By on September 7, 2021

2006 Pontiac Grand Prix GXP in Colorado junkyard, RH front view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsFrom the time of John DeLorean’s money-printing 1962 Grand Prix through the model’s demise two years before the Pontiac Division itself got Old Yeller-ized by The General, Americans bought huge numbers of the sporty-looking Grand Prix. I’ve documented these cars in junkyards going back to 1969, but the LS-powered Grand Prix GXP of the Grand Prix’s final generation had eluded me… until now. Here’s one of those rare machines in a Denver-area yard.

2006 Pontiac Grand Prix GXP in Colorado junkyard, emblem - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe Grand Prix began life as a full-sized hardtop based on the same platform as the Impala, then moved to a lengthened version of the midsize Chevelle platform for 1969. In the 1988 model year, the Grand Prix began its new life as a front-wheel-drive mid-sizer on the Chevy Lumina‘s W Platform, and that’s where it stayed until the ax fell in 2008. A sedan version appeared in 1990, and every Grand Prix was a four-door starting in 2003.

2006 Pontiac Grand Prix GXP in Colorado junkyard, emblem - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe era of real performance for the W-Body Grand Prix dawned in the 1997 model year when GM stuffed the supercharged 3.8-liter Buick V6 under the hood of the Grand Prix GTP. Thus was the Juggalambo born. For 2005, things in the Grand Prix world got even more interesting, as the 303-horse LS4 V8 went into the new GXP. That’s right, better than three hundred horsepower shredding the front tires!

The W-based Chevy Impala and Monte Carlo also had the LS4 available during the mid-to-late 2000s, along with some really rare Buick LaCrosses. For added traction (and, ideally, protection from the kind of throttle-lift oversteer wipeouts that plague red-misty pilots of front-wheel-drive cars), the Grand Prix GXP received front tires that were fatter than the rears, to the tune of 255s versus 225s.

2006 Pontiac Grand Prix GXP in Colorado junkyard, Big Bang Wheel - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThat feature might have tamed the handling of today’s Junkyard Find, but its final owner installed a set of Big Bangs with mean-looking low-profile rubber. I didn’t think to check the tire widths while I was photographing this car, but I suspect that all four were the same size.

2006 Pontiac Grand Prix GXP in Colorado junkyard, LH rear view - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsWe have no way of knowing if this crash damage was caused by a case of lift-off oversteer in an overpowered front-drive car, but at least the crash wasn’t bad enough to fire the airbags. For that matter, this car may have been mashed by a drunk while parked.

2006 Pontiac Grand Prix GXP in Colorado junkyard, stickers - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsThe stickers all over the rear windows suggest that the final owner loved this Pontiac, so we should feel sadder about its demise than we would for, say, a discarded G3.

2006 Pontiac Grand Prix GXP in Colorado junkyard, gearshift - ©2021 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsGM didn’t have a W-Body-suitable manual transmission that could survive life bolted to the most powerful Grand Prix engine since the 370-horsepower 455-cubic-inch V8 of 1970 (actually, I’m willing to bet that the GXP made more net power than any of its predecessors), and so all of these cars had automatic transmissions. They did get the “TAPshift” feature, though, which had steering-wheel-mounted buttons that shifted the four-speed slushbox.

I wasn’t expecting to find one of these cars in a U-Wrench self-service car graveyard since they remain sought-after by enthusiasts, but then I thought that about the Solstice. Perhaps I’ll even manage to find a G8 here!


Built… for driving.


In 2006, it seemed that Pontiac still had a chance for long-term survival (though the founder of this site didn’t think any GM marque deserved to live, back then). The Solstice, GXP, and GTO were genuine factory hot rods and the G8 was on the way. Then, well, bad things happened at The General’s headquarters and Pontiac got its death sentence in 2009.

For links to more than 2,200 additional Junkyard Finds, visit the Junkyard Home of the Murilee Martin Lifestyle Brand™.

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31 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 2006 Pontiac Grand Prix GXP...”


  • avatar

    What, no Black Ice – Little Trees air freshener? Prob. removed by the former owner and put into his next hooptie?

  • avatar
    ajla

    “GM didn’t have a W-Body-suitable manual transmission that could survive life bolted to the most powerful Grand Prix engine since the 370-horsepower 455-cubic-inch V8 of 1970”

    Unfortunately, they did not use a suitable automatic transmission for this car either. It’s rolling with the 4T65E-HD that was minimally different than the version the supercharged V6 cars received and it tends to shred itself to dust with the LS4 unless you drive them lightly (but why buy an LS4 car to do that?). The 4T80-E existed but I guess that would have added too much cost.
    Another issue is that the LS4 used GM’s early “Displacement on Demand” system which tended to cause Subaru-tier oil consumption or lifter trouble.

