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Chicken Coop Find: 1971 Pontiac Grand Prix Model J

The Pontiac Grand Prix was a pioneer in the personal luxury car segment. It began as an offshoot of the Catalina in 1962 and became as series of its own the following year. A complete restyle for 1969-72 gave the car a platform where sales really took off. This 1971 is a one-owner car that was pulled from a chicken coop where it had hung out with some of Colonel Sanders’ minions since 1988. You can see it in Graton, West Virginia and it’s available here on eBay where the starting bid will be $3,000 with a reserve to be met from there.

After being an all-new car, the 1971 had two very noticeable changes from the 1970 model. The first was a shift from dual to single headlights and the second a new decklid with pronounced boat-tail styling, not unlike that of the contemporary Buick Riviera. Under the hood, things changed, too, beginning with a reduction in compression ratio to enabled engines to run on unleaded fuel, thus putting out fewer emissions. And the way horsepower was stated changed to SAE net, so the engines on paper sounded less powerful. The least expensive Grand Prix was the Model J, which came with a 400 cubic inch V-8, good for 255 hp net. The 1971 model year is noteworthy for its 67-day labor strike, which prevented buyers from getting their hands on new models for several months.

The seller’s car was not found in a barn or a garage but in a chicken coop, where it had been living in a relatively dry space for more than 30 years. We’re guessing the chicken population clambered for more room, so the Pontiac had to go!

The odometer reflects just under 50,000 miles, which may or may not be accurate. The body seems surprisingly decent, but the paint which is said to be original is seriously peeling. I’ve never seen blue primer before, so what is that peeking through the green? The interior is green, so it would make sense to be all one color.

At a minimum, the seats will need to be recovered and perhaps the carpeting replaced, but everything else inside the car might be cleaned up. We’re told this is a numbers-matching car, but some parts are missing under the hood, like the radiator and fan. We wonder if this is where the car’s troubles started in 1988 or were these parts removed later? In any event, the car doesn’t run and may require a rebuild of the engine and transmission to change that status.

Because of the labor strike, Grand Prix sales for 1971 dropped to 58,000 units and about 90% were the Model J like the seller’s car. This era of the Grand Prix doesn’t command crazy money, but a nice GP can fetch $20,000. Hopefully, the cost of getting this one back on the road won’t be insane. Thanks to Hot Rod for some background information for this review.


  1. Avatar photo Moparman Member

    I’m sorry, but a simple peek at the Ebay ad would help the writer’s descriptions to be more accurate. Blue tape on the front of the car, NO mention of the several rusted out sections; I wouldn’t call this “surprisingly decent”. Buyer beware! Amazing how dirty the interior is, even w/ the windows having been up. This non-runner doesn’t look to be worth much more than the starting bid (IMO).

    Like 28
  2. Avatar photo Cerno

    I’m seeing a car that is in a class of its own. These cars were built to be luxury cruises and were a very large and heavy but I always digged Grand Prix,s and all there cool options and gauges but this car would cost too much to ever be anything. This car would be a good Saturday night dirt stocker that would just push its way around the track.

    Like 4
  3. Avatar photo Cerno 1

    I’m seeing a car that is in a class of its own. These cars were built to be luxury cruises and were a very large and heavy but I always digged Grand Prix,s and all there cool options and gauges but this car would cost too much to ever be anything. This car would be a good Saturday night dirt stocker that would just push its way around the track.

    Like 2
    • Avatar photo Rick

      Been in a chicken coop that long… the smell will never leave.

      Like 8
  4. Avatar photo Skorzeny

    Looks like the chickens started to remove that alternator as well. If thing isn’t too rusty underneath, someone might tackle this… They are very cool cars.

    Like 7
  5. Avatar photo Jeff

    Do yourself a big favor and buy this one for 12K instead!

    Like 9
    • Avatar photo Johnny

      Your right Jeff. You can hold off–look around and find one in better shape–even drive. Then what some people are asking.

      Like 0
  6. Avatar photo Jcs

    Looks like all the A/C needs is a new belt and she’ll run like new.

    Like 0
  7. Avatar photo John Oliveri

    Betcha timing chain is what parked it in 88, looks like they were working towards it, Pontiac was known for that in the late 60s early 70s

    Like 8
    • Avatar photo Tony Tabacchi

      Yep. By 30,000 the chain (actually the plastic teeth on the gear) was on borrowed time. Replaced a lot of them in the early ‘70s.

      Like 8
      • Avatar photo JoeBob396

        I had the same experience with my 68 GTO at 50,000. I wondered why Pontiac engineered plastic teeth on an aluminum gear to run against a steel chain. The explanation I heard was that it was ‘quiet’. Never heard much difference from the double roller on steel gears I replaced it with. I suspect some bean counter somewhere must have calculated Pontiac saved a few cents for every engine they produced that way.

        Like 5
    • Avatar photo 19sixty5 Member

      All the GM divisions in this era used the nylon “toothed” timing gear, Ford also used them. I remember replacing quite a few in the late 60’s/early 70’s.

      Like 3
  8. Avatar photo Jim in AL

    I can’t believe nobody is commenting on the HORRIBLE rattle can “paint job” on the engine.
    We used to call that an “LA Overhaul”
    I do like the creative application of the painters tape.

    Like 3
  9. Avatar photo SC/RAMBLER

    If for some reason the engine needs replacing this 400 is a Firebird engine different mounting brackets and they have 2 different mounting places on the engine itself. How do I know found out the hard way with my 1971 which is my preferred model. If this seller thinks this poor thing is worth $5000 or more they are out of there mind Imo

    Like 1
    • Avatar photo Rob

      The difference was actually from 1970 to 1971. If you had a late ‘70 car or an early ‘71 car, you could have easily gotten a different engine with different brackets. The ‘70 and earlier were missing a mounting boss on the cylinder head, which was Added for the ‘71 model year. Dealing with that swap is a PITA. I’ve dealt with this waaaay too much.

      Like 1
      • Avatar photo SC/RAMBLER

        The engine I bought was from a 68 Bonneville
        Had to move brackets on the frame. I didn’t know there was a difference until we tried putting it in. The Pontiac dealership told me the Grandprix used the Firebird engine which had different sets of holes on the mounting boss on side of block

        Like 0
  10. Avatar photo John Oliveri

    My neighbors boyfriend had a 69 428 Bonneville, and I remember that car outside my house apart for a timing chain, car was probably 2 yrs old at the time, but he ran that car hard, 390 hp version I believe

    Like 1
  11. Avatar photo Phlathead Phil

    Never seen a chicken coop with an overhead garage door. Them chicks must be “High Society.”

    Like 2
  12. Avatar photo Little_Cars

    @ Ray L, are you formerly a shuttle driver for MINI of Nashville? As far as chicken coops go, the building in the first photo few photos has got to be the nicest coop around with real glass windows instead of wrapped wire, not a sign of poop anywhere, and paneling on the wall. Why lie about “chicken coop” when it’s just as good a story to say it was found in the carport of a tiny mid-20th Century shack belonging to a hoarder. I mean, who keeps dusty mattresses around in an area designated for the family car? Good luck to the buyer, if anyone steps up keep us in the loop!

    Like 0

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