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HANDLING AND MANEUVERABILITY are two qualities Pontiac engineers very successfully put into Grand Am. Many owners bought the car for other reasons, but they soon discovered its European gran turismo virtues

      Has Pontiac succeeded? Or is all this gran turismo sophistication lost on buyers who don't appreciate it?
      One of the first questions we asked was, "Why did you buy your Grand Am—what tipped the scale in its favor?" Here are typical answers: "Many features available at thousands of dollars less than other luxury cars." "Styling." "Because I didn't know what make it was the first time I saw it; I thought it was a foreign car." "Wanted a smaller car and was impressed with the Grand Am's appearance."
      The majority of reasons ran in that general vein. Most owners couldn't have cared less about touring in the grand European manner. They weren't swayed by handling, responsiveness, braking, maneuverability, or any of the rest of it.
      But then, about every 15 questionnaires we'd get another type of response. This was from people who understood what the Grand Am was all about. To wit: "I bought my Grand Am because it's a radical departure from GM's norm – suspension and handling foremost." —Ohio rubber worker. "Because of its European-like handling and comfort plus Detroit's luxuries." —New Jersey bank examiner. "Where else for the price can you get a car that has been engineered so soundly?" —Ohio shipping clerk. "The chassis tuned to the radial tires, lumbar-adjustable bucket seats in a four-door, and gauges on the instrument panel–wow!" —Indiana technical writer.
      So while most people fell for the Grand Am's looks, which did play an important role in all buying decisions, about one out of 15 buyers had deeper reasons.    NEXT >
MARCH 1973
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