Thursday, May 17, 2012

San Ramon Street Sighting - 1971 Pontiac Grand Ville convertible

Imagine you're a General Motors marketing executive circa 1970. You're planning a new model for the Pontiac division, one that will be a full size car even more luxurious than the top-line Bonneville. Naming a car after a large dry lakebed worked great, but it didn't sound especially luxurious. "Ville" is a good start, it's French and that sounds fancy. And if something is fancy it's "grand", so someone came up with the name Grand Ville. I suppose it translates to "large town", which makes sense given the amount of real estate this car takes up.
The Pontiac Grand Ville was sold from 1971 to 1975 and had a longer wheelbase and unique design differences that set it apart from its corporate siblings and lesser stablemates. Early Grand Villes came standard with a big honking 455 V8 under that long hood.

I'll be honest, while I consider myself a bit of a Pontiac fanboy I never liked the 1970s full size cars much. They always struck me as too much styling in all the wrong places. And yet, for some reason this was one of the most enjoyable cars I've photographed for this blog. it just carries itself with both a grace and a certain degree of badassness that betrays the awkward front end design and huge size. It's a boulevard cruiser that isn't afraid to smoke at least one tire every now and then.
This example isn't the straightest one out there, but it is nevertheless a very rare car. Fewer than 1,800 Grand Ville convertibles left the factory in 1971, and I've seen only a scant few Grand Villes of any kind, in any condition, in the last few years. The front fender on this car is arguably its weakest point, otherwise the body looks good for its age. I really like the glossy black paint with black interior and Pontiac Rally II wheels with thin whitewall tires. And you know what? That goofy pointed prow with its eggcrate mustache is actually growing on me. I'd like to see this one cleaned up with the fender repaired, preferably cruising by on a sunny day or rolling up at a cruise night.


  1. First time I have seen one of these Jay, like you say a Small Town on cool Rally wheels :-) Love it !