Junkyard Find: 1977 Pontiac Grand Prix

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
junkyard find 1977 pontiac grand prix

When shopping for personal luxury coupes in the late 1970s, you might have bought the 1977 Mercury Cougar (seen in yesterday’s Junkyard Find), or maybe a Chrysler Cordoba, or perhaps even an AMC Matador Barcelona. If you wanted to go with a General Motors product for your long-hooded, big-on-the-outside/small-on-the-inside coupe, Pontiac had just the car: the Grand Prix!

The Cougar had Cheryl Tiegs as pitchwoman and the Matador Barcelona had crypto-Spanish provenance, but the Grand Prix had these classy emblems on the quarter windows.

Not to be outdone by the Cordoba’s small round taillight medallions, the Grand Prix boasted big [s]hexagonal[/s] octagonal medallions.

301 cubic inches under the hood. How many horsepower? We’ll just say that this engine made fewer horses than the base 1.6 liter four-cylinder engine in the 2013 Kia Rio and leave the rest to your imagination.

A full set of these Pontiac rally wheels can fetch dozens of dollars these days, thanks to the enormous quantities manufactured. I like these wheels so much that I used them on my 1965 Impala sedan.

The Cougar’s suspension was “Ride-Engineered,” but Pontiacs had Radial Tuned suspensions.

Once again, much as we like to make fun of these cars, I must admit that they were actually pretty good daily drivers. Thirsty as hell, of course, but what big Detroit car wasn’t back then?

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  • Miklo1968 Miklo1968 on Feb 04, 2013

    The way this car could accelerate in near total silence always impressed me as a 14 year old kid, back in 1982. We had a family friend who owned a silver '77 Grand Prix (I don't know which engine he had under the hood). I only rode in the car a few times and he was lead footed like my parents but his Grand Prix didn't sound like the engine was going to come screaming through the hood and there was no fan roaring under there like it was cooling down a nuclear reactor. My dad drove a '77 Buick Regal and mom drove a '73 Buick Regal then, both had the 4bbl 350. I knew that the 3 cars were virtually identical and probably rolled off the same assembly line but the Grand Prix was so refined and superior to the Regal in every way. I do remember by 1982 the Grand Prix had about 89k, my dad's '77 Regal had about 69k and the 9 year old '73 had over 100k on the clock. I've never been in a car before or since that could duplicate the ride quality of the '77 Grand Prix. There are 3 cars I've driven or ridden in that did come close to duplicating the ride of the Grand Prix they are the 1987 Buick Riviera, 1984 Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme V8 and 1989 Mercury Cougar LS. The Riviera V6 was very quiet even when the pedal went to the metal but the ride was too soft like my mom's '73 Regal. The Cutlass Supreme 307 V8 screamed out in agony anytime the rpms climbed above 3500 like my dad's '77 Regal but the fan clutch must have worked on the Oldsmobile because that awful roaring stopped at 3000 rpm. The Mercury Cougar which I drove for 6 years had the potential to duplicate the Grand Prix in every way, if only the 140 horsepower V6 didn't run out of steam so quickly. The ride quality was surprisingly close to the Grand Prix especially for a Ford Motor Company vehicle. In 1984 when my dad finally bought his "dream" car which turned out to be his worst nightmare, a 1977 Cadillac Seville with only 64k it didn't ride or work quietly under pressure like the Grand Prix did. In 1993 I had the chance to ride in a Rolls Royce and I thought I was going to experience the "ride" of my life and I ended up disappointed and wondering what all the hype was about and why anyone would spend that kind of money on a car that rides like an old Checker Cab. The V6 in the 2005 Accord I currently drive is nearly silent to the redline and the ride overall is great but not like the Grand Prix. I spent about 15 years driving or riding in as many different vehicles as I could trying to find that special feeling again. I even rented the last 2 generations of the Pontiac Grand Prix and hated every minute in them. I know I'll never find what I was looking for and I'm probably remembering things better than they actually were.

  • Crystalsdaddy Crystalsdaddy on Dec 25, 2013

    That's my car. Taking offers. She's pretty. I have tones of pics

  • SCE to AUX Let it die with dignity - no electrification. That would kill the spirit of the original.Mazda needs to think about survival and market share, not tinker with a niche car with waning sales, or dying on Wankel Hill.Maybe their body and paint engineers could help Tesla once Mazda folds.
  • Lou_BC H-E-L-L-C-A-T
  • EBFlex "EBFlex speaks more truth."It's sometimes a burden being right all the time.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird Add a couple of more body styles. A coupe with a vestigial rear seat like the BRZ along with a shooting brake version would appeal to a number of drivers who want something sporty but not a hatchback or crossover.
  • Theflyersfan It's the mother of all "ifs" - if Mazda gets the small rotary/hybrid combo going, I can see them using that in the next MX-5. Can they keep it under 2500 lbs and somewhat affordable? Not sure...this is why I don't run a car company! But if they want to replace it around 2025, and it's 2023 now, they need to get started very soon with some rumors and leaks to keep us going. But with the rest of their lineup going greener in next generations, and Mazda selling under 10,000 MX-5s per year, how does it really impact any average emissions and fuel economy ratings? If they can keep tweaking the Skyactiv-G engine for better fuel economy and fewer emissions, they should be able to get the NE generation using gasoline before being forced to go EV or hybrid with the NF. The mission of the MX-5 is light, affordable, open air fun and it's their halo car. And while I agree that EVs are going to be a much larger part of the future, the "all things by 2035 or 2040 or so on" edicts have "kick the can down the road" written in massive font size 1,000 written all over them. We'll be on gas for a while longer - just continue to eke more mpg out of what we have.All that being said, if they were to put the turbo Skyactiv-G engine in the MX-5 for 2024 and make it a Mazdaspeed model, I'd put a deposit on it right now. I love mine, but if it gets bumped up from 181hp to 250-275hp, it would be a flat out riot to drive.