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While many know the Grand Am as one of Pontiac's best-selling cars of 1985-2005, the Pontiac Grand Am actually got its start in 1973 as a sporty offshoot of the LeMans. In short, the car wasn't a big seller and was dropped after 1975. The Grand Am name resurfaced again in 1978, still as a sporty offshoot of the LeMans. And, like before, the car didn't succeed and was terminated after 1980, lasting only 3 years like its predecessor. Pontiac tried again with the Grand Am name in 1985, placing it on a new front-wheel-drive N-body coupe, which was a quasi-replacement for the departed Phoenix - and the third time was a charm for Pontiac, as the Grand Am clicked with buyers far better than the previous 2 generations ever did and went on to be one of Pontiac's best selling cars in its history. The car would be redesigned in 1992 and again in 1999 before being replaced by the G6 in 2005.

Here's a quick rundown on each generation:

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Pontiac Grand Am
General Motors
Production 1973-1975
Class Intermediate
Body Style 2-Door Coupe
4-Door Sedan
Length
Width
Height
Wheelbase 112"
Weight 3700-3900 lbs
Transmission 4-Speed Manual, RWD
3-Speed Automatic, RWD
Engine 6.6L (400 cid) V8
7.5L (455 cid) V8
Power 170-255 hp
Similar Buick Century
Chevrolet Malibu
Oldsmobile Cutlass
Platform A

1st Generation (1973-1975)

The 1st gen Grand Am started out as a European-inspired sporty version of the LeMans, which was an all-new design for 1973. The Grand Am of course shared the A-body's new "colonnade" roof design (a hardtop with center pillar but frameless doors unlike a sedan body). 2-door coupe and 4-door sedan bodystyles were offered. But a convertible was never made. The Grand Am differed from its LeMans stablemate with a body-colored urethane nose with 3 vertical grilles on each side and round turn signals below the bumper. On coupes, the rear-quarter window sported a body-colored louvered design. The Grand Am would share the same performance stage with the GTO, but while the GTO was clearly geared towards the American muscle car buyer (such as it was in 1973), Pontiac fancied the Grand Am as a supposed alternative to European sport sedans - a lofty goal, perhaps, but Pontiac should at least be credited for trying. Inside, the Grand Am shared the same dashboard with the Grand Prix and could have full instrumentation and a console floor-shift. Base engine was a 6.6L (400 cid) V8 with either a 2- or 4bbl carb, with single or dual exhausts. A 4-speed manual or 3-speed automatic transmission could be had. Optional was the 7.5L (455 cid) V8 with the automatic only. The mighty 310-hp Super-Duty 455 V8 was a rumored option, but no Grand Ams (or GTOs, for that matter) were so-equipped. The 1973 Grand Am was a moderate success, totaling 43,186 sales.

The biggest changes in 1974 were a larger front and rear bumper. Front styling remained largely the same but the taillights were all-new, going from horizontal to vertical. With the GTO now on the X-body Ventura platform, the Grand Am was now Pontiac's sole mid-size "performance car" (although there was a little-known LeMans GT model). But regardless, sales were dropping. Only 17,083 Grand Ams were built. There were no real changes to speak of for 1975, other than catalytic converters were now standard, requiring unleaded gas. Sales dipped even further to around only 10,000 units, prompting Pontiac to drop the model after this year (along with, incidentally, the equally poor-selling LeMans GT). The Grand Am name would resurface again in 1978.


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Pontiac Grand Am
General Motors
Production 1978-1980
Class Intermediate
Body Style 2-Door Coupe
4-Door Sedan
Length
Width
Height
Wheelbase 108.1"
Weight 3200-3400 lbs
Transmission 4-Speed Manual, RWD
3-Speed Automatic, RWD
Engine 3.8L (231 cid) V6 (1978-1980)
4.3L (265 cid) V8 (1980)
4.9L (301 cid) V8 (1978-1980)
Power 110-150 hp
Similar Buick Century
Chevrolet Malibu
Oldsmobile Cutlass
Platform A

2nd Generation (1978-1980)

The Grand Am concept was revived again in 1978, which again was a European-inspired sporty spinoff of the LeMans, which was an all new downsized model this year. The Grand Am was again available as a 2-door coupe or a 4-door sedan. Like the previous model, it had a unique body-colored urethane front clip with a unique 3-grille per side design and most (if not all) had a contrasting lower 2-tone paint treatment. The Grand Am shared the Grand Prix's dashboard with full instrumentation and could have either a column or a console floor shift. The big-inch V8s were gone, the base engine in this generation was the Buick-built 3.8L (231 cid) V6 with the 4.9L (301 cid) V8 with a 2- or 4-bbl carb as an option, and with either a 4-speed manual or 3-speed automatic transmission.

