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1967 Grand Prix convertible - opinions sought

parmparm Posts: 723
edited March 7 in Pontiac
OK. I know I've been down this path before, but I found a '67 Grand Prix convertible about 2 hours from here. I've seen pictures of the car and it looks OK, but have not inspected it yet. The owner is an older gentleman that owns a body shop along with various other older Pontiacs (mostly 30's - 50's). This Grand Prix represents one of his newer cars and he wants to "thin the herd".

I phoned the owner's son today (I guess the owner either can't or doesn't want to deal with buyers). Reportedly, the car is in good shape and being owned by a body shop owner the son says the car has been well cared for since he bought it 13 years ago. Thus, he's not the original owner.

The car has PS, PB, auto, A/C, factory 8-track that works (big deal?), console, 8-lug wheels and I believe front disc brakes (an option in '67). The color is maroon (not my favorite color by a long shot) with a cream interior and top.

The 400 cid 4 bbl engine is not original in that its out of a '73 Catalina (is this good or bad?). The engine bay and under carriage are reportedly detailed.

One other thing about the paint. As I mentioned, this gentleman has owned the car for 13 years and he repainted it (presumably did it himself - body shop owner, remember?) from a "totally rust-free body". Therefore, the paint job is not terribly old (at least for a 34 year old car) and hopefully of pretty good quality given it was his own car.

His asking price is $16,500 though the son says there's some flexibility. The owner doesn't NEED to sell the car so he's under no pressure to do so (good for him, bad for me). After checking some price guides in conjunction with my overall sense of mid-60's convertible values, I'm thinking $16,500 is awfully strong. I know '67 was the only year for GP convertibles and Pontiac didn't make a ton of them, but value is also a function of the level of demand and I'm not aware of an overwhelming market demand specific to '67 GP convertibles. If I'm wrong, please let me know.

I'm obviously a long way from parking this car in my driveway and of course the inspection will be a critical next step. However, any inspection would include a test drive and that'll have to wait until Spring when the salt is off the roads. If it looks good, I'll hire a mechanic to go over it (though the owner will probably roll his eyes at this suggestion).

I have my own idea as to what I would offer for this car, but would appreciate any thoughts from the "studio audience" out there. One thing in my favor is that I'm not emotionally attached to this particular car (at least not yet) and I'd have no qualms about taking a walk if the seller wants to hold this car until the right (ie., uninformed with more money than common sense) comes along.

Anybody have any seat time experience driving one of these? Any mechanics out there have any suggestions with regard to problem areas (specific to this model) to watch out for?

Let's hear your cheers and jeers.
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Comments

  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    Those 67 GP convertibles are kinda rare (I think something like 5600 built) and interesting (unique body style, hidden headlights, some GP-only interior pieces, etc.).

    I think the fact that this example has a 1973 engine takes away considerably from its value. 1973 was the beginning of smog-choked engines with relatively low horsepower, relative to 1967 engines. Unless this engine has been tweaked somewhat, it will likely not perform as well as a 67 GP with a factory engine.

    It sounds like a nice car in general, and it has some interesting options (the 8-lug wheels, 8-track and a/c in particular, though this car isn't 'fully loaded', no mention of PW, tilt), but $16.5k sounds pretty steep, unless it's in really exceptional condition. I also don't see values on this car going way up any time soon. The owner sounds quite ambivalent about selling the car (judging by his attitude and his price), to say the least; perhaps he's 'fishing' it out now to gauge interest in the vehicle.

    I think I'd be just as happy with a 65-67 Catalina or Bonneville convertible and another $5k left over, personally.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Well, first, it can't have 8-lugs *and* discs--they're mutually exclusive.

    Second, I think that's a nice saleable color combination. Burgundy looks good on these cars and it's manly enough to appeal to their primary market--guys. And a convertible is much more liveable with a light interior. A dark interior will burn you on a hot day.

