The Pontiac Grand Am is a mid-size car and later a compact car that was produced by Pontiac. The history of Grand Am starts with Pontiac executives noting incursion into the US market by Mercedes and BMW. Notably, the American sports car was usually without luxury features and the luxury car without sport features. Foreign makes mixed these features. Pontiac hybridized the Trans Am with the Grand Prix to create the Grand Am. Built on the A-body platform, the intended GTO body was re-badged and fitted with the Grand Prix interior. As the 1973 was produced, OPEC levied an oil embargo to the USA. This resulted in a dichotomy of buyers: total luxury or total economy. Since Grand Am was a “in-betweener “, its sales died and it was discontinued in 1975. The Grand Am had two separate three-year runs in the 1970s: from 1973 to 1975, and again from 1978 to 1980. It was based on the GM A platform. Production of the Grand Am was canceled in 1980 when it was replaced by the Pontiac 6000. The Grand Am was reintroduced in 1985 when it replaced the Pontiac Phoenix. It became Pontiac's best selling car and was later replaced by the Pontiac G6, so named as it was intended to be the 6th generation of the Grand Am.
The original Grand Am was introduced in the fall of 1972 as a 1973 model. It was based on the GM A platform (A-body) along with other cars such as the Chevrolet Chevelle, Pontiac LeMans, Pontiac GTO, Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, and the Buick Century. The GM A-body platform had major design revisions in 1973 that included the elimination of pillarless hardtops due to proposed Federal rollover standards, but with frameless windows similar to that of a hardtop. No convertibles were produced due to the rollover standards (that never were enacted). In addition to Federal emissions regulations, new safety standards required a 5 mph (8.0 km/h) impact-resistant front bumper and a 2.5 mph (4.0 km/h) impact-resistant rear bumper, which increased to 5 mph (8.0 km/h) for 1974.
1973 Grand Am
The Grand Am, coined by Pontiac with a name derived from two other cars in its lineup ("Grand" signifying "Grand Prix luxury" and "Am" for "Trans Am performance") was designed as America's answer to European luxury/sport sedans and available as a four-door Colonnade sedan or a two-door Colonnade coupe. A total of 43,136 Grand Ams were built during the first year of production (both two-door and four-door models).
The Grand Am could be had with a standard 2-bbl 400 cu in (6.6 L) V8 engine with single exhaust producing 170 hp (127 kW; 172 PS), an optional 4-bbl version of this engine with single exhaust producing 200 hp (149 kW; 203 PS) that was only available with a 4-speed manual transmission, an optional 4-bbl version of this engine with dual exhaust producing 230 hp (172 kW; 233 PS), or an optional 4-bbl 455 cu in (7.5 L) with dual exhaust 250 hp (186 kW; 253 PS). Availability of 310 hp (231 kW; 314 PS) Super Duty version of the 4-bbl 455 V8 did not materialize. The engine displacement, expressed in liters, was displayed on the bootlid in an effort to accentuate the car's supposedly European character.
All engines were available with a Turbo-hydramatic 400 automatic transmission as standard equipment. A 4-speed manual transmission was available with the 400/4-bbl engine in 1973 and 1974, but this was not popular.
The 1973 Pontiac Grand Am style had a unique flexible urethane front fascia center nose (known as the 'Endura' nose) that was squeezable and could return to its original shape following a minor collision along with the new energy-absorbing bumpers, a total of six grille openings with vertical bars, round front turn signals with a cross-hair design, horizontal rear tail lights, and chrome rear bumper. Additionally, Grand Ams featured a Radial Tuned Suspension (RTS) as standard equipment that included radial-ply tires, Pliacell shock absorbers, and front and rear sway bars. The springs were advertised as being computer selected. The Grand Am was one of only three GM cars to have standard radial tires and appropriate suspension tuning in 1973, with the others being the Oldsmobile Cutlass Salon and Chevrolet Monte Carlo S.
