21. Pontiac Grand Prix
Back in the ’60s, Pontiac was GM’s performance brand, so it was no coincidence they conceived the GTO. Those powerful engines and aggressive designs were a Pontiac trademark. But management wanted to widen its appeal and go beyond regular muscle cars like the GTO and the Firebird. To enter the world of luxury muscle cars, Pontiac had the perfect candidate with the Grand Prix.
The Grand Prix was a personal luxury coupe Pontiac introduced in 1962 in a two-seat body style. It came with powerful engines and a long list of options. They put this model against the Ford Thunderbird and Oldsmobile 98 as a so-called “gentleman’s express.” However, with the restyling of the Grand Prix for the 1969 model year, there was a chance to introduce trim packages to transform this comfy cruiser into a real muscle car, so Pontiac jumped at the opportunity.
First, there was a cool-looking new design with a long hood, short rearend, and an interesting driver-oriented dashboard. The 1969 Grand Prix stood apart from the competition, so sales immediately jumped. Second, there was a cool trim option they called SJ from the legendary Duesenberg brand.
It featured a high-output 428 V8 engine that delivered 390 HP and a host of other performance options. The luxury muscle car was well received by the automotive press and the fans, so the Grand Prix sold well. The powerful V8 propelled this big coupe to some respectable acceleration times. Today, the GTO and Firebird overshadow the Grand Prix. But late 1960s examples in good condition cost less than $20,000. And they also provide the same performance as the GTO.