Junkyard Find: 1989 Pontiac Grand Prix Coupe, With Rare Manual Transmission Option

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
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junkyard find 1989 pontiac grand prix coupe with rare manual transmission option

While it was possible to buy a new W-body late-1980s/early-1990s Lumina, Cutlass Supreme, or Grand Prix with a five-speed manual transmission, almost nobody did so. These cars have become pretty rare by now, so the chances of finding a five-speed Grand Prix in the junkyard are about the same as finding a five-speed BMW 7-Series; it’s possible, but not likely.

Here’s an ’89 coupe I found in a Denver yard last week.

In 1989, the manual transmission was available only in a Grand Prix equipped with the 2.8-liter V-6 engine. If you got the 3.1, your transmission had to be an automatic.

This one has those pop-out cassette-tape holders that were so popular in the 1980s.

The combination lock on the Grand Prix’s glovebox probably encouraged many a thief to tear the entire dash off the car with a pry bar.

The Colorado sun has been rough on this car’s upholstery.

From air dam to tailpipe, the ’89 Grand Prix is guaranteed to excite! Note the woman using her futuristic car phone in this ad.

Poised and precise. Swift and confident.

The Grand Prix sport sedan is “the most eagerly awaited driver’s sedan in Pontiac history.”

Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Writer d'Elegance Brougham Landau.

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  • Allan850glt Allan850glt on Feb 18, 2016

    Besides the manual trans, the other rarity of this GP is what a "stripper" it is. I noted the lack of power windows, locks, etc. I had a "thing" for these cars back in the early/mid '90s and in having viewed and driven several, I had never run across a coupe lacking the PW or PDL. After obtaining a nice white '96, my "thing" for these cars expired rapidly. As rapidly as the the POS degenerated from a shiny new car into a worn out pile of crap with under a hundred thousand on the clock and its second transmission, entire suspension and steering ready to let go at any time. I guess I really can't complain for eight years of service but for a car that was exceptionally well maintained it just couldn't hold itself together. Those interior plastics (blue in my case) degraded quickly, looking oxidized and brittle. Squeaky dash syndrome was omni-present. Clear coat delamination was a big issue with these things as well. The stupid VATS pass key also added fun when turning starting the car into a ten to fifteen minute procedure. Damn chip would wear out or just be "dirty ". I was not at all sad to see my GP go to a new home when the time came.

  • Joe Alsko Joe Alsko on Sep 07, 2020

    Ok folks, I actually bought a brand new 1989 Grand Prix base model with the 2.8L V6 and manual transmission. I was a young sergeant in the United States Air Force in Oklahoma and I wanted a sporty car but this was all I could afford. I was naive and the Pontiac salesmen took advantage of me. I picked out a good color (silver/gray) and they proceeded to rake me over the coals with the price and loan. After several hours of "negotiating" I finally closed the deal on my first brand new car and they handed me the keys. I walked out to my new car only to discover that it was light blue. Light blue??? I told them that the car I bought was silver/gray!!! They looked at me and said that this was the very car that I test drove (they were actually truthful at this point). Then it dawned on me that I was wearing my brand new "blue blocker" sunglasses when I first saw the car, which made the it look silver (instead of "blue"). Aaaaaarhg! Well, it was too late to back out I thought, so I drove the car away and was still amazed at my first new car even though I paid to much for it. Several years later, I received orders for Keflavik Naval Air Station (yes, the Air Force had a radar site there), so I made arrangements to ship the car there for my two year tour. After the car arrived, an Icelandic government agency offered to buy the car from me for cash, so I gave in and sold it to them. I'm sure it's in a landfill by now. I miss that car.

  • MaintenanceCosts So there is no Sonata trim without some type of Theta engine.It seems like they've been doing a bit better when attached to a hybrid system, so that's probably the one to get, but they're going to have to go several years without further engine troubles before I'd trust a H/K ICE product again.
  • Lou_BC Full sized sort of autonomous RC's. Cute.
  • Art_Vandelay Autonomous capabilities are being deployed (or planned anyway) in multiple combat vehicles. Should be fun from my perspective
  • Drew8MR Interior is trivial now you can get repro everything in various levels of quality. Getting the top sorted will be a couple grand, but I'd drive it as it. I drove a $1500 67 GTO convertible for 20 years, not every old car needs to be like new.
  • John Not everyone pays that much for power. Mine is 10 cents per kw…..