Vernon D

Unappreciated beauty and power

In 1969 my dad ordered a 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix from Mike Salta Pontiac in Long Beach. On the day it arrived, dad asked me and my girlfriend if we would go and pick it up. What a question right? Of course we said yes. Dad wanted us to make sure there were no dings or dents in the paint and no unusual quirks about the car that would typically make him decline delivery. This was very unusual for dad because he was about as meticulous as they come, when it came to his cars.

Upon arrival at the dealership, we announced ourselves and waited for the car to be brought up front. What a beautiful sight when it was pulled up to the front of the show room doors. You have to realize that the 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix was designed for GM by John DeLorean., who worked for GM at the time. Because the 1968 Grand Prix had produced such poor sales, John was asked to create something that would catch the eye of Pontiac lovers and hopefully make up for the poor sales of the prior year model. Well, it did. In 68, approximately 32,000 units were sold and the 68 GP was considered a turkey. With DeLorean's 69 design, approximately 112,000 units were sold...over triple the preceding year. People loved it. My dad always said he liked to look at the car from every angle. Front, rear, side and corner to corner, the 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix was his favorite car ever.

Until 1969, the Grand Prix model itself had earned a reputation for being and had always been thought of as a family or luxury car. In 1969, it earned it's well deserved reputation as a muscle car as well. The 69 came with an option 428 c.u. engine and the 70 came with an optional 455, the SSJ model with a HURST model four speed manual transmission. Although it never caught on, these big block beasts could give the Firebirds, GTOs and yes, even the Camaros and Mustangs a run for their money. Some might even say, they were the fastest cars on the road in those years. Who knew right?

To this day, the 69 and 70 Grand Prix remains a well kept secret and although there is a club dedicated to the 69 through 72 Grand Prix, there are still only a choice few that remember the cars and appreciate them for what they truly were and still are. I, of course am partial to the 69 and 70 body styles before the 71 and 72 changes but make no mistake, all four years were vehicles to be reckoned with. Most people still don't realize it until they pull up beside one at a traffic light.. .

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