Disappointing sales figures plagued the 1965-1968 Pontiac Grand Prix. Despite Motor Trend "Car of the Year" honors to Pontiac -- and record division sales -- the '65 Grand Prix garnered some 6,000 fewer orders than the '64.
The '66 generated less than 60 percent of '64 volume -- and the aforementioned 4.4 percent of total Pontiac sales. The main change that year was an attractive, muted facelift of the somewhat exaggerated '65 look.
Sales improved to nearly 43,000 for 1967, when a full lower-body re-skin conferred a hulkier look again, dominated by a massive bumper/grille with Grand Prix's first hidden headlamps. Wipers were also hidden, and there was heavy sculpturing around the rear wheels.
Federal smog standards were looming, so engine selections were reduced to four: a pair of 400 V-8s and two stroked 428s, all sharing new block and head designs conceived with lower emissions in mind. Power was still plentiful, though, ranging from a 265-bhp "economy" 400 to a 376-bhp 428. But the big '67 news was the first-and last-Grand Prix convertible. Though attractive and eminently desirable, it cost $264 more than the mainstay hardtop coupe, which was not chicken feed then, and fewer than 6,000 were called for, only 13.7 percent of GP sales. To no one's surprise, it did not return for '68.
The hardtop did, of course, but yet another lower-body restyle rendered looks debatable. The big bumper/grille was even bigger, side sculpturing more radical, and the rear end became massive and Buick-like. Even Pontiac engineer Bill Collins later called the '68 GP "a disaster, Nobody bought it. It looked like a big fat turkey." Maybe so, but it was not unpalatable to Car and Driver: "The performance and roadability . . . are excellent. Only its size and weight keep the Grand Prix from being a Super Car."
But sales were again anything but super -- the lowest since debut '62, in fact. A new Grand Prix with more of the original spirit was clearly needed. And that's precisely what Collins and company delivered for 1969.
Read about the engine and mechanics of the 1965-1968 Pontiac Grand Prix on the next page.