By on September 12, 2013

18 - 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinWe all know about John Delorean‘s big home run for Pontiac, the GTO, but Delorean’s Grand Prix probably made more money for The General during the 1960s. Here’s a thoroughly trashed ’69 that I spotted in a Denver self-service yard earlier this week.
16 - 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe engine is long gone, so we can’t know whether it was a 400, a 428, or a 455.
09 - 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinThe driver of the ’69 Grand Prix sat surrounded by this wraparound dash and console.
12 - 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou could get a base Grand Prix, a J, or an SJ. This is the mid-level J.
02 - 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinA full set of hubcaps is still in the trunk. They’re pretty well banged up, but it’s rare to find any 1960s hubcaps in a yard like this.
05 - 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix Down On The Junkyard - Picture courtesy of Murilee MartinYou like patina? This car’s got it!


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70 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix Model J...”


  • avatar
    nine11c2

    Such a waste.. my dad had a J or an SJ with a 428HO. Wish I had that car now…

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    Well at least the engine has gone to a good home. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, BOP motors deserve saving, because unless the block is completely FUBAR, someone will be able to rebuild it.

  • avatar

    I remember that jingle when these cars were new. Now it’ll be stuck in my head all day! This extended version must’ve been something for internal GM use with its “written and produced by GM Photographic” super at the very end.

    The thing about THIS GP (speaking from back here in the Rust Belt) is that better examples that would cost less to refurbish are probably found without too much digging. this is a parts car at best…unless there’s going to be a Denver version of “Dallas Car Wars”…

    Bittersweet part of watching that video is the knowledge of how quickly Pontiac lost the plot. They’d have their high points…some Trans-Ams and a Bonneville here and there…the 2006 Solstice…but never again would they have a lineup so bristling with swagger and attitude like 1969-70.

  • avatar
    Fordson

    No 455 in 1969.

  • avatar
    doctor olds

    GM’s got the look. GM sets the style.
    The look that gets the look.
    And the style that sets the style.
    GM, ’69!

    Corporate Ad jingle from the day.

  • avatar
    lmike51b

    Bought a ’71 Gran Prix with low mileage from the original owner in ’77. Had the 400 I think. He wanted to sell and get a ’77 before they downsized. Nice car till it was totaled by a teen driving daddy’s Cutlass station wagon.

  • avatar
    Eggshen2013

    I owned a 1970 Grand Prix with the 400 4 bbl and Turbo-Hydromatic. To this day that was one of the sweetest engine/tranny combinations I have ever driven.

    • 0 avatar
      gottacook

      Same setup as on my mom’s ’67 GTO purchased new with column shifter, a/c, and no console. Needed premium fuel, though.

      Damn, I wish domestic cars (other than Lincolns) had been equipped with radial tires back then. I smashed up the poor GTO in September 1974 on the way to college, in a hydroplaning crash on the interstate outside of Hartford, CT. (Although, truth be told, it would have rusted out soon anyway – it had already required complete stripping and repainting at the dealer.)

    • 0 avatar
      neonturbo

      I had a 76 Catalina with the 400 and TH400 combo, but mine was a 2 bbl. You are right, it is one of the best engines and trans offered in that time period. I learned how to drive in this Pontiac, and when the family “upgraded” to a 77 Impala with a 305, I thought something was seriously wrong with the Chevy. It was a gutless wonder that felt like a V6. It pinged, rattled, and wheezed from the day it was new. The Pontiac would seamlessly MOVE when you pushed the gas, it was a very torquey and responsive engine compared to that horrible small block Chevy. The Pontiac lasted many hundreds of thousands of miles (lost track after it rolled the odometer twice) without anything but a water pump.

  • avatar
    sirwired

    I like the cockpit-like look of that dash and console. Clearly says who is the driver, and who isn’t.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      I like that too. A lot of cars still do this, even if slightly. The touch screen and center stack controls in my 2013 Charger slant ever so slightly to the driver which make them pleasant to operate in the driver seat.

