Seller’s First Car: 1979 Pontiac Grand Am

Currently, I’m struggling with the decision to sell my highly-original 1987 BMW 325is, a car that began as a project 10 years ago and has emerged largely restored in the present day. Lots of memories locked up in that car, but I can’t imagine selling it had I owned it since new – like the owner of this 1979 Pontiac Grand Am here on eBay has. Hard to tell if anyone’s ever telling the truth on eBay, but it’s fun to imagine a 16-year-old was actually able to keep an entry-level car like this Grand Am in such nicely preserved condition. 

The Grand Am shows just under 70,000 miles and looks great up and down the sides. We don’t see this generation of Pontiac’s entry-level offering too frequently, as most of the marketplace is cluttered with the horrendous examples made in the last 20 years. Of course, that doesn’t mean it’s rare car, as the entry models were almost always badge-engineered up and down and across the entire GM family of cars. The colors are straight out of the 70s/80s, but at least brown on tan is an inoffensive combo.

Amazingly, Pontiac’s obsession with gauges didn’t begin with the Bonneville and 6000 models of the late 80s and early 90s. It’s hard to imagine anyone in the design studio saw this as an attractive look, or perhaps consumers were so distracted by the 12 circular pods in front of them that they’d sign the loan paperwork without ever noticing the interest rate. To the seller’s credit, if he owned this car when he was 16, he did an admirable job of keeping his buddies from spilling their fries and soft drinks all over the interior.

Not much information is offered in the listing, but this Grand Am is equipped with the optional 301 V8, which could be had in two-barrel or four-barrel form. It looks to have the optional power windows, too. The brushed aluminum trim on the dash was new for ’79, and a big improvement over acres of fake wood. Whether this car was the seller’s first is an interesting footnote; more important is how nicely this Grand Am was apparently cared for, regardless of whose first car it was. Is it worth the $8,900 Buy-It-Now?

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  1. TimS Member

    Nice example. Another one that, though far from it, looks like a muscle car next to today’s offerings. I always wondered what it would’ve been like had the Can Am survived to be built on this platform. With 700 fewer pounds that might have been a real smog-era runner.

  2. poseur Member

    great looking car inside & out. the alum dash trim was way ahead of its time & in gorgeous condition.
    so much better looking than the dedicated personal luxury coupe Montes, Regals & Gran Prix & the hideous hatchback Olds.
    we had a dark red Grand Am sedan of the same vintage briefly, can’t recall much about it but definitely remember the console & interior trim being special after a lifetime of fake wood.
    not sure it’s worth the BIN but doubt there’s another one out there that’s better with anything close to these miles on it.

  3. GearHead Engineer

    Jeff, I can relate to your comment about memories locked up in a car. I’ve had my ’64 Lincoln for over 18 years now. Every year I think about selling it in order to buy something different, but every time I go out to the garage or take it for a ride I change my mind. Lots of good times (and more than a few AAA tows) built up in that time.

    This one is quite nice. Not really my thing, but the condition is great and it would be a nice cruiser. Definitely a ’70s color combination. The aftermarket cassette player brings back memories!

    – John

  4. Blueprint

    Very nice example! The base offering was actually the LeMans. The Grand Am was above the Grand LeMans.

    As for the Regal and Cutlass, they were fastbacks, not hatchbacks. Both offered formal roofed coupes before the slick models were retired.

  5. stillrunners

    Still a solid offering from Pontiac back then…glad it’s survived nicely !

  6. Capriest Member

    Love it! Very classy yet kind’ve sporty. I’m a sucker for brown on tan though.

  7. geomechs geomechs Member

    I had a ’78 Grand Am which looked almost identical to this one. Mine was a 301/4bbl. and it went like Jack, the Bear. Contrary to the writeup, mine had the brushed aluminum appearing dash too. I might add that the Grand Prix had the same dash in it. Interesting, the 2bbl version had a 4bbl intake but the carburetor was blank in the secondary area. I first saw it on a Firebird we sold with the 301.

    • Art M.

      I believe that the two barrel was called a Dual Jet as opposed to the four barrel being the QuadraJet. Basically the same carb just less of it.

  8. Superdessucke

    I was always a fan of the Grand Am. This is the last of the good ones before it ultimately morphed into a sub-prime turd by the end of the nameplate’s life.

  9. edh

    Take some high resolution photos and crush this thing.

  10. Andre

    This sounds very familiar. My ’84 Cutlass was (is) my first car, I’ve now had it almost 20 years. I bought it second hand when I was 15. Still 75% original paint (hood, trunk, roof were resprayed before I had it due to poor quality factory paint).

