Automobile

Junkyard Gem: 2001 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP

John DeLorean began his career working on Packard’s Ultramatic Twin transmission, but he made his greatest mark on the automotive industry during his 1956-1969 tenure at GM’s Pontiac Division. There, he helped develop the first production car engine with a quiet timing belt instead of a noisy chain, among other engineering feats, but his real fame came from the development of two money-printing models based more on marketing than machinery: the GTO and the Grand Prix. While the GTO gets all the attention now, the Grand Prix set the standard for the big-selling personal luxury coupes that sold like mad for decades to come. Today’s Junkyard Gem is an example of the most powerful Grand Prix available at the turn of the century, found in a Denver-area self-service yard during the summer.

The Grand Prix got front-wheel-drive for 1988 and a sedan version for 1990, but then something very beneficial happened in the 1997 model year: supercharging!

Various flavors of the venerable 3.8-liter Buick V6 engine (itself based on the early-1960s Buick 215 V8 and thus cousin to the Rover V8) received Eaton blowers, starting in the 1992 model year. The Grand Prix didn’t get its introduction to forced induction until the 1997 model year, but it kept the boosted option until the final Grand Prix rolled off the line in 2008 (the final Pontiac followed within a couple of years).

This one made 240 horsepower, making it King of Grand Prix engines until the 2005 model year (when the GXP and its 303-horse V8 engine showed up).

The very last year for a Grand Prix with a manual transmission was 1993 (there had been a three-pedal Grand Prix drought from 1973 through 1988, just to put things in perspective), so this car has the mandatory four-speed automatic.

The Grand Prix lived on GM’s W platform for its last two decades, making it sibling to the Impala, Regal, and Intrigue in 2001.

Until the 2004 model year, every W-Body Grand Prix was built at Fairfax Assembly in Kansas City (no, the other Kansas City). Production of the final generation of Grand Prix took place in Ontario.

It seems fitting that this car’s final pre-crusher parking spot would be between two other GM products of the same era: a Monte Carlo and a Vibe.

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