    Third, every article I've ever read on GPs mentions the 67-only convertible in tones of awe, so I guess it's a big deal to GP fans. But my guess is that full-size convertibles aren't going to skyrocket in value anytime soon. GTOs yes, GPs maybe not.

    Fourth, to me a '73 engine would actually improve its appeal as a driver. You get a compression ratio you can live with plus the hardened valve seats. Any performance improvement you would have gotten from the '67 engine's higher compression ratio disappeared when 91 octane became the gold standard. Just yank off any smog controls still on the engine if that's legal in your area. I don't think matching numbers is a big deal with most potential buyers of this car. But it's something you can use to get the price down.

    Fifth, this car sounds familiar. Did someone else post about it a while back?
  • parmparm Posts: 723
    Yeah, I posted it awhile back (good memory!). But, never really pursued it. Yesterday (when I started this discussion string), I talked to the owner's son and it got me thinking again about this car in my pursuit to find something I'd like.

    Anyone else care to weigh-in?

    andre1969?
    mr_shiftright?
    others?
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,998
    ...well personally, I think the price is very steep, for something with a non-original engine, unless it's in damn fine shape otherwise. A Grand Prix is going to be worth more than a Bonneville or Catalina from that year, and is somewhat of a rarity since 1967 was the only year the Grand Prix was offered as a convertible.

    If there were 5600 built though, they're not THAT rare. I think there were about 10,000 Catalina 'verts built that year, and I'd imagine the Grand Prix had a better survival rate because it was a much more exclusive car to begin with. I mean, my mother bought a '66 Catalina 'vert brand new, when she was 17, so how upscale could they be? ;-)

    Anyway, I paid $3775 for my '67 Catalina, but that was back in 1994. It does have a few problems though. The A/C and heater don't work (bad heater control unit, or whatever it's called). There's a leak somewhere in the hydraulic fluid hoses, so I have to put the top up and down by hand, although the motor does work. And the gas gauge doesn't work. But hey, it's a convertible, so I let Mother Nature be my climate control ;-) And when the fuel gets too low, at least the needle will start bouncing back and forth, as a warning!

    As for engines, well mine has a 400-4bbl. It was rebuilt just before I bought it. Truthfully, I don't know if it's the original engine or if it came out of another year car. It's pretty fast off the line. Stomp on it, and it'll hold first up to the 50's, and then chirp the tires going into 2nd. It'll still do it with 4 people on board too, so added weight doesn't affect the car too much!

    A 1973 400 4-bbl, if it's stock, would put out about 190-200 hp, which, when you think about it, isn't a whole lot of hp to move 2+ tons of car. I think my Catalina weighs around 4000-4200 lb (just a wild guess...base with no options I think they're something like 3910 lb). A Grand Prix would most likely weigh a bit more.

    I wonder what kind of fuel mileage a '73 vintage 400 would get, too. Didn't mileage actually start going down on them when they cut compression and added that smog stuff? My '67 gets about 10 mpg city/17-18 highway (if I keep my foot out of it!), and, somehow, runs fine on 87 octane. I suspect though, that somewhere along the line, the timing got cut back, and I've just been too lazy to fiddle around with it.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,013
    Price is out of line. $16,000 is SHOW CAR...absolutely SHOW CAR money.

    So deduct accordingly.

    The engine swap would probably be of either no consequence on a "driver" but would be a deduct on a "show car", since if you show it you are going to get dinged on unoriginality.

    The sounds like it is worth about $10K.

    I don't think he's serious about selling if that's the tag he has on it.

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,741
    The others may disagree but I just think for one thing that the incorrect engine seriously detracts from the value of the car. Most purists would consider the car to be "Mickey Moused" and wouldn't touch it.

    Owns a body shop eh?...somehow that fact makes the hair on my neck stand up but that's just me.

    I think the guy is looking for a sucker and I think Shifty is being a bit generous.

    But then, I haven't seen the car either.

    Someday, Parm you'll find your car!
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    This deal may never go through--it sounds like it shouldn't--but just in general I wouldn't be too concerned about a '70s engine in an earlier car, especially if you're just looking for a driver and not a show car/blue chip investment.

