My story begins one sunny summer day back in 1986. Leaving a sales meeting at my corporate office, I was walking to my car when I looked toward the back of the parking lot and noticed a black Pontiac parked sideways with a For Sale sign in the window. I decided to take a closer look. As I walked around the car, I saw the fender badge that read "Grand Am," another that read "7.4 Liter," and an "SD-455" decal.
Being a Pontiac fan for most of my life, I knew this had to be a rare Poncho. I called the number on the sign and talked to the owner, who confirmed that this sinister-looking machine was a '73 Grand Am with a 455 (but it was not a Super-Duty). He told me he was the third owner and only had it a short time. He had to sell it to make room for a '55 Chevy Nomad that he just bought.
I couldn't sleep that night. I told my wife about the Grand Am and how much I wanted it, but I didn't have the extra cash. To my surprise, she said that she would buy it for me!
The very next day, I got together with the owner and looked the Pontiac over more closely. It was loaded with a six-way power driver seat; power windows, locks, steering, and brakes; a rear defogger; air conditioning; Rally IIs; a console with floor shifter; a tilt wheel; and sport mirrors. The decision was easy. I struck a deal and drove it home.
I was amazed at how fast it was completely stock with 3.08 gears. Though it was only rated at 250 hp, the 455 sure knew how to fly.
Three weeks later, I let a friend take it for a drive and told him to punch it. When he got the opportunity, he dropped the Turbo 400 down into First gear and smashed the gas. The tires lit up and when they finally hooked, the car was off like white lighting! Just as he hit Third gear (we were doing 100 mph), there was a loud bang and there went the motor.
We were able to limp the proud Poncho to his garage because there was still some oil pressure. My friend said he would help me rebuild the 455 the right way, which meant a 0.030 overbore, a balanced rotating assembly, all the go-fast goodies, and an estimated 500 hp at the crank.
During the rebuild, I discovered my Grand Am is a numbers-matching car, much to my surprise. Four months and thousands of dollars later, I was back on the road again.
Over the last 23 years, I have been married, divorced, raised two kids, transferred to two different states, and have always managed to keep a roof over the Grand Am. My lovely daughter, now 21 years old, used to help me wrench on the car; we went for rides in it when she was growing up. Now she, too, has a deep appreciation for old musclecars, especially Pontiacs. She owns an '00 Grand Prix GT.
I nicknamed the Grand Am Bad to the Bone because it's a luxury, high-performance, limited-production sports car that can hold its own against the best cars of the era. Two-plus decades after buying it used, it only has 68,000 miles on the odometer (and upgraded to 3.42 gears), and I enjoy taking it to shows several times a year. It still gives me the same feeling as when I first saw it back in 1986. The only difference is that instead of saying, "I've got to have it," now I say, "I'm glad I have it"-and believe me, I plan on keeping it forever.
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:
High Performance Pontiac Magazine
My Pontiac and Me
c/o Christopher Phillip
9036 Brittany Way
Tampa, FL 33619
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