I got married shortly after I bought my New Yorker. I kept it for 7 years before selling it to my brother, who kept it for another 5 years.
I bought a brand new '79 Pontiac Grand Am, 4 door sedan. We were talking about kids and even thought I wanted something more befitting my male testosterone, like a Mustang or a Camaro, I settled for the Grand Am.
Now, the '79 Grand Am was nothing like the new Grand Am of today, totally redesigned and now known as G6. My Grand Am had a V8, a 301 with a 4 barrel carburetor and was rear wheel drive. The Grand Am or G6's of today are front wheel drive with 6 cylinders. Big difference. I don't like front wheel drive cars. Give me a rear wheel drive car any day. It just feels better to me through the seat of my pants.
Black with a gold bottom, gold wheels, and pin striping it was a pretty car. With bucket seats and a console, the interior had that caramel vinyl that looked and felt like leather. Of course, I ordered the car choosing to wait 8 weeks for delivery. I wanted to pick the color and options. Back then, you couldn't get the really good stuff unless you special ordered the car. Cars on the dealers lot never had the upgraded tires, posi-traction or heavy duty anything, radiator, brakes, cooling, transmission cooler, or gear ratios. Not that this car had all those as available options, but I wanted to outfit it the best that I could.
I checked off every option box and the retail price came to $8,200. Damn! How much? I negotiated with the salesman and finally bought the car for $6,700. Not bad. Those were the days when the car salesman played games. Come to think of it, that hasn't changed in the car industry. Try buying a Mustang GT or a Cobra today or any number of hot cars, even a Mazda speed 3 or a BMW 3 series or even a Mini Cooper S today. No one discounts cars anymore the way they used to discount them.
Anyway, what I liked about the Grand Am was that it was sporty. When my car was in for service, the dealership gave me a Pontiac LeMans to drive, basically the same car, but plain. I could not believe the difference a few options, okay, a lot of options can make to a car. My car felt like a totally different car and much better than the plain Jane LeMans.
I loved that car. When I had 69,000 miles on it, I decided that it was either time to buy a new car or to fix up my beloved Grand Am.
I found this car guy in Connecticut who used to work for General Motors in the Oldsmobile division. I won't mention his name here, but if you are into cars like I am, you know who he is. He's famous. He loved Oldsmobile Cutlasses and would turn them into Nascar sleeper cars. He would put a 403 in an Olds Cutlass body, redo the suspension, brakes and every component part and that thing would fly. He was the guy for me.
Only, he refused to work on my car because it was a Pontiac and not an Oldsmobile. What's the difference? They are both GM A cars. Then, there in the corner of his totally clean, eat off the floor garage, was a Malibu belonging to one of his monied customers. What the Hell is that? Malibu's, Cutlasses, and Regals, all shared many of the same underpinnings as my Grand Am.
I had convinced him to take me on as a customer, but only after I delivered my boss down to him with his Camaro, which is another story, (and you're not going to believe what he did to his car for only $35,000 (gulp). I'm talking Dana 4.11 rear end and Hurst shifter.) I think he took me on as a customer because he was impressed with my knowledge of cars. Like him, I was a car guy.
Anyway, the first thing that he did was to balance and blueprint my engine. I had been using Mobil 1 since I bought that car (that stuff really works) and there was no engine wear. He perfected the suspension and chassis with special adjustable shocks and springs, and eliminated the catalytic converter. Luckily, just between you and me, don't say nothin' to no one now; I had a friend who could get me an inspection sticker. Now, I could burn leaded gas, the good stuff 100 octane.
He added real dual exhausts. Back then, my Grand Am only had a single exhaust. The Can Am and the Trans Am were the one with dual exhausts. He changed the gear ratios, added a GM turbo hydromatic 400 transmission, tightened the feel of my steering, installed a heavy duty multiple copper core radiator with a special fan, better brakes all around, bigger sway bars, better tires, B. F. Goodrich Comp TA's, and Panasport gold wheels. Those things were pretty. One of the best improvements was adding a Recaro driver's seat. Oh, my God! There is nothing more comfortable than a Recaro.
Of course, there were a few other little touches, such as fog lights, air horns, and a built in Escort radar detector. Back then, in the early '80's, I spent close to ten grand getting my car totally done like new. That was a lot of money back then, but it was the '80's and everyone was making money. I loved that car.
I drove it for another 2 years before selling it to buy my '85 Mustang GT and a Chevrolet Caprice wagon, the real Heavy Chevy, for the wife.
My 4 door Grand Am was a real sleeper and would blow the doors off any Trans Am and Camaro.