1973 - 75 GM A-Body 3rd Generation: The Grand Am Colonnade Coupe
The 1973 Pontiac Grand Am started out in the development
stages as a GTO.
But the muscle era was drawing to a close and, very much aware
of that, Pontiac decided to change the car's character. Instead
of continuing to make the GTO a stoplight drag star, the next
iteration was to be more European -- more along the lines of
a luxury sport sedan. With that in mind, Pontiac designers and
engineers examined Mercedes, BMW, Audi, and Volvo as likely
To backtrack a little, the Grand Am concept originated in the
Pontiac styling studio. At that time, all Pontiacs were designed
in one studio under the direction of William L. (Bill) Porter.
Working with him were his assistant, Wayne Vieira, plus senior
designers Ted Schroeder, Charley Gatewood, and Geza Loczi. Dennis
Barnes was a young modeler in the studio.
Last True GTO?
Many enthusiasts feel that 1972 was the last of the true GTO's.
It came back in 1973 as a Le Mans option. The Le Mans received
a new body for 1973. The styling, especially the rear quarter
panels and rear quarter windows, was noticeably different from
the direction of previous Pontiac A-bodies. The GTO option was
offered on the Le Mans coupe and sport coupe. The sport coupe
had louvers instead of rear quarter windows.
Big Engines Remain
The two GTO engines remained the 400 and 455 V8s, but horsepower
was down to 230 and 250, respectively. Compression had been
dropped again to 8.1:1. The automatic transmission was the only
one allowed with the 455, but the 400 could be ordered with
a three- or four-speed manual transmission plus the automatic.
All Le Mans options were available on the GTO. The two-door
coupe accounted for 494 sales and the sport coupe attracted
4,312 customers for a total of 4,806 1973 GTO's.
The original Grand Am was introduced in the fall of
1972 as a 1973 model. It was based on the GM A-body
platform along with other cars such as the Pontiac Le Mans,
Pontiac GTO, Chevrolet Chevelle, Buick Century, and the Oldsmobile
Cutlass Supreme. 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 frame less windows similar to that of a hardtop. No
convertibles were produced due to those same federal rollover
standards (that never were enacted). In addition to federal
emissions regulations that reduced performance, new federal
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.
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 American's answer to European luxury/sport sedans
and available as a 4-door Colonnade sedan or a 2 door Colonnade
coupe. 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 400/2bbl engine, an optional 400/4bbl
engine, or an optional 455/4bbl engine. The 400/2bbl, 400/4bbl,
and 455/4bbl engines were available with a Turbo-hydramatic
400 automatic. A 4-speed manual transmission was available with
the 400/4bbl engine in 1973 and 1974. It is unknown how many
of the 1973 model year Grand Ams had the four-speed manual transmission,
but it is estimated to be in the 600-900 range for 1973 and
perhaps half that in 1974. The four speed manual transmission
was available only with the 400/4bbl engine. All 400/2bbl and
455/4bbl equipped cars were automatics.
Inside, the Grand Am came standard with Strato bucket seats
upholstered in [Naugahyde] vinyl or corduroy cloth featuring
recliners and adjustable lumbar support - 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
full instrumentation (tachometer optional), three-spoke steering
wheel with large hub and Genuine Crossfire Mahogany trim on
the dash facing, radio and clock surrounds, as well as the center
console between the front seats (only 1973 models featured the
"real" wood trim on the dash as it was replaced by
simulated trim for 1974-75 due to reports of splintering, though
the console retained the real wood for all three years). Grand
Ams also were among the first U.S.-built cars to come with a
turn-signal mounted headlight dimmer switch that had been common
on imported cars for decades.
Additionally, Grand Ams featured a Radial Tuned Suspension (RTS)
as standard equipment which included the radial-ply tires, Pliacell
shock absorbers and front and rear sway bars for improved ride
and handling. This basic suspension tuning also came standard
with the Grand Prix SJ option in 1973 and optional on two other
Pontiac models that year including the full-sized Bonneville
and the sporty Firebird. The Grand Am was one of only three
GM cars to come standard with radial tires and appropriate suspension
tuning in 1973 with the others being the Oldsmobile Cutlass
Salon and Chevrolet Monte Carlo S.
