1976 was the year Pontiac turned 50 — and it was also the year the third generation Grand Prix, the brands personal luxury coupé, was given a serious facelift in a bid to keep it ahead of rivals such as the Mercury Cougar and Chrysler Cordoba — and it did just that.
The updated styling broke with tradition and went down extremely well with buyers in the segment. Out went the familiar dual round headlights, replaced with four rectangular units, in came an all-new grille which featured a “waterfall” design that extended to the top of the header panel and the taillights were revised. It sure didn’t look like a Stutz Blackhawk rip-off anymore.
Three trims were offered — the base J, mid spec SJ and full fat LJ — and power came from a choice of several V8s which were all mated to a three-speed auto from a 160 horse 5.7-litre, 180 horse 6.6-litre and an optional 7.5-litre which made 200 horsepower.
To mark Pontiac’s 50th anniversary, a special edition Grand Prix was built replete with removable Hurst T-tops, colour-keyed Rally II wheels and it was painted in a special shade called “Anniversary Gold” which was nicely offset by a white opera roof. The cabin was swathed in Light Buckskin leather, had a delightful ‘wraparound’ dash, got a sports steering wheel and full instrumentation.
Sales of the Grand Prix were phenomenal that year — the best ever in the model’s history in fact — with 228,091 units finding happy homes. But there was another reason for that; the model was to be downsized for the next generation and a V8 wouldn’t be offered as standard equipment anymore which resulted in lots of last minute buying before the dreaded happened. Today, Dh70,000 gets you a nice one. Ain’t that grand...