In 1979 four speed manual was available every where else except California. Sales dipped quite a bit from last year, however, as most buyers interested in a mid-size Pontiac passed up the Grand Am and went to the much more popular Grand Prix instead, which was enjoying a large sales resurgence after last year's downsizing. In 1980 the four door sedan was dropped. Just like the previous Grand Am, the first-year model was moderately successful, but the last 2 years were relative sales duds, which, again, prompted Pontiac to quietly drop the Grand Am again after 1980. The name would be resurrected one more time in 1985 on a completely new model.


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Pontiac Grand Am
General Motors
Production 1985-1991
Class Compact
Body Style 2-Door Coupe
4-Door Sedan
Length 179.2"
Width 66.5"
Height 52.6"
Wheelbase 103.4"
Weight 2500-2700 lbs
Transmission 5-Speed Manual, FWD
3-Speed Automatic, FWD
Engine 2.0L (122 cid) Turbo I4 (1987-1988)
2.3L (138 cid) I4 (1988-1991)
2.5L (151 cid) I4 (1985-1991)
3.0L (181 cid) V6 (1985-1987)
Power 92-180 hp
Similar Buick Somerset
Oldsmobile Calais
Platform N

3rd Generation (1985-1991)

Not about to give up on the Grand Am name, Pontiac tried the name out again in 1985 on an entirely different animal than years past, this time on an all-new front wheel drive N-body coupe which was a semi-replacement for the unloved X-body Phoenix. Unlike the last 2 Grand Ams, this one was a model all its own, no longer a derivation of an existing model. The new Grand Am was introduced alongside its Buick Somerset Regal (later renamed Skylark) and Oldsmobile Calais (later known as Cutlass Calais) stablemates that same year. A 2-door coupe model is initially the only bodystyle offered. The base engine was the Pontiac-built 2.5L (151 cid) I4 with either a 5-speed manual or 3-speed automatic transmission, with an optional Buick-built 3.0L (181 cid) V6 with automatic only. Base models had analog instrumentation, while upper level models could have a digital unit.

All 1986 models received the mandatory Center High Mounted Stop Lamp, and a 4-door sedan model was added. Trim levels were now LE and SE. For 1987, SE models got new composite headlamps while the base LEs retained the quad rectangular units. An optional 165 hp turbocharged 2.0L (121 cid) I4 borrowed from the Sunbird Turbo became an option on the SE model. By this time, the Grand Am was a bonafide hit, outselling both its Buick and Oldsmobile stablemates combined by a considerable margin, and Pontiac was no doubt breathing a heavy sigh of relief, especially since the first 2 Grand Am models were mere blips on the sales radar by comparison.

Another new engine debuted as an option for both the LE and SE in 1988, by way of the 150 hp 2.3L (138 cid) "Quad Four", and had either a 5-speed manual or 3-speed automatic transmission. The 2.5 I4 and turbo I4 continued, but the 3.0 V6 was no more. In 1989, the slow-selling turbo engine was dropped, and there were no more digital dashes. The 2.5 I4 remained the base engine, and received balance shafts and an upgrade in power to 110 hp. A high-output 180 hp Quad Four became available on the SE mid-year. All models got a modest facelift this year also with a more sloped-back grille and headlights. Taillights were slightly larger as well. The rear seat gained shoulder safety belts. No real changes to speak of in 1990, and there weren't many in 1991 either as an all new Grand Am was to debut in 1992.


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Pontiac Grand Am
General Motors
Production 1992-1998
Class Compact
Body Style 2-Door Coupe
4-Door Sedan
Length 186.9"
Width 68.3"
Height 53.5"
Wheelbase 103.4"
Weight 2700-2900 lbs
Transmission 5-Speed Manual, FWD
3-Speed Automatic, FWD
4-Speed Automatic, FWD
Engine 2.3L (138 cid) I4 (1992-1995)
2.4L (148 cid) I4 (1996-1998)
3.1L (191 cid) V6 (1994-1998)
3.3L (204 cid) V6 (1992-1993)
Power 120-180 hp
Similar Buick Skylark
Oldsmobile Achieva
Platform N

4th Generation (1992-1998)

