When Bob Schweitzer Jr. of Bucks County, Pennsylvania, was just knee-high to a jackrabbit, he remembers his dad, Bob Sr., owning a sweet ’67 Catalina. With its sleek lines and fender skirts, the young, burgeoning car aficionado thought that the full-sized Poncho was just the coolest thing rolling on four wheels. And, needless to say, that Cat was just one of many interesting Pontiacs that the elder Schweitzer had owned over the years.
When young Bob finally got his New Jersey driver’s license, he added to the population of Pontiacs in the household, scoring a used ’76 Sunbird with a four speed between the buckets for his daily driver. Though it wasn’t much of a performer out on the streets, it was a good runner nonetheless, and it amplified Bob’s desire to someday own a Pontiac with significantly more punch under the hood.
After his 20th birthday, Bob purchased a ’69 GTO from a good buddy. The four-speed, bench-seat car was short on options, but long on performance. The stripped-down Tiger was a street performer right off the bat, and he’s always appreciated and cherished it for that. It still resides in his garage to this day, over 30 years later.
That GTO would soon be joined by six other neat Pontiacs from what some consider the division’s greatest performance years; all taking residence in Bob’s garage out back of his home. Though some interesting and rare GTOs dominate his collection, his next purchase might be the rarest of his prized plethora of Ponchos.
How It Happened
In the autumn of 2002, Bob took a ride out to Raceway Park in Englishtown, New Jersey, to have a stroll through its annual fall swap meet. His eyes were immediately trained on an attention-grabbing ride—a ’67 Grand Prix convertible, a one-year model that in Pontiac circles is pretty much as rare as hen’s teeth!
The owner stated that the Fathom Blue full-size ’vert was for sale, and Bob made a pitch. Though he tried, a deal could not be reached that day. After a month of negotiating, the drop-top was his, and soon heading back to his garage to shack up with his other Poncho collectibles.
Over that winter, Bob did some basic repairs on it to make it more reliable, and increase its curb appeal with some aesthetic touch-ups.
The next spring, Bob sold off his ’67 GTO at a swap meet. He returned to the show in the Grand Prix to pick up a few parts he had purchased, and stuck a For Sale sign on the car just to see if he could drum up any interest in it. Before he knew it, he was greeted by a collector who wanted to buy the vehicle in the worst way and the rare ride was gone a week later.
This Grand Prix was born with luxuries (for the day) such as AM/FM radio, bucket seats, and power steering, brakes, and antenna
Bob quickly grew disappointed in his decision to sell his Grand Prix. It was even more disappointing to him to see the car for sale a week later on a popular Internet auction site, drawing bids and a selling price that was much higher than he had just given it up for. The decision to sell it would haunt him over the following years, and the thought of someday buying another one persisted in his head.
In the spring of 2011, Bob wanted another Grand Prix convertible. The time was right, he had the space available for storage, and the money. The only question was would he find another one? With only 5,856 examples produced, the odds were against him.
The console-mounted vacuum gauge complements the interior just fine.
Kelsey-Hayes 8-lug wheels, which were added by this GP’s second owner, look right at home
His search spread out over a few months, hitting the want ads, local classifieds, and Internet sites looking for the elusive find. He spotted one for sale on the Internet, which whet his appetite, though the auction did not pan out for him. After keeping an eye on the site for the next couple of weeks, he spotted another one, and it sported the same Fathom Blue/white-top combo his previous ride had been adorned with.
Bob called the phone number included in the ad. After some questioning, he deduced that this Grand Prix was the one he sold years earlier. With negotiation, a deal was struck. The Grand Prix was coming back home again.
Back At You
The owner had made a few improvements to the big Poncho, while only racking up 1,200 miles on the odometer over eight years of ownership. A fresh coat of Fathom Blue now graced its flanks, while a new white convertible top covered the interior. The vehicle was still remarkably original, with little modifications to any of its mechanicals or aesthetics.
This Grand Prix was born with luxuries (for the day) such as AM/FM radio, bucket seats, and power steering, brakes, and antenna. Eight-lug wheels, which were added by the second owner, reside at all four corners.
Bob recently pulled the 400 motor to freshen it up, and restored the engine bay. The block received a fresh coat of Pontiac Light Blue Metallic paint and the drive accessories received fresh coatings where needed.
Internally, a Ram Air III cam replaced the stock unit, and new lifters and a timing chain were installed. The oil, water, and fuel pumps were replaced to help keep the fluids circulating properly, as were the rubber hoses since Bob wanted to do some serious road time in the full-size Poncho.
He installed stainless-steel brake and fuel lines for their good looks, but more importantly, for their safety. The original radiator was updated to a three-core for better cooling, a new set of ball joints and idler arm were bolted up, and a stock-looking aluminized exhaust system with turbo mufflers were enlisted to help the Grand Prix hit a sweet note under acceleration.
The interior? It’s original, except for reproduction floormats.
The Grand Prix came with factory dual exhaust out back, but the aftermarket turbo mufflers
The ’67 Grand Prix taillamps are very similar to the GTO of the same year.
Nowadays, Bob takes his Grand Prix out to local cruise-ins and gives it a blacktop workout. Recently, he has tracked down and contacted the GP’s original owners, discovering that it was originally purchased at Cathcart Pontiac in nearby Trenton, New Jersey.
And what about his future plans for his return-delivery Grand Prix? Bob says he’ll make this one an absolute keeper this time, because as they say: “If you love something, set it free … If it comes back, it’s yours to keep.”
Bob would like to thank his wife, Gina, for letting him have some extended playtime with his pack of Ponchos.