February 7, 2023
EAST AURORA, N.Y. – Ask five car people what was the first personal luxury coupe, and you might get five different answers. 1958 Ford Thunderbird? 1962 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk? 1963 Buick Riviera? They all fit the oft-accepted description, which is vaguely a “high volume coupe which emphasizes a level of luxury somewhat below the typical Cadillac/Lincoln level, along with an added dose of sportiness.” That’s my take on it anyway, but I don’t imagine it’s too far off from any official definition (if there is one). This 1971 Pontiac Grand Prix is a member of the genre — some might say a founding member via either the original 1962 edition, or the ground-breaking third-generation 1969 model, of which today’s RealRide is a direct descendent. This would be the penultimate year for the third-gen GP, and by the time the sixth generation rolled out for MY 1988 it was unrecognizable as that trim personal luxury coupe, with a front-wheel-drive layout and the addition of a four-door model. The final year for the Grand Prix would be 2003; the final Pontiac would be a 2010 G6 4-door sedan.
Jim Corbran, RRofWNY
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