      From the passenger seat, it feels like it’s making a suggestion to the passenger, “you’re not supposed to touch me”. And you know what? It works, the woman rarely ever touches the controls.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        My Focus was like that too. Stangely enough, I don’t think any other MFT screen is slanted towards the driver. I could be wrong though, I haven’t driven a Fiesta/Fiesta ST with MFT.

      • 0 avatar
        Firestorm 500

        @danio3834: With an interior like that, she rarely touches anything else.

      • 0 avatar
        Kenmore

        “the woman rarely ever touches the controls”

        In my experience they almost never do anyway. What’s up with that?
        I’ve sat in passenger seats and watched so many put up with wretched temps and fogged glass until I said “excuse me” and did something about it…in cars they’d owned for years.

        April,
        You’re not that way are you?

      • 0 avatar
        Loser

        danio3834,
        Do you have the 6 or 8 in your Charger? I was very close to buying a new 2013 Charger R/T but held off in hopes of the 8 speed. I would like to get some actual owner (non-fan boy) input.

        • 0 avatar
          danio3834

          Mine is a 2013 Charger R/T with the track pack in bright white with the red and black interior.

          My Cole’s Notes review of the car:

          The powertrain is great, even with the 5 speed. The 5.7L pulls hard in track pack form, somewhat better than the regular R/T, (3.06:1 diff gears vs. 2.76 for the regular R/T). I was able to pull off multiple 13.7 sec passes at 102mph on an 80 degree day with 60% humidity at 1000ft elevation. In some driving situations, the 5 speed felt like it sometimes didn’t have the exact gear that I wanted to make the engine pull the hardest (it screams from 4k rpm up), but it shifts hard when you want it to and the flappy paddles are responsive and work well on the track. They won’t let you over-rev it, but shift quickly. It won’t auto upshift in manual mode, so beware the rev limiter!

          As you probably saw when you checked it out, the interior on the R/T is pretty nice, no gripes there. Equipment and comfort is really good for a car this price. I had no trouble being comfortable on 5 hour road trip stints with no stops.

          Fuel consumption is perfectly acceptable. I average 21-22 mpg in mixed driving with a sometimes heavy food. It’s easy to keep it in 4 cylinder mode when you want to.

          Handling (with the track pack at least) is very good for a 4100lb sedan. It will laugh at 95% of what back roads and freeway on ramps can throw at it. On the road course, it must be wrestled through the tight turns with all 4 tires howling, but on kinks, sweepers and carousels it holds well. You can push it through a 2 mile road course and keep pace with a CTS-V, but that car will reel you in on the straights.

          The torque management and stability control are sometimes too conservative (the off button just turns it down a bit), but the car is a ball on the street with it fully defeated via disabling the ABS module. On the track, hitting the “off” button is just right. It’ll allow the rear end about 60 degrees of yaw before it’ll pull you back in.

          Gripes are a smallish trunk for a full size car, the torque management system, the chrome clad wheels are hard to keep spotless and that’s about it. I’ve had it for a year and 16k miles, no warranty repairs so far.

          The car is very satisfying to own, fun to drive when you want it to be, and big enough to be practical. Comfortable, too. Since you’re a GTO owner, it drives similarly to the G8 and is about as fast as the G8 GT. I like the interior better than the G8.

          The 8 speed will improve acceleration times a bit, maybe fuel mileage a tad. That’s at least a year away, and the 5 speed is fairly decent and has proved to be robust in service, so I’d say if you like the rest of the car, go for it. The 8 speed will probably come with a price increase as well.

          I’ll get around to submitting a review eventually, but it’s a car I’d recommend to anyone looking for an affordable, roomy sport sedan with a healthy V8.

