Produced by the Pontiac division of the General Motors Corporation, the Pontiac Grand Prix was first introduced as a full-size model in 1962. The term ‘Grand Prix’ has also been used to describe personal luxury cars and mid-sized cars. In its first year the car was basically a standard Pontiac Catalina coupe with little external chrome trim and sportier interiors. The cars could be beefed up with any of the options on the Pontiac performance option list and a handful were even fitted with the Super Duty 421 powertrain.
The Pontiac Grand Prix continued to do very well in the 1960s and its minimalist exterior trim was seen as a positive aspect. However, some considered it to be a lesser model than other personal luxury cars available at the time though the Grand Prix had a much stronger performance image than other cars in the same market at the time. Over the years the car was restyled somewhat and the rear window was made concave while the front made use of rather exclusive grillework. The interiors remained luxurious with as many bits and gadgets being fitted as was probably possible. Though the bucket seats that were fitted in the car were popular, consumers had the option of having a bench seat with folding armrests fitted as an alternative if they wanted to at no extra cost.
In 1969, the Grand Prix was once again re-styled. The new styling was based on a slightly longer version of the GM A platform. It was smaller, lighter and had its own body. Though it fell into the intermediate category, it enjoyed a whole new level of luxury and style. This downsizing was incredibly successful and the luxurious interior features a wraparound cockpit-styled instrument panel. It was also the first time that the Grand Prix featured a concealed radio antenna, a rear window defogger and side-impact beams. In 1988 the first Pontiac Grand Prix coupe became a reality. While the sedan version, which had emerged sometime earlier, had not been terribly successful, the coupe was immensely popular. The Pontiac Grand Prix has continued to undergo many interesting developments over the years. As of 2006 the Grand Prix was one of Pontiacs most popular vehicles in production, with 2008 being its last year of production.
The golden age of the Great American Muscle Car began in approximately 1964 and ended in 1971, although these dates are arbitrary. Most people agree that the Pontiac GTO, actually an option package available on the Tempest intermediate car for 1964 and ’65, was the first true muscle car and set the trend for other manufacturers to follow. With its 389 cubic inch V8 and a Hurst shifter to channel the power to the red-lined tires, the GTO made a very big impression. Pretty soon everyone wanted in on Pontiac’s game, and the late 1960s saw legendary muscle cars from Chrysler (Plymouth Barracuda and Dodge Challenger), Ford (Mustang Boss 302 and Boss 429, Mercury Marauder) and Chevy (Chevelle SS 396, Corvette 427). The Buick grand Sport and Olds Cutlass 442 were other offerings from GM. Even AMC got in on the act with its fearsome Rebel Machine and AMX models.
Sadly, like all good things, the bubble had to burst. Dropping a powerful engine into a small car might sound like a great idea to you and I, but the insurance companies and highway safety regulators were hearing a different tune – one played to the sound of rising accident rates caused by too much power in inexperienced hands. By the early 1970s, horsepower ratings were in steep decline and monster engines like Chrysler’s 426 Hemi were history. A very special era in automotive history had come to an end. These days, classic muscle cars can be purchased from dealers who specialize in finding, restoring and re-selling them. Muscle cars are also sold by private individuals, often on the Internet. The right muscle car with original parts and rare options can bring 10 to 20 times its original sale price at auction.
- AC Cobra 427/428
- AMC Javelin AMX
- Buick Riviera Gran Sport
- Chevrolet Camaro
- Chevrolet Chevelle Malibu SS
- Dodge Charger
- Ford Mustang Boss 302
- Mercury Comet
- Plymouth Barracuda
- Plymouth Road Runner
- Pontiac Firebird
- Pontiac Grand Prix
- Pontiac Tempest Le Mans/GTO
From 1962 to 1981 the Pontiac division of General Motors produced solid, intermediate-sized automobiles called the Pontiac LeMans. Then in 1982 the smaller Pontiac Bonneville model replaced the LeMans.
The LeMans was introduced as the top-line version of the smaller and more solid Pontiac Tempest and had more luxurious trimmings and a sportier look than the Tempest. In 1964 when the Tempest was restyled and enlarged in the form of the LeMans, it continued to have the same 326 cubic inch V8s and 215 cubic inch six-cylinder found in the regular Tempest.
