38k Mile Survivor: 1979 Pontiac Grand Prix SJ

Update 2/21/20 – The seller has dropped their asking price to $7,800. Is that enough to get this sold though? Thanks go to Ikey H for the tip!

From 1/18/20 – Despite being a northern car, this 1979 Pontiac Grand Prix SJ is in remarkably clean condition, with no rust noted and an interior that looks like it’s seen very little regular use over the years. The seller notes that the factory black paint is in excellent condition, and despite the damage landau roofs can do, this one seems to only be accenting the top of the Grand Prix instead of causing rust to blossom along the trunk lid. While not terribly valuable, these Grand Prixs are hard to find in this sort of condition. Check out the SJ here on craigslist with an asking price of $8,500.

I love the mag wheels on this thing, and the chrome mudflaps. Those are the sort of design touches you simply don’t see anymore. Some folks may agree that’s a good thing, but I can’t get enough of that cheesy 80s decor. The landau roof isn’t my favorite look, but I do enjoy the cream top against the jet black paint; it ties the tan interior in nicely. The chrome on the bumpers and the polished wheel trim rings speak to a vehicle that hasn’t been stood for years at a time outdoors, which is how so many of these Grand Prixs ended up when their useful lives ran out.

The interior looks about right for the mileage, which is to say it’s surviving quite nicely. I can’t determine if that’s a crack in the dash, but regardless, it doesn’t have many others if so. The door panels and seating surfaces look clean and stain-free, and while the carpets aren’t perfect, I’m sure a steamer or some shampoo could get the dingyness out of it. Aside from the goofy steering wheel wrap and the non-functioning A/C, there’s not much else to complain about inside the cabin. The full console looks nicely preserved as well.

Under the hood is nicely detailed, and while it’s not even worth discussing the output these cars had at this point in American automobile manufacturing, you’re not buying this era of Grand Prix to win any street races. The overall presentation indicates to me this Grand Prix resided with an elderly owner for years before driving became a challenge, and while it’s far from the most valuable 80s domestic vehicle you can buy, it will likely treat you well for years to come and not ask for much in exchange. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Pat L. for the find.

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  1. Bud

    Super nice car . An LS would make this the ultimate sleeper .

  2. Tony Primo

    It would be no slouch with a stout 455 Poncho.

  3. Doc

    Car has been listed before, sharp. $6k would be realistic. Wonder what that gold remnant of a sticker is on the RF fender.

  4. Bultaco

    These are painfully slow with the 301 Pontiac, which this one has. The good news is that the Pontiac 400 is externally almost identical and will bolt in. A 400 built to 1970 spec with aftermarket fuel injection and a 700R4 automatic would wake this car right up, and would be visually almost indistinguishable from the stock 301.

  5. FordGuy1972

    Not a car for me as I’m not a fan of cars styled by a bricklayer. Granted, it’s in nice shape but other than that, cars like this leave me cold. Usually when you think of the term “over-square,” you think of a small block V8, not automotive styling of the late ’70s. Pathetic performance doesn’t help either. I’m sure somebody will like this Pontiac, they can have at it. Priced too high in my book; I’m thinking $4k at most.

  6. Fred

    It is not a SJ. SJ’s came with full gauges including a tach.

    As someone mentioned before, a real Pontiav V-8 bolts right in using every bracket for the AC, PS, etc from the 301.

    I installed a W72 400 from a Transam in one of these with a 3:42 rear. It was a quiet rocket. It might still be somewhere on Long Island……….

    I may have to find another one to play with

  7. JoeMac

    T-tops would have perfected this car and got my checkbook out. Very nice weekend cruiser. Will get plenty of looks at the local car shows too.

  8. John Oliveri

    I owned 2 of these brand new, a 79 2 tone blue one w every option in the book, 301 engine, Spokes Vogues real Disco days Guido mobile, I was 18, it was not a bad car, then it got hit and I bought a 80 Black w Black roof, saddle interior like this one, T tops loaded again Spokes and Vogues, but with the miserable Buick 231 v/6, looked beautiful ran like a turd, 301 while no 400 by any means, light yrs better

    • AndyinMA

      Did the 301 shift hard into second? Maybe that was just mine….

  9. Tom haywood

    bought 79 g p in 1980. had 12,300 miles. paid $5,750. had the v 6 engine, white outside, blue vinyl interior. bought from dealership – had been owned by a little old lady at my church. car was like brand new. pulled a starcraft pop – up tent trailer from Md. to Calf. and back with my two kids. great trip.kept car 10 years. it was good to a single dad.