The Grand Am included Strato bucket seats upholstered in Naugahyde vinyl or corduroy cloth featuring manual recliners and adjustable lumbar supports - both features common on European-style sports/luxury sedans, but unusual for American cars of that time. Also included were an instrument panel from the Pontiac Grand Prix featuring a Rally gauge cluster with fuel, oil, water and volt gauges (a tachometer or fuel economy gauge was optional, and on cars so equipped, the clock was moved to a space on the lower instrument panel under the radio), three-spoke padded steering wheel with brushed-stainless spokes, and Genuine Crossfire African Mahogany trim on the dash facing, radio and clock surrounds, as well as the center console between the front seats. Grand Ams also were among the first U.S.-built cars with a turn-signal mounted headlight dimmer switch that had been common on imported cars for decades. Other standard equipment included concealed windshield wipers, a 1.12 in (28 mm) front stabilizer bar, and an in-the-windshield radio antenna. Upscale options included air conditioning, tinted glass, power windows-locks-seat, rear defogger, various sound systems, and tilt-steering-wheel. AM/FM stereo with a tape player was optional.
Pontiac also produced a single 1973 Grand Am station wagon as a feasibility study. This was a LeMans wagon converted to a Grand Am. A functional ram-air induction system was developed for the Pontiac A-bodies utilizing twin NACA openings in the hood, but the option was dropped due to inability to pass federally mandated drive-by noise standards. A few functional Ram Air systems were sold over the counter. The twin-scoop NACA hood was an option for any Pontiac A-body for all three years, but was non-functional.
In a Popular Mechanics Owners survey, 67% rated the build quality as good to excellent and 79% liked the handling. However, 22.1% disliked the fuel economy.
1974 Grand Am hardtop, rear
Described as "The mid-sized Pontiac with Foreign Intrigue ... American Ingenuity" on the front cover of the four-page 1974 Grand Am brochure that featured a green four-door sedan, only minor styling changes highlighted this year's model including a redesigned nose and grille with 12 openings with horizontal bars. The 1974 Grand Am's rear-end styling was redesigned for the new 5 mph crash standards and had vertical rear taillights with relocated license plate and fuel filler above the bumper. Engine and transmission offerings were the same as 1973, but four-speed manual transmissions were no longer offered in California, where only the Turbo Hydra-matic automatic was available. Inside, the genuine African crossfire mahogany trim on the instrument panel was replaced by a simulated material due to delamination problems on the 1973 models but the real wood was continued on the center console, optional console clock, and radio bezel.
Engine choices were 400 cu in (6.6 L) 2-barrel single exhaust producing 190 hp (142 kW; 193 PS), 400 cubic inch 4-barrel single exhaust producing 200 hp (149 kW; 203 PS), 400 cubic inch 4-barrel dual exhaust producing 225 hp (168 kW; 228 PS), and 455 cubic inch 4-barrel dual exhaust producing 250 hp (186 kW; 253 PS).
Sales were down more than 50 percent due to the 1973 oil crisis, and while the recession continued, prices increased for all 1974 model cars. Only 17,083 Grand Ams were built.
The 1975 Grand Am looked the same as the 1974 model, but had vertical front grille bars, a body-colored rear bumper, and a catalytic converter single-exhaust, which mandated the use of unleaded fuel, along with GM's High Energy Ignition and other items promoted as part of Pontiac's maximum mileage system. In addition to the standard roofline with louvered rear side windows, Grand Am coupes with the optional vinyl roof could be ordered with a full triangular rear side window or a vertical opera window similar to that found on the Grand Prix.
Inside, the Strato bucket seats received revised vertical trim patterns, the adjustable lumbar support controls were dropped, and only the passenger seat had a recliner, a "safety practice" which would continue at GM for a decade. New this year as a no-cost option was a 60/40 bench seat with center armrest.
Engines were also detuned to meet the 1975 emission regulations with the compression ratio dropping to a new low of 7.6 to 1 on some engines. Standard was the 170 hp (127 kW; 172 PS) 400 cu in (6.6 L) V8 with two-barrel carburetor, optional were a 185 hp (138 kW; 188 PS) 400, or a 200 hp (149 kW; 203 PS) 455 cu in (7.5 L) - both with four-barrel carburetors. Turbo Hydra-matic was standard equipment and the only transmission offered this year. Performance from 0-60 was 7.7 seconds.
A total of 10,679 Grand Ams were built in 1975 and the series was dropped after this year due to declining sales and rising gas prices as a result of the 1973 oil crisis. Also a factor leading to the Grand Am's cancellation, were plans for all 1976 Pontiac A-body cars receiving the newly approved rectangular headlights, which would necessitate a complete redesign of the Grand Am's Endura nose and Pontiac officials decided that the expense of such a redesign could not be justified based on low production numbers. The basic GM A-body design remained until 1977.
