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Remember When We Thought the Pontiac Grand Prix GTP Was Fast?

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author photo by Doug DeMuro October 2017

Back when I was a kid, I remember when the late-1990s Pontiac Grand Prix started offering a GTP version with a supercharged V6. It wasn't just that. There was a supercharged V6, and also a bright-red paint scheme in all the advertisements, and there was a coupe. A coupe meant business.

To drive home the point of this sporty vehicle, Pontiac did all sorts of advertisements about how the Grand Prix had a "wide track," and how "wider is better," and how this extra width helped the thing steer, and corner, and zoom around racetracks with the same velocity as sports cars. I remember all this. And at the time, I was mesmerized.

As a wee lad of just 10 years old, I remember seeing those ads and reading about the Grand Prix GTP and thinking it was just basically the fastest thing on the road. I honestly thought if I could have any vehicle when I turned 16 in a few years, it would be a Grand Prix GTP. They were just so fast! And so cool! And so red! And so wide!

Looking back now, it's all kinds of hilarious. The Grand Prix GTP used a supercharged V6, yes, but it made all of 240 horsepower -- far less than top-end versions of run-of-the-mill modern midsize sedans like the Toyota Camry and Ford Fusion. Sure, it had 280 lb-ft of torque, which is pretty muscular -- but it was all mated to a 4-speed automatic transmission that slowed everything down. In fact, the quoted 0-to-60 time for this vehicle was something like 7.1 seconds on its way to a monstrous top speed of a governed 126 miles per hour. It was a scorcher.

Really, I'm writing this because I saw a Grand Prix GTP the other day, and I remembered how cool it used to be, and I realized that things have come a long way in just 20 years -- and it isn't really cool at all anymore. In fact, most of those 1997-2003 Grand Prix GTPs are wasting away with people who have no idea the GTP was anything special, as they're more focused on simply keeping it running. But there was a time when that was a special car -- really, there was. And I remember it.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Remember When We Thought the Pontiac Grand Prix GTP Was Fast? - Autotrader