  10. John Oliveri

    I paid under 8000.00 cash for the 79 New, almost the same for the 80,

    • Jack M.

      Did that include the Guido option?

  11. John Oliveri

    Yes it did, Donna Summer tape in the 8 track, Earth Wind and Fire,

  12. jim

    Perfect car for an LC2 swap from a GN …hehehe

  13. Arthell64 Member

    My parents bought one of these new. I still remember reading the 2:29 rear end ratio on the window sticker. The little 301 didn’t have much power the rear end ratio didn’t help but did get good gas mileage. They drove the car for almost 15 years and was for the most part trouble free.

  14. Tom Ellermann

    Put a 3 08 or so rear in it, and a 4 or 5 speed transmission, and it would be a blast to drive.

  15. mike b

    I bid $1979

  16. Doone

    What is that metal plate on the top of the drivers side front fender?

  17. Anthony D

    It is not an SJ it is an LJ. Ive seen this car in person and also you can zoom in to the lower fenders. SJ had the silver dash and three spoke thin wheel not woodgrain and the deluxe wheel. and is a little fancier. Repeated requests to the owner to correct this but hes trying to fool someone into paying more by calling it an SJ. i worked on these new and owned many. It is a beautiful car but worth about $3 to $4000 which is why its still for sale.

  18. Rex Kahrs Member

    I rented the Buick version of this body style once on a rafting trip into the hills of West Virginia. Either I was driving too fast or it was front-heavy, but in any case the back end was really squirelly.

  19. Bryan

    A good friend of mine bought a really nice 78 SJ Grand Prix in 1986; loaded with everything including T-tops. It was like new in every way and he loved it…until the problems started shortly after he bought it. The GM Metric 200 transmission started shifting erratically and then failed completely. The transmission shop fixed it but offered only a 30-day warranty; memorably the mechanic said the Metric 200 could last 6 weeks, 6 months or 6 years!

    We were driving the car from Yakima to Seattle when the car picked up an oddly sporadic vibration at highway speeds. We pulled into a gas station and I discovered that the fan belts were frayed and coming off! The belt alignment was off because the harmonic balancer & pulley was pulling away from the 301 engine…nearly into the radiator! Turns out the crank bolt had fractured and broken off in the snub of the crank. It was hell to find a mechanic willing to extract the remainder of the bolt from the crank. The local Pontiac dealer was reluctant to fix it (no warranty) and quoted an unreasonable amount to keep it out of the shop. He had it fixed but sold it after 1 year of ownership. Doesn’t anyone remember those Metric 200 transmissions anymore? They were notoriously prone to failure back then!

    • John Oliveri

      Yes I do, I picked up my new 79 Grand Prix from Prime Pontiac in the Bronx, NY May of 1979, and as beautiful as it looked with it’s 2 tone paint and Spoke wheels, at the first red light, 2 blocks away from the dealer, I felt the trani slip, on that beautiful Friday night and went back to the dealer to be informed that they all slip, bring it back Monday and they would fix the call back on it, instead of fixing it before delivery, the more I think back about GM during those days, the more I understand why America is filled w Toyota’s. I think the Metric 200, and the Buick 231v/6, and the cracking paint on the hoods and trunk lids, and of course, who can forget the Chevy powered Oldsmobile’s of 1977, that GM forgot to mention to Olds customers, who could’ve bought the cheaper Impala, what a wonderful time, gave GM 2 more chances and haven’t bought a new GM car since 1983, my lovely 307 Olds powered Riviera, which barely made 70mph, junk

  20. Superdessucke

    I had a ’78 Bonneville with the 301 back in the day and it was pretty slow. Of course, this car is a bit lighter but the 301 was no barn burner in any application.

    Automobile Catalog puts 0-60 for this car at 11.6 seconds and the quarter mile in 18.6 seconds. That actually wasn’t horrible for the times but it’d feel like a slug in today’s context. Not scary slow like some ’70s cars but not particularly exciting.

    I think that’ll keep the price down. I think 5k is probably about right for this?

    • Howard Kerr

      This is a nice looking, low mileage car. The colors are great (IMHO) and depending on the transmission it might almost….ALMOST be worth the asking price. Unfortunately, it would be miles better with an engine and transmission swap…140 horsepower out of a V8 was barely adequate in 1978.
      But for me, General Motors should be pilloried for building even the cheapest Grand Prix without a full set of gauges. As they built them like this they were nothing more than LIGHTLY gussied up Lemans hardtops. The cheaper car would be as interesting if not more interesting.

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