8 August 2013

Built to go fast, not to look pretty

At a recent meeting of the Greater Vancouver Motor Sport Pioneers Society, one of our members Murray Chambers, wellknown for being the cameraman at Westwood and for his Pontiac Ventura show car which has won countless awards over the years, arrived in a very rare and unusual car.

Naturally his latest rare find would have to be a Pontiac because he has the GM, and in particular, Pontiac disease.

The vehicle in question is a 1986 Pontiac Grand Prix 2+2 Aerocoupe, a car that was considered to be downright ugly by a number of critics in its day.

Richard Petty and other NASCAR drivers demanded General Motors design a vehicle that would lower the drag coefficient of the cars so that they could compete with the slick Ford Thunderbirds which were winning all of the races.

Pontiac came back with the Grand Prix 2+2 Aerocoupe to sell to the public. Its styling was questionable, but from a racing prospective it appeared that it might do the trick.

The no-nonsense look included a drooping nose and a large rear window similar to the one fitted in the Monte Carlo SS Aerocoupe. The enlarged rear window came at the expense of the trunk lid, which was barely large enough to remove the spare tire let alone install a small suitcase. The trunk hinges had to extend inside the car to clear the rear glass.

All of the rear body components were made out of fibreglass, including the trunk lid, spoiler and surrounding pieces under the rear glass.

In order to satisfy the homologation rules for the NASCAR series, General Motors built 1,118 Pontiac 2+2 Aerocoupes which were sold to the public; this enabled them to meet the production numbers NASCAR officials required for showroom stock model to be incorporated into the race cars.

Chamber's car is without question as rare as hen's teeth. A mere 79 examples found their way to Canada.

He found the car in the hands of its second owner in Castlegar. The former owner had owned it for 22 years.

The car is all original, except for a repaint, and had 70,400 original kilometres at the time of purchase.

Beauty is said to be in the eye of the beholder, and in Chamber's eye, this strange bird is a beaut.

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