Is this Gwynn Prix the (wal)nuttiest Pontiac of all time?
The ’70s were probably the peak of the “personal luxury car” market. Pontiac’s Grand Prix set the stage for Chevrolet and Oldsmobile to join in with the Monte Carlo and Cutlass Supreme, and Ford and Chrysler had plenty to offer customers as well. There were also low-volume makers offering even more audacious cars like the Stutz Blackhawk, a coachbuilt luxury coupe using the chassis, windshield, and some brightwork and trim from the Grand Prix. However, we’ve never seen this wood and brass-clad creation, dubbed the Gwynn Prix.
This bizarre one-off was spotted by Barnfinds.com and comes to us all the way from Portsmouth, England, where it recently sold on Facebook Marketplace for an asking price of £15,995 ($21,982). It appears to be the only one of its kind and is the brainchild of fashion designer Bob Gwynn. The highly customized car was built in 1973, and it’s clear that it’s based on the Pontiac Grand Prix despite the many modifications.
Its significant tweaks include reshaped fenders and quarterpanels capped in solid walnut, with a similar treatment on the car’s prominent nose. It’s hard to see in these contemporary photos, but it appears that the decklid was also covered in a walnut veneer. While it’s not teak or mahogany, it definitely alludes to a wooden boattail—like a ’30s speedster or an actual runabout boat.
Inside, deeply cushioned overstuffed seats were reupholstered and hand-stitched. The headliner was replaced with cashmere and mink. The walnut exterior trim was matched here as well, with wood on the dashboard, door armrests, sun visors, and center console. Ornate brass door handles, both inside and outside, replaced the simple factory pieces. Finally, a vinyl top cover eliminated the Pontiac’s opera windows, giving it a slightly different greenhouse.
Unfortunately, there are no photos of the car’s powerplant, a 455-cubic-inch Pontiac V-8, but it seems that this was one area where Gwynn left the Pontiac donor alone. The torquey V-8 was a bit down on power in 1973, especially when compared to its SJ forebears, but it definitely still got the job done.
Gwynn had hoped to build 500 of his “Gwynn Prix” luxo-cruisers, but this was the only one he ever made. Chalk that up to the asking price of $50,000 in 1973. That was more than 10 times the price of the 1973 Grand Prix it used as a foundation, and adjusted for inflation that’s more than $290,000 today. Even with all the mink headliner in the world, that’s a steep price.
The seller reported that the car, with just 43,600 miles on the odometer, is in great shape and ready to drive. Granted, it may need some wood bits refinished, but the paint and body look good and the seller notes there’s no rust. One extra bit that the seller added that surely helped to close the deal: a 1973 Bob Gwynn designer suit was included in the sale. Since we missed out on this one-off creation, we’ll have to pretend that none of us would have looked good in the suit, even though we know that’s a damned lie.