Last revised: 26-1-2009

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1966 Pontiac model range: the Grand Prix

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1966_Pontiac_Grand_Prix_Hardtop_Coupe_1966_r3qA very distinctive feature of the '66 Grand Prix was its special taillight panel. It featured horizontal chrome trim ribs, blacked out in between to give the impression of full-width taillights. The panel actually disguised a pair of conventional taillights which were located at both ends.

1966_Pontiac_Grand_Prix_Hardtop_Coupe_1966_dashThis is the veneer ("real walnut") covered dashboard of the Grand Prix. It hosted a full array of clocks, buttons and dials.
The standard power unit in the Grand Prix was the 6370 cc V-8. For some reason this engine was offered in Europe in its least powerful specification: 259 hp @ 4600 rpm. Maybe this had something to do with fuel economy (petrol being far more expensive in Europe than in the US). In the US the Grand Prix boosted a 325 (automatic transmission) or 333 hp (manual transmission) version of the same engine as standard, and 6900 cc V-8s with 356 or even an amazing 376 hp were optional. On the European market however the Grande Parisienne had the more powerful engine (279 hp) to confuse thing just a little bit more...

The Grand Prix measured 546 cm in length, 202 cm in width and 137 cm in height. The export version was fitted with an automatic choke, a 100 litre petrol tank, a Turbo-Hydra-Matic automatic transmission, power assisted aluminum drum brakes (integrated with aluminum hubs and wheels), tubeless tyres and power steering.

1966_Pontiac_Grand_Prix_Hardtop_Coupe_1966_seats

Interior of the Pontiac Grand Prix Hardtop Coupe

An extensive list of luxury items came as standard: an adjustable steering wheel with seven positions, bucket seats, rear-window heater, an illuminated ashtray, an illuminated lighter, front-screen washer, radio with second speaker in the rear compartment, remote-controlled antenna, an in four directions adjustable power seat on the drivers side, power windows, an illuminated boot, etc, etc. Many of these things look pretty normal now, but at the time this was pretty abundant, certainly compared to the usually sparingly trimmed European cars of the same era.

Somehow things haven't really changed over the years. Even at its peak Pontiac didn't have a chance on the European market, and now, more than 3 decades later, the US products of General Motors are almost non-existent on the European market. Pontiac only sold a small number of 1966 Tempest and Le Mans models in Europe and very few full-size models, which made the effort inefficient for a manufacturer used to sell its cars by the 100,000.
The 1966 Pontiacs were great cars, people both in Europe and the US liked the looks and the performance of them. But only in the US these cars fitted in with daily life. In Europe they remained exotic and only regularly appeared in the dreams of boys. Why? Well, just imagine trying to park a 2.02 meter wide car in a parking space designed for a maximum width of 1.8 meter like is standard here in Holland. There are lanes here that are smaller that a full-size 1966 wide-track Pontiac....

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