European Influence?! 1973 Pontiac Grand Am

By Nathan Avots-Smith

Would you believe GM claimed that this big 1973 Pontiac, the first-ever Grand Am, was “European inspired”? Believe it or not, the Grand Am was designed to be a new kind of American car, and in some ways it was. The seller describes this all-original example, accurately I think, as a “time capsule,” and the bidding on its eBay listing reflects its remarkable shape: over 30 bids, and a current high bid of $11,401 as of this writing. The auction ends today, so this is your chance to swoop in with a last minute high bid!

Nothing says European like converting the displacement of a 400 cubic inch V8 into liters! The Grand Am differed from other Pontiac A-bodies in the new 1973 line with a specially tuned chassis, stiffer front and standard rear anti-roll bars, steel-belted radials, and front disc brakes, traits it shared with other allegedly Euro-style offerings from Chevrolet and Oldsmobile, the Monte Carlo and Cutlass Salon. Road & Track put these claims to the test in a March, 1973 road test and found the Grand Am mostly a traditionally American car, but with slightly improved roadholding and braking.

This 79,500-mile example is said to start right up and run perfectly smooth, with air conditioning that still blows cold—how perfectly American! The red, white, and blue accent stripes don’t exactly shout Europe, either, but they do set off the Grand Am’s dramatic curves nicely. The listing makes no mention of any mechanical needs or recent maintenance, or of rust—although the underside of the car is pictured and looks good—so, as always, a thorough inspection would be advised. So far, bidding seems to be going swimmingly on the shiny promise of the pictures, but a dose of caution never hurts.

The interior wears its European influence more openly than the exterior, with a surprisingly ergonomically sound, driver-oriented instrument panel—years before BMW famously adopted the trope, I might add. The fabric on the seats is in terrific condition for nearly 80K miles, dating as it does from an era when Detroit was not known for durable cloth interiors. Space efficiency, however, is purely American, with not a whole lot of room for rear seat passengers in this 209-inch-long car.

The claim that the ’73 Grand Am was designed to take on the best European road cars may have been a little dubious—not to mention unnecessary, as nearly 250,000 people bought a new, all-American LeMans or Grand Am that year—but there’s no denying that this is one clean example. Marketing schtick or no, are you buying what this Pontiac is selling?

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Comments

  1. redwagon

    European influence would include optional manual transmission. To my knowledge these were never offered with one. I recall liking the styling back in the day. Can’t believe I tolerated the whore red crushed velours.

    3+
    • Bill

      I have a 73 and a 74 four door four speed Grand Ams . Rare, yes

      10+
      • Patricia Pendley

        A 3speed manual was also optional. I had one. The only one I ever seen. Bought in 1976 with 18000 miles. Still love these long and lean machines.

        0
  2. CCFisher

    A 4-speed was available with the 400 4-barrel.

    7+
    • redwagon

      cool. i never saw one in the day. i’ll bet the take rate / production number was very low.

      1+
      • Mac

        Either 147 or 187 4speed GA depending on the source. I had one in the eighties, and I have another in my garage. No breakout for four door, four speed vs 2 door four speed.

        0
  3. Joe Nose

    No, monsewer, ze stripes ARE decidedly Europeen. Zey are BLUE, WHITE and RED! Vive la difference!

    5+
  4. KEN TILLY

    Must be the fugliest Pontiac EVER!

    8+
    • jw454

      I guess you haven’t seen the Aztek. Check it out, you may change your mind.

      19+
      • DrinkinGasoline

        Yep….that, and the Buick Rendezvous. They both looked like stagecoaches that the horses ran away from 🙁

        9+
      • Jeffrey;L. Zack

        Yeah, the Aztec was Pontiacs red headed step child. BUT, it was the most space effective van? Car? Okay, Thing. Oh yeah, that was VW. I’m not quite sure what you should call it, but they did one hell of a job laying it out. (Rest assured, I wouldn’t be caught dead in one)

        0
  5. jaymes

    gorgeous example!

