Superb 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix SJ Flaunts Rare Drivetrain Combo

1969 Pontiac Grand Prix SJ 11 photos
Photo: Muscle Car Campy/YouTube
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When discussing legendary Pontiacs from the 1960s, we usually think about the GTO, Bonneville, and Catalina. The Grand Prix, which the brand unveiled in 1962, is generally left out of the conversation. And that's a shame because this rig was among the coolest high-performance luxury coupes during the golden era. Not to mention that the nameplate soldiered on for a whopping 46 years.
Initially a high-performance full-size car, the Grand Prix morphed into a luxurious mid-size vehicle in 1969, when Pontiac launched the third-generation model. Riding on a shorter chassis, the 1969 Grand Prix featured a unique body that included Pontiac's longest-ever hood and a prominent vertical grille.

The redesigned grand tourer was a massive success, and Pontiac moved a whopping 112,486 units in 1969, a 72% increase over the previous year. This number is big enough to make the 1969 Grand Prix a rather common classic, but some versions are actually pretty rare. The Warwick Blue Poly example you see here is one of those cars.

What makes this Poncho scarce? Well, like most classics from the era, it's the drivetrain combo. Or should I say the transmission because it's the main culprit here? The Grand Prix was available with a 400- or 428-cubic-inch (6.6- or 7.0-liter) V8 that year. The former came with 265 or 350 horsepower on tap, depending on the carburetor setup.

The 428-cubic-inch unit, on the other hand, generated 370 horsepower in standard form and 390 horsepower with HO goodies. This Grand Prix packs the 370-horsepower version, which came standard with the SJ package this Poncho is carrying. If you're unfamiliar with the bundle, it also added power disc brakes, a performance rear axle, and an automatic leveling rear suspension.

Moving over to the gearbox, customers had three units to choose from: a three-speed automatic, a three-speed manual, and a four-speed manual. This one's equipped with the latter, which is the second-rarest of the bunch. Yup, even though manuals were popular during the golden muscle car era, they weren't very sought after on personal luxury vehicles like the Grand Prix.

While GTO buyers often went with the stick shift, Grand Prix customers sought comfort more than anything else and opted for the automatic. Specifically, of the 112,486 units built in 1969, exactly 111,472 were equipped with the three-speed auto. That's 99% of the total production. This leaves only 1,014 manual cars, of which 676 got the four-speed manual gearbox.

This figure applies to all Grand Prix cars regardless of the trim level, so things get even rarer when we also involve the SJ package. Unfortunately, Pontiac didn't break down production numbers between J and SJ models, but some sources claim only 10% of the vehicles built that year got the more expensive package. All told I can't provide an accurate number, but this Poncho could be one of fewer than 100 SJs equipped with this drivetrain layout.

But regardless of how rare it is, this Grand Prix is a stunning classic. The coupe looks spotless on the outside, while the interior is nearly 100% factory-correct and boasts a two-tone blue interior that matches the body. I don't know about you, but I love blue-on-blue classics!

The engine bay is squeaky clean, and the 428 V8 runs flawlessly and sounds healthy. The car was obviously restored, but it still relies on its numbers-matching powerplant. You can find out more about that from the video below.

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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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