Pontiac also produced a single 1973 Grand Am station wagon as
a feasibility study. This was a Le Mans wagon converted to a
The 1973 Pontiac Grand Am style had a unique flexible
urethane front fascia, a total of 6 grille openings
with vertical bars, round front turn signals, horizontal rear
tail lights, and chrome rear bumper. All 1973-1975 Grand Ams
were built at the Pontiac, MI assembly plant, which was the
home plant of the Pontiac Motor Division. This basic GM A-body
design remained until 1977.
Functional Grand Am Ram-Air Induction System
A functional Grand Am Ram-Air Induction
System was developed for the Pontiac A-bodies utilizing
twin NASA 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, but are extremely rare.
The twin-scoop NASA hood was an option for any Pontiac
A-body for all three years, but was non-functional.
1973 Pontiac Grand Am Power Sun Roof Option (left)
1973-1975- 3rd Generation: The Last Pontiac Standard
• 1973-1975 400 in³ (6.5 L) V8 with 2-barrel carburetor
(standard engine, others were optional)
• 1973-1975 400 in³ (6.5 L) V8 with 4-barrel carburetor
• 1973-1974 400 in³ (6.5 L) V8 with 4-barrel carburetor,
4-speed (not available in California)
• 1973-1975 455 in³ (7.4 L) V8 with 4-barrel carburetor
• 1973 engines may have point or unitized ignition.
• A SD-455 equipped engineering prototype Grand Am was built,
but was dismantled and destroyed.
• 1974 engines may have point or unitized ignition or starting
around May 1, 1974, HEI.
• 1975 engines have HEI.
• 1975 was the first year for the catalytic converter.
All 1973-1975 Grand Ams were built at the Pontiac, MI assembly
plant, which was the home plant of the Pontiac Motor Division.
This basic GM A-body design remained until 1977.
Grand Am Number One
1973 Grand Am's Pontiac's great American/European nose job
was exclusive to the Grand Am. This pliable rubber-like material
was painted body color and was designed to rebound after minor
bumps. Endura it was called in 1973 but it was not nearly as
hard the Endura noses of the GTOs and Firebirds that came before
it. All 1973-1975 Grand Ams were built at the Pontiac, MI assembly
plant, which was the home plant of the Pontiac Motor Division.
This basic GM A-body design remained until 1977.
1973 Grand Am Prototype Wagon Creation: The One
and Only Existing
Pontiac Engineering originally ordered a Lemans wagon and had
it rebuilt to Grand Am specifications. The front fascia, suspension,
full interior, custom rear seats, and other details reflected
the tenor of Grand Am coupes and sedans. Link: 1973
1973 Pontiac Grand Am 4 Door Sedan (left & below)
Grand Am Number Two
1974 Grand Am's:The 17,083 1974 Grand Ams had a refined front
urethane fascia with a redesigned nose and grille with 12 openings
with horizontal bars. The rear end styling was redesigned for
the new 1974 5mph crash standards and had vertical rear taillights.
Grand Am All American Collectible Auto Magazine
wrote: "Pontiac hit the auto show circuit in '74 with a
special Grand Am dubbed the All American. The high-profile flag-waver
was painted white and featured red and blue striping not only
along the hood, but also in a continuous line that ran over
the rocker panels, and specially flared wheel openings. A steel
sunroof and white honeycomb style wheels also were part of the
car's top-to-bottom reworking. The red, white, and blue theme
was continued inside where the white upholstery bore bold stripes
both front and back. Big decals on the rear quarter panels identified
the All American to passersby, and the deck sported a a bold
wedge-shaped spoiler. Some of the showmobile's
(Grand Am All American)
distinctive parts were reprised on a limited-run Can
Am version of the Le Mans Sport coupe in 1977."
Grand Am Number Three
1975 Grand Am's. While the vertical taillight treatment was
introduced in '74, the body-colored rear bumper was new for
'75. Louvered rear quarter windows were standard on Grand Am
coupes, while a formal rear window (AB8) was a no-cost option.
