2003 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP Sedan (443)

Overview:

Muscle cars like this 2003 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP Sedan were born in America and are a nostalgic and romantic part of our history and love affair with the automobile. Those of us who are remnants of the 1950’s and 1960’s auto scene, took Ford Model A’s, 32’s, etc., and made our mark on the world of cars.

The next generation of young boys embraced the muscle cars of the 1960’s and 1970’s in a similar fashion. And you know, it’s nice to know there is a history of nostalgia that lives on from generation to generation.

Son Mike latched onto a 1967 Camaro when he was 15 and that is the automotive love of his life. For me it was a 1934 Chevrolet coupe with a rumble seat. It too was my first car and will always occupy a place in my heart. Young men bond with such experiences and their cars become a labor of love. Changing transmissions and tires with care like moms changing diapers – but hopefully not done as often as diaper changes.

Forty years ago when the Grand Prix was introduced it was the time for muscle cars and it brings back memories of greasy fingernails, the smell of gas and busted knuckles from the constant maintenance and modifications. We taught Detroit a lot even if they were slow learners. Those were great fun days. Now we have virtual reality, but somehow I liked the real reality of those “Happy Days”. I wonder what this generation of young folks will have to look back on. Hmmmm.

General Info:

Parts – USA

Assembly – USA

Class:  – Mid Size

Cars: – Aztek, Bonneville, Grand Am, Grand Prix, Montana, Sunfire, Vibe.

Handling & Performance:

Performance is a Muscle cars middle name. But for American cars it’s brute force as compared to the performance sophistication of Japanese cars. On the other hand there is a kind of mystique that surrounds American Muscle Cars that reminds us they came from the back yards of young men who gave birth to SEMA and all the aftermarket companies they represent. And speaking of the “Good old days”, Grand Prix had a big V8 and today Pontiac met the performance challenge with the quick acceleration of a Supercharged 3.8 liter 240 horsepower V6. This powerful engine is mated to a 4-speed automatic trans that shifts great and smooth as silk to use another term from the past. But smooth as silk could not be applied to the way auto transmissions shifted back in the 1960’s and 70’s.

Styling:

Sleek with a faint bit of the past. Cars like this are designed to look fast just standing still. Designers have provided roomy front seating for five but for tall folks the rear is a little tight. They also did a great job on the cockpit with canted driver instrument panel and the gauges are large and clearly readable. Another design feature I like a lot is the hug you get from the bucket seats. They fit so well and add to the driving pleasure that often comes from performance sport cars.

Fit and Finish:

Really quite good. Not quite to the Japanese standards but we’ve come a long way baby. What you’ll find is that American cars are presented in a more rough and tumble fashion where Japanese present a more dainty appearance. Real men don’t care but the ladies will surely lean toward the Japanese frills. Those cars are almost too “Squeaky Clean” for the likes of gear heads like Home Improvements’ Tim Allen, who most guys relate to.

Conveniences:

The Sedan with 4-doors is much more convenient getting in and out and there is nothing given up in styling. If anything it looks better.

Cost:

Still well priced American cars are a great option in the fight back for a struggling US economy.

Consumer Recommendation:

American cars have been on the comeback trail ever since car makers in the US wised up to the fact that Japan was a fierce competitor who had captured a huge share of the market before the sleeping giant woke. But the comeback is coupled with patriotism, mom and apple pie. And although lower prices over the past 5 years will give way to parody once again, I see a growing support for American made products. That’s good news for US automakers. I hope they’re listening and keep closing the quality gap that was painfully obvious in the decade past.

The competition:

Pontiac Grand Prix $22-26000, Buick Regal $24-28,000, Chevrolet Impala $21-24,000, Chrysler Concorde $23-29,000, Dodge Intrepid $21-25,000, Ford Taurus $20-24,000, Honda Accord $16-28,000, Mitsubishi Galant $18-24,000, Nissan Maxima $27-29,000, Oldsmobile Intrigue $23-28,000, Saturn LS $16-20,000, Subaru Legacy $20-25,000, Toyota Camry $19-25,000, Volkswagen Passat $22-38,000.

Good News:

Priced well, good quality, quick supercharged V6, roomy front seat, great brakes and respectable fuel economy (consider, a 60’s muscle car probably got 7-10 mpg). See Bad news.

Bad News:

Marginal room in the rear seat for tall folks. Regarding cost of gas: Come to think of it, gas was about 25 cents a gallon then so we continue to lose ground in the cost per mile category. Gas costs 5-7 times more in 2003 and fuel economy only improved 2-3 times since the 1960’s).

Standard Equipment:

3.8 liter supercharged 240 hp V6, 4-speed auto trans, electronic throttle control, dual airbags, OnStar communications, theft deterrent system, tire inflation monitor, ABS brakes with traction control, air conditioning, stereo with CD and 6 speakers, cruise control, tilt wheel, power driver seat, keyless entry, power windows and locks, console, fog lights, power mirrors, spoiler.

Options: Heated leather seats and leather trim, 6 in-dash CD player upgrade and 9 speakers, power sunroof and XM satellite 100-channel digital sound system. This will set you back another $2,480 over standard equipment pricing.

Gas Stats:

18 City and 28 Highway MPG.

Pricing:

MSRP $25,860.

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