    • 0 avatar

      LT-1 Caprices, Impala SSs and all GM 1500 Vortec 5.7L powered trucks suffered the same fate with the 4L60E. Too much power, to weak a slushbox and rear ends. The 4L80E was a wondrous unit. If Caprices has a 4L80E setup, they could have had Panther chassis fleet service cred. GM was done with full size B bodies and Finance said it was time to switch Arlington to Tahoe and 3rd door p/u production (albeit 4L60 in tow). CaddyDaddy does know the tunnel in the B-Body would not fit a 4L80E but, a little R&D $ could have made that happen.

      This also allowed GM to shut down Janesville truck plant a few years later and its high legacy costs. BTW, Janesville was in Paul Ryan’s district and he was delighted to see Janesville production also shift to MX and did nothing about it during the bailout. So there is that…

      • 0 avatar
        Dan

        It didn’t take a LT1 to blow up a 4L60, the plain old 5300s that GM bolted in front of them by the million broke them left and right by 150K.

        I’ve never heard one bad word about the 4L80.

    • 0 avatar
      Dan

      I recall walking around the Manheim lot in Elkridge 8 or 10 years ago, they kept the lease returns that dealers actually wanted on one side of the lot and the lot poison at 25 cents on the dollar for ambitious BHPHs on the other.

      The V8 W bodies lived on the lot poison side. In good company with the CX7s (so bad that Mazda retired the name) and Cadillacs and German cars more than six years old.

      • 0 avatar
        ajla

        I think the LS4 cars are alright for someone with some slightly advanced mechanical abilities because the problems are fixable. However, if you can’t DIY you’ll quickly end up under water.

        And IMO it is less sh*tty than fixing a N* Cadillac or some Audi.

    • 0 avatar
      eng_alvarado90

      Wasn’t the 4t65E-HD also used on the Supercharged 3800 Grand Prix?
      One of my friends had a 2002 GXP 4dr while in college. It was mint, loaded, quick and comfy. His transmission grenaded around 2010, not sure about the miles.
      When I knew the LS4 powered W-bodies got the same transmission I knew it wasn’t going to turn out well because it was proven the 4T65E-HD couldn’t even handle the Supercharged V6 with less torque.
      Bad move by GM

    • 0 avatar
      Steve S.

      I read somewhere that the 4T80-E was physically too large to fit the W-body chassis and GM didn’t want to spend the money to change the chassis tooling to fit it.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      A lady at work had a GXP that originally belonged to a GM factory official, so it came with a couple upgrades, including Brembo brakes, front and rear.

      The transmission was the thing that ultimately made her get rid of the car, IIRC, as it was starting to slip, plus the car needed tires. This after she came home from vacation a year earlier to find out that the car had puked all of its transmission fluid in the parking lot of the hotel up at Detroit Metro Airport where she’d stayed in order to catch the early morning flight to Hawaii by way of LAX!

      I rode in one of these equipped with the V6, but I preferred the prior generation, which was a little more formal in appearance, and could be had with the 3800 motor, as I recall.

  • avatar
    MitchConner

    While John DeLorean is frequently cited as THE creator of the Pontiac Grand Prix, GTO, and Firebird, there were plenty of others who did the heavy lifting to make those products possible.

    Yes, he played a role — but others reporting to him had the original ideas and took risks to work around GM’s bureaucracy to make them happen. He was in the position, thanks in part to his relentless self-promotion, to get all the credit for it.

    If you haven’t read books like Hillel Levin’s Grand Delusions: The Cosmic Career of John DeLorean — do so. It’s a real eye opener.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    These cars are peak mid ’00s GM in every way, both good and bad.

    • 0 avatar
      Secret Hi5

      The black rubber dash/console of those Pontiac years were abysmal.

      • 0 avatar
        theflyersfan

        It just looked and felt SO CHEAP! Like lowest bidder wins the contract cheap. From the fonts, the colors that didn’t quite match well together, the garish orange at night, and the melted bar of soap motif that looked dated in the 1990s, I have to wonder who signed off on this? You would never see any of the Japanese competition come out with an interior so cheap looking and feeling at that time (except maybe the Altima of that generation that also used the garish orange lighting.)

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    I used to rent cars from Alamo because they let you pick whatever you wanted from the lot. I flew into Manchester, NH for a funeral (I think) in around 2006 or 2007 and I had made the trip with my sister. She, apparently, was not as excited by the lineup of 3 GXPs ready to head out on the road with us once I explained why I was so excited. My mom had a ~2004 Grand Prix with minimal options. It was boring and horrendously ugly. And while the LS4 didn’t help the looks of these monstrosities, it would have made it much more fun to drive.

    We ended up taking the ice blue Camry at the end of the row and I was miserable. I was thoroughly unimpressed with it.