          Here’s some vids from the track

          http://www(dot)youtube.com/watch?v=xKYPxcz2RDY

          • 0 avatar
            Loser

            Thanks for taking the time to do this outstanding write up, I wasn’t expecting such a thorough reply. Wife and I test drove a blue R/T Daytona, it was the closest thing to a R/T Road and Track (what a name). The Daytona was a very nice car but just a little too over the top for me. We were surprised how well it rode with this wheel/tire combo. Also very quiet inside. Gas mileage is a concern but not a deal breaker. Considered the 6 for that reason but I’m sure to be kicking myself later for not going with the 8. Was wanting a silver R/T but I’m kind of disappointed with the silver they offer, more grey than silver IMHO. Glad to hear you’ve had no issues, that’s a concern of mine.
            Thanks again for the reply and I may bug you more later about your car.

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            Any time. Reviewing cars is fun, too bad it doesn’t pay well!

    • 0 avatar
      Compaq Deskpro

      The best car I’ve seen do this was the 70 Challenger, the radio and center console all have a wall around it to prevent the passenger’s meddling.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      The Lincoln Mark VIII was very good at this. EVERYTHING was driver-slanted.

    • 0 avatar
      APaGttH

      Agreed – it appears ahead of its time.

    • 0 avatar
      neonturbo

      These were very driver oriented cars, probably because of Delorean. The cockpit style dash sure made it easy for the driver to operate all the controls. Many newer cars you have to reach or stretch to reach the controls in the center of the dash. With the cockpit style it is all at your fingertips. Wish they would go back to this design.

  • avatar
    AoLetsGo

    The late 60′s were my favorite years for GM.
    I had a 69 Impala and 70 Monte Carlo.
    Both were bought used for cheap, maybe some day I will have the time and money to have a nice one as a fun car.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    Sigh ;

    I well remember when The Generous Motors Coporation told us what we wanted then built it and sold it to us on the easy pay GMAC Plan .

    Okay , so I’m another clueless fanboi ~ my aging and dangerously rusty 1969 Chevrolet C/10 Stepper pickup sits by the curb 12′ from me and yes , I plan to pay whatever it takes to return it to it’s former glory .

    I think I spy a comlete original AM/FM Delco radio in this Grand Prix , I’d pay good $ if you’ll carefully remove it with the complete sub harness and speaker wires & plugs , knobs , brackets small screws and so on and mail it to me , no foolin’ .

    Cash waiting .

    TIA ,

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar
      olddavid

      Nathan, you’re a man of my ilk. My first thought when seeing the interior shot was of the obscurity of FM when this car was built, probably late 1968. The slider switch below the dial was the band selector. Not all were even stereo at the time, but I could be wrong on this point. The GP and the Monte Carlo were aspirational cars for young upwardly mobile types, well before BMW and Mercedes were marketing to these people. The reference to “Generous Motors” dates to my childhood in the 50′s. Thanks for a great memory on a gloomy day.

      • 0 avatar
        -Nate

        Nathan, you’re a man of my ilk. My first thought when seeing the interior shot was of the obscurity of FM when this car was built, probably late 1968. The slider switch below the dial was the band selector. Not all were even stereo at the time, but I could be wrong on this point. The GP and the Monte Carlo were aspirational cars for young upwardly mobile types, well before BMW and Mercedes were marketing to these people. The reference to “Generous Motors” dates to my childhood in the 50′s. Thanks for a great memory on a gloomy day.”

        You’re welcome Sir .

        I’d love to find a stock Delco AM/FM radio for my ’69 C/10 Shop Truck ~ they used it from 1971 through 1987 (in the vans) and I’d be happy with the monaural version .(another hint)

        Back when this Grad Prix was new , the GM ascending marketing plan (sorry,my foggy brain fated & I’ve forgotten the correct name for it) was in full swing .

        Me , I like the basics . yes , my 1980 Fleetwood Hearse is a very fine car but I prefer driving my old Shop Truck more .

        FWIW : I’m well aware that GM made lots and lots of crap but I don’t care ~ I like Generous Motors Corporation Automobiles & trucks .

        Better than those wretched Brand ‘F’ things any day of the week .

        Yes , I’ve owned FoMoCo Products too (my two full size ’62 Fords and several ’63 ~ ’65 Lincolns come to mind) and they were all fine ~ just as good as GM I suppose but one likes what they like .