    Funny enough when I bought it the other car I was considering was a Grand Am much like the one posted here – except it had been modified. Probably best I stuck with the Cutlass.

    Good luck to the seller, I hope to never sell my old lump.

  11. Jeff

    It’s not gorgeous, but it is a well-proportioned, somewhat-handsome car. I like the color combo, and I honestly think the dash is pretty cool. It’s certainly not worth $9k to me, but it’d be an interesting ride at $5k or so.

  12. Shingo

    Sunbird would’ve been the entry level Pontiac. Then Phoenix, then LeMans.

    • Blueprint

      Let’s add a Canadian bottom layer and start the lineup with the Acadian (rebadged Chevette) 😉

  13. Alexander

    Wasn’t the Pontiac Chevette called the T1000? My father was 100% Pontiac at this time, having a Grand Prix and Firebird in the driveway the year this Grand Am came out. I would always go to the Poncho dealer with him for service calls and one of these had been taken in on trade. We test drove it and I recall it being pretty peppy with the 4bbl. With a reasonable back seat he was tempted as the GP and FBird had nothing notable in the way of legroom in the back. We were a 5 person family unit at the time. Seems these cars all but disappeared only 3-4 years later.

    • Blueprint

      The T1000 name was used in the final years, but Acadian was born at the same time as the Chevette in the mid-70’s.

      • GearHead Engineer

        I had a neighbor with a Pontiac Astre. It was a Chevette in Pontiac guise. My buddy was playing around in it and knocked it out of gear. It ended up down the road and in another neighbor’s yard. I had been with him earlier that day so of course I caught hell for it

        – John

  14. Frank M

    He must of had it in long term storage as it is newly licensed. Those are Illinois temporary tags that you get when you buy a car or license one after it has been off the road for awhile.

  15. Top Jimmy

    Entry level??? Try Unobtanium! Must be our Aussie buddy copying off of wikepedia again. If you couldn’t afford a Grand Prix from 77-79 this is what you went for…..Entry level??? Don’t believe all you see on the www. It’ll melt your brain!

  16. Sam Shive

    At 16 it was more like keeping the SEEDS AND STEAMS off the seats….Nice Car….I’ld keep the 301 but at least a Pontiac 350 would find it’s way under the hood. It’s never going to be a High $$$ car. Have Fun With It. See lots of this Gen Malibu going down the 1320 and the 2 door Malibu is getting harder to find.

  17. Rick Rothermel

    Great looking car, but how is the top-trim a-body offering anywhere close to ‘entry level’? That was a pricey car when it was new.

  18. Alan (Michigan) Member

    Had a ’79 Grand LeMans, loved that car. The original Uniroyal tires were, I swear, square, or at least hexagonal. Best thing I did for it was to dump them well before they were worn out, and put on a set of Michelin. The 301 wasn’t a barnstormer, but it got the job done, and returned decent fuel economy.

    One of the few cars I wish I still had.

  19. Little Cars

    @GearHead Engineer — The Astre was Vega-based, not Chevette-based. I’m almost certain. I remember my car buddies at the time couldn’t believe all they did was stick a birds beak on the front of the Vega and refresh SOME of the trim. The Sunbird was a marked improvement and my GF drove one until the wheels fell off….

    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Palmer Staff

      You are correct. The T1000 was the Pontiac version of the Chevette.

    • GearHead Engineer

      Yes, you are right! I had them mixed up. Thanks for the correction.

      – John

  20. Utes

    This was HARDLY an “entry level” vehicle! It’s top-of-the-line in looks, options, & handling! In ’79 it was as close as Pontiac was ever gonna’ get to the late, lamented GTO, or even the 1-year-only (’77) Can Am. Even a 4-speed was optional in ’79!

  21. Mark

    The Original owner bought the car when he was 22 years old (it was his first NEW car), and he took amazing car of it. It’s the cleanest one of these cars I have seen in many years. I am happy to say that it is now in my possession.

    • poseur Member

      Congratulations on your purchase, Mark.
      It’s encouraging to know this is in the hands of someone who appreciates it & will keep it from becoming an ordinary used car.

  22. Mark

    Thanks! It will be babied for sure. Still has the original exhaust! Was rustproofed when new, never driven in winter, and does not have a spot of rust on it anywhere that I can find. Original radio was deleted by the buyer at purchase who installed the AM-FM Cassette 40 years ago and still sounds great. Was purchased off showroom floor in August of 79.

    • Alan (Michigan) Member

      Well Done!

      Wish I still had the ’79 Grand LeMans….

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