Quad 4 Performance Pack: 1991 Pontiac Grand Am

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Pontiac’s Grand Am is one of those vehicles that has quietly disappeared from American roads, no doubt having living out its useful existence in most cases. In fact, any that are still on the road have likely skipped right past the pick-and-pull and gone right to the shredder given how few are still being kept in daily operation – well, except for this sport package-spec example here on craigslist. This is the super rare sedan variant to boot, equipped with the Quad 4 motor and seemingly extremely well maintained. 

The mileage is impressive, too, with just under 200,000 on the clock. This is the case of someone who truly loved this car, and has done a masterful job of maintaining a specimen that most drivers cashed out on years ago. The Quad 4-spec is the one to find, and I can’t imagine there are many left in any formation, much less the rare-when-new sedan variety. The sport trim models received the aforementioned Quad 4 motor, dual exhausts, racy ground effects, and a front air dam with integrated fog lamps.

The 3-speed automatic is a downer, but beggars can’t be choosers if you’re looking for a Grand Am in survivor condition like this. The dash plastics appear to be in mint condition, along with the surprisingly un-bolstered front bucket seats. This is where you shake your stick at GM, as they couldn’t even put sport buckets in their most sport-minded example. With Honda jamming front seats with huge bolsters in Preludes and Civics by the droves, you’d think Pontiac could spring for some extra padding on the racier models. Also, when’s the last time you saw a Grand Am owner protecting the dash pad with a fuzzy cover?

The seller notes a shocking amount of maintenance that’s been performed over the years, including fresh timing chains, radiator, front rotors and brakes along with new front lower control arms. The seller notes that flaws are minimal, including a drooping headliner and some errant chips and clear coat fail. The driver’s power window isn’t working and the center console storage box hinges are shot. This is an impressively short list of issues for a car that wasn’t that well-built in the first place, but let’s all give a round of applause to the durability of the awesome Quad 4 engine – and the owner that took care of it. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Rocco for the find.

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  1. Capriest

    Wow this brings back some memories! I wish this was local or at least on the east coast as I would have to snap it up. My first car was a burgundy 88 coupe base model, but with the 16v DOHC Quad4, and unfortunately the automatic as well. If this was a 5speed I’d be tempted to jump on a plane. You NEVER see these anymore. The automatic was the demise of mine around 130k. Can’t complain too much as I paid $300 for it in 97 and it was in great shape with only 98k miles. It felt pretty quick for the time even with the auto. It beat my cousins 87 daytona pacifica turbo/auto, and a friends 86 merkur xr4ti turbo/5speed.

    It was a nice driving car, and I found it better looking than the Buick/Olds/Chevy variants of it. The interior felt decently solid for 80’s gm standards. It did develop a ton of rattles, but I had 3 10″ mtx blue thunders in the trunk. Typical dumbass teenager putting a $2000 stereo in a $300 car of course. These were everywhere back then. A friends older sister had a blue 86 coupe with the iron duke and 5 speed. There was another guy at my school with a white sport coupe model with the 3.0 v6/auto that was loaded. I remember his having nicer seats, door speakers with a switch, and a sunroof. Was a total POS though. Didn’t last long, and rusted heavily around and under all the plastic body cladding.

    Like 4
  2. nycbjrMember

    Hahaha quad4 durability? These eat head gaskets like M and Ms lol

    I loved my ’93 GT, 5speed HO quad4. Black with red accents, I miss that car the most of all my cars.

    Ate the head gasket at 70k at 85k it was getting close to doing it again lol

    Bought a brand new 2001 Nissan Pathfinder with a stick.

    Like 2
    • Stencil

      If it was eating head gaskets like that, the replacements were either being done incorrectly or there was another problem. 88-91 cars were about 40-60k on the originals, 92 saw the new improved gasket which made it 100-125k in most cases. Done with modern parts you should see 125-150k between gaskets. I love these cars and have owned over a dozen – have done head gaskets on most and helped friends, so I have about 20 under my belt, and I still own a Beretta GTZ and W41 Olds Calais. Don’t cut corners and they are just as reliable as most vehicles this day and age.