        Mostly I drive funny ferrin’ cars but _only_ American made trucks .

        -Nate

    • 0 avatar

      The radio is a Sparkomatic unit.

      I replaced the AM radio in my ’77 Chevelle with one out of an 82 Buick LeSabre so I have am/fm/cassette in a factory looking unit, and I don’t have to cut up my dash to make one work, or stash it somewhere else.

      • 0 avatar
        April

        I found a great way to install my Sanyo 8-Track tape player in my first car (1977 Chevette) without cutting anything up. Just take the door off the glove box and set the player inside.

        Otherwise I still had my AM Radio for tunes.

        :)

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    Love that video.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    “When men were men and Pontiacs were Pontiacs” or something like that.

    One of my best friends in high school had a ’69 model J as a family car and we would ride around in it all of the time. His car had the 428 CI engine instead of the base 400 CI, I think it was 370 HP whereas the HO 428 was more like 390 HP but only available in the SJ model. A beautiful car; dark blue with black interior and a black vinyl roof. It also had the same wheelcovers as this forlorn looking J instead of the optional Rally II wheels.

    I can remember the first time that I rode in it, under full-throttle mode that is, and was blown away by how fast it would jump from 60 to 100 MPH; no muss, no fuss just serious Pontiac authority. It had a real heavy, steam rolling, “I’m in charge” attitude about itself.

    It’s sad to think of how Pontiac went from this to warmed over, excessively cladded Chevrolet status by the new millenium. Ending Pontiac in 2009 was probably the best thing that could have happened considering its ignominous fall.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Always liked the 69 through 72 Grand Prix, particularily the 69. I almost got a Grand Prix when I bought my Monte Carlo new in 77. It was in Oct of 77 when the new downsized midsize GM cars came out and I wanted the last of the big ones. The Pontiac dealers were out of Grand Prixs but one Chevy dealer had a hand full of Monte Carlos. I got a buckskin colored Monte with a tan landau top and a tan interior with swivel buckets and a console shifter. It had rally wheels, electric windows and locks, rear window defroster cruise control, tilt wheel, light under the hood and inside the trunk, AM/FM stereo, and a few other extras. Back in 77 that was a loaded well optioned car, today it would be basic. That was my first new car and I loved it.

    • 0 avatar
      neonturbo

      The 73-77 A-body cars were very special, in a good way. If the gas crisis wouldn’t have happened these cars might have had another few years of life before they got downsized. I particularly love the swivel buckets. They are one of the main reasons I bought a Chevy Laguna even though it was a basket case. The car needed an engine, transmission, and a bunch of body work. After I did all that the car rode and drove like a dream.

  • avatar
    OldandSlow

    In 1972 – I floated across what was to be Interstate 10 from Florida to California. Two words we take for granted – cruise control. What luxury.

    Unfortunately, I went in the Army right after that trip and don’t remember anything since – but that yellowish GP was a cush place to be for the front seat passengers.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    While I don’t like the pointy chrome nose, I do like those SWEET door handles! You can only find things like that on super cars nowadays.

    Also, I like the “Model J” placard inside the car. Shows the passengers how cheap their driver/date/husband is. They should do this nowadays. Like the little W12 thingy on the Phaeton shifter. Or on the V12 S-Class.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    At the time the Grand Prix had the longest hood in the industry . If I recall the larger engines were reserved for the SJ model tho that may have occurred later on . Knew several woman who had hand-me-down parental Grand Prixs in the seventies . I always likes the 1969-70 ones better than the ‘ 71 restyle . Incidentally DeLorean preferred the ’71- ’72 Grand Prix ; he thought with the boattail or whatever it was called rear end that these would eventually be the most collectible Grand Prix , has not happened yet . An uncle bought a new 1971 Model J in a pale yellow with white vinyl top and interior that he drove for years that I drove some and remember being impressed with the ” driver oriented ” interior. It had the same hubcaps as shown here .Agree with above comments about Pontiac’s sad fall .The late sixties ones really were special , much nicer interiors and a cut above Chevrolet . Absolutely thrown away to become nothing but uglier versions of Chevrolet with the same crappy interiors and the awful vinyl cladding .