1973 Grand Am 2 door 34,445
1973 Grand Am 4 door 8,691
1973 Total 43,136
1974 Grand Am 2 door 13,961
1974 Grand Am 4 door 3,122
1974 Total 17,083
1975 Grand Am 2 door 8,786
1975 Grand Am 4 door 1,893
1975 Total 10,679
1973–1975 400 cu in (6.6 L) V8 with 2-barrel carburetor (standard engine, others were optional)
1973–1975 400 cu in (6.6 L) V8 with 4-barrel carburetor
1973–1974 400 cu in (6.6 L) V8 with 4-barrel carburetor, 4-speed (not available in California)
1973–1975 455 cu in (7.5 L) V8 with 4-barrel carburetor
A SD-455 equipped engineering prototype Grand Am was built and tested, but was later dismantled and destroyed.
1973 engines may have point or unitized ignition.
1974 engines may have point or unitized ignition or starting around May 1, 1974, HEI ignition.
1975 engines have HEI ignition.
1975 was the first year for the catalytic converter.
The Grand Am returned for 1978 based on the Grand Prix's G platform, downsized from the previous generation, and offered in both two- and four-door models featuring a vertical bar grille and other trimmings to differentiate it from the LeMans, upon which it was based. Like the 1973-75 models, this generation of Grand Ams also featured standard radial tires plus an upgraded Radial Tuned Suspension with front and rear sway bars. Interiors were similar to the Grand LeMans with either a standard notchback bench seat, optional 60/40 bench or Strato bucket seats with console and recliner on passenger side, an optional tachometer, and a choice of either cloth or Morrokide vinyl upholstery.
Standard equipment included power steering, power front disc brakes, Turbo Hydra-matic transmission, full instrumentation and Pontiac's 301 cu in (4.9 L) V8 engine with two-barrel carburetor producing 140 hp (104 kW; 142 PS). Optional was a 4-bbl 155 hp (116 kW; 157 PS) version, along with numerous extra cost items such as snowflake wheels, whitewall or white-lettered tires, power windows and seats, tilt steering wheel, sunroof, and cruise control.
In California, where more stringent emission regulations made Pontiac V8 engines unavailable since 1977, Chevrolet V8 engines were substituted including a standard 135 hp (101 kW; 137 PS) 305 cu in (5.0 L) V8 with two-barrel carburetor or optional four-barrel version with 145 hp (108 kW; 147 PS).
Very few changes were made for 1979 other than the normal trim revisions and the demotion of the standard powertrain to a Buick 231 cu in (3.8 L) V6 and floor-mounted three-speed manual transmission as standard equipment. The 301 V8, rated at 135 hp (101 kW; 137 PS) with a two-barrel carburetor or 150 hp (112 kW; 152 PS) with four-barrel, and Turbo Hydra-matic transmission were now optional. In terms of appearance, the only difference was that the park/signal and marker lenses were changed to amber ones.
New for 1979 was a four-speed manual available with the 150-horsepower 301 four-barrel in 49 states. In California, only an automatic transmission was available and engine offerings included the standard Buick 231 cu in (3.8 L) V6 engine with two-barrel carburetor and 115 hp (86 kW; 117 PS) or optional Chevrolet 305 V8 rated at 160 hp (119 kW; 162 PS) with four-barrel carb.
The woodgrained instrument panel was replaced by brushed aluminum trim, while the gauge faces changed from silver with black letters and numbers to black with white letters and numbers. The same seating choices in either cloth or Morrokide trims were offered including the standard notchback bench seat, or optional 60/40 bench or Strato bucket seats with console. An AM/FM CB radio combo was available and a heated rear window was optional.
The year 1980 was the finale for the second-generation Grand Am. The four-door sedan was dropped, leaving only the two-door coupe, which received only minor appearance changes. Strato bucket seats in cloth or Morrokide upholstery were standard equipment along with a center console with floor shifter for the Turbo Hydra-matic transmission.
