The Pontiac Grand Prix has a long and storied history. Not just its appearance or motor, but even its very purpose has changed several times over the years.
The first generation appeared in 1962. It started life as a full-sized sedan offering only V8 engines, ranging over the years from the sedate 389 cubic inch to the powerful 428. There was a three speed automatic transmission, along with both three and four speed manuals. The body style was the same as Pontiac's top of the line Catalina, but with less chrome and a sportier interior. Except for 1967, the only model was a two-door hardtop.
The second generation, beginning in 1969, dropped the Grand Prix to mid-size. The new Grand Prix got its own body style for the first time. It sported a 400 or 428 cubic inch engine, the latter replaced by the 455 in 1970. Transmission offerings remained essentially the same. In 1972 it carried Pontiac's first radial tire offering.
Beginning with the third generation in 1972, the Grand Prix grew again, though marginally. During this time Pontiac offered four engines, including their first V6, but overall engine performance declined due to new federal emission guidelines. The manual transmission was dropped in favor of the three-speed automatic. Sales hit record levels in 1976 and 1977.
The fourth generation faced new realities of driving - environmental concerns and the rising price of gasoline. Beginning in 1978 the Grand Prix was a foot shorter and six hundred pounds lighter. For the first time, the standard engine was neither V8 nor Pontiac. It was a Buick V6.
The new engine was matched with a standard three speed manual transmission, though the old three speed automatic was optional. The sporty appearance was toned down and a more sedate, family looking vehicle took its place. By 1982, Pontiac engines were phased out entirely. During this period the Grand Prix got its only diesel engine.
The fifth generation Grand Prix was scaled down to a more "personal" size. It was still available in two or four doors, but even the V6 was beginning to seem upscale as the first four-cylinder engine became standard on the low-end model in 1990. A four speed automatic and a five speed manual transmission were offered during this time.
The sixth (1997) and seventh (2004) generation Grand Prix kept, but modernized, the basic look of the fifth generation. It moved back to a V6 standard for all models and the seventh generation even offered a new V8. But major changes lay underneath the skin as the Grand Prix kept up with the safety and efficiency standards of the industry. 2008 was its last model year. Without doubt, the Pontiac Grand Prix was one of America's most innovative vehicles ever.