  • avatar
    Pinzgauer

    Love that jingle…”its a throw-away car”. Cant get it out of my head.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I knew someone in Gallup NM who had two of these suckers sitting in his driveway in a suburban area. Neither was running and were partially covered with cheap blue tarps. I was always surprised that someone didn’t try to get the city to clean the joint up.

    After he died the kids put the house up for sale and drug the Grand Prix away. Sad little crusher ending for two once great cars.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    My first stepfather had what must have been one of the ’77 downsized ones. Though it was still a gigantic ark of a thing with no room in the back. I was in the second grade when we got it. White with lipstick red leather. Red 1/2 vinyl top with those little windows. Sticks in my mind that it was an “SJ”. He special ordered it, and it was LOADED. Power everything, cruise, the leather, I think even a sunroof. His first ever new car. My Mom had a pedal misapplication accident with it when it was about a month old and drove it through the back of our carport when she was 7-8 months pregnant with my kid brother – banged it up pretty good. Probably explains a lot about my kid brother…

    He kept the thing forever though. He had a fairly long commute and really racked up the miles. Finally traded it in around 1990 (for a white 6000SE, ugh, and Mom wrecked that one too, much more comprehensively) the odometer was on its 3rd trip around the block. But it had at least one new engine and transmission, and MUCH rust repair, and was looking pretty poorly by then. They got divorced soon after that. The 6000SE was replaced by a red Grand AM, Ralph was a Pontiac man through and through – the Grand Prix replaced a red ’60s Bonneville that I only vaguely remember. They got married when I was in Kindergarten.

    Funny to think back that it was actually only about 13 years old when he got rid of it, seemed like such an ancient dinosaur at the time. By that time, my Mom was driving Saabs and Audis. Just happened to take his new car out one day and had the big accident. She was OK though, cuts and bruises.

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff S

      77 GPs, Montes, and other GM intermediates were the last of the big ones. Montes and GPs were longer than Chevelles and Lemans which is what they were based on. By 78 all GM intermediates were the same length. 77 was the first year of the downsized full size GMs.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        Yup, it was the last of the big ones – I went Google searching after I posted this. The later ones are kind of dainty by comparison. The Pontiac looked like a whale parked in the garage next to Mom’s old Porsche when I was a kid. Which was the same color as Jack’s Audi, BTW.

        I got my license in ’86, but I never did get to drive the Pontiac, I was living with my Grandparents in a different town by then (stepfather and I did not see eye-to-eye). The Porsche was long gone by then too. Sure wish that was still in the family, but it was pretty crusty when she had it, being an early 911, 70 or 71, I think.

  • avatar
    gottacook

    I’ve got an original 1969 Grand Prix deluxe 10″ x 13″ color brochure right here (a friend of my parents’ was a Pontiac sales manager at the time). It seems clear that the Model J was the base model, and that there were only two levels, the J and SJ.

    Other than badging, the chief difference was that on the SJ the 370-hp 428 was standard, although it was also available in the J; both J and SJ could be ordered with the higher-compression 390-hp 428 H.O. as well. Standard engine on the 1969 J was a 400 4-bbl with 3-speed floor shifter; 4-speed and THM auto were available on both J and SJ.

    A few other features were standard on the SJ: automatic load leveling, “performance rear axle” (3.55 axle ratio) for cars with the THM, and “special instrumentation”; all of these were almost certainly available as options on the J. Even the leather-and-vinyl seat option offered in 1969-1970 could be ordered for the J.

  • avatar
    golden2husky

    (((sigh))) These cars were just a hair before my time but look how awesome they looked. Pontiac had style and swagger. What a shame GM got so lost over the next decade…

  • avatar
    Beta Blocker

    I had a 1969 Model J for five years between 1975 and 1980. Although it was a J model, it had the 428 engine. I never should have sold it.

