The Sporty and Luxurious 1966 Pontiac Grand Prix

Out of all the familiar automobiles from the 1960’s, and there were plenty, the Pontiac Grand Prix is one of the most well remembered. The 1966 Pontiac Grand Prix is a true classic car. This was Pontiac’s big sports luxury hardtop and was one of the most popular personal automobiles of the 1960’s.

1966 pontiac grand prix
1966 Pontiac Grand Prix

A Sporty Yet Luxurious Automobile

The Grand Prix was built on the Pontiac Catalina platform. This was Pontiac’s shorter big car chassis. The Grand Prix differed a lot from the Catalina with it’s sportier interior including popular Strato bucket seats. Between the seats was a console along with a floor shifter.

One thing the Grand Prix was well noted for was it’s luxurious interior while keeping the sporty touch. Seat coverings were either cloth upholstery or Morrokide. This sporty interior touch also included a tachometer and rear audio speakers. If a car buyer wanted to display performance yet do it in a luxurious enclosure, the Pontiac Grand Prix was his or her automobile.

The first generation Grand Prix debuted in 1962. The car was targeted at the younger car buyer and was designed as a performance car. It was a hardtop sports coupe. This was the same market that Ford Motor would target a few years later with their Mustang.

pontiac grand prix 1960s
Pontiac Grand Prix

1966 Grand Prix Styling

The 1966 Pontiac Grand Prix was little changed from the 1965 second generation Pontiac  however these second generation models were significantly changed from the first generation.

One change in 1966 was the addition of blacked out plastic grille. The pointed nose of the car had some resemblance to Pontiac’s GTO.

The 1965 and 1966 Grand Prix is noted for it’s flowing appearance, kicked up rear fenders and quad headlights. The first generation cars were much more straight lined. The second generation Pontiac Grand Prix was also a weightier car and the models in general used chrome sparingly.

The attributes of the second generation Pontiac Grand Prix were it’s performance, big size and luxury. Some drawbacks compared to the first generation models, although arguable, might be not as good workmanship and not as good handling.

1966 grand prix dash
1966 Grand Prix dash

1966 Grand Prix Production

The first generation Grand Prix was accepted quite well. Sales went from 30,195 in 1962 to 72,959 in 1963. The 1964 model year saw 63,810 vehicles built. Things changed in 1965. Production that year totaled 58,881 cars and then in 1966 production fell dramatically to 36,757.

One explanation for the downward spiral could be the introduction of the Ford Mustang in 1964. While the cars in many ways, size and weight in particular, were quite different, both cars were appealing to the younger market. Additionally, the Grand Prix was priced about $900 to $1,000 or so higher than the Ford Mustang.

Beginning in the 1969 model year the Grand Prix would be shortened to a 118.0 inch wheelbase becoming a mid size car and be part of the Pontiac LeMans series.

1966 Pontiac Grand Prix Specifications

Two engines were available for the 1966 Grand Prix. These were a 389 cubic inch V-8 with a four barrel carburetor putting out between 265 and 333 horsepower.  The 389 was the standard engine. The other was a 421 cubic inch V-8 that could deliver from 338 to 376 horsepower. Either engine made the 1966 Grand Prix a 1960’s muscle car. Interestingly enough, Pontiac discontinued the offering of a three two barrel carburetor set up on the 389 but kept it on the 421.

1966 grand prix rear window
1966 Pontiac Grand Prix concave rear window

The 1966 Pontiac Grand Prix was built on a 121.0 inch wheelbase with an overall length of 214.6 inches. This was an inch longer wheelbase than the original 1962 models. The Grand Prix was a full size Pontiac with a weight around 4,000 lbs.

Transmission options were a three speed and four speed manual along with a  three speed Hydramatic.

The links below are to additional AutoMuseumOnline articles for comparisons to the 1966 Pontiac Grand Prix…

1967 Pontiac GTO History and Specs

1969 Dodge Charger

The 1970 High Performance Ford Mustang

1966 pontiac grand prix rear
Pontiac Grand Prix rear view

The Pontiac Grand Prix Collector Car

Because the 1966 Pontiac Grand Prix was built in part to be a muscle car, chances are today you’ll see plenty that have been modified. There are some good looking Grand Prix street rods you’re sure to come across.

Price wise you’ll see some wide ranges because of modifications. You’ll see the best prices on original, or as near to original as possible, models. In general you’ll see higher collector valuations on the first generation Grand Prix models from the 1962 through 1964 model years. These are thought to be somewhat more distinctive and crisp looking and some would say better built.

A two door hardtop 1966 Pontiac Grand Prix, as of this writing and in excellent condition, might have a price tag in the high teens. We have also seen several priced above $20,000. Degree of modification and overall condition will mean a lot on this car.

The first generation Pontiac Grand Prix values as mentioned above will generally be more. You might find asking prices on mint museum condition vehicles as high as $50,000. While this is a high figure you’ll find others priced in the $20,000 and $30,000 range.

If you’re looking for a 1966 Grand Prix project car you should be able to find one in the $5,000 range. If the car doesn’t run you’ll certainly pay less.

(Article and photos copyright 2013 AutoMuseumOnline)