By on July 30, 2018

1994 Pontiac Grand Am in Colorado wrecking yard, RH view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Thirteen years after the final Grand Am rolled off the assembly line, examples of Pontiac’s N-Platform-based sporty commuter remain very easy to find in American wrecking yards. For the second-generation N-based Grand Am, which debuted for the 1992 model year, the wretched Iron Duke engine went away, replaced with various pushrod 60° V6s and the Oldsmobile Quad 4 engine.

Here’s a ’94 SE Sport Coupe, complete with single-cam Quad 4 and five-speed, in a Colorado wrecking yard.

The Pontiac Division marketed the crap out of the Grand Am, and I caught this panoramic black-and-white shot of a Los Angeles ’93 Grand Am billboard on one of the many road trips I took in my ’65 Impala Hell Project.

1994 Pontiac Grand Am in Colorado wrecking yard, odometer - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThis one reached the 200,000-mile mark, just barely. The car seems fairly clean, so its owner or owners took good care of it over the decades.

1994 Pontiac Grand Am in Colorado wrecking yard, engine - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsMost Quad 4 engines had the twin-cam setup, but this one is an SOHC “Quad OHC” engine, displacing 2.3 liters and rated at 120 horsepower. The DOHC version in 1994 made either 160 or 180 horses.

1994 Pontiac Grand Am in Colorado wrecking yard, pillar emblem - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe SE was the cheap trim level, though this one has the Sport interior package and thus qualifies as a Sport Coupe.

1994 Pontiac Grand Am in Colorado wrecking yard, Ultra wheel - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsSuch wheels!

1994 Pontiac Grand Am in Colorado wrecking yard, gearshift - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThis car scaled in at just 2,736 pounds, so the 120 hp engine would have been sufficiently fun with the five-speed transmission. Even the single-cam Quad 4 was eager to spin.

The best reason to buy a 1994 Pontiac Grand Am is… it’s only $199 a month! Note the suspiciously ZZ Top-ish music in this Phoenix dealership ad.

So much cheaper better than the Camry and Accord.

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31 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 1994 Pontiac Grand Am SE Sport Coupe...”

  • avatar

    I wonder how reliable the single-cam Quad 4 was compared to its double-cam brethren.

    • 0 avatar

      Probably no better. Sis had a 94 Achieva with the SOHC Q4 and it liked to toss timing chains, and eat coil housings, water pumps, lifters and valves. And hers had 120,000 miles on it by the time Dad, myself, and her husband all were fed up with fixing it.

      When it ran, it was a decently peppy car with the automatic.

  • avatar

    I remember these being a very popular “first new car” for a lot of young people who had just landed their first real job out of school. Nothing great, nothing horrible about them, Meh

  • avatar

    Need moar plastic body cladding!

    Like Lie2me said, my opinion of these is meh.

    I rode in the back seat of a rental Skylark of this vintage. After that I had a lower opinion of the N platform. The sides and rear windows were made for styling over rear seat shoulder room or headroom. These weren’t 2+2s but I wouldn’t call the four doors true 4 seaters either.

    I can’t believe you found a 1994 Pontiac TV commercial without the word “excitement” in it. I too remember them marketing the heck out of these things and the commercials were fun. Touting ABS reminds me of when GM developed their low-cost ABS VI and put it in virtually all of their small cars (kudos, 1990s GM!). Touting power door locks as standard reminds me of the 1970s when rear window defrost was still something special. Actually, the power locks reminds me that this was about the time that bean counters from all brands were figuring it it was cheaper to put things like power locks in every car coming down the line instead of making them an a-la carte option. 25 years later, it’s hard to find a cheap new car without bluetooth, touchscreen, etc.

    • 0 avatar

      @ JimC2 – “The sides and rear windows were made for styling over rear seat shoulder room or headroom.” Yep, people knock the ’80s GM wedge-shaped cars, but the near-vertical rear glass had the twin virtues of enhancing rear headroom and allowing for a larger trunk lid. It’s a feature that’s kind of incongruous with an overall-rounded shape–I think the 6th and 7th-gen Mercury Cougars were the only cars that really attempted that look–but it did make for a well-packaged passenger compartment.

  • avatar

    “which debuted for the 1992 model year, the wretched Iron Duke engine went away, replaced with various pushrod 60° V6s and the Oldsmobile Quad 4 engine.”

    ACKCHYUALLY, on the 1992 debut, the only Grand Am V6 offered was the 90-degree 3300. The 60-degree 3100 didn’t show up until ’94.

    And although I’m sure you knew this, you could get the ’85-’91 generation with more than just the Iron Duke. A 3.0L V6, the quad-4 and a 2.0L turbo were also available.

    • 0 avatar

      My parents bought a new 1988 Grand Am 4dr with the Quad 4. The engine had adequate power. Sort of an odd choice for an older couple, but they traded in an 83 Olds Delta 88 Brougham and somehow felt they should get a smaller fuel efficient car.

      They took several long cross country trips in it but then traded it for a new Bonneville.

  • avatar

    Pontiac Grand Am (and Grand Prix) drivers, at least around here, used to be everywhere. And, at least to my perception, a high number of them acted as if they were driving the fastest cars on the road. I always wondered what these people bought after the Pontiac division got shut down.

