Memory Lane This '72 SSJ...
This '72 SSJ Grand Prix was a beautiful sight when it was nearly new. This photo was taken in 1975 or 1976, shortly after Glenn purchased the vehicle.
"It was important to me to have a fully functional rolling chassis," Glenn comments. "I installed the motor, trans, driveshaft, rear, and fuel system and hooked up the radiator and hoses so that I could start up and break in the 455 prior to setting the body back onto the frame."
Then he stripped the front clip and body, and discovered rust in the fenders, rear quarters, rockers, and trunk pan. Glenn welded in patch panels, and pulled the decklid, hood, and driver's door from the parts car to replace damaged metal. He primed the SSJ using DuPont Self-Etching Primer, followed by DuPont Fill 'N Sand Primer, and reattached the body to its frame. Clarks Body Shop of Cleburne, Illinois, finalized the paintwork with DuPont ChromaBase in Cameo White and California Gold, followed by four coats of DuPont ChromaClear.
Glenn says he had difficulty matching up the gold paint original to his SSJ Grand Prix and turned to Jim Wangers to help him choose the color. "While attending the GTO Nationals in Louisville, Kentucky, I looked across the parking lot and there was the gold I had been looking for. It was on Jim Wangers' GeeTO Tiger. It was a perfect match to how I remember the car in 1975. I met with Dave Anderson, while he was there with the GeeTO Tiger, and he agreed to send me the paint codes for the gold color. The paint finished up in late December 2006 and by early spring of 2007, the SSJ was on the road in all her glory."
Glenn tells HPP that the 17-year restoration of his SSJ was well worth his time and effort. "I knew it was special, and with the passing of time, I realized just how special it was to me and that I had to get it back. Once I did, I knew the restoration would be worth it, no matter how long it took.
"A lot of time has passed from that day in 1975 when I first saw the SSJ. The memories from the first time we had her and looking forward to the good times we will have, are priceless. My wife and son, Travis, have lovingly nicknamed the SSJ 'The Golden Child.' Maybe I do give it some special attention, but the way I look at it, she has earned it."
HPP would like to thank Jim Mattison, Jim Wangers, Don Morton, Rocky Rotella, Keith Vrabec, and Pete Serio for their assistance with this story.
Hurst SSJ Or Dealer Ssj, You Decide
Sketchy production numbers notwithstanding, Glenn Kovach's SSJ has a few more mysteries of its own. According to then-Hurst General Manager and SSJ Project Manager Don Morton, as he revealed in Pontiac SSJ Grand Prix-A Grand History (www.highperformancepontiac.com), one of the reasons production numbers are approximate is because a few dealers were building their own versions of the SSJ package with various options.
These GPs weren't converted at Hurst Performance. Instead, they were transformed at the selling dealer. Some even made SSJ emblems for their in-house creations. Glenn's may be one of these dealer-built cars. We say this because the billing history in the PHS documentation provided by Jim Mattison reveals no drop-ship code of 50-012 near the bottom right-hand corner, which would indicate the GP was sent to Hurst Performance in Roseville, Michigan, for the conversion prior to being shipped to the selling dealer. (For 1970, the codes were 50-010 Southgate, Michigan, or 50-011 West Los Angeles, California.) It was instead delivered directly to Bergeron Pontiac in Kankakee, Illinois.
Further evidence is that our feature SSJ is based on an SJ, which wasn't possible for '71-'72 models because of a striping difference between the Model J and SJ in which the latter interfered with the Hurst paint treatment, so Hurst SSJs in these years were based on Model Js.
The owner washes off years...
The owner washes off years of neglect after buying his SSJ back in 1989.
This Grand Prix was in really...
This Grand Prix was in really bad shape. "It broke my heart when I saw it in this condition," Glenn says.
Glenn sourced a replacement...
Glenn sourced a replacement 455 motor from a '70 Bonneville. This is what it looked like before teardown.