    • 0 avatar
      wjtinfwb

      I too used National for my rentals for the same reason in their Emerald Aisle. When they started it in the early ’90s, there were all kinds of GM iron available, I was able to rent a Buick Reatta, Cadillac Seville Northstar, Bonneville SSE, Impala and Monte Carlo SS’s and Grand Prix GT and GXP’s. I preferred the smooth thrust of the Supercharged 3800 to the V8 W-body, recalling a great drive down from the Memphis airport to lower Mississippi via the Natchez Trace parkway. Awful GM interior aside, the car drove well and the Monsoon stereo sounded great for factory. I also performed an epic front-drive burnout in an Impala SS outside of Sacramento courtesy of National. Travel today is less fun with endless rows of Altima’s, Camry’s and Rogue’s.

  • avatar
    FerrariLaFerrariFace

    “The stickers all over the rear windows suggest that the final owner loved this Pontiac”

    I think the only things we can truly ascertain from the sticker assortment are that the previous owner would rather have been driving something to which he can appropriately add a “JDM BRO” sticker, and that he had an unhealthy obsession with the f-word.

  • avatar
    BSttac

    Still amazes me to this day how bad GM is and that they managed to go bankrupt even having it diehard loyalist that never would venture out to the competitors. Just decades of awful product including this GP GXP with its horrible gearbox among other things. Wish GM would have never got bailed out.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    I never realized GM dropped a V8 in these. Not a great idea, but I can’t help appreciating the attitude.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Its odd they did considering the Series III gained the Eaton supercharger to offer 260bhp @ 5 grand, especially since the W-body platform had to be modified to accept the LS4. I suspect the decision to do so happened sometime between 2000 and 2002, around the time it was decided to offer the Northstar in the Pontiac and Buick marques. In GM mindset of the period, the Northstar was somehow “more premium” and thus G-body Bonne/Lucerne would offer it whereas the more “plebian” W-body Impala, Grand Prix, and I suppose Lacrosse would only offer the LS4 as their top engine option (also worth noting the engineering to do Northstar was already present in the G-body whereas it was not in the W-body).

      I’m not sure how difficult it would have been, but the LS4 should have been engineered into the G-body and W-body in order to drop Northstar which by 2000 had clearly failed. Instead they offered two drivetrains (Northstar and LS4), transaxles (4T80E, 4T65-HD), and platforms (G-body, W-body) to do the same thing (transverse V8) which by 2002 was fading from the industry altogether. I think Volvo’s P2 was the only new transverse V8 to be introduced after the W-body, yet GM invested probably quite a bit in the technology.

      Not that it would make much difference in hindsight, but the most realistic approach would have been to invest in Our Lord since tuners regularly claim 280-300bhp from L67s and L32 offered 260 from the factory. Even if GM of the period could reliably claim 275bhp @ 5100 or some such with some of the mods those guys make, it would have rendered the LS4 -and I imagine it’s huge cost per unit- moot.

    • 0 avatar
      eiafuawn

      I was a manufacturing engineer working at the Oshawa Plant when the V8 was being introduced for that model year. I helped in part add a plate to the underbody to reinforce the engine bay thanks to the larger engine. I couldn’t help but think even then, some 16 years ago, why we were brining a V8 engine to this turd of a car.

      • 0 avatar
        28-Cars-Later

        In all seriousness the only logical things I can think of are:

        1. Chevrolet wanted an aspirational V8 car again for, I suppose the NASCAR fans [?].
        2. Lutz wanted another V8 model for his Pontiac-is-kick-ass-just-ignore the-G3/6 campaign.

        In 2005 the G8 was still several years away so they may have wanted a V8 sedan placeholder to go with the Holden Monaro, err Pontiac GTO and the Bonne was dropped early in MY05 (of course if I’m right, just don’t drop the Bonne). The whole episode is pretty dumb in hindsight.

        • 0 avatar
          MoDo

          Remember the era back then, I think these were at least for one bullet point on the proposal to compete with the brand new 5.7 and 6.1 Dodges. I remember seeing a brand new silver GXP on the highway and it was a good looking car for the mid 2000’s.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Honestly, I think my Taurus SHO could have benefited quite a bit from reverse tire stagger, as could other FWD cars with too much power like the eighth-gen Accord V6. I wish I would have gotten one of these as a rental to try it out. (I did rent plenty of Impala SSes, which helped cement my view that a bad car with a big motor is still a bad car, just a faster bad car.)

    My favorite W-Body remains the LaCrosse CXS with the original 3.6, which was more than the sum of its parts and far nicer than any Impala or Grand Prix I’ve ever driven.

  • avatar
    Verbal

    This generation of the Grand Prix was the one that Maximum Bob Lutz referred to disparagingly as the Bucky Beaver car.

  • avatar
    Flipper35

    So, how does adding more traction to the front help eliminate oversteer?

  • avatar
    olddavid

    Wouldn’t this be an aluminum block and heads? Why would U-Pull allow that motor to go into the shredder? I never drove one of these, but my wife loved her Eldorado which wasn’t much different. GM seems to cancel their models just as they enjoy their best refinement. (relative to GM, anyway)

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