    Unless you're going to drag race the thing (unlikely) what you really need is torque and a willingness to run on 91 octane. You'll find both in a '71-up engine.

    A 10.5:1 compression ratio was great back in 1967 but it's a liability now unless you've got knock sensors and computerized engine management. Otherwise you're limited to a CR of around 9:1. Anything higher than that and you have to retard the timing. That reduces power, making the engine lazy and prone to running hot, and reduces mpg.

    If Andre's 400 is happy with 87 octane then either the timing is seriously retarded, it was rebuilt with low compression pistons or heads, there's not enough carbon in the combustion chambers yet to create hot spots, or any combination of the above. Trust me, a late-'60s high-compression Pontiac with the usual carboned up chambers won't even tolerate 93 octane unless the timing is set back.

    To get a '73 engine up to speed all you need to do is take off the EGR and ported spark and maybe recurve the advance, and you've got an engine that's more suitable for your needs than the original engine. This may sound like a lot of work but it's not. It's a lot easier than living with retarded timing, buying cases of octane booster, or pulling the heads or replacing the pistons to reduce the CR. And pinging will eventually break a piston.

    A stock '73 400 will have 170-250 hp. That sounds pathetic until you remember that from '71-up they used net hp ratings. Gross hp would probably range from 230-300 hp. And it's torque that's important in a car like a '67 GP. That's what moves all that weight off the line.

    As for originality, I agree that a non-original engine ultimately detracts from the car's value. However, I have to wonder how many full-size convertible buyers really care deeply about this, and if they even *should* care. These guys just want to get in and cruise. Condition, appearance and comfort seem far more important.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,998
    ...well, my 400 was rebuilt not long before I bought it. I've put about 10,000 miles on it, and I don't think it had more than a thousand on it when I bought it (the stereotypical "so clean you could eat off of it!). So hopefully I haven't had a chance to carbon-it up yet!

    My grandmother's '85 LeSabre is carboned up a bit though, and it tells on me every time I try to go cheap and put 87 octane in it! Valve clattering and all sorts of racket. It's fine on 89 though...amazing that 2 octane points can make a difference!

    Any idea on what a '67 400 4-bbl should put out, in net terms? I think they were rated around 330 gross, weren't they? What'd that be, about 250 net (roughly?)
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Gross for a '67 would be around 325 hp so yeah, net is probably around 250.

    Here's a good way to convert gross to net and also to see what a cut in compression ratio does. The standard '70 GP 400 had 10.5:1 CR and put out 350 gross hp. The '71 GP 400 was virtually identical but had an 8.2:1 CR and was rated at 300 gross hp. The '72 GP 400 was substantially similar to the '71 (except in California where it had EGR) and was rated at 250 net hp.

    Of course this doesn't take into account other things that happened from '70-'72 like leaned-out carbs and retarded and/or ported advance, but it's close enough.

    It's my opinion that a high compression ratio is the single biggest drawback to driving a '60s car today. Forget about niceties like steering, braking, handling, mpg and size. An old high compression engine will not be happy burning 91 octane. It can be mickey moused to run on it but that leads to other problems. You can't "adjust" the compression ratio unless you tear down the engine and not many people want to do that. So you're stuck.

    I think we should cut the seller a little slack, at least to the point where he admitted the engine wasn't original. I'll bet 99 out of 100 prospective buyers of that car wouldn't know the difference. Remember, most of them aren't serious collectors, just guys who want a nice nostalgic ride.

    In fact, I wonder how many guys are driving around in what they think is an original car that actually has a replacement engine. How many of them know date codes and even where the engine serial number is?

    Up until maybe twenty years ago originality wasn't a big deal. If your GTO's engine was tired maybe you swapped in a remanufactured engine or one from a wrecking yard. Maybe the replacement was a GTO engine or maybe it was just the cooking 400 (or even a 350, I've seen it). Or maybe your 400 started looking pretty small compared to a MoPar 440 so you "upgraded" to a 428 or 455.

