Thursday 28 March 2019
The Pontiac Grand Am is a mid-size car and later a compact car that was produced by Pontiac. The history of Grand Am starts with Pontiac executives noting incursion into the US market by Mercedes and BMW. Notably, the American sports car was usually without luxury features and the luxury car without sport features. Foreign makes mixed these features. Pontiac hybridized the Trans Am with the Grand Prix to create the Grand Am. Built on the A-body platform, the intended GTO body was re-badged and fitted with the Grand Prix interior. As the 1973 was produced, OPEC levied an oil embargo to the USA. This resulted in a dichotomy of buyers: total luxury or total economy. Since Grand Am was a “in-betweener “, it’s sales died and it was discontinued in 1975. The Grand Am had two separate three-year runs in the 1970s: from 1973 to 1975, and again from 1978 to 1980. It was based on the GM A platform. Production of the Grand Am was canceled in 1980 when it was replaced by the Pontiac 6000. The Grand Am was reintroduced in 1985 when it replaced the Pontiac Phoenix. It became Pontiac's best selling car and was later replaced by the Pontiac G6, so named as it was intended to be the 6th generation of the Grand Am.
All 1973-1975 Grand Ams were built in Pontiac, Michigan at Pontiac's main assembly plant. The 1978-1980 Grand Ams were built in Pontiac, Michigan at Pontiac's main assembly plant and in Atlanta, Georgia at GMAD Lakewood. All Grand Ams between 1985 and 2005 were built in Lansing, Michigan at the Lansing Car Assembly.
The Grand Am, coined by Pontiac with a name derived from two other cars in its lineup ("Grand" signifying "Grand Prix luxury" and "Am" for "Trans Am performance") was designed as America's answer to European luxury/sport sedans and available as a 4-door Colonnade sedan or a 2-door Colonnade coupe. A total of 43,136 Grand Ams were built during the first year of production (both two-door and four-door models).
The Grand Am could be had with a standard 2-bbl 400 cu in (6.6 L) V8 engine with single exhaust producing 170 hp (127 kW; 172 PS), an optional 4-bbl version of this engine with single exhaust producing 200 hp (149 kW; 203 PS) that was only available with a 4-speed manual transmission, an optional 4-bbl version of this engine with dual exhaust producing 230 hp (172 kW; 233 PS), or an optional 4-bbl 455 cu in (7.5 L) with dual exhaust 250 hp (186 kW; 253 PS). Availability of 310 hp (231 kW; 314 PS) Super Duty version of the 4-bbl 455 V8 did not materialize.
All engines were available with a Turbo-hydramatic 400 automatic transmission as standard equipment. A 4-speed manual transmission was available with the 400/4-bbl engine in 1973 and 1974, but this was not popular.
The 1973 Pontiac Grand Am style had a unique flexible urethane front fascia center nose (known as the 'Endura' nose) that was squeezable and could return to its original shape following a minor collision along with the new energy-absorbing bumpers, a total of six grille openings with vertical bars, round front turn signals with a cross-hair design, horizontal rear tail lights, and chrome rear bumper. Additionally, Grand Ams featured a Radial Tuned Suspension (RTS) as standard equipment that included radial-ply tires, Pliacell shock absorbers, and front and rear sway bars. The springs were advertised as being computer selected. The Grand Am was one of only three GM cars to have standard radial tires and appropriate suspension tuning in 1973, with the others being the Oldsmobile Cutlass Salon and Chevrolet Monte Carlo S.
The Grand Am included Strato bucket seats upholstered in Naugahyde vinyl or corduroy cloth featuring manual recliners and adjustable lumbar supports - both features common on European-style sports/luxury sedans, but unusual for American cars of that time. Also included were an instrument panel from the Pontiac Grand Prix featuring a Rally gauge cluster with fuel, oil, water and volt gauges (a tachometer or fuel economy gauge was optional, and on cars so equipped, the clock was moved to a space on the lower instrument panel under the radio), three-spoke padded steering wheel with brushed-stainless spokes, and Genuine Crossfire African Mahogany trim on the dash facing, radio and clock surrounds, as well as the center console between the front seats. Grand Ams also were among the first U.S.-built cars with a turn-signal mounted headlight dimmer switch that had been common on imported cars for decades. Other standard equipment included concealed windshield wipers, a 1.12-inch (28 mm) front stabilizer bar, and an in-the-windshield radio antenna. Upscale options included air conditioning, tinted glass, power windows-locks-seat, rear defogger, various sound systems, and tilt-steering-wheel. AM/FM stereo with a tape player was optional.
Pontiac also produced a single 1973 Grand Am station wagon as a feasibility study. This was a LeMans wagon converted to a Grand Am. A functional ram-air induction system was developed for the Pontiac A-bodies utilizing twin NACA openings in the hood, but the option was dropped due to inability to pass federally mandated drive-by noise standards. A few functional Ram Air systems were sold over the counter. The twin-scoop NACA hood was an option for any Pontiac A-body for all three years, but was non-functional.
In a Popular Mechanics Owners survey, 67% rated the build quality as good to excellent and 79% liked the handling. However, 22.1% disliked the fuel economy.
- engine: V8
- capacity: 6600 cc
- horsepower: 170 HP
- gearbox: 4+1
- top speed: 170 km/h