Re-Restore? 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix Model J

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I’ve thought many times that I’d like a late 1960s-early 1970s Grand Prix. I’m not certain what a Model J version is, but it sounds cool, like on the 1969 Grand Prix Model J selling here on ebay. Nobody’s made a bid at the opening request of $9000, but even if they do, you could hit the buy-it-now button for $11,900. Not much of a range there, is there? The car sits in Boulder City, Nevada, while you ponder the opportunity.

So what’s a Model J? Well, according to trusted source Hemmings, the Model J was “the standard Grand Prix trim level.” At first this seems disappointing, but get this: that trim came with a 400-CID monster engine capable of 350-hp. You could even get this with a manual transmission, which would be fun, but those are rare—about 1,000 out of just over 100,000 of the units built for this model year. This one’s not one of those anyway. It’s got the automatic, which come to think of it might be more fun to cruise, or in LA traffic. So is this the car for me, or one of you?

It’s got an indicated 53,000 miles on it, but as it turns out, that’s the miles since the original owner did a reset after restoring the car. That was sometime in the 1980s, and the details are a bit concerning. They are said to have done interior, body, paint, motor, and transmission. Makes you wonder how worn out this car was, and what the quality of the engine/trans redo was. There’s got to be a reason other than the cited “she bought another car” that this one got parked in 1998 after having been earlier restored to this level.

That brings us to the fact that the car has been off the road since then, though the current (second) owner (he’s had it for a year, likely a flip) has done a number of things to recommission it from sitting. He hasn’t gotten to the brakes yet, so you’d want to budget for that, and perhaps hope that your first long drive doesn’t turn up other deficiencies. He has not taken it on such a shakedown cruise, though in what driving he’s done, the car has not overheated. What is evident from the photos is the decrepit state of the paint. The driver’s seat is also worn out. The trunk is relatively clean, with some typical rust spots showing, from leakage, most likely. The body is said to be rust-free from its dry Nevada climate, but there are no corroborating shots of the floors or other components underneath. And there’s no claim of the car being accident-free, so you’d want to have a look for such damage. Overall, this is a car that you’d want to get a fair bit cheaper than the opening ask if you’re putting money into restoring it. If you’d be buying to use as a driver, you’re in the range, but probably $8K would be more fair, according to one price guide I checked.

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  1. angliagt angliagtMember
  2. Raoul-F Raoul-F

    top speed 132 mph, 0-60 6.8 sec, 1/4 mile 14.8 sec

    Like 3
    • JayA

      My 70 GP model J with the 400 and automatic could bury the speedo at 140 mph, it was crazy fast for a huge car!

      Like 4
  3. Sam61

    GM’s best door handle design!

    Like 10
    • Randy

      Best door handles for anyone. Loved my 1969 Grand Prix! The one that got away.

      Like 0
    • RickRothermel

      Aped the ‘55 DeSoto door handle.

      Like 0
  4. Wayne

    Two of those 1000 4 speed cars sat side by side on an vacant lot for years in my town in the 90’s. Never could figure out who the owner was but I wanted one of them bad.

    Like 0
  5. Greg GustafsonMember

    Has this been hit in the front pushing its “beak” down? I can’t imagine them leaving the factory like that.

    Like 2
  6. Bryan

    The “J” stands for John as in John DeLorean the head designer for this car. Could be the reason the car sat for so long after the “restore” is that the quality of the restoration didn’t meet expectations. I’ve seen that scenario play out all too often.

    Like 0
  7. 19sixty5Member

    Interesting interior restoration, everything has been redone in naugahyde, door panels, rear trim, dash cap and even the fascia. Fairly well done, but not what I call “restored”. Restored is back to original, as delivered condition. 140 MPH? Your speedometer was way off, you ran shorter tires or your memory is off.

    Like 2
    • JayA

      My 70 J model was bone stock with correct tires. It would top out at 140 mph. A friend with a 69 J model could do the same as well. You have no idea of what you speak!

      Like 2
      • 19sixty5Member

        I am more than confident I know of what I speak! A Pontiac Ram Air lll 400 is good for around 5500 RPM or a bit more. A Grand Prix/GTO/Firebird with a 4 barrel 400 was factory redlined at 5100 RPM. Assuming you had a 3:31 rear gear, maybe a 3:42 or so, give or take a little, to run 140 mph you would need to be turning anywhere from 5700-6100 rpm on the stock 27″ tall tires. Now add in the fact these things weighed 3700-3900 lbs or so and aren’t exactly aerodynamic, 140 is a tall, tall stretch. A 140 mph speedometer means nothing. A 65/66 Corvair Corsa came with a 140 mph speedometer, a 71 Esprit with a 350 2 barrel had a 160 mph speedometer. The 1969 Z/28 and SS396 Camaro’s came with a 120 mph speedometer, we know they easily could exceed that. Factory speedometer readings are likely far from accurate. For the record, I AM a Pontiac guy. I’ve had 16 different Pontiacs that I can remember at the moment, 64-67,69, 70, 71, 72, and 06 GTO’s. The 06 GTO with the LS2 was capable of 160, give or take a couple mph. 6 Firebirds including a 72 and 73 T/A, a couple of 1970 Bonneville’s, and numerous others. I love Pontiacs. I likely bleed Pontiac blood. I still own a 65 GTO Tri-Power 4 speed convert. I do have a bit of an idea of what I speak. I grew up in the muscle car era, graduated high school in 1970 and I love the 69 (especially the 69) and 70 GP’s. I’ve had well over 125 cars I can remember. But 140 in a 400, maybe downhill with a strong tailwind and 2:56 gears and an optimistic speedometer. The speedo might have read 140, but a stock GP, likely not even the 428 SJ would do a real 140 mph.

        Like 1
      • Michael Berkemeier

        Jay, it’s simply not possible to get 140 mph out of a car like that. It would take a lot of modifications to pull that kind of speed. Even the fastest, largest-engined cars back then barely broke 140. I know you probably “think” you remember but please, don’t be mistaken, people that are much smarter than you (like 19sixty5) will call you on your embellishments every time.

        Like 0
    • angliagt angliagtMember

      Yeah – I wonder how many Naugas died for that?

      Like 1
    • JayA

      Exceptions to every rule genius, even you should know that! I know exactly what my 70 GP was capable of, and the State Trooper that pulled me over doing 140 mph knew it also. You really don’t have a clue and seem to enjoy being confrontational! End of conversation!

      Like 0
      • Michael Berkemeier

        Top speed of any ’70 Grand Prix was well under 140. If you crested 125-130 I would be surprised and that would be a really dangerous ride, especially on the tires back then.

        Like 2
  8. Jim Benjaminson

    The J designation was a take off on the Duesenberg J. The J is the entry level Grand Prix, the designations lasted through the 1977 model run at least. There was also the LJ and SJ (I had one a ’70 and still have my ’77 LJ).

    Like 0
  9. Larry D

    The LJ is for Luxury Model J. And the SJ is for Sport Model J.

    Like 2
  10. George Mattar

    I have professionally detailed cars since 1978 including a national show winning 1968 GTO. Give me a few days with that paint and it would be quite presentable. Ditch those cheap seat covers.

    Like 0

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