    Now that I'm on a roll, I also have to wonder about future demand for many of today's marginal collectibles. No offense, that's all I've owned with a handful of exceptions, but once you get away from big names like GTO and Mustang, who's going to remember or care 10 or 20 years from now? Just in this thread I see a shift away from the cars I'd want toward newer cars.

    Okay I feel better now.
  • Most of the mass produced cars are really not worth avoiding putting miles on them. Say you pay $10,000 for the car. If you can sell it after 5-10 years for what you paid for it, and even counting any maintenance and repairs you did, it sounds like a pretty cheap hobby to me.

    Considering a $10,000 Hyundai will be worth maybe $500 in 10 years, what is the better and more enjoyable 2nd car?

    One danger is new cars are so different from big RWD cars from the 50's & 60's, they may be uncomfortable to drive for the next wave of collectors.

    I still think younger people will find 60's cars preferable to 70's cars. I got my license in 1982, and that is the fact pattern for me personally.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,741
    Well, I agree with you....kinda.

    From a practical standpoint, I guess having the wrong engine with the lower compression ratio etc, is a smart thing to do.

    And, you are correct, most people wouldn't care.

    I'm no purist, but still can't help but think...this car used to be a 67 Grand Prix.

    It still is, kinda, but, it's not too.

    Make any sense?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,013
    I think car like that is not going to be destined for high-dollar collectibility, more second-tier, so drive the hell out of it and put whatever engine you want in it. If it was some rare, fuel-injected '57 Chevy, sure, you'd want to keep that because it is scarce, highly desired and technically interesting, but the '67 Grand Prix is really none of those, as nice a ride as it is.

    I wish this matching number business had never been started by GM. Far more exotic and expensive cars don't even bother with this, nor do the collectors care, as long as the engine is period correct in all details.

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,741
    If the numbers match. I just don't like to see (as I once did) a 65 Riviera with a Chevy 350 engine installed in it.

    But, this is just me...others would probably think it's better with a more practical engine in it and it may be in some respects.

    But it's a car I would never buy.

    Now, if someone had pulled the original 401 engine out and replaced it with a rebuilt 401 from a rebuilder, that wouldn't bother me a bit.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,013
    Oh, you mean hybrids. Well, these are street rods, and sometimes a street rod is worth more than the original, like if you chop and lower a 4-door '58 Chevy.

    I would agree, though, I would tend not to make mongrels out of 60s convertibles, although a same-make engine swap wouldn't hurt it, I don't think.

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  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Yeah, it's all a matter of degree, at least to me.

    I'll admit that if the engine wasn't the exact same one in the car when it rolled off the assembly line there'd be a small corner of me that didn't take the car seriously, and I think that's what Isell is talking about.

    That would be true even if the replacement engine was the same make and displacement. But that's just me being around too many purists.

    If it was the wrong displacement, or worse, the wrong brand, then I'd start losing interest quickly--unless there was a clear and overwhelming benefit to the swap. I'd buy a '49 Ford with an early Cadillac or Chrysler (a very common swap back in the day) in a heartbeat.

    But I'd certainly walk away from that 350 Riveria. That swap reduces the pool of potential buyers exponentially without offering any large benefit. Now if it was a 427/425 I'd be more interested but instead of paying a premium I'd expect a substantial discount.

    And if it was a Chevelle with a Buick 455 that's fine. I'm still not interested but no harm, no foul.
  • parmparm Posts: 723
    I take it from your comment that you can't have the 8-lug wheels AND disc brakes. Is this purely a Pontiac option edict, or is there a reason, mechanically speaking, why you can't have both?

    This is why I love this forum. You guys are in the know. Keep your comments come'in!
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Eight lugs are drum brakes, and drum brakes and disc brakes are two entirely different technologies. You can't have both drums and discs on the same end of the car. You can have discs in front and drums in the rear (many cars do) but you can't have front discs and front drums on the same car.