The CB1 Landau top added $99 to the price tag. By the time the
first-generation Grand Am was discontinued in 1975, rising fuel
prices had made the public more aware of the importance of fuel
economy. The combination of numerically lower rear axle ratios
(to improve fuel economy) and 1975 federal emissions standards
all but killed performance, which was the final nail in the
coffin for the muscle car era. Although designed to compete
with European sport/luxury sedans, the Grand Am was considerably
larger and heavier than its intended imported competition which
was more in the size and weight class of U.S. built compacts
- and much bigger than the largest cars built in most nations
outside of North America. Detroit also began to offer upgraded
luxury compacts such as the Ford Granada, Mercury Monarch and
even Pontiac's own Ventura SJ, along with the similar-bodied
Chevrolet Nova LN, Buick Skylark S/R and Oldsmobile Omega Salon.
They offered similarly luxurious interior appointments and improved
suspension, but in smaller packages better designed to challenge
the imported sedans. Furthermore, the Grand Am's Radial Tuned
Suspension (RTS) package that was unique when the Grand Am was
introduced in 1973 would become optional equipment on all other
Pontiac and GM models in 1974 and made standard equipment throughout
most car lines by 1975, (around this time the automotive industry
was switching to radial-ply tires) so the Grand Am's lost yet
another bit of uniqueness. The 1975 model looked the same as
the 1974 model, but had vertical front grille bars, a body-colored
rear bumper, and a single-exhaust catalytic converter. 10,679
were built in 1975 and was the last year for the first generation
Grand Am due to declining sales and rising gas prices as a result
of the 1973 OPEC oil embargo. All 1973-1975 Grand Ams were built
at the Pontiac, MI assembly plant, which was the home plant
of the Pontiac Motor Division. This basic GM A-body design remained
1973-1977- 3rd Generation: The Last Pontiac Standard
The 1977 Pontiac Can Am
started out in the development stages as a Grand Am.
to early 1970"s Pontiac Design: Jack Humbert Design
From the November 2009 High Performance Pontiac
Magazine article: Jack Humbert - The Unsung Hero of Pontiac Design
This illustration of the "taillights under bumper design"
provide a possible 1973-1977 factory rear bumper to a custom conversion
idea. Many thanks to High Performance Pontiac and Jeff Denison,
Lead Digital Designer, GM Division. Images Courtesy of GM and
Renderings Courtesy of John Perkins. (Click
on image below for Larger image)
John Perkins: 1970 GTO proposal precursor of
production 1973 Grand Am design?
In the November 2009 High Performance Pontiac
Magazine article: Jack Humbert - The Unsung Hero of Pontiac
Design, for me, this rendering illustrates the
design eventually used for the production 1973 Grand Am taillight
assemblies. Obviously, this was prior to the 1973 Bumper Crash
standards, necessitating the addition of those large rear bumpers
used on the production LeMans, GTO's and Grand Am's. Many thanks
to High Performance Pontiac and Jeff Denison, Lead Digital Designer,
GM Division. Images Courtesy of GM and Renderings Courtesy of
John Perkins. (Click
on image below for Larger image)
Grand Am Convertible: A One-of-None Murray Simon Creation
The longtime 1973 - 1975 Pontiac Grand Am Enthusiast and Collector,
Murray Simon, has created a "One-of-None" 1973 Grand
Am Convertible using photo editing software. This creation evokes
"what if?" conversations as to what could have been.
Interestingly, as mentioned previously here, the GM A-body platform
had major design revisions in 1973that included
the elimination of pillarless hardtops due to proposed federal
rollover standards, but with frame less windows similar to that
of a hardtop. (No convertibles were produced due to
those same federal rollover standards - that never were enacted).
Many thanks to Murray Simon for sharing his creation
using our 1973 Pontiac Grand Am as his model.