The V6 engine, two-barrel V8s and manual transmissions were dropped leaving the four-barrel Pontiac 301 V8 with 170 hp (127 kW; 172 PS) the only engine offered in 49 states or, in California, the 160 hp (119 kW; 162 PS) Chevrolet 305 V8. Slow sales of the Grand Am led to its discontinuation after the 1980 model year.
In the first year of the NASCAR Busch Series (1982) the championship was won by Jack Ingram, in a 1980 Grand Am.
177.5 in (4,508 mm) (1985–88) 179.2 in (4,552 mm) (1989–1991)
66.5 in (1,689 mm) (1989–1991) 66.7 in (1,694 mm) (1985–88)
52.6 in (1,336 mm)
For the 1985 model year, Pontiac reused the Grand Am name for a new compact car to replace the aging and unpopular Phoenix (based on GM's X Body) using the new-for-1985 N Body. The Grand Am shared the same front-wheel drive platform as the Buick Somerset (renamed Skylark in 1987) and the Oldsmobile Calais. Initially, the Grand Am was available in base or LE trim in coupes only. The 2.5 L Tech IV was standard, while a 3.0 L Buick V6 was optional. A 5-speed manual was standard, and a 3-speed automatic was optional, the latter required if the V6 engine was ordered. In 1986, a sedan and sportier SE trim were added. The SE trim had the V6 engine standard, lower body cladding, composite headlamps, a slightly revised interior with different cloth used on all seats and door panel inserts, analogue instrumentation (base and LE models had digital), and came standard with 14" aluminum wheels.
1985 LE coupe
1988 sedan, rear view
1987 models brought more power to the base engine, and a new Turbocharged four-cylinder engine taken from the Sunbird GT. The 2.0L turbo engine became the base engine for the SE model for 1987. If one were to get the turbo engine, then the turbo boost gauge would take the place of the voltmeter. Popular Mechanics did the quarter-mile with the Turbo engine and five-speed manual in 15.73 seconds and the automatic transmission 16.02 seconds. They noted large amounts of torque steer from a dead stop. This was also the last year that the Buick sourced 3.0 L engine would be available in the Grand Am, as it was discontinued in mid-1987. New for styling were composite front headlights, but only on the LE models.
For 1988, front seat belts were moved from the b-pillars to the doors, to meet the passive restraint mandate for 1989. The Quad-4 LD2 engine became available for Grand Am's in 1988, replacing the previous model years 3.0L V6 on the options list. It is worth noting that 'Sport buckets' borrowed from the Trans Am GTA, were added to the option list this year for SE's. Other options included a Driver Information Center, electronic trunk release, and a moon roof. The base model was dropped after this model year.
The standard 1988 Pontiac Grand Am dash
A totally new front and rear fascia along with an interior redesign for 1989. The 2.5L gained balance shafts and an increase of power. The 2.3L 'LD2' Quad 4 replaced the 2.0L Turbo engine as standard equipment in the SE midway through the year. This was the final year that the 'Sport Bucket' seats were available to SE's.
The 2.3 L LG0 Quad 4 was announced as being available late in the model year on Grand Am SE's; in fact this was a limited run car, of which only 200 were built. All 1989 LG0 Quad 4 Grand Am's were red on grey coupes, with standard appointments including (but not limited to) 16" machined face wheels. The 16" wheels were only optional to SE's. This would be the first year that the Grand Am could be ordered with either 16" wheels, or a factory installed CD player.
NHSTA safety ratings for frontal crashes are as follows: Driver: 3-stars; Passenger: 4-stars.
Changes were minor for 1990 and 1991;
For 1990, a new High-Output version of the Quad 4 (mated to only a 5-speed manual) became the standard engine for the SE (opting for the automatic transmission changed the engine to the less powerful LD2 Quad 4). The 16" wheels moved from the option list to standard equipment for the SE's this year. The LE gained a 'Sport Performance Package' (RPO: W32) late in the 1990 model year run. The W32 option included SE ground effects (minus wheel well flares), the same standard (as well as optional) "SE" drive train, 14" aluminum wheels, a larger front larger sway bar and a rear swaybar that were only otherwise available on the SE model.
For the most part, the final year of this body style was essentially a carry over year. The only changes were the addition of an Anti-lock Brakes System (ABS) as standard equipment for all Grand Am SE's (not available to LE's), and all 1991 model year cars received a redesigned "short throw" shifter (if opted with a five-speed transmission).
