The Grand Prix of 1973


Spotted on the Hemmings blog: 1973 Grand Prix: The first Pontiac I ever drove.

The first Pontiac I ever drove was my brother’s ’67 G.T.O., but a ’73 Grand Prix was the first car I ever owned. Here it is in action:

1973 Pontiac Grand Prix

Outside of Belmont, Nevada. June 1984.

West Side Highway, Death Valley

And me at the wheel – hauling down the West Side Highway in Death Valley. December 1983.

Would love to drive one again for a hour or so, but I’m happy to mostly leave it in the past.

Revisiting Miss Belvedere

Hemmings Motor News visitsMiss Belvedere,” the 1957 Plymouth Belvedere that was buried in a Tulsa time capsule for fifty years and unearthed in 2007 to a Internet-full of snark who joked about the pile of toxic rust and the bomb shelter that could withstand nuclear attack but apparently not oxygen and water.

Two years and lots of specialized rust removal later, there’s actually a car now…



Some families were Oldsmobile families. Others were Ford. For us it was the three-headed triumvirate of Chrysler, Jaguar, and Ford Truck. There were a couple of exceptions to this rule: my sister’s first car was a 1960 Pontiac Catalina.

And then there was this… My first car: a 1973 Pontiac Grand Prix – the last gasp of a model that none other than John DeLorean was responsible for.

1973 Pontiac Grand Prix

1973 Pontiac Grand Prix

I still maintain that if the current G8 was called the Grand Prix or the Bonneville, Pontiac would have sold a lot more. Since the G8 was rebadged Holden, GM ignored it with the worst case of Not Invented Here Syndrome ever even if Holden had a better conception of what consititutes a traditional American car than GM did. Maybe it’s the cultural memory of Mad Max movies…

Cars In Barns revisited

It’s one of those modern myths you always hear rumors about but never really see in action. Someone has a Les Paul goldtop hidden under a bed for forty years or there’s an old barn out back that has a rare car sitting in it. Still, on occasion it does happen

Reader Dan Veneman recently shared with us an interesting little barn find. It appears his buddy recently inherited a ranch in Salida, California, that included a 75,000-mile 1956 Ford Thunderbird.

Let’s not forget that amazing 180 car find in a Portugese warehouse. Sadly, most of these barn finds are languishing in the “I’m going to fix it up someday” category.

California license plate aesthetics

california_licenseplate.jpgFranklin Avenue notes that California license place numbering has incremented up to 6xxxyyy style numbers. Not necessarily a big deal itself, but there’s a greater question that has remained unanswered and it’s something that’s been nagging me for years. I’m serious here, as a Californian this irritates me to no end…

When the HELL is California going to stop using that horrid script font? That Mistral font knockoff screams “I’m a logo for a dubious 1980s Redondo Beach nightclub/cocaine front for yacht rockers and their Magnum P.I.-style red Ferrari 308s!”

How come Oregon, Nevada and Arizona can consistently have terrific looking license plates but California can’t? Even the better looking California plates, the whale, Lake Tahoe, and the new Sierra Nevada one are ruined by that awful font.

Attention California DMV! It’s time to solve this blight upon our highways. There are several metric tons of graphic designers in California who could use some work and some sort of competition is in order to finally pound a stake into that ugly script.

P.S. While you’re at it, why not offer new replicas of the classic yellow-on-black plate? (Make ’em reflective so the CHP will be happy). Nevada offers something similar with their 1982 plain blue plate replica. Nothing kills me more than seeing a classic car with a current-style license plate on it.

P.P.S. A plate redesign does not mean you can splat your state URL on it. Indiana, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, and Michigan all do it and each one looks like a civic cry for help.