Pontiac’s new effort in the personal luxury sport sedan market was the 1973 Grand Am. The name combined the existing Grand Prix and Trans Am nameplates to suggest that it was a car with the luxury of the Grand Prix and the lively performance of the Trans Am. This first generation Grand Am rode on GM’s A-body platform, and was a mid-sized, rear-wheel drive vehicle with a selection of large V-8 engines.
The Grand Am was available as a 2-door colonnade or 4-door “pillared” hardtop. Unlike previous generations of 4-door hardtop, a pillared hardtop has a thin B-pillar between the front and rear doors – added to meet expected rollover standards – but uses frameless side windows in classic hardtop style.
The Grand Am featured a swooping rear decklid, and the trademark Pontiac split grille featured a prominently raised “beak” that came down the hood and protruded out past the grilles. Inside, the car combined a sporty gauge package and luxury appointments like genuine wood trim.
The standard engine for the Grand Am was a 400 cubic inch V-8 “R-code” that yielded 170 SAE net horsepower. Note that the shift from gross to net horsepower had happened the prior year, so this isn’t as big a drop in real terms as the numbers indicate. Engine codes S, Y, and X were also available. S-code engines were also 400 cubic inches and delivered 200 hp courtesy of a 4-barrel carburetor and dual exhaust. Y-code engines were 455 cubic inches and made 250 hp. X-code engines were rated at 310 hp, but it’s generally accepted that no Grand Ams were actually equipped with this engine. Grand Ams could be ordered with a 4-speed or Turbo-Hydramatic automatic, but almost all cars were equipped with the automatic.
For 1974, the base Grand Am engine was a P-code 400 at 190 hp, and the T-Code at 225 and Y-code 455 at 250 hp were optional. The automatic transmission was standard, and styling was virtually unchanged from 1973. In the final year of this first generation, 1975, base engine power dropped to 170 hp with the R-code 400. California cars received the S-code 400 at 185 hp, and the Y-code 455 was optional at 200 hp.
Production started at 43,136 units in 1973, of which 8,691 were 4-doors, then dropped to 17,083 cars in 1974 with 3,122 4-doors. The final year saw 8,786 2-doors and just 1,893 4-door Grand Ams made. As cars of the 1970s are just beginning to have collectible value, condition and engine choice are paramount. Collectors will want to seek out higher horsepower 455 cubic inch models, specifically from 1973 and 1974. If any big block Grand Am were to be found with the 4-speed manual transmission, it would be a seriously rare car.