    4+
  6. Kevin

    so beautiful

    5+
  7. Billy Bob

    I always liked the Grand Am’s. Had a ’79 Grand Am; one my favorite cars I’ve owned. Not many of these are still around. Looks like this car lives in a very nice neighborhood, a good indicator of the seller.

    1+
  8. 68 custom

    love these Grand Ams and this one looks nice! 2nd favorite car here today behind the SS/454 Monte Carlo.

    4+
  9. Vin in NJ

    This was the GTO Killer. they should have continued the GTO on this body instead of putting it on Verntura Body in 1974

    8+
  10. Rock On

    You would need to install some half decent tires to get any benefit from the antisway bars.

    4+
  11. nessy

    I had a 74 455 Grand Am loaded with everything including the power sunroof. A guy in the Pontiac club bought it and is restoring the car. I like this car but not with the 400. A 455 or no thanks.

    8+
  12. Mike Super Sport

    Great cars. Recall the seats only came as all vinyl, not with fabric top surfaces.

    0
    • H. Fiedler

      You could order the interior either way

      4+
      • Mike Super Sport

        Thanks for the clarification

        0
  13. navadisha

    There was plenty of room for 4 teenage hellraisers in one of those.

    1+
  14. That Guy

    I have always thought Pontiac’s stylists were looking back at “Cars Of The Future” circa 1935 when they created the Grand Am. European? Not so much – they seem more Buck Rogers than anything else.

    Not my cup of rocket fuel, but this one is awfully nice. It’s good to see one that isn’t a junker.

    2+
  15. DrinkinGasoline

    Very nice example. I would however inquire about the deck lid and tail lamp bezel’s “orange peel” finish. It wouldn’t be a deal breaker for me though. My 76 Grand LeMans was a great car all around.

    1+
  16. darrin

    Interesting that these I believe had the L78 400 yet here it’s listed as a 6.5 litre
    yet the Trans Am was a 6.6. any ideas on why ?

    1+
    • Dallas

      6.6 was the 403 Oldsmobile engine they started putting in the TA in the late 70’s

      3+
      • Darrin

        The L78 Pontiac 400 and the L80 Olds 403 were both labeld with 6.6 litre callouts on the T/As shaker scoop. So I’m wondering if the 400 cid engine
        in the ’73 Grand Am was not a L78 but an older version of the 400 that became the L78 in ’74 hence the 6.5 litre badge.

        1+
  17. AMXSTEVE

    a beauty but i like the Le Mans better

    1+
    • DrinkinGasoline

      The header panels were interchangeable…less obtrusive front end.

      0
  18. Tommy D

    This was a flipper who bought the car off Ebay just a few weeks ago, seems to be the new thing.

    0
  19. W9BAG

    Even more desirable would be the extremely rare CAN AM, same car, but with a shaker hood scoop. A friend has one in pristine condition. 455 and a factory 4 speed.

    3+
  20. Anthony

    I’d like one of these in white. It’s a great unique car.

    0
  21. BillO BillO Member

    A guy at our high school had one of these in the same color. I always thought Pontiac should have just called this the GTO. At least it lasted until 1975. But they made two attempts with the Grand Am, in 1973 and in 1980 that both lasted only three years; then took the name and put on a smaller car that was pretty successful.

    0
  22. Marko

    As a lifetime Pontiac fanatic, I am drooling at this Grand Am.
    Was in Junior High when this car came out. Loved it then and still do.
    Had a 73 Grand Prix Type J, with the 230hp 400ci engine and TH400 trans. from 1979 till 1987. Amazing I didn’t kill myself in that thing. Torque monster engine, and 140mh top end.

    1+
  23. Darren

    Anybody know why it is 6.6 Liter for a Trans Am 400 but 6.5 liter for this Grand Am??

    0
  24. Mitch Ross

    You know, if you compare this car to ANY American car from ’73, it’s like another world the way they handle and stop. Sure, from 44 years in the future it doesn’t look that way, but how did a Ford Torino or Dodge Charger handle steer and stop?

    0
  25. Tommy D

    No comparison…quick steering, sport shocks, huge sway bars…it was years before the rest caught on.

    0

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