My love of Pontiacs began with a friend's '69 Grand Prix, when I was 15 years old. For years I remembered that car, and when I saw my friend, we would discuss it.
Once I got my license, I drove my dad's '75 Pontiac Safari wagon until I spotted and purchased a '77 Trans Am. I couldn't believe the smooth power of the engine and the fact that it was different than what everyone else was driving.
Over the years, I owned several more Pontiacs but never forgot that silver Grand Prix. Later, life kicked in-family, houses, jobs, you know the story-and the car gig was history.
I always said that some day I would get back into the cars of my past, and two years ago I began looking for a Grand Prix. Eventually I found a '69 Model J that was an all-original, numbers-matching, original-owner Pontiac in great shape.It was a long way from home, but after discussing the car on the phone and looking at the pictures, I decided to buy it sight unseen. It was 600 miles to Livingston, Tennessee, so I decided to take the bus down and drive the car home.
Twenty hours later, I arrived in Livingston, where an elderly man in a brand-new Cadillac picked me up. I climbed into the Caddy and soon we arrived at his house to see the GP.
Finally, there it was-the Pontiac I bought three months earlier and had only seen in pictures. It was Verdoro Green, the lines were clean and straight, and it had Rally IIs.
The owner told me that he hadn't driven it in 18 years because of his bad back, however, his wife started the 350-horse 400 engine and backed the GP out of the garage once a month. He said he hated to sell it because it was like a member of the family, but it was just taking up space, so it was time for it to go. He hoped I wouldn't modify the car, and I told him that I would not.
I was elated with the GP, but there was more. He said to come inside for the other stuff that went with it. Out came a big cardboard box with the original build sheet, bill of sale, window sticker, Protect-O-Plate, key knock-outs, key fobs from the dealer, salesman's business card, a Christmas card he sent the year he bought the car, the owner's manual, the warranty booklet, a brochure on the car, an old plastic model, and all the service records from new!
After packing up these materials, I was ready to begin my journey home, knowing full well that 600 miles was a lot to ask from a car that had been sitting for 18 years. Luckily, the only issue I had was the air conditioning compressor seized one hour from home, so I cut the belt and all was fine.
Shortly thereafter, I repainted the Grand Prix in its original color and fixed the interior. Last winter, I found the harmonic balancer had broken into three pieces at the crank, and one piece went into the oil pan. I sent the motor out to a buddy of mine, Mick Kraushaar, who rebuilt it and installed an "068" camshaft.The original Rochester carb was sent out for replating, and the factory intake and exhaust manifolds were reinstalled. A Crane module was mounted under the distributor cap to get rid of the points.
While the engine was out, a complete engine bay refinish was done, along with the installation of PST's Polygraphite front-end kit. New coil springs were installed on all four corners with 1-inch of additional ride height on the rear springs. A mild shift kit was installed in the Turbo 400 transmission and some brake was work done.
It's funny how life can come full circle. I was 15 years old when I fell in love with the '69 Grand Prix and now, at 44 years old, I finally have a Model J restored to basically what it looked like and drove like new!
While I'm sure the demise of Pontiac has saddened all classic Pontiac owners, we can take heart in knowing that we still own a piece of automotive history that will live on.
My Pontiac and Me spotlights reader experiences with their own Pontiacs in their own words. To be considered for publication, submit several high-quality color photos (if digital, each photo must be larger than 1 megabyte in JPG format-no other formats, please), your own Pontiac story (typed, approximately 500 words), your name, address, and telephone number to:
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My Pontiac and Me
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Tampa, FL 33619
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