Category Archives: Pontiac

Stars, Strikes and the Grandest of Prix

As we noted earlier, when reporting on a cream puffy ’76 Ford Elite, we’re big fans of Dan Epstein’s baseball cum-cultural cypher Stars and Strikes: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of ’76.

Bicentennial Pon-ton

Bicentennial Pon-ton

Yes, 38 years after Sparky Anderson’s Cincinnati Reds swept the World Series in four straight games, demolishing the Yankees, in the third year of the reign of Steinbrenner with Billy Martin at the helm, there’s a book that puts it all into funky perspective.  So does this stellar, “as is” 1976 Pontiac Grand Prix.  It’s one of the era’s “personal luxury coupes,” on par with Chrysler’s Cordoba, that Ford Elite and Chevy’s Monte Carlo. They all had long hoods, short rear decks for that bicentennial “eleganza” air.  Grand Prix shared its GM A body architecture with Monte Carlo and, in fact,  it was the same platform used to underpin Buick’s Century and Olds Cutlass Supreme.

What a difference a dozen years makes

What a difference a dozen years make

The pillar free hardtop, the most sought-after body style of the ’50’s and ’60’s, as seen in this breathtaking ’64 Grand Prix, was swept into the dustbin of automotive design history. That breezy look was replaced by cars with a fortress-like aspect; the rear windows, etched with decorative scroll work, were fixed in place. GM described the look, set off by frameless side windows and a thick pillar aft the front doors, as  “Colonnade” styling. It’s as much of the (Gerald) Ford era as was Oscar Gamble’s outtasite ‘fro.

“They Don’t Think It Be Like It Is, But It Do”  - Oscar Gamble

“They don’t think It be like it is, but It do” – Oscar Gamble

Feds to lead: get out!

Feds to lead: get out!

This Grand Prix carries a reminder that lead was on the way out of gasoline at that time.  New cars, from ’75 forward, were equipped with catalytic converters, incompatible with that toxic additive that had been poisoining us for decades. ’76: the year we began to breathe easier.

Collonade coupe

Colonnade coupe

Speaking of no-lead, this ’62 Pontiac, badged “Grand Prix,” was caught tanking up the other day but it’s not what it appears to be. Note that Pontiac didn’t offer a Grand Prix convertible in ’62, the first model year for the most sporting full-size Pontiac.  Huh?

Faux Prix

Faux Prix

It’s really a Catalina convertible to which every possible Grand Prix-specific piece of trim, inside and out, has been appended.  It’s a masterful creation, filling a perceived gap in Pontiac’s model line more than a half century after the fact.

We found a ’76 Grand Prix in very impressive condition here for under $10K.  You can’t go wrong with this kind of true personal luxury at a low price like this. I’s the biggest bargain we’ve seen since the Kansas City Royals shelled out a measly $126,000 to pay George Brett’s salary in 1976.  His batting average was .333 the year American celebrated its second century.

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

 

 

 

DRIVEN was a wild ride

FeralCars is delighted to have played a role in last week’s DRIVEN installation at Palm Springs’ Stephen Archdeacon Gallery, attended by scores of cognoscenti in town to celebrate Modernism Week.

Art parked

Art parked

“Bob,” a swanky orange Mercury Bobcat begged the question, “Would a Pinto, by any other name, would still explode on impact?” Bob, along with an anonymous though glamorous, in a 1984 K-car kind of way, Chrysler LeBaron convertible greeted guests at the event celebrating the ‘car noir’ art of Eric Nash, hosted by ZZ Top’s Billy F Gibbons.

DRIVEN co-conspirators: Matthew Reader, Bob Merlis, Billy F Gibbons, Eric Nash

DRIVEN co-conspirators: Matthew Reader, Bob Merlis, Billy F Gibbons, Eric Nash

Matthew Reader, a/k/a “Mr. Palm Springs Modern,” curated the collection of cars deployed in the area that included a “Smokey and The Bandit” style Pontiac Trans Am, complete with “screaming chicken” hood treatment, an Oldsmobile 98 the length of three Smart cars, a Lincoln Continental Mark IV plus a “plain Jane” Ford station wagon that is the subject of one of Eric’s pieces.   His set design sense was spot on with matches strewn around the Bobcat along with a gasoline can, a vintage lunchbox exhibition in the “wayback” of the Ford wagon and a literal “trunk show” of women’s shoes in very large sizes next to the Olds.

"Atlanta to Texarkana and back in twenty eight hours? That ain't never been done before." "That's cause we ain't never done it."

“Atlanta to Texarkana and back in twenty eight hours? That ain’t never been done before.” “That’s cause we ain’t never done it.

Kickin' it Oldschool

Kickin’ it Oldschool, curbside

After sundown, Feralcars presented a breathtaking slideshow in which 190 images were projected on an outside wall of the gallery.  We’re told that some of these could be seen from the International Space Station but this has not been confirmed.

Pura Vida powered non-Pinto

Pura Vida powered non-Pinto

Let’s take stock: great art, legendary rock ‘n’ roll star host, curated cars, Feralcars slideshow. And, oh yeah, our friends at Pura Vida Tequila were kind enough to send along Sara Abbas who most artfully and responsibly poured the finest agave-based cocktails we’ve ever enjoyed at an art installation.