1973 Grand Am Convertible: A One-of-None TachRev.com
Continuation of the "What if?" the 1973 - 1975 Pontiac
Grand Am Convertilbe was created and available as a option model
by General Motors. The two additional images were created by
TachRev.com using photo editing software. Again,
these creations evoke "what if?" conversations as
to what could have been. Interestingly, as mentioned previously
here, the GM A-body platform had major design revisions in 1973that included the elimination of pillarless hardtops
due to proposed federal rollover standards, but with frame less
windows similar to that of a hardtop.(No convertibles
were produced due to those same federal rollover standards -
that never were enacted). Perhaps an enthusiast will
take this design idea and create another enthusiast One-of-None
creation such as the convertible 1970's Grand Prix, 4-speed
1970's Grand Prix and 4-speed 1977 Can Am all created by individual
Pontiac enthusiasts. All utilizing available factory mechanisms
and parts, making their creations seemingly appear as factory
Grand Am NASCAR: Team Associates Nascar Grand Am racer
Herb Adams was known as one of the extreme engineers at Pontiac,
as an independent contractor, who successfully pursued racing
applications, performance upgrades and modifications for various
Pontiacs throughout the 1970's. Some of these engineering pursuits
became original equipment on Pontiacs, such as the original WS6
Performance Handling Package option on the 1978 and 1979 Pontiac
According to the October 1996 Collectible Automobile
article by Michael Lamm:
From the article text - "Now,
with the Grand Am, they had their sights on the big time, notably
NASCAR. They qualified and ran at Riverside in January 1973,
starting and finishing 14th with no brakes at the end of that
race. They then tried Daytona after jumping through a an inordinate
number of NASCAR inspection and qualification hoops, only to
have their car blow a head gasket after qualifying at 169 mph;
its 366-cid V-8 had too much compression. With that, and no
major sponsors in sight, the team retired its gloss black Grand
From the image text - "A group
of competition-oriented Pontiac engineers known as
Team Associates wanted to turn the new Grand Am
into a NASCAR racer. They nearly made it too; qualifying the car
for Daytona at 169 mph before the special 366-cid engine blew
a cylinder head gasket. This phantom drawing shows the Grand Am
was outfitted for stock car racing."
The 1973 Pontiac Grand Am
Pontiac Grand National sedan racer main pages
A very rare 1973 Grand Am stock car owned and operated by Houston
Texan H.B. Bailey.
Grand National / Winston Cup 1973 Grand Am owner & driver
Herring Burl 'H. B.' Bailey
NEW 1973 Pontiac Grand Ams on RailCar in the Movie: "The
Last American Hero"
Image captures from background scene from the 1973 Fox
Movie Classic "The Last American
Rail cars pass in the background loaded first with - then new
- 1973 Mopars then followed by cars loaded with Cadillacs and
Pontiac Grand Am's on the way to delivery.
The movie was written about Junior Johnson's life before and
up to his 1st days of racing in the early junior league and
NASCAR circuits. The credits of the movie show that Junior was
involved in the production and technical content editing consulting
for this movie about his life.
The movie description on FOX - ' "The Last American
Hero": Jeff Bridges, Valerie Perrine (1973) A North Carolina
moonshiner becomes a professional stock-car racer to raise money
to free his jailed father. Based on Tom Wolfe's profile...' Image(s)
Courtesy Fox Movie Classics.
Near the end of the movie "Junior" finally makes
the big time and win's "The Big Race". It is in the
background of that race where there is a railline which passes
by the back straight grandstands. A racing scene develops with
an un-noticed freight train passing. The
train passes loaded with cars including two 1973
Pontiac Grand Am's:
(1) White and followed by (1)
Silver with Burgundy Vinyl Roof. These cars
were new at the time of the movies' production in early 1973.
It is estimated that the train was moving about
45mph in the background of this original analog version of the
1973 movie, hence the poor quality of the car image(s).
Image(s) Courtesy Fox Movie Classics.
1974 Daytona 500 Pace Car: 1974 Pontiac LeMans
1974's Daytona 500 Pace Car was a Pontiac LeMans
(Image below). The lightbar is a Federal
Signal Twin Beacon Ray, also known as a Visibar.
The Pontiac Grand Am Mystique continues thanks to these "Plastic
Fantastic" Grand Am "Floppers"
Original Plans: The M/T Revelleader by Ron Pellegrini Drag Racing
Picture of the Day!
"The original Revelleader
drawing submitted to Mickey Thompson, returned with his
Click image to see the full size drawing.
Drawing by Ron Pellegrini
Check THIS out, folks. This is possibly the rarest
thing we've ever shown at The Drag Racing List -- Ron Pellegrini's
original drawing for Mickey Thompson's revolutionary Revelleader
Pontiac Grand Am funny car. In this version, Ron has submitted
the drawing to M/T, who has returned it with comments. Thanks
to Ron Pellegrini for honoring us with this rare find. For
this special drawing, we have posted it both in our standard
468 pixel format and FULL SIZE.Click
on the photo to see Ron's full size drawing.bp"
"Here's Ron: I thought that you might enjoy
seeing this old drawing of the Pontiac funny car body that
I built for Mickey Thompson with some of Mickey's comments
on it. Ron Pellegrini"
Image and text courtesy DragList.com
Mickey Thompson's Grand Am Funny Car
The last 1970's Mickey Thompson Funny Car Body was a Pontiac
Grand Am (Images below).
