1965 Pontiac Grand Prix

Major changes came along for the 1965 Pontiac Grand Prix. The new B-body Grand Prix boasted a swept-hip perimeter frame and a one-inch-longer wheelbase, now 121 inches. Overall length went up 1.6 inches, width one inch.

Not only was the 1965 Grand Prix actually a bit bigger, but the new styling deliberately gave an illusion of even greater size, this at least in part because of the additional emphasis given to the "coke bottle" theme.

Or as Pontiac put it: "And we don't have to tell you that the unique venturi shape that travels the full length of the car is going to be the most noticed shape of the year." If the car wasn't quite as sleek as its predecessor, it was unquestionably sexier.

1965 grand prix, black
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Though the 1965 Grand Prix continued with the basic styling theme set down earlier, new were vertical bars in the grille.

More important for 1965 were the mechanical differences. The base engine for cars with Hydra-Matic saw a horsepower increase from 303 to 325, apparently the result of improved breathing. Other engine variations ranged from 256 to 376 horsepower.

The Roto Hydra-Matic transmission (as well as the four-speed automatic used in the larger Pontiacs) was replaced by the new -- and vastly better -- Turbo Hydra-Matic. Pontiac claimed that it "whooshes you forward so quickly and so positively you think a new form of transportation has just been invented."

Like the short-lived "Roto," the "Turbo" was a three-speed unit, but with a much larger torque converter. As applied to the Grand Prix, this transmission could be shifted manually at the driver's option.

This was a real advantage according to Motor Trend's John Ethridge, who noted a definite improvement when the driver shifted for himself.

Compared to the base 1963 model, MT found the 1965 car to be 1.5 seconds faster in the standing quartermile, 2.7 seconds (27 percent) quicker from 0-60, and seven miles per hour faster at the top end.

The 1965 test vehicle was not fitted with the aluminum hub and brake drum option, however, and the stopping distance from 60 miles an hour was somewhat excessive at 202 feet -- 44 feet greater than MT's 1963 test car.

There were certain detail changes. The vacuum gauge was dropped from 1965's list of standard equipment, for example, and for the first time the Grand Prix could be ordered with cloth upholstery and even a bench seat.

Other standard interior features included nylon-blend carpeting, glovebox light, courtesy light, padded dash, padded assist bar, wood-grained dash, tachometer, and console.

Perhaps the most salient characteristic of the 1965 Grand Prix was its quiet operation. As John Ethridge noted, "It's so smooth and quiet that, without test instrumentation, we weren't aware that performance was nearly this good."

Very good, apparently, for Motor Trend gave Pontiac Division its coveted "Car of the Year" award, citing "styling and engineering leadership in the development of personalized passenger cars."

And yet, the Grand Prix continued to fade in popularity. For the 1965 model year, 57,881 were built, just 7.2 percent of Pontiac's total sales. That figure sank to a low of 4.4 percent for the nearly identical 1966 series, while output skidded to 36,757 units. Fewer than 1,000 had either the three-or four-speed manual gearbox.

Learn about the 1966-1968 Pontiac Grand Prix on the next page.

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