    In 1977, while I was in between jobs, I used this car to teach my 57 year old aunt how to drive.

    We had started out the first day in my uncle’s big 1972 Eldorado, but things didn’t go so well.

    The Eldorado was just too big and too unresponsive to driver inputs to be a good teaching car.

    So we switched to my Grand Prix, and even as a novice driver, my aunt immediately noticed the big difference in handling and responsiveness between the two vehicles.

    We drove eight hours a day, five days a week for six weeks and she got her license with a 96 on the driving portion of the test.

    After she got her license, she wanted to buy the car from me, offering a very generous price, but I politely said no thanks.

    I have sometimes wondered why the 1969 GP has not really become a classic, even though it had a lot of influence on the styling of other cars of that era.

    Does anybody have any thoughts on that score?

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    Hours later , stupid ad jingle still running thru my head . Incidentally , IIRC Pontiac ran some damn version of this jingle for many years but perhaps I am more aware of this as we were always a Pontiac family as my uncle owned a Pontiac dealership from 1948 until 1972 , and even after that the old man continued to buy Pontiacs . The stupid jingle changed only slightly from year to year . As for collectibility general I think Chevys are usually going to sell for more than a comparable Pontiac even in cases such as Grand Prix vs . same year Monte Carlo of this era , where the Pontiac was a superior car .

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    Bill I agree, but the 70 thru 72 Montes are more desirable as collectibles. I have always liked the 69 thru 72 GPs, but the 73 thru 77 grew on me. It seems Chevy has always been the most collectible GM.
    Did your uncle own a dealership in Houston? I lived in Houston for over 29 years. I graduated from Westchester High School on the west side of Houston. I went back to Houston 3 years ago and I hardly recognized that area.

  • avatar
    bill mcgee

    It was Foster / Holcombe Pontiac in Angleton , about 45 miles south of Houston . They also sold GMC and later , Buicks . My uncle , Ligon Foster sold out his share to Mr. Holcombe in the early seventies .And yeah , Houston’s changed , now the suburbs stretch all the way to Angleton . When I was growing up in the sixties Westchester was just about the edge of town – now it sprawls out another 40 miles west of there .

    • 0 avatar
      Jeff S

      I have lived in Northern Kentucky for 26 years now, across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, OH but I still have family in Houston and Pasadena, TX. I was amazed at all the growth especially around Katy, TX which was a farming community when I grew up. I remember your uncle’s dealership.

      Pontiac at one time was the performance car and I can never forget the wide track ads. One of my favorite Grand Prix is the 1963. I probably like the 1969 thru 1972 next. When I went to high school in the late 60′s to the early 70′s the popular cars were the Road Runner, Chevelle SS, 442, GTO, Camaro, and Mustang. I drove my father’s red 62 Chevy II which was considered tame. The Chevy II was not air conditioned and my two older brothers drove it when they were in high school. I never owned a Pontiac or Oldsmobile but I came close a couple of times. I would have loved to have owned a GP. My 77 Monte Carlo was nice.

      My wife and I are considering moving back to Texas when I retire in a few years. We really like the Austin area.

      Not all the 70′s were recessionary. The early 70′s were good and the late 70′s were good in certain parts of the country. The oil business was doing well in the late 70′s. A lot of new cars were sold in the early 70′s and late 70′s.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    The Grand Prix was a bigger seller in the 70′s, before 1969 MY, it was ‘sporty’ full size Pontiac, based on the Catalina. It made more $$ in the 70′s, the so called ‘malaise era’.

    Actually not every single year in the 70′s was marred by recession, as Gen X’ers assume.

  • avatar
    CAMeyer

    I believe that Jean Shepherd observed that owners of 70s versions of these cars were attracted to them because they thought the model name referred to something other than an auto race in France.

  • avatar
    Nick

    Not surprised the engine is gone. 455s are getting hard to find (if that’s what it was).


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