Mystery Model: 1977 Pontiac Grand Prix – SOLD!

Jul 2020 | Classifinds, Malaise Monday

August 16th Update – While updating our past Malaise Monday listings, we confirmed the private seller deleted their Craigslist post, so we’re calling this Grand Prix “Sold!”

We’ve watched Pontiac’s third generation, “Colonade Hardtop” style Grand Prix increase in value over the past few years for several very low mileage originals. So when we came across this 1977 white over bright red velour example listed on Craigslist in Jackson, New Jersey for only $5,400 or best offer we were a bit surprised. With no engine or model description to go by, a review of the Hagerty Insurance Online Valuation Tool confirms this private seller has his Grand Prix priced between the current #3 “Good” appraisal of $6,900 and the #4 “Fair” (Daily Driver) estimate of $4,200 for all models and power trains. 

For model year 1973, Pontiac launched the third generation of its popular personal luxury coupe, the Grand Prix, on the new A-Body “Colonade” hardtop platform shared with the Chevrolet Monte Carlo, Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, and Buick Regal.  With more emissions and safety features being added throughout the mid-70s, Pontiac increasingly focused on the luxury aspect of these cars as power output declined with each succeeding year.  The main styling cue differentiating second generation Grand Prixs from their A-Body siblings was the cockpit style wrap-around dashboard continued from the second generation car.  The 1977 example presented here is the last “big” Grand Prix before GM downsized the A-Body line for 1978.  The long hood, short deck design initiated on the second generation Grand Prix looks even more stylish on these later models.

Despite having the fourth generation downsized Grand Prix in the queue for 1978, Pontiac still carried out a complete reworking of the front header and bumper for the final year 1977 Grand Prix. Stylists positioned the parking lamps between quad rectangular headlamps while they replaced the previous year’s “waterfall’ grille with a narrower one that extended into the lower portion of the bumper. Behind the bumper were new aluminum reinforcements designed to reduce weight. For the rear, Stylists simplified the taillights to eliminate the weighty pot metal bezels that created the horizontal stripe effect in 1976. The same three models (J, LJ and SJ) were carried over with engine revisions. The base Model J received Pontiac’s new 135 horsepower 301 cubic inch (4.9 L) V8 as standard equipment, which many considered too small and underpowered to propel the 4,000-pound car. Moving up to either the mid-level LJ or top-Level SJ trim included either a 160 horsepower 350 cubic inch (5.7 L) V8 or the 180 horsepower 400 cubic inch (6.6 L), respectively. The original thinking on the 301 V8 was the weight savings from using a significantly lighter engine would cancel out the horsepower loss from the smaller displacement. This turned out to be a major miscalculation and 301 equipped cars became much less desirable among Grand Prix enthusiasts and collectors in later years.  We mention this as you’ll want to confirm with the seller which engine his car has.

Despite each of those three engines still being Pontiac-built units for 1977, that was only true for 49 of the 50 states. Pontiac’s own V8 engines could not meet the more stringent California emission standards set for 1977.  Consequently, all Grands Prix (and other Pontiac models) sold in California relied on Oldsmobile-built engines.  Lansing’s 350 cubic inch (5.7 L) “Rocket V8” powered the J and LJ models, while the 403 cubic inch (6.6 L) Rocket V8 came standard on the SJ and was optional on the other two GPs in California.

Grand Prix sales increased to an all-time high of over 270,000 units for 1977 despite competition from a newly downsized and lower-priced Ford Thunderbird and its badge-engineered Mercury Cougar XR-7 cousin.

We have to admit, the decent looking pictures combined with the very brief description have us wondering whether this particular Grand Prix may be a bargain in the making.  With an interior that presents like new and what appears to be a presentable exterior, you’ll need to confirm with the seller the history of his Grand Prix.  Besides not knowing what engine this Grand Prix has, we also note the label next to the standard “Grand Prix” lower front fender script.  We can’t tell what it says from the pictures provided and whether it denotes a rare model we are not aware of. If that clue turns out to be nothing and this example is just a base 301-powered car, given the high volume made that year, no one would fault you for considering an LS Swap to make this Grand Prix a luxurious street machine.  Whichever path you choose, good luck with the purchase!

Here’s the seller’s description:

“1977 Pontiac Grand Prix ,78K miles, 2 dr. automatic, console, red interior, excellent condition

$5400 or best offer

Call Bob only 732-363-4389

Do you have a Grand Prix story you’d like to share?  Comment below and let us know!


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