Currently located in Oregon is an interesting compilation of 70s
Mickey Thompson funny cars rolled into one. According to Pat Blair
at Thompson's Motorsports Inc in Eugene, "The reason the
car is here is because Lyndy Thompson owns the
shop. She has no plans to do anything with the car, it was her
dads and so she plans on keeping it (Don't ask... it's not for
sale). She also has four other cars of her dads; the Revelleader
is the only drag race car. The cost is too much to try and restore
any of them. Pictured is what the car looks like now which is
what it looked like when she picked it up in LA from her dad's
estate in 1990. One thing to note on the Revelleader is the chassis
it is sitting on is from Mickey Thompson's 1970 Maverick
funny car which had been wrecked. When we got the chassis it was
twisted so bad I had to cut it apart to straighten it out."(REVELLEADER
Photo above and info courtesy of Pat Blair) More
M/T Link herefor NHRA
Drag Race Museum display of M/T Race Creations
Super Stock & Drag Illustrated March 1973
Super Stock & Drag Illustrated March 1973.
The cover reads "Mickey Thompson and Butch
Maas debut their radical Pontiac Grand-Am funny car, powered
by a 540 cubic inch blown hemi and destined to make big waves
in the '73 racing season." This Issue Includes:
Lions Last Drag Race Coverage; Plymouth 'Cuda 340 Test and
Feature; Pinto 289 V-8 Swap; Don Carlton's Mopar Missile Pro
Stock Feature; Mickey
Thompson's Revelleader Grand -Am Funny Car Feature;
Stone Woods & Cooke Swindler IV Mustang Funny Car Feature;
Dave Bowman's California Stud Rear-Engined Vega Funny Car
Color Photo and Feature; Dennis Fowler's Rat Trap Plymouth
Satellite Funny Car Feature and Center Spread Photo; Kelly
Brown and Glenn Way's Wonder Wagon Funny Car Feature; Fenton
Charger Funny Car Feature; plus more useful technical articles,
witty editorial and gorgeous car features. This is a jammed-packed
issue full of 70's Funny Cars.
Thompson 1973 Grand Am Revelleader Nose
Revell Grand Am Funny Car Model Kit (Below)
Dave Sano's "Screamin' Insanity" 1974 Grand Am Nostalgia
"PY Pontiacs in the Park 2008"
Thanks to the January 2009 High Performance Pontiac
article RACING and PLACING
"PY Pontiacs in the Park 2008" written & photographed
by Christopher R. Phillip:
From the image text - "Dave
Sano's '74 Grand Am NHRA nostalgia Funny Car has gone over 200
mph and earned many timeslips in the mid-6s. A limited amount
of these Funny Cars were produced in 1973, and one was campaigned
by Mickey Thompson. For the VMP event, Dave performed exhibition
racing running in the 7s and wowed the crowd with his smoky
Dave Sano's '73 Grand Am Funny Car.
March 2009 Drag Racer Mag.com here
Randy Fish starts his
article text with:
"Back in the '60s, all the custom and rod
magazines used the word "sano" to describe sanitary
workmanship. It was just one of those special slang terms
created and embraced by the gearhead culture. Here, it
happens to be the last name of a diehard body and paint
professional from New Jersey, whose passion for drag racing
(and Funny Cars in particular) has made this story possible.
Dave Sano's sanitary '73 Pontiac Grand Am Funny Car is
spectacular in its own right with its stunning paint and
graphics, but we also have to give credit to the creative
photography supplied by our good friend, Dave Milcarek.
Throughout his career, Milcarek has continued to push
the envelope and his efforts have resulted in countless
images that are unforgettable."
Dave Sano throws the victory signs from the escape
hatch of his 1973 Pontiac Grand Am Bodied Funny Car on
the cover of the March 2009 Drag Racer Magazine. Read
more about Dave's Funny Car in the March 2009 Drag Racer