Making the Cut: 1971 Pontiac Grand Prix

By Nathan Avots-Smith

Here’s a 1971 Pontiac Grand Prix J that’s being advertised as half off. It looks pretty intact to me, so maybe which half is up to the buyer. I’ll be here all week! All jokes aside, this personal luxury Poncho is said to have been in storage since 1980, and boast just 30,000 original miles, making its newly reduced $7,000 (or $6,998, if you’re sticking with the ad title and two dollars makes a difference to you) pricetag look pretty tempting. You can find it on craigslist in Novato, California.

This yellow paint looks awfully fresh, so I have some questions about how recently this car came out of storage for the seller, who appears to be a big exclamation point enthusiast. The car is claimed to be numbers-matching, with its original 400-cubic inch V8, although output is also claimed to be 400 horsepower—fully 100 more than Pontiac advertised in 1971, and that was before they switched to the net rating of 255 hp. Nevertheless, the car is said to run and drive well, and need only front turn signal lenses and registration to be road-ready. I think you’re going to want a new side-view mirror, too, buddy. Fun fact: the Grand Prix’s J and SJ model designations are a nod to classic Duesenbergs, and its neoclassical styling bears some resemblance to Virgil Exner’s 1966 proposal for a revived Duesey.

This interestingly composed photograph shows the GP in its current storage facility habitat, but it also shows of the boat-tail rear—carrying on the neoclassical theme—that was new for 1971. I’m a little torn on the styling of the ’71; I prefer this aspect to the plainer rear of the 1969-70 Grands Prix, but I also prefer the quad-headlight front of the earlier cars to the Monte Carlo-esque visage of this vintage. Either way it’s a handsome big coupe; call it a wash—just don’t call me late for dinner. Speaking of which, this Pontiac comes equipped with a “factory tacometer.” Yum!

In all seriousness, this looks like a pretty substantial car for $7,000, with fairly minimal immediate needs assuming that all of the post-storage freshening listed in the ad was done properly. The original $14,000 ask might have been a bit of a stretch, but what do you think—at half off, does this Grand Prix make the cut?

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Comments

  1. redwagon

    If it is a rust bucket hidden by bondo and fresh paint than, “No” even the $7,000 price is not worth it. Having said that I do like the car and the styling but not the color so much. I cannot believe this color is an offered one. This would look so much sharper in a dark blue.

    I think the 400/400 reference is to a 400 ci engine and THM 400 auto transmission.

    0
  2. redwagon

    https://myclassicgarage.com/marketplace/knowledge_base/1971-pontiac-grand-prix#colors

    20 exterior color options
    6 interior colors
    ~58,000 total production.

    Way more choice than black, white, silver, grey, red and blue.

    3+
  3. Steve R

    I have several friends that live in Novato and the surrounding area, it has a large stable population that has stayed put for decades many of which are now aging out. One friend has come across many once common such as this, for very little money. They are often sunburned, but tend to be complete and truely rust free. This car has too many parts left off when it was repainted to trust the quality. The lack of detailed pictures of the interior and engine compartment tell a story. There are probably better Grand Prix’s out there for the money.

    It’s a fact, all stock big V8 has 400hp, anything modified has 600hp, probably more. If you want proof of that, go to any car show or read the performance section of any automotive forum.

    Steve R

    4+
  4. Chris W.

    U-G-L-Y, U ain’t got no alibi U Ugly!!

    2+
    • KEN TILLY

      f-u-g-l-y!

      1+
      • Woodie Man

        Bring A Pimp

        1+
  5. sparkster

    Had one of these in the early 80’s paid $200 for it. It smoked really bad after the engine warmed up. Had a miss as well. The lady was told the engine needed to be rebuilt right she had a valve job done. I bought it and went home and change the oil (tar). After the third oil change in 10 days the car never smoked again. Pulled the valve cover off and found the broken rocker arm. Went to the wreaking yard and got another rocker arm and that fixed the miss. That 400 cu.in. engine would fly. Great highway cruiser . Best $200 dollar car I ever bought.

    8+
  6. rmward194

    This car brings back memories. My first car was a 1971 Grand Prix SJ 455 HO, paid $500 for it in 1979.

    Loaded as it was a factory rep’s car Black with a grey interior. I had it repainted grey and proceeded to blow up the motor.

    It always smoked when it was cold, but one day it wouldn’t stop smoking. My dad decided it would be best to yank the motor and replace it with a 400 2bbl. He turned in the 455 to the salvage yard as a core. The car was rough when I got it, but it could have been something special if I wasn’t 18 yrs old at the time. I wound up selling it for $2,500 and bought a brand-new 1980 Olds Cutlass Supreme Brougham Coupe.

    0
    • Tom Member

      sad story. a Trifecta of bad decisions. 400/2V, cored the 71 455 and bought an 80 cutlass?

      unfortunately I understand. If we only knew then what we know now, right?

      I traded my original 400 out of my 67 Firebird 400 Convertible, with just about every factory option, that had a cracked block back in 1989 (when repairing a block really was not an option yet) for a new GM 400 Short Block built to 68 specs….thought that was a great decision but later found finding a correct date code Pontiac 400 (GM did not VIN match until 1968) would have been a better decision. The recession bought that car 2 years ago unfortunately.

      But I did have a new 1980 Cutlass Supreme, that 260 V8 was just about the least powerful engine I have ever experienced….pretty car but could not get out of its own way!!

      0
  7. Oil Slick

    I love the yellow and dig yellow cars. 7k is ambitious but it’s very cool.

    0
  8. Robert White

    “A cross between puke green & piss yellow”.

    B.F.

    Bob

    0
  9. Dt 1

    Definitely a cool ride

    0
  10. Tom Hall

    Had a 72 with a bunch of miles on it – valves would start floating at about 105-110. Those 400’s would run!

    0

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