One of the more interesting vehicles found at Barrett-Jackson this year was this Pontiac Grand Prix 2+2. Among the more high-profile G-bodies like the Monte Carlo, El Camino, Cutlass and Buick T-type, the Pontiac tends to become more of a forgotten offering. Couple that with this aerodynamic-enhancing body conversion by Auto-Fab for homologation purposes and you find yourself with one interesting piece of history.
Being one of only 1,225 Grand Prix models converted, it’s provenance is evident in it’s smooth Firebird/Camaro-esque rear windshield, revised front fascia and small fiberglass trunk lid. That’s correct: Despite it’s appearance, that window is static, not hatch.
And that lack of useful storage space is only one of the many issues that kept this production variant out of the General Motors limelight. The lackluster performance from the 150hp 5.0L carbureted v8 available only through the 2004r auto and a 3.08:1 rear end ratio didn’t help either. If you remember correctly, even the lowly Monte Carlo SS had an alternative 180hp variant during it’s run, not to mention the offerings from Buick and Oldsmobile.
Despite it’s shortcomings, aesthetically it’s a stud in the confines of it’s era. Which, along with it’s rareness, is probably why this well-kept, low-mileage example went for an impressive $11,000 at auction.
Despite my love for trucks, I’m admittedly not well versed in their history and model differences. When it comes to GMC, I know less than I do about it’s sister brand – my favorite truck brand – Chevrolet. Now when we talk about GMC trucks 1973 or newer, it’s really a moot point: Badge engineering is in full force. To that extent I can’t believe that people still buy into that “professional grade” nonsense they shill on the TV. It’s the same truck as the Chevy with some trim differences.
Despite my lack of knowledge, I do know some GMC fun facts. A 1960 model could be had with a GMC-specific 370ci Oldsmobile-derived v8. They also ran some Poncho v8s for a while in the 50’s.
Long before the Internet was a prolific source for knowledge, my dad showed me my first 60 degree, 305 cubic inch GMC v6 in a dump truck he had bought at auction.
Thanks to the Internet I found out that huge 5.0L v6 was actually the smallest one GMC made and that they even had a v12 derived from that family. And while I’m on the topic of the v6, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the plaid valve covers available on the half tons of the 60s.
What’s the point in glossing over this history? Well its not because I’m trying to show off. I’m sure I’m not long for an email or comment regarding how little I know from a truly die hard fan who is scoffing to themselves as they read this now.
The point is that I’m still learning passively with each vehicle I see at trade shows , car shows and meet ups. This is just one reason why I’m so strongly against the current homogenized restomod approach to building an older car or truck. You take a bit of what made unique, to impress the people that can only handle things that are easy, familiar and the same as everyone else.
This 1970 GMC may not be anything flashy with its “350 crate motor” which is probably a goodwrench v8 that’s surely slower than what it had stock. The mild 2 inch lift and automatic transmission with shift kit don’t really bring much excitement to the table either. To me, this truck in it’s current state of modification is a great period piece of when Bigfoot was new and this truck was only a decade and a half off the lot. It’s aspiring to be something the everyman couldn’t yet achieve.
What would it add to this truck if it were to become victim to the latest trends? Flared prerunner fenders, late model bucket seats and an LS motor? I feel like at that point you’re just taking away from what it was.
I guess what’s funny to me is that what I learned is so minor in compared to my view of the history of this truck. I just always assumed GMC used the same 10/20/30/40 etc sequence for designating the tonnage of their trucks that Chevy did. When I first read 1970 1500, I figured it must have been an error on the owner’s part. However, I was wrong.
As far as I’m concerned, the Monte Carlo has the same overall poor “curb appeal” to your average person nowadays as a third-generation Camaro, but with none of the great heritage or rewarding driving experience (in comparison). It was sold on the same platform as T-types, Grand Nationals, the Hurst/Olds Cutlass, 442’s, and the last (and arguably most cleanly styled) El Camino. In the grand scheme of things, this generation Monte Carlo SS was a NASCAR-purpose production vehicle with a fake Camaro nose and a lesser variant of the 5.0L V8 than could be had in the F-bodies.
With that said, I really do love the Monte Carlo. Much like the redesigned B-bodies of a few years prior (which ironically left the mid-size Monte a larger overall car than the full-size Impala) the new G-bodies came in lighter, more nimble and sportier than their Megalodon-sized predecessors. For this generation the bow-tied Super Sport was available with a not-so-super and not-so-sporty 165hp 5.0L V8 with the dreaded CCCQJ (Computer Command Control Quadra-Jet) fuel/ignition system. It’s design is archaic and finicky. Believe me, I have a very similar system on the 140hp 5.0L V8 in my 1984 Caprice. It’s one of the members of the Quadra-Jet family that I would suggest avoiding.
Barring it’s anemic (by modern standards) engine output, without all of the bullshit that comes with a fuel-injected, computer controlled engine management system, it can easily take any member of the first generation small block Chevrolet V8 engine family as a replacement with very little work. Let’s be honest with ourselves though. Chances are the common upgrades for the 305 are going to be on a 4.00″ bore block, with either a 3.48″ or 3.75″ stroke. Basically, your standard, run-of-mill, take-the-horse-to-the-glue-factory-already 350 or 383 cubic inch engines.
I know I’ve introduced the work I’ve done on my 1965 C-10; better known as the Futuramic Farm Truck (of which progress has been held captive searching for it’s Rocket heart). Now I’d like to introduce my daily driver*, a 1996 Chevrolet C2500. A unique vehicle, as only 5% of the C2500 trucks produced it’s year came with it’s powertrain: The underdog L30 5.0L Vortec mill. Rated at 230hp and 285ft lbs of torque, it wasn’t too far off from it’s vaunted big-brother, the L31 5.7L, rated at 250hp. Although it’s rather torque deficient compared to the 5.7L’s 330 ft lbs. Continue reading →
Let me start by saying that when I found out they made a longbed stepside for the 60-66 trucks, I wanted one. They’re super rare and reproduction parts are expensive to say the least, but I just like the way they look. They aren’t very well liked in the 60-66 community (like all long beds), but the guys that do have them, love them. I had convinced myself when I started this build that if I wanted one, I’d have to make one out of a short bed. A daunting task, but I added it to my list of things I would need to do to get the truck to where I wanted it. Thankfully, I have a craigslist addiction that knows no bounds. I found someone with a 1962 GMC long bed stepper (powered by a 305 v6 and a 3 speed manual no less) that wanted to trade for a fleetside. I emailed them immediately and we were both so excited to get what we wanted we scheduled the trade off for the next day.
What I didn’t know is that the wrap-around window 60-63’s sit on a different frame than the vent windowed 64-66’s. It took a little bit of convincing but eventually we finalized the even trade. One bed for another. Here’s the photographic tale of how it happened.