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1973 Grand Prix Model SJ.

        BY DON KEEFE        


n the third part of our Grand Prix history, we wrap up the story of the production cars from 1973 to the present, And if that's not enough, we also give you a glimpse of some GPs that never were.

      An all-new Grand Prix had been due out as a '72 model, but the aftermath of the autumn 1970 strike forced its delay. Better late than never, Pontiac released its new Grand Prix for the 1973 model year. While it was a handsome car that carried the traditional Grand Prix styling themes, nonetheless, it was starting to lose its distinctive identity.
      The car now featured a colonnade roof style, which had fixed rear opera windows. The front-end styling mimicked the previous generation, with a large vertical slatted grille, headlights set in square bezels and turn signals cut into the leading edge of the front fenders. The slim bumper did not have the massive look of the '71-72, but jutted ahead of the grille.
      The rear of the car was similar in design to previous editions, insofar as the manner in which the rear deck was sculpted. The taillights were no longer set in the bumper, yet the overall effect worked well. It looked like a logical progression in the GP's evolution.
      The Grand Prix's basic body was now shared with Chevy, Olds and Buick. This new Pontiac G-body was forced into sharing a 116-inch wheelbase with the Monte Carlo, as well as with all A-body four-doors, which represented a 2-inch loss from '72.
      In turn, the G-body was quite similar to the General's new A-body—to point that the Buick Century Luxus and Regal, as well as the Olds Cutlass Supreme, were A/G-body crossbreeds, utilizing the G-body roof on the shorter A-body 112-inch wheelbase. In addition, the new Pontiac Grand Am was also vying for a portion of the GP market.
      Confused? So was a major portion of the buying market, which often turned to other makes when it came time to buy an intermediate.
      Although the '73 GP lost 2 inches of wheelbase, it actually gained 3 inches in length—up to 216.6. But the big difference was in weight. While the base GP "only" picked up 125 pounds, the upscale SJ (if fully loaded) could pick up over 500! That's a quarter-ton to you and me.
      The powertrain offerings for the '73 GP were pretty much the same as the year before. The base engine was the 230-horsepower 400 4-barrel. An optional 250-hp 455 4-barrel was the only other engine available. Transmission choice was again limited to a Turbo 400 automatic.
      While it is not common knowledge, the legendary 455 Super Duty was originally intended to be offered in the Grand Prix, as well as in GTOs. It was even offered in dealer catalogues. But, as we all know. that option unfortunately never came to pass. (It was offered exclusively in the 1973 and '74 Firebird Formula and Trans Am.)
      Despite the extra weight and the lack of Super Duty power, the new GP was a runaway success, While 1972's sales total of 91,961 units was certainly nothing to sneeze at, it paled in comparison with the new GP's tally. All told, the final count was 153,899 units, 20,749 of which were the upscale SJ models.
      It seems as though the lion's share of the automotive market was centered around intermediate models, because the other G-bodies were also selling like hotcakes, most even more than the Grand Prix. Chevy's Monte Carlo, the thorn in the GP's side, sold a very impressive 233,689 units in '73—but that couldn't beat the Olds Cutlass Supreme's sales of 245,956. Plus, Buick's Luxus and Regal combined sold another 163,269 units.
      The distinctive Hurst SSJ Grand Prix did not return for 1973, a victim of extremely sluggish sales and the new body style. No one was interested in retooling, so the SSJ died in relative obscurity.
      There were no show cars based on the '73 GP, a trend that would continue for the next several years.   NEXT >

1973 | 1974 - 1975 | 1976 | 1977 | 1978 | 1979 | 1980 | 1981 - 1985 | 1986 - 1987 | 1988 | 1989 - 1990
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