Engine by McLaren: 1990 Pontiac Turbo Grand Prix

Jeff LaveryBy Jeff Lavery

ASC and McLaren have been known for some of the more legendary muscle cars to come out of Detroit in the late 80s and early 90s. The Buick Regal GNX and Mercury Capri and Mustang ASC conversions remain desirable cars today, but enthusiasts tend to forget about their collaboration to create a hotted-up Pontiac Grand Prix. This example here on eBay has just over 60,000 original miles and remains in excellent condition, and could be a bargain if bidding stays close to the $4,500 opening. 

Featuring both extensive bodywork and mechanical massaging, these turbocharged Grand Prixs are rare finds today. The flared fenders, custom front and rear fascias, smoked tailights and gold mesh wheels are all hallmarks of the McLaren Grand Prixs. These were not cheap; in today’s dollars, it’d be a high $40K purchase. But the list of standard features was impressive, including a heads-up display, ABS, power sport bucket seats and a moonroof. And of course, there was lots of added value under the hood as well.

According to Hemmings – which did an excellent write-up last year on the ASC/McLaren Grand Prixs – “….the 3.1-liter V-6 was built with a special crankshaft, 8.65-compression pistons, a high-capacity oil pump and oil cooler, and a water-cooled Garrett T25 turbocharger with intercooler.” This gave the Grand Prix a healthy 205 b.h.p and 220 lb.ft of torque, good for a sprint to 60 in seven seconds and a top speed of nearly 130 m.p.h.

The interior is one of my favorite parts, with those ridiculously bolstered bucket seats and Pontiac’s then-trademark steering wheel of a thousand buttons. The seller notes that this example is in very good condition, with original paint, minimal dings/scratches and no rust. There is an impressive list of significant recent maintenance items broken out in the eBay listing, so be sure to check it out for more info. There’s no reserve on the auction, but you’ll have to lodge the minimum bid of $4,500 before taking it home.

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Comments

  1. Walter Joy

    I didn’t know it existed but I want it

    6+

  2. Todd Fitch Todd Fitch Staff

    Never heard of these! I put 200,000 miles on the Buick version of this platform, a 2002 Buick Regal GS, L67 modified to about 290 HP. I used to be all over the Grand Prix forums and never saw a thread about these. Great find, Jeff.

    5+

  3. Gunner

    Always loved this body style of Grand Prix, even with the 1000 buttons. My first brand new car was a 1990 Grand Am with the Quad 4 HO 5-Speed. Literally off the showroom floor. It was this same exterior color. I always had a soft spot for Pontiac and was saddened to see the brand disappear. I did not know of this special model, but I like it!

    4+

  4. gregwnc

    Neat Pontiac! I actually owned this car’s successor, a 1992 Grand Prix GTP. It came with a 3.4L V6 with a 5 spd. If I remember it had 210hp. It looked just like this car with more buttons and lights that were trademarks of the fancy Pontiacs of this era. I remember it being a fun and peppy ride. Gobs of torque steer due to the FWD.

    2+

  5. Superdessucke

    If you would have walked into a Pontiac dealer in 1990 with that faded 6 cylinder ’67 Nova that was on here a few days ago and asked to trade it in on this, you would have gotten some really, really snotty treatment.

    Today, this will be lucky to bring one third of what that car brought.

    3+

    • Alan Brase

      Very interesting perspective on the 67Nova/ 90 Pontiac Turbo. VERY different cars. If we ever have that EM pulse, the Nova would be better. But that pontiac is a helluva ride for the money. And likely would outlast the Nova.
      Can’t vouch for the extended life of the bolsters, tho. They might give me bad dreams.

      2+

      • Superdessucke

        Oh I understand that they’re very different cars. I just find it fascinating how differently we value them. That slow rust-bucket Nova (no offense to anyone but it’s true) brought $15,000. This guy may have to drop his opening bid down to $2,500 get any activity at all.

        1+

  6. Milt

    Does anybody know what the psi needed to inflate the seats to?

    10+

  7. T Mel

    Can anyone on here lend me the $4,500?

    2+

  8. irocrob

    I had a couple Grand Prix and Cutlass models of that era and they were very good cars except brakes . I have never heard of a 3.1 turbo but glad it doe not have the crappy hard to work on 3.4 engine.

    1+

  9. wuzjeepnowsaab

    Those seats remind me of the StayPuft Marshmallow Man

    0

  10. AMXSTEVE

    These engine designs were the worst GM ever made. The good old battery under the washer bottle and having to disconnect the motor to change the rear sparkplugs = genius

    1+

  11. JD

    Transmissions were junk in these cars. 15 years ago I looked at these. I wanted a turbo car. There was a VERY VERY small after market with someone doing computer tuning/chipping. But in the end, still a POS GM product.

    0

  12. Larry

    My family owned a fully loaded red 89 with tan leather interior. It was fun to show it at the Hot Rod Supernationals Canfield OH back in the 90’s. Never won anything. The one thing the makers missed was no standard shift available which did no justice for it having a turbo. Smoking the tires was challenging typically dragging the locked rear end.

    0

  13. Tommy D

    When an owner states “plans have changed” I’m inclined to think the result of replacing all those components didn’t render the car he was hoping for and has decided to sell

    1+

  14. Dave M

    I owned one of the these in the early 90’s. It was a great car, lightning fast and very respectable handling. Don’t understand the negative comments, I never had any trouble while putting 30k miles on it!

    1+

  15. Greg

    I saw this yesterday on eBay. Good looking car compared to what else was out there at the time. I think it was a poor decision by GM to pull the plug on Pontiac. They were just beginning to build some really great cars.

    0

    • DweezilAZ

      Not so sure, Greg: G3, G5, G6, imported GTO, Torrent. There was the Solstice, yes, but not much else that wasn’t a corporate clone.

      The way it was for a very very long time before the lights were shut off.

      1+

  16. Keith

    For a moment I thought this was my old GPT that I sold 3 years ago to a guy in NC, but mine had leather interior. The front seats in these cars are still the most comfortable and adjustable seats I’ve ever sat it.
    These cars were quick, especially for a 1990 car. The heads up display was cool, and that weird digital compass was…well let’s just say it made an interesting conversation piece.
    I sold mine for $8,000 to give you and idea of where the market for a nice condition one of these will bring on a good day. Like I said mine was in showroom condition though.

    0

  17. Doug

    Too bad it’s wrong wheel drive………

    1+

  18. Greg D

    Owned a ’95 Pontiac Grand Prix with the 3.1 normally aspirated motor back in 1997, put 131k on the car over the course of six years, and aside from normal wear of the brake pads and rotors, and regular interval oil changes, I never had to do a thing to the car. I found it very reliable, and comfortable ride for a nineties car, despite the somewhat mediocre feel of the plastics used in the interior.

    0

  19. PRA4SNW

    All that work and he still didn’t replace the 19 year old tires, regardless if they “have good tread and are not dry rotted”?

    0

  20. Fritz T.

    Couple years back one showed up in a local wrecking yard. Smacked in the RF corner, missing the buckets. Took the turbo set up, badges, and the hood heat extractors. They wanted $120 for the wheels, so I passed. Gave the turbo stuff to a buddy, used the extractors (painted to match) on my modded ’99 Regal GS. Badges? Garage art

    0

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