    Eight lugs were an early attempt, along with finned aluminum drums and sintered metallic brake linings, at improving the braking of drum-braked cars. In the '50s Detroit's opinion was that disc brakes were dangerous. Eight lugs came out around 1960.

    As I recall the eight-lug setup is a special wheel with no center section but instead with eight bosses cast around the inside diameter of the wheel. The holes in the bosses are where the lugs attach the wheel to an exposed finned aluminum brake drum. Fins help brake cooling by radiating heat out of the drum (like a regular finned aluminum drum) but the eight-lug takes this a step further by exposing the entire drum to cooling air. The usual drum is buried inside the wheel away from most of the cooling air stream.

    Eight lugs are nicely styled and I think that's mainly why they're so prized.

    GM finally offered disc brakes on intermediates in '67 and I wouldn't be surprised if they were available a year earlier on full size cars although I'm just guessing. They're a better design than eight lugs but not nearly as attractive.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,741
    What you look at is actually the brake drum. I remember in the early seventies they were still available from Pontiac for around 100.00 each!

    I'll bet finding a good set either new or used would be very hard and VERY costly!
  • parmparm Posts: 723
    While I'll be the first to admit I'm rather "mechanically challenged" in terms of hands-on experience, I do know the difference between disc and drum brakes and that they can't be mixed and the same end of a car. ;-) But, I don't know on which specific cars discs can or can't be used.

    Unlike modern wheel rims, it sounds like the 8-lug wheels are designed specifically for, and thus somewhat integrated with, drum brakes. Too bad because I think they're pretty sharp.

    Perhaps the first thing I'd do to any classic car (after installing a decent stereo/CD system from Secret Audio) would be to swap out front drums for discs (assuming its mechanically feasible).
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,741
    You are modifying something again.

    Yes, discs stop better. A well maintained drum setup works well also and keeps the car original.

    Usually with the gentle driving an older car gets, changing over isn't necessary anyway.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Again it just depends but I would never--*never*--take a set of eight lugs off a Pontiac. They do so much for the saleability and appearance of the car and they're one of those features that puts the Pontiac-ness in a Pontiac.

    It's just like replacing Tri-Power with a Holley four barrel. Yeah, maybe discs and the Holley work a little better but the original parts got the job done better than most back in the day.

    Plus you're going to pay a premium for eight lugs. Better to buy a Buick.

    I think it's far more interesting to try to work with obsolete technology, but then I don't have any dependants. Metallic brake linings, aluminum brake drums--they'll stop you well enough unless you're racing up Pike's Peak.

    Jeez Parm, next you'll be installing airbags ;-).
  • My major issue with a lot of departures from stock is I start to think what did they change that they didn't tell me, or else they don't know about. If someone is going to the expense and trouble of swapping engines, I would like to know what they did to the tranny, differential, brakes, electrical, etc. Doesn't rule the car out, just creates more questions for me that can be answered well enough to make the purchase.

    Not to mention, a service manual for your car will not for the non-original swapped parts. Minor as well. I just think an original as possible car indicates it has probably been treated well it's whole life.

    Not sure what one wants to do with the car, but the 4 wheel drums stop fine on my 67 Galaxie. If a Gran Prix handles like the Galaxie, you won't enjoy driving too quickly anyways.

    I don't drive it more than I do for errands because of potential parking lot damage, and the fact a 5 year old could probably figure out how to hot-wire it, steering wheel doesn't lock. Oh yeah, 14 mpg is worse than my Intrepid R/T.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,013
    I think that if there is truly something substandard on the car and you want to drive it everyday, there is a lot of support to modifying it. Just save the old parts and don't cut/weld the car. I'd put disc brakes on an old car in a red hot minute, and good seat belts and very unstock shocks and tires.

    You can always swap these things out if you sell the car to someone who is fussy about all that. Remember, this is a mass produced serial production car, there is no compelling reason not to modify it for everyday use and safety IF...IF...you sense the need for it.