The Grand Am was redesigned for 1992.
1985–1991: 2.5 L Tech IV TBI I4 engine: 90 hp 1985-86, 98 hp (73 kW) MPG EPA City/Hwy/Overall 21/29/23(w/3-speed auto) 1987–88, 110 hp (82 kW) MPG EPA City/Hwy/Overall 21/28/23 1989–91.
1985–mid-1987: 3.0 L Buick LN7 V6 engine with MPFI: 125 hp (93 kW), 150 lb⋅ft (200 N⋅m) of torque
mid-1987-1989: 2.0 L MPFI turbocharged I4 engine: 165 hp (123 kW), 175 lb⋅ft (237 N⋅m) of torque, Maximum Boost 10 PSI,MPG: EPA City/Hwy 18/27
1988–1991: 2.3 L LD2 Quad 4 MPFI I4 engine: 160 hp (120 kW), 155 lb⋅ft (210 N⋅m) of torque
1989–1991: 2.3 L LG0 Quad 4 HO MPFI I4 engine: 180 hp (130 kW), 160 lb⋅ft (220 N⋅m) of torque
1985–1991: Isuzu sourced 5-speed manual with overdrive (2.5L only)
1988–1991: Muncie sourced, Getrag designed 5-speed manual with overdrive (2.3L only)
1985–1991: 3T40 3-speed automatic (not available on 2.3L HO Quad 4)
Coupe: 2,881 lb (1,307 kg) Sedan: 2,954 lb (1,340 kg)
For 1992 the Grand Am's chassis was widened to match the Corsica's; the suspension and braking systems are about eighty percent in common. On the SE, an anti-lock braking system (ABS VI) was available. It also received new body work and a revised interior. A V6 option returned in the form of the 160 hp (120 kW) 3.3 L 3300 V6, mated to a three-speed transmission. The 2.3 inline four came as either a SOHC or DOHC. A high output version of the DOHC was offered as well. A new GT trim was offered that featured sportier wheels, smoother, yet larger cladding, and more standard equipment.
1993 brought further refinement to the Quad 4. This resulted in a loss of 5 horsepower (3.7 kW) to all engines. In 1994, the V6 and standard 3-speed powertrain were effectively replaced by GM's new 3.1 L 3100 series V6 engine and new 4-speed automatic transmission. A driver's side airbag also became standard for '94, but the door-mounted automatic seatbelts remained. In 1995, the Quad 4 engines received balance shafts, and a direct driven power steering off the intake camshaft. The four-speed automatic that was mated to the 3.1 in '94 became optional as a step-up from the three-speed for '95 on the new Quad 4 engine.
For 1996, the Grand Am received a mid-generation facelift. Outside, an updated front fascia, rear fascia,and side skirts gave the Grand Am a smoother, more rounded look. The interior was redesigned and featured dual airbags, easier to use audio system and HVAC controls, and softer plastics. The Quad 4 was replaced by a new 'Twin Cam' 2.4 L DOHC (Dual Over Head Cam) four-cylinder engine. Still based on the Quad 4, this was a re-engineered version of the previous year's 2.3 L with SFI fuel injection. The new engine made 155 lb⋅ft (210 N⋅m) of torque at lower rpm than the older 2.3 L. The 3.1 L V6 remained optional. The 3-speed automatic was dropped for 1996, and the 4-speed automatic featured standard traction control. Daytime running lamps with automatic lighting control were newly standard on all Grand Ams. 1997 models featured standard air conditioning. The Grand Am was redesigned for 1999.
1992–1994: 2.3L SOHC L40 L4. 120 hp (115 in 1993 and 1994), 140 lb⋅ft (190 N⋅m) of torque.
