even if they were still less than world-class. The main complaint was the dash material and it was not nearly so bad as it was described in the reviews. Switchgear was much upgraded from the usual cheapo-GM fare, also unique to Olds, and it had import-style control stalks unlike traditional GM cars. I had just turned 16 that fall and I convinced my parents to opt for the upgraded stereo, a 10-speaker Bose system with an amp & subwoofer plus a CD changer in the trunk. I was not-so-secretly hoping to get the car as a hand-me-down in a few years, but unfortunately I totalled it when it had a little over 120K on the odo. I miss that car, and my mother who is decidedly NOT an auto enthusiast loved that car more than any she ever owned. Our 2006 Impala isn’t half as nice as that Intrigue was!

      David E. Davis stated in a review that he couldn’t imagine anyone purchasing a Ford Taurus or Grand Prix/Regal/Lumina over that car, and I wholeheartedly agree!

      Oh yes, one other thing I wanted to convey about the W body cars, a platform that spawned some good models over the years. I am by no means a huge GM fanboi – when GM makes a dog I am the first to say it, and I recognize their habit of less-than-stellar designs. But I am fair about it, giving credit where credit is due as I did in the comments above.
      But while I do like select W bodies overall, there are two things that GM did over the years that handicapped the platform: one was the cheap interiors, and the other were the outdated powertrains. GM should have updated to six-speed automatics 10 to 15 years ago, and should have also updated to DOHC engines across the line from the get-go in 1988. It is RETARDED that my dad’s 2006 Chevy Impala has a 4-speed auto and even more RETARDED that it has a ridiculously underpowered pushrod 3.5L motor. In the 1980′s the pushrod motors were somewhat excusable, but in 2006 it was a clear sign of GM’s atrophy. The import motors of that displacement are getting 270+ HP, while our old pushrod 3.5 is rated at 205. Come on!! I completely agree that the old 3800 series motors were reliable, but from a performance standard they were woefully inadequate in the American midsize sedan market. It is very typically GM that the 2012 Impalas have finally gotten a powertrain that’s competitive now that the car is being retired. Thank God GM finally seems to have gotten the powertrain gospel in it’s new cars.

  • avatar
    jrocco001

    I had one of these and never really drove it hard. At 70K the valve covers were leaking oil, and a transmission flush at 100K effectively killed it – the service tech told me it was typical for a flush to wash sediment into some valve that managed pressure in the transmission….mine began doing superhard, very fast shifts after that at low rpm. This was my first car that I purchaed on my own – had higher hopes it would last longer.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    For GM these cars were ahead of their time Supercharged V6 w/240 hp abs and 4wheel discs. Especially compared to previous gen W-Body with poorer quality and the awful door mount seat belts. Quality was much better and the interiors were more refined than the Roger Smith era plastics. I once considered the 2dr GP but figured I’d stick with another V8 RWD T-Bird.

    An aftermarket company was tweeking these to 280-300 hp w/Ram Air. The torque steer must be severe since anything FWD w/over 250 hp can be a bit much to handle.

    It’s a shame GM did not offer the 3800 SC in their higher end halo cars such as the Reatta and Toronado, though it was offered in the Buick Park Ave and Riviera.

    • 0 avatar
      cyberc9000

      Then GM went and doubled down on torque steer out of the factory and threw a 5.3L V8 in the W-bodies. I never got a chance to drive one, but that must’ve been an…interesting ride.

    • 0 avatar
      jayzwhiterabbit

      W bodies always had 4-wheel disks since ’88. My ’88 base Cutlass Supreme had them, and my dad’s ’89 base Grand Prix did, too.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Subscribe without commenting

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributing Writers

  • Jack Baruth, United States
  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Vojta Dobes, Czech Republic
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
  • Mark Stevenson, Canada
  • Cameron Aubernon, United States
  • J Emerson, United States