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  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 17,741
    I would never push an older car very hard. I would take it out on nice days and treat it very gently.

    Still, if it didn't have seat belts...those I would install. I would hope they would look fairly original. I would NOT bugger out the hole in the dash for a radio or cut speaker holes in the doors.
  • parmparm Posts: 723
    Nothing turns me off faster than seeing a classic car with an upgraded radio that looks like it was installed as a Jr. High shop class project.

    And, what's up with installing banks of gauges under, on and atop the dash? A year later, they look like a bad mistake (like they didn't the minute they were installed?). Who needs to know how many RPM's they're turning in a 60's sedan with an automatic anyway? I've seen less instrumentation in the space shuttle. Nova's, Chevelles and Impala's (maybe its a Chevy thing?) seem to be the biggest offenders. If they weren't needed in 1965, why are they now?

    I know, it's because someone has spiced up the motor to the point where it's living on the edge temperature-wise.

    I've said it once and I'll say it again. If you want to go fast, go buy a late model Camaro SS or Ram Air Firebird - exponentially better cars for this purpose.

    Wow, I'm beginning to get light-headed standing up here on this soap box. I'll watch my step as I descend back to terra firma.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 21,998
    I think there are several reasons that Chevies tend to be the biggest offenders in this category. First, when new, Chevies usually came with very limited instrumentation as standard. Usually just a speedometer and a fuel gauge, and idiot lights for everything else. I'm not sure how Fords were back then, but Mopars usually gave you a temp gauge and an amp gauge. Seems like oil pressure gauges were somewhat of a scarcity though.

    Second, though, is something that you've touched on, Parm. They've hot-rodded the engine. Whenever I've gone to car shows, it seems very rare to see a Chevy with an original engine. Usually a '57 has a 327 or 350, or a 454 under the hood. 350's seem to be the swap-out of choice for '60's cars, too. I could be wrong, but it usually seems that Ford and Mopar owners tend to keep their engines a bit more stock.

    I've gotta confess though, my '67 Catalina has aftermarket gauges on it. It only came with the speedo, gas gauge, and amp gauge as standard. Oil pressure and temperature are mounted underneath the dash, where at least they're not too tacky! It came that way, though. The oil gauge is hooked up, but the temp gauge isn't.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,013
    What you are seeing is the increasingly popular trend to actually USE "classic" cars; so you will see more and more 50s and 60s cars upgraded with fuel injected motors, better transmissions and brakes, while still retaining the same exterior. These vehicles are externally accurate but internally modern.

    It's a big business in California and I bet it will get bigger, because these upgraded cars, if done professionally and beautifully, are worth every bit as much, if not more, than their bone-stock counterparts. I have seen modernized 55-57 Chevies sell for $50,000.

    However, it should be understood that the modernization has to be impeccable and the external car should not be much, if any, modified.

    Given that these are serial production cars still available in large numbers, I don't see anything "wrong" with this at all. It's a great way to enjoy your "classic" and have it approach modern car capabilities. The idea of spending $50K on a car and doing the rounds of car shows on trailers and waxing your car in the garage gets old, especially to younger collectors.

    Of course, I would not do this to an old Ferrari or a '63 Vette Split Window. But to a Chevy passenger car or an old MGB, have at it if that's your pleasure.

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  • parmparm Posts: 723
    On the '67 GP convertible in my area as well as others I've seen photos of, the dual exhaust pipes extend out past the rear bumper by about 6 inches or so. Anyway, its enough that its rather noticeable. Actually, I think it looks pretty cool.

    I've not seen this extension with Catalina's or Bonneville's of the same (or similar) year.

    Is this feature unique to the Grand Prix?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright CaliforniaPosts: 45,013
    I don't think that is correct. The pipes should tilt down under the bumper, so you are probably looking at a custom installation.

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  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    I always thought that hot rod tail pipes were a red flag--not a huge red flag, but a red flag. I'm sure the GP came stock with duals but they undoubtedly ended in "turn downs", not flashy chrome extensions.
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