Low-Mile Model J? 1972 Pontiac Grand Prix

A 1972 Pontiac Grand Prix! I used to refer to the ’69-’72 GP’s as whammer-jammers because they were big, heavy, fast, and comfortable. Especially notable, were the ’69s and ’70s, built before the power strangulation occurred. By ’73, the GP had become large, or at least large-looking as so many Detroit designs did, and the attraction, for me, was over. Let’s look a bit more closely at this ’72 Model J, domiciled in Independence, Missouri, and available, here on craigslist for $8,500. Thanks to Pat L. for this tip!

The first thing that you notice about this example, is the color, that’s a lot of white! Actually triple white among the exterior, vinyl top, and interior. These fuselage-bodied GP’s seem to wear darker colors better, but white does this Pontiac justice. The finish still has some depth and shine to it. I’ve got a real run going on here, this is the umpteenth car that I have reviewed in the last week or so with, what appears to be, a rot-free body. There are no signs of rust or rust-through anywhere marring this GP’s flanks. The chrome seems good too, not “like-new” strong but still very presentable. While not a fan of vinyl tops and I prefer this vintage Grand Prix without one, the vast majority seem to have them; at least this one is in very clean condition – no sign of it separating, tearing loose or bubbling up. As expected, Pontiac Rally II wheels are holding down the corners.

Under the hood is a 250 net HP, 400 CI, V8 engine that the seller claims has experienced only 44K miles. There is no word regarding the engine’s operational tendencies but it looks pretty good as it appears to have had a recent respray. It’s unknown if there was a specific reason for the paint job or it’s just an attempt to enhance sale prospects. It’s backed up the only available transmission for ’72, a Turbo-Hydramatic 400, three-speed automatic. The transmission’s shifter is referred to as a rare “slap-stick” but it looks like a standard Pontiac Grand Prix automatic shift lever. Unfortunately, the A6 A/C compressor is missing. They are easy to source, less than $200 for a remanufactured unit, but then you have to worry about the condenser and evaporator if the system has been left open and exposed to everyday elements.

Inside you’ll find GP’s wrap-around dash and instrument panel – it would seem that Pontiac designers were going for a jet-fighter cockpit arrangement. It is an enduring design! Being white, an interior shows its wear and abuse more vividly than darker colors, this one shows pretty well, however. The driver’s seat and armrest need some attention but that’s about it. There is a mention of a “rare” (there’s that word again) 8-track player, located somewhere between the seats, but it’s not visible in the accompanying images. The seller claims everything works so I would take that to mean the gauges, wipers, radio, lights, etc.

If this is a true 44K mile Grand Prix, then I’d say it’s a pretty reasonable deal, there just doesn’t seem to be much wrong with this 48-year-old example of what was one of Pontiac’s greatest hits, absent the A/C, of course. These GP’s, at speed, roll like a steam-roller, it’s a very nice drive. I like it, how about you?

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  1. Bell Member

    Maybe it’s different in person but the white does not work at all for me on this car. The front end especially just doesn’t wear the color well. That being said, a couple decades ago I had a 72 Model J like this one (except dark green) and man that was a great car. Had to watch it on the highway cuz going 100mph felt like nothing. And what a cool body design! I think it’s a DeLorean deal. $8500 seems really fair on this.

  2. Bell Member

    Also, that looks like the same shifter I had and it’s not a slapstick. I think the dude is mistaken.

    • Jcs

      Actually, it is a form of a slap-stick shifter. If my memory serves me correctly Pontiac called it the Rally shifter.

      It was a ratcheting shifter design that was optional equipment. The hole in the guide plate is oval shaped. When pulled down into first you simply moved the shift lever to the right. Then you could bang it into the next gear without fear of missing the shift or winding up in neutral by accident.

      Kind of a “hidden” dual-gate that worked well when lubed and adjusted properly.

      Pontiac didn’t really market it at all and most didn’t even know that their car had it back in the day, unless they were the ones that originally ordered it. Kind of an Easter-egg of the era if you will.

    • Timmy

      Standard shifter the concern on a/c is I need all the brackets to attach the compressor for one of my can-ams and found zero in 7 years of searching

  3. rmward Member

    The “rare” 8-track player was located on the hump between the rear seats behind the console when the car was equipped with bucket seats. Had a 1971 GP myself that had one located there. Rare indeed.

    My 1971 Grand Prix was a SJ with a 455 HO. It was my first car at 18 years old. Paid $500 for it. That was 40 years ago. Blew up the motor and my dad swapped it out for a 400 2bbl. Gave the 455 to the salvage yard as a core. #SMH

    Seems like a nice car for the price.

  4. Bmac777 Member

    The pic on craigslist shows the oval slot on the plastic cover at bottom of shift lever . Every Pontiac I had with the oval slot was the “slap stick ” style shifter.
    I never heard that term for them, but don’t remember what they actually were called.
    I always knew Mopars to have the actual words slap stick on the shifter

  5. Nick P

    He probably thinks it’s a slap stick because that’s just how he uses it. Probably has a slap wife too. Lol

  6. oilngas

    Love these Grand Prixs. Had a Orange LJ in high school with white top and interior. Best friend had the Orange SJ black interior and no vinyl top. The vinyl top changes the whole look of the car. Well on any color but white.

    The rear bumper gap sure looks awful wide.

  7. Don

    I had a 72 SJ 455 grand prix bronze + black vynal top -purchased used in 77 with worn out 455 . note first year pontiac used “unilite ignition” electronic in GPs pointless distributor with 8 spark plug wires in single set molded together attached to dist. cap. Costly to replace.
    I picked up a used 72 gto 455 ho out of a wrecked GTO Installed it + 75 HEI distributor.had to modify exhaust for cast iron headers.
    The car had standard shifter to turbo 400 + factory 12 bolt posi with 3:42 gears.
    The car was a super sleeper + rocket ship at traffic lights + x- way travels .
    Drove it 75k miles + sold it in early 80s
    Equal in performance to trans ams of the period.

  8. Mike

    Those door panels lasted a lot longer than 44k miles and the smoothness of the steering wheel (grain rubbed off) make me seriously question the miles..

  9. Leon J. Siegler

    Didn’t the factory vinyl top have 2 seams, a left and a right side, instead of one down the middle? Probable replacement roof. Buyer must check closely for dreaded roof rust/repair so common to these. Nice car though!

    • morrisangelo

      Yes, two seams is correct. Just redid my brother’s green 1971 4-speed car with a new green top.

  10. md

    I currently have a Pontiac with, and another without the slapstick – they pretty much look identical. As others have mentioned; if you start off in 1st gear, you slam the shifter in the 2 o’clock direction for your 1-2, and then 2-3 shift, I use it all the time in my Grans Am, and it works every time.

  11. BK13

    Sorry it was over for you by 73. The 73-77 Grand Prix was only the most popular of all time.


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