The Grand Am had become Pontiac's best-selling model, and this newly refreshed generation would continue that success. The Grand Am would continue to be sold along its other N-body corporate mates, the Buick Skylark and Oldsmobile Achieva (formerly the Calais), which were also redesigned this year and, again, the Grand Am proved far more popular than the Buick or Olds N-bodies. The new Grand Am was a little larger and heavier than the previous generation, becoming a bit more rounded in the front and rear, but wheelbase and interior dimensions remained the same. Body-colored cladding was standard just like the previous model, only it was now larger and more pronounced. 2-door coupes and 4-door sedans are offered in base SE and GT trim levels. Anti-lock brakes were standard on all US models. Base engine for the SE is the 120 hp SOHC 2.3L Quad OHC, with an optional 160 hp DOHC Quad 4 as an option. The GT came with a 180 hp "High Output" Quad 4 carried over from the previous generation. A 5-speed manual or 3-speed automatic was available with the Q4 engines, while a 4-speed automatic become an option on the 94-95 Quad engines. The 180 hp HO Quad 4 was mated exclusively to a Getrag-licensed 5-speed, there was no automatic option. A new engine was added for the 1992 model year, a 160 hp 3.3L (204 cid) V6, the first V6 in a Grand Am since the 1988 model year, and was available only with a 3-speed automatic.

In 1993, all Quad Four engines lose 5 hp for stricter emissions. Climate controls are revised and the SE got new gauge graphics. In 1994, the 3.3 V6 was replaced with the Chevy-built 155 hp 3.1L (191 cid) V6 and gained a 4-speed automatic transmission, which also became an option on the Q4 engines. Other drivetrain choices continued as before. Grand Ams finally got a driver's side airbag this year, but they retained their door-mounted seatbelt design. For 1995, a newly redesigned 150 hp Quad Four engine with balance shafts become standard on both the SE and GT, with either a 5-speed manual, 3-speed automatic (SE only) or 4-speed automatic. The SOHC and HO Quad variants were discontinued. The 3.1L V6 continued with the 4-speed automatic only.

New front and rear fascias, grille, hood, headlamps, taillamps, and exterior trim treatments debuted for 1996. The dashboard was also new along with dual airbags, finally eliminating the door-mounted seatbelts. The base engine is enlarged slightly to 2.4 liters and now known as the "twin cam", but hp remains the same at 150. The 155 hp 3.1 V6 remains an option. An all-new Grand Am would debut for 1999.


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Pontiac Grand Am
Pontiac
Production 1999-2005
Class Compact
Body Style 2-Door Coupe
4-Door Sedan
Length 186.3"
Width 70.6"
Height 54.5"
Wheelbase 107.1"
Weight 3000-3300 lbs
Transmission 5-Speed Manual, FWD
4-Speed Automatic, FWD
Engine 2.2L (138 cid) I4 (2002-2005)
2.4L (148 cid) I4 (1999-2001)
3.4L (207 cid) V6 (1999-2005)
Power 140-175 hp
Similar Oldsmobile Alero
Platform N

5th Generation (1999-2005)

The redesigned Grand Am debuted in March, 1998 as an early 1999 model, and had become America's top-selling compact car. The body again was a bit larger than the previous model, and by now the Grand Am had become one of the very few cars left in the U.S. that still offered a 2-door coupe as well as a 4-door sedan. Both body styles came in SE, SE1, and SE2 trim, as well as sportier GT, GT1 and GT2 editions. There would be no Buick equivalent in this generation as the Skylark was dropped, but Oldsmobile introduced an all-new Alero, which replaced the Achieva (and, continuing tradition, the Grand Am proved to be the much better seller). Base engine was the 150 hp 2.4 Twin Cam I4 carried over from the previous generation with either the 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic. A 165 hp (170 "Ram Air" in GT models after 2000) 3.4L (207 cid) V6 was an option (standard on the GT) with the 4-speed auto only. The GT could be had as either a coupe or sedan. Speedometers read 150 MPH in GT models, SEs had 120 MPH units.

Not many changes in 2000 other than a couple of new colors and standard rear child-seat anchors. In 2001, sound systems were revised and a new 8-speaker Monsoon system was added to the options list. SE and SE1 models traded a 150 hp 2.4L I4 for a 145 hp 2.2L Ecotec in Late 2002, and a rear spoiler was now standard on all models. For 2003, the base SE models lost their standard anti-lock brakes (they were still optional), and SE models lost their lower bodyside cladding. The sedan model was dropped for 2005, which was the only change in the abbreviated model year, leaving only the Coupe which was now relegated to mostly fleet sales as the Grand Am was being phased out in favor of the all-new G6, which also made its debut this year.

Competitors (1985-2005)


Awards

  • 2003 J.D. Power Initial Quality Study 3rd winner (Entry mid-size)

See Also

Template:Pontiac

External Links