Not long after the 1964 model was produced, the LeMans came out with an alternative performance package assigned as the GTO or the Gran Turismo Omologate. This version came with a lot of technical developments and upgrades, costing just under US$300. It was estimated that 5,000 GTOs would be sold that year but the sales ended up being 32,000, thereby accounting for a substantial portion of the Tempest and LeMans sales.
In 1996 the GTO was made separate from the other models, having the basic shape of the LeMans and Tempest models. The GTO kept the big-engined muscle car style where as the Tempest and the LeMans models received a new SOHC 230 cubic inch six-cylinder engine.
During the late 1960’s the Sprint-optioned LeMans and Tempest models were not as popular as the larger-engined GTO that was fueling the muscle car wars. Those that bought the normal regular LeMans and Tempest models mostly ordered V8 power, as the 326 and the later 350 cubic inch V8 version were the most ordered engines. In 1969 the SOHC six-cylinder engine and the Sprint option were stopped and replaced by an ordinary Chevrolet-built 250 cubic inch OHV six-cylinder engine, which became the base engine in most of the Pontiac intermediates.
When the LeMans was first produced it included a convertible and a pillared coupe with no hardtop option offered in the Tempest. Then in 1964 the hardtop coupe was added followed by the four-door pillared sedan a year later. In 1966 and 1968 the four-door hardtop and then a four-door Safari wagon replaced the previous versions. Over the decades the Pontiac continued to change its style, adding many amazing features and continued to be popular cars.
Although the British built the AC Cobra that came to the forefront in 1960, it wasn’t the first vehicle that combined the V8 engine with an aluminum body and a light European chassis, but it was most certainly the most famous. The later models with bigger engines were among the road vehicles sold, that performed the highest.
The AC Cobra 427, was produced in two forms. There was a commercial vehicle, that featured dual carburetors, an under exhaust, a glove box and a relatively tame engine. The other however, did not feature the practical glove box, but had a stripped interior, revised suspension and a completely different layout of its instruments. The latter, was built for racing, and had a one carburetor powerful engine, wide fenders, a roll bar and its exhausts were on the side. Carroll Shelby, producer of the AC Cobra’s, was left with many of the racing versions. Shelby renamed the vehicles to Cobra 427 SC (Super Competition) and sold them to the public. Today, the SC models are the most valuable vehicles to collectors, and sell for millions.
The production of the AC Cobra 427/428, started in 1964, with the building of the Cobra 427. It was the most powerful car that had entered production, and would become the legend that dreams were made of. The chassis and the suspension had to be redesigned for these cars, to be able to cope with the massive increase of power and other changes. It boasted a seven liter Ford V8 engine and in standard form, the vehicle was capable of 400bhp, which could be increased even further, for racing purposes.
A 428 engine was later used, but the power remained virtually the same. The legendary AC Cobra 427/428 would be written into the history books because of it unbelievable acceleration capabilities and handling characteristics that could make anyone’s hair stand up right! In 1965, Shelby sold the Cobra name to Ford. Many replicas of the AC Cobra 427/428 can still be seen today, and many car enthusiasts still dream of being behind the wheel of this powerful muscle car.
Off road vehicles and the sport of ‘off roading’ have a large and enthusiastic following across the country and, in fact, around the world. It’s a variation on the old ‘my car’s faster than yours!’ jibe, only in this case it’s ‘my car can go where your car can’t!’ Combine this competitiveness with the typical American love of the outdoors and our country’s astounding natural beauty and you have the sport – and accompanying lifestyle – of off-roading.
True off road vehicles are much more than mere SUVs. These beasts have to survive anything the wilderness can throw at them. Boulders, rivers, mud, sand or snow – a good off road vehicle will eat ’em all for breakfast and keep on rolling over hill and dale. When official competition between off road vehicles takes place, it’s usually either Rally Racing, Desert Racing or the relatively new sport of Rockcrawling. The latter is a sight to see, as spindly vehicles, with some slight resemblance to Jeeps, crawl over incredibly rough courses made up of huge boulders and wind-carved rock formations with the agility of overgrown spiders!
Now, your standard off-the-rack SUV or Hummer isn’t any slouch when it comes to mild off-roading, even though precious few sold in urban areas really get tossed about in conditions displayed in their television commercials. Off-roading is as much about image as it is about exploring the wild, less-travelled terrain where pavements are non-existent. When you’re an off-roader, it’s all good!