      Like 9
      • Lynn DockeyMember

        I had the 90 GTZ and the 92 Olds SCX. Strong combo of quad 4 and 5spd.

        Like 1
  3. IkeyHeyman

    I had this generation of Grand Am, not with the Quad 4 package so I can’t speak to that aspect of it. But the car itself was junk – things would fall off, break, the driver’s power window stopped working (just like the featured car), etc. I sold it with 60K miles on it (and with full disclosure of its known faults) and a few months later the transmission died. I grew up in what you would have called a “Pontiac family” and I bought the car originally due to an outdated sense of loyalty to the brand. As Pop used to say, “Live and learn”.

    Like 3
  4. rmward194Member

    I had ’89 SE with the Quad 4. Drove it 120k in just three years. Other than the paint falling off and the head gasket, both of which were covered by GM the car was great. The k people that bought it drove it another 80k (200k total) before trading it in.

    This one looks great, especially for the age and miles.

    Like 2
  5. j liu

    hahaha…198K miles…low mileage..haha..sorry, had to laugh at that one.

    Like 4
  6. Kenneth Carney

    Now here’s something I know Sis would
    really like! She and her 2 husbands owned 2 of them and swore by both of
    them. IMHO, the 4-door was the better of
    the two. You got more room to stretch
    out and be comfortable than the coupe
    version. Both cars seemed to be quite
    quick for being fitted with a 4-cylinder
    engine–something you need when
    merging onto I-4 and other busy roadways here in Central florida where
    speeds sometimes resemble the Autoban
    rather than an American interstate. GM
    had a winner with the Grand Am and were
    very foolish to stop building them. We
    should blame Cash For Clunkers for their
    rarity today as many of them were sold
    for scrap. I’ll have to consider this car as
    a prospective member of of our family
    fleet even with 200K miles on ir. Would make a nice daily driver and an even
    greater showpiece.

    Like 1
    • dweezilaz

      I love them too, but the head and rear leg room is the same as the 2 door.

      Like 1
  7. Rock On

    Do the math j liu, 198,000 miles divided by 28 years, averages just over 7,000 miles per year.
    That’s low mileage in my book!

    Like 4
  8. Andy Tanner

    “Quad Four Performance Pack” nearly gave me a coffee nasal cleanse this morning. Still, it’s nice to see one of these old rattle traps in such good condition.

    Like 1
    • Gary Numan

      I’m guessing by your comment that you never drove Grand Ams back then to compare the differences between the standard “Tech IV” aka Iron Duke against the basic Quad 4 and then the Quad 4 H.O. and also having the automatic or the 5-speed.

      Sure, the “Quad Four Performance Pack” was made up by the author but in reality, the Quad 4 was step up for horsepower

      Like 3
      • Superdessucke

        To be a hundred percent accurate, this car has the “Sport Performance Package” (RPO W32). The W32 option included SE ground effects (minus wheel well flares), the same standard (as well as optional) “SE” drive train, 14″ aluminum wheels, a larger front larger sway bar and a rear swaybar that were only otherwise available on the SE model.


        Like 0
  9. Gary Numan


    It is nice to see one. This era of Grand Am when launched for ’85 was a breath of fresh air. Tidy, unique styling and a nice range of options and colors.

    Perhaps the most interesting one to drive of these and super rare would be the Quad 4 H.O. with the 5-speed. I was fortunate to have the opportunity to drive a new 1991 2 door with this drivetrain and it was a very strong runner!