1992–1994: 2.3L DOHC Quad 4 L4 engine: 160 hp (155 in 1993 and 1994), 155 lb⋅ft (210 N⋅m) of torque
1992–1994: 2.3L DOHC Quad 4 HO L4 engine: 180 hp (175 in 1993 and 1994), 160 lb⋅ft (220 N⋅m) of torque
1992–1993: 3.3L 3300 MPFI V6: 150 hp (110 kW), 185 lb⋅ft (251 N⋅m) of torque
1994–1998: 3.1L 3100 SFI V6: 155 hp (116 kW), 185 lb⋅ft (251 N⋅m) of torque
1995: 2.3L DOHC Quad 4 L4 engine: 150 hp (110 kW), 155 lb⋅ft (210 N⋅m) of torque
1996–1998: 2.4L DOHC Twin Cam L4 engine: 150 hp (110 kW), 155 lb⋅ft (210 N⋅m) of torque
1992–1994: Muncie sourced Getrag designed 5-speed manual with overdrive ('Quad 4 HO' only)
Coupe: 3,066 lb (1,391 kg) Sedan: 3,116 lb (1,413 kg)
2003-2005 Pontiac Grand Am GT
Available in late spring 1998, the basic design of the fifth-generation Grand Am was shared with the Oldsmobile Alero (also new for 1999) and Chevrolet Malibu (introduced in 1996). The length was shortened slightly, but the wheelbase grew by more than three inches (76 mm). The suspension was now fully independent, with a revised MacPherson-Strut design up front. The rear suspension is a more refined Multi-link design. The new Grand Am was offered in five trim levels: SE, SE1, SE2, GT, and GT1. The 2.4 L Twin Cam engine was carried over, with 150 hp (112 kW; 152 PS) and 155 lb⋅ft (210 N⋅m) of torque. GM's 3400 V6, previously exclusive to their minivans, became available as an option on the SE and SE1, and was standard on all other trim levels. For 1999, all the Grand Ams featured a four-speed automatic transmission. The GT and GT1 also included 4-wheel disc brakes, and all Grand Ams until 2003 included standard ABS and Traction Control (made optional on SE from 2003). The GTs also had a Ram Air induction system, providing an extra five horsepower and 5 lb/ft of torque over the 3.4 L V6 when installed in any of the SE-level trims. The 2000 models added a Getrag five-speed manual transmission as standard equipment with the four-cylinder. On GT models, the badge on the front fenders now read "RamAir V6", instead of "V6H.O." on 1999 GT's. ASC Creative Services designed the Grand Am SC/T for the SEMA show circuit, which was the concept design for the Ram Air hood and body package. The SC/T later became an appearance package, beginning in 2003. A road test by Car and Driver showed a 0-60 mph time of 7.7 seconds in a GT sedan with an automatic.
For 2001, the SE2 trim level was dropped, a new family of Delco stereos and new wheel designs was introduced. The radio size in 2001 also changed from a 1.5 DIN size to a full 2 DIN size. Half way through 2002, the Twin Cam 2.4 L engine was replaced by a new 2.2 L Ecotec four-cylinder, which had improvements over the engine it replaced, but produced less output; 140 hp (104 kW; 142 PS) and 150 lb⋅ft (203 N⋅m) of torque. Changes for 2002 also included a stationary cup holder in the center console as opposed to a removable one.
The body cladding on SE models was removed in 2003, a change which affected other models throughout Pontiac. Anti-Lock Brakes and Traction Control were made optional on the SE in 2003 as well. An MP3 player was added to the uplevel CD player in 2004. In 2005, Pontiac began phasing out the Grand Am lineup for the new G6 replacement. SE sedans were retained for fleet sale and GT coupes were the last Grand Am model available for public sale.
The final Grand Am rolled off the line at Lansing Michigan's, Lansing Car Assembly plant on May 10, 2005, shortly before the Lake Orion, Michigan plant began assembling G6 coupes. This was also the last car to be made at Lansing's old Fisher Body plant.
1999–2002: 2.4L DOHC Twin Cam L4 (LD9 model) engine: 150 hp (110 kW), 155 lb⋅ft (210 N⋅m) of torque
2002–2005: 2.2L DOHC Ecotec L4 engine: 140 hp (100 kW), 150 lb⋅ft (200 N⋅m) of torque
1999–2005: 3.4L 3400 OHV V6: 170 hp,(175 for GT) 200 lb⋅ft (270 N⋅m) of torque (205 for GT)
1999–2005: 4-speed automatic with overdrive (4T40-E for four cylinder engines, 4T45-E for V6 engines)
2000–2005: Getrag 5-speed manual with overdrive (four cylinder engines only)
2005 Pontiac Grand Am sedan
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) gives the 1999-2005 Grand Am a "Poor" rating in its frontal crash test for marginal structural integrity, a possible head injury, a potential right leg injury, and poor dummy control.