Portrait of the artist with a portrait of a feral Ford wagon

Portrait of the artist with a portrait of a feral Ford wagon

Life imitates art

Life imitates art

When she pours she reigns

When Sara pours she reigns

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

 

 

 

 

Chevy rolled the dice: Monte Carlo

Chevy's broad strokes take on personal luxury

Chevy’s broad strokes take on personal luxury

When Ford’s Thunderbird grew from two-seat roadster to four-place grand tourer in 1958 the car business took note of the market for “the personal luxury coupe.”  Other makes soon fielded entrants into the new sector, some with great aplomb.  Think: 1963-’65  Buick Riviera, ’62-’64 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk, ’63-’64 Pontiac Grand Prix, ’66-’70 Olds Toronado, ’75 – ’79 Chrysler Cordoba. As Jimmy Durante might have suggested, everybody wanted to get into the act.

A Malibu lurks within

A Malibu lurks within

For the 1970 model year, Chevy adapted its mid-size Chevelle platform to do duty as a snooty upscale personal luxury coupe dubbed Monte Carlo, not to be confused with Dodge’s Monaco the nameplate of which dates back to 1965 — so there!   Monte Carlo followed the personal luxury coupe styling convention of long hood, short rear deck, thick C-pillar and vinyl roof, denoting formal, yet sporting, elegance rather than straight-up muscle car macho.

Monte Carlo was a runaway success with sales of over 130,000 the first year, generating significant profits for the company insofar as development costs were minimal thanks to shared architecture with the lesser Chevelle.  The model’s slogan was “At $3123, a lot more car than it has to be.”  The subtext seems to be that Chevy is doing you a favor selling you such a nice Malibu for comparatively little money.

Did Prince Rainier get to skim any of the profits or did he put the touch on Dodge five years earlier?

Did Prince Rainier get to skim any of the profits or did he put the touch on Dodge five years earlier?

Many surviving first generation Monte Carlos have been customized and/or turned into street hopping lowrider cars as in this video.  In light of that reality, we like this minimally messed-with example, finished in Laguna Gray, that we found sans wheel covers.  Not sure about the red outline around the grill that matches the left rear wheel’s sidewall; they didn’t come from the factory this way.

Here’s a must-see commercial from the car’s introduction, wherein government agents harass a hard working paisan because they confuse his new Chevy Monte Carlo with an expensive imported exotic.   It’s a great example of Nixon era paranoia.  Did someone just say “I am not a Malibu”?

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

 

Turkey shoot!

Native American straight 8

Native American straight 8

Sometimes great feral cars just come knocking on your virtual door and say “shoot me” or, maybe, “post me.”  Yes, it’s that special day when gluttony is celebrated rather than reviled so we invite you feast on two early ’50s sedans that were sitting ducks (or turduckens) for loyal FeralCars fans Amy Treco and Andrew Keeler.  If you recall, Amy was our Halloween model/presenter.  If you don’t recall, click here to see what you missed. Andrew is constantly roaming, ahem, The Streets of San Francisco seeking out feral vehicular encounters. Today we  give thanks  to both for their service to the cause.

Amy sent in a stunning, rockabilly-style, lowered ’54 Pontiac with add-on “dagmar” front bumper bullets, fender skirts, headlight half covers, de-chromed flanks and a “tuff” windshield visor.  The last of these custom touches is the coolest accessory any juvenile delinquent type, loitering around a pool hall, trimming his cuticles with a switch blade, would lust after. ’54 was, by the way, the last model year Pontiac — or any domestic car maker — offered a straight 8 (cylinders inline) motor.  Displacement was 4.4 liters /268.2 cubic inches, around the same size as the motor powering today’s BMW M5 but with 430 fewer horses on tap.

FoMoCo goes low

FoMoCo goes low

Andrew sent in this ’49 Ford, a “fordor” model, still thrivin’ ‘n’ jivin’ in the land of Rice-A-Roni and sourdough. That mottled surface rust, coupled with contrasting fender skirts and red rimmed wheels, make this V8-powered (239 cubic inches/3.9 liters, 100 hp) rockin’ Dearborn relic a thing of beauty, worthy of a doo wop song sung under a corner streetlight.

Does the front end remind you of anything?  If your response was “airplane Studey,” give yourself a gold star. The similarity to Studebaker’s ’50 – ’51 “bullet nose” car is apparent and that’s no coincidence.  The Ford design has been attributed to Bob Bourke, Richard Caleal and Holden Koto, all of whom had been designers with Studebaker’s styling unit, administered by Raymond Lowey.  The three seemed to have done some moonlighting before they all — surprise! — ended up working for Ford.

People’s exhibits F and S:

Funky frontal

Funky frontal

Studey snoot

Studey snoot

We found an advert for Amy’s Pon-Ton, the subtext of which is that size does, indeed, matter.

Screen Shot 2013-11-27 at 12.38.08 AM

 

There’s a stunning ’54 Pontiac convertible you can buy for for a mere $93,000.  Doesn’t that make you want to check it out?  Here you go.

Equal time for the ’49 Ford.  You have just a few days left to bid on this low mileage ’49 Ford “tudor.”  It has only 51,000 miles on it which works out to fewer than 800 miles per year.  Bid here now before it’s too late!

If you, like Amy and Andrew, have stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it in:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com  OR through Feral Cars on Facebook.