    Here’s a recent salvage yard write up of one of these with the H.O., note the odometer reading: https://www.autoblog.com/2018/05/09/junkyard-gem-1991-pontiac-grand-am-quad-4/

    Pontiac did have a bit of an interesting performance resurgence in the 80’s that was worthy of respect: Sunbird Turbo Convertibles, Fiero Formulas, 6000 STEs, TPI engined Trans Ams, Indy Turbo T/A, Bonneville SSE, Grand Prix, etc….

    Oh how I miss cars having different interior colors and the ability to choose from the option sheet to custom order one for yourself.

    Like 4
    • Superdessucke

      By this time, we were getting into option packages, or at least GM certainly was – Option Package 1, Option Package 2, and so on. Individual options were rapidly going the way of the dinosaur by the late 1980s. But I see what you mean. We definitely had more choice back then.

      Like 1
  10. Superdessucke

    Very cool. My mom had this exact same car in red and in two-door form. She bought it new in the fall of 1991 as a deeply discounted corporate car with around 2,000 miles on it. It was very quick I remember, and relatively fun to drive.

    If this wasn’t so far away, I’d consider it. I always thought the N-body looked better in 4-door form. It seems less “stubby” looking.

    Like 0
  11. Tom

    The beginning of the mass produced DOHC engine for US consumption…too bad they never went public with the turbo charged version. I was eager to read the comments on this car, and mildly surprised how positive most of them are, I too remember this as a cool well conceived package (and also the beginning of good stereo’s) !

    Like 1
  12. Ty'Eira Marie Morrison

    …yet here I am with a whole rusted $400 169k mile Bright White ’93 GT Sedan that’s been in my driveway for 14 whole months, and I see nobody willing to help me restore it, despite having all the parts and a complete ’95 GT shell taking up driveway space

    Like 0
  13. dweezilaz

    Love this.

    An N has been in my family for 25 years.

    I first bought the 86 Olds Calais 2.5/auto, two door in 1994 with 21,000 miles on the clock.

    Went to my parents in 99, then to my little bro and his wife who drove it for 11 years. Now it’s back with me.

    130,000 miles now. Little bro had extra padding put in the front seats and the headliner and sun visors re-done. Original upholstery still. That was in too good of condition to replace. Safford velour, mind you.

    And yes it does have a dash cover over it’s intact dash.

    However: the little bits are quite junky. It too had the glove box latch and brace fail. Too much cheap brittle plastic used.

    When I first had it: three alternators, AC system, heater core, torque converter switch all went out before 50,000 miles.

    I’ve put money into it because I love it. As I did the first time I saw it on the Century Olds lot on Van Nuys Blvd the first time.

    An 80s take on a 70s personal luxury coupe. With an engine that would have been high tech in …..1940.

    Period GM at it’s 80s finest./ sarc

    Like 0
  14. Sam

    I must live in a preservation bubble or something, because these little Pontiac Grand Am’s are still a dime a dozen around here and everywhere. Yes, I’ve even seen the Quad 4 versions available. True, some of them have had the life wrung out of them and been abused, but they’re still out there. Was looking at a supercharged Grand Am the other day to potentially buy.

    Like 1
  15. jeff

    I have a two door 1991 Grand Am with the 2.5 and automatic in Alabama. It has 122,935 original miles, and I am trying to decide what to do with it. It is very clean, the body is straight, and the interior is good. It was originally purchased new by my aunt, and I got it with a little over 20,000 miles in 2000. The 2.5 is broken now, and I have not decided whether to have it rebuilt, replaced or get rid of the car. Any suggestions?

    Like 0
  16. Miguel A Olea

    We had a 1991 Grand Am 2 door coupe. Ours had the 2.5 iron duke but it was the best car I’ve owned. Drove it for 200K miles before I had to rebuilt the trans and that is because I drove it hard. The 2.5 was reasonably responsive and would easily spin the wheels off the line with passing gear kicking back up at 80 mph. Mine had delay wipers and the gage package. When I sold it the interior and headliner were mint, it had the original motor and fuel pump. The car was never garage kept.

    Like 0

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