  • avatar

    The Altima picked up the Grand AM overflow of dude-bros with backward ball caps, wispy goatees, tribal tats, and wife beaters after Pontiac went under.

    • 0 avatar

      Are you sure? Didn’t they shift to Neons first?

      • 0 avatar
        Pete Zaitcev

        Nope. Neons were for SCCA Solo II type of guy. They tangled with Proteges, even CRXes. Neon was domestic rice before tsurikawas shunk in size and were sold at Amazon. Of course Gen 1 Neon never had a turbo, not even as a kit, so it wasn’t a serious car. But still…

        • 0 avatar

          Gen 1 neon didn’t need a turbo kit.

          It needed the front crossmember hacked and a 2.4t PT Cruiser engine dropped-in.

          Of course, the DOHC neon ate anything even remotely comparable for breakfast– stock– so the turbo is pretty unnecessary, unless you’re trying to show-up guys in much more expensive cars.

          Owning a neon when Integras were still around was pretty validating for a weirdo like me. Good snacks for a growing boy.

    • 0 avatar

      Truth. Even when I worked for Nissan, I considered their mainstream cars Japanese Pontiacs.

  • avatar

    I like how GM upholstered the door panels with moving blankets.

    Also, that driver’s seat looks disgusting. And I hate the wheels. HATE.

  • avatar
    Art Vandelay

    Those wheels are straight out of 1994. Someone in our High School parking lot had those on a Ford EXP. They were everywhere.

  • avatar
    Stanley Steamer

    I had a ’87 SE blunt nose version with white wheels matching the body. I loved the way the transmission screamed. Reminded me of Airwolf.

  • avatar

    I mostly logged in to mention I hated those aftermarket wheels, too. Ugh.

    But, those rust-free bodies. What a shame.

  • avatar

    We mock Pontiacs obsession with excessive plastic-trim, but a good portion of todays cars and CUVs feature extra plasti-clad, sporty pretensions, big aggressive redundant grilles…little did we know that they saw the future.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed. I was just thinking to myself how sleek and unadorned this looks compared to today’s vehicles with all their gingerbread tacked on. This thing is a plain vanilla box compared to a modern CUV.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I still love this generation GT coupe. I’m not sure what it is, but this and the next generation Grand Prix coupe just did it for me.

    I wonder what did this in. I think the owner was ready for a new car but it was so close to 200k miles that he/she kept driving it just to see it turn over. And once it happened, he immediately went to the dealer, who took it for $50 or less, and sent it straight to the scrap yard. I bet it would still run great.

    • 0 avatar

      I second that, I always loved this Grand Am GT from this generation.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t mid plastic cladding – if done right it protects car’s body from salt and other damage. Pontiac GAm looked ok and the coupe even more so. MT was as good as it got (and durability of this one seems to prove it). Whoever junked it had no shame though – with 0 rust it could be be just handed over to someone without a car. Trading it in measly 50 buck$ (if this was indeed the case) calls for punishment of sorts.

  • avatar

    I recall reading demographic studies that showed Grand Am owners were surprisingly similar to owners of the BMW 3-series, although with less income.

  • avatar

    My Mom had a 1992 Grand Am with the Quad 4, same body style as this example except it was a 4 door, appliance white with a red interior. Very 90’s. She begrudgingly drove that car for years until I got my license and I inherited it. By the time it was finished with my 17 year self it was a wreck, partly because of my justified hate for it. It was always running out of gas because the gauge didn’t work properly and partly because I was too stupid to track my own mileage, the heat didn’t work in the dead of a Canadian-Prairie Winter, I was constantly locking my keys in it because of it’s unpredictable Power Door Lock behaviors (I was too stupid to just take my keys too) every time something needed fixing on it it was stupidly expensive to do (I remember the water pump being like $800 with install). The only reason I wound up with it was because my Mom was tired of it leaving her stranded and wanting something more reliable (that’s exactly what you want to give your new, just learning to drive son, right? An unreliable car that will always leave them stranded?). It was a surprisingly quick car with the Quad-4, but it also got gas mileage equivalent of a 6 cylinder- which you could also get on the Grand Am. My only good memory of that car was that my friend’s and I switched the “A” and the “M” on the emblem because that made it spell “Grandma” – which is what it was, a Grandma car. A terrible, terrible Grandma car. Eventually a guy with a 5-speed Alero (another car I despise) backed into it and the repairs were more than the car was worth and it was toast. Good riddance to that and every other Grand Am, but those cars are the automotive equivalent of the cockroach. It’ll be around long after the nuclear winter, with their mix-matched body panels and mullet sporting drivers wading along miserably in the left lane, tailgating the innocent car in front of them.

  • avatar

    I worked at a Pontiac dealership back then. The early Quad Fours had up to 190HP and were a blast to drive. But, yeah, they gobbled timing chain guides like crazy. A typical GM deal where they have the engineering chops, but just can’t get their act together on the quality side. The rest of the car was horrible. Again typical GM when it came to chassis tuning, too stiff on small bumps, wallowing on the bigger ones. Man, for such a POS, they sold tons of them!

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