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1970's Pontiac convertibles

parmparm Posts: 724
edited March 2014 in Pontiac
Many of you know I've been looking for a nice but affordable 1960's convertible cruiser. For the last several months, my search has been narrowed down to 1962-64 Cadillacs. While I've not totally ruled out that option, I've recently stumbled on a potential option that would be far less costly and much less fussy to own.

I've found what appears to be an attractive deal on a nice 1975 Pontiac Grandville convertible. While this car doesn't have the "panache" of a 1962 Eldorado, it is plenty big and has more modern running gear. Plus, I wouldn't have to be so anal with regard to where I park it, where I drive it and under what weather conditions. Finally, the cost is only about 1/4 to 1/3 of a nice early 60's Cadillac convertible. Thus, I'm thinking I can get a similar level of jollies (though not as much pride/satisfaction) for a lot smaller price of admission.

Specifically, this car is a 1975 Grandville Brougham which was the top of the line model. Thus, it has power everything and A/C. Reportedly, this car has only 52,000 original miles (supposedly documented through BMV records), original paperwork/service records and in very good condition. The convertible top has been replaced within the last few years.

The paint is not pristine, but is in nice condition. The interior is original and in very good condition - so I've been told. This is an original Arizona car having lived its last 10 years in California. Thus, this car is rust free (again, reportedly).

The owner emailed me photos and I like what I see, but admittedly you can't tell much from photos. I would have to arrange to have this car inspected as I'm in Indiana and this car is in Sacramento, CA. But, I'm confident I can arrange that without too much problem.

I was hoping to hear some insightful comments from you all who I've come to consider as my "esteemed colleagues".

Anyone ever owned one of these or have any thoughts on the subject?


  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    You're right, it's 'not quite an Eldo', but these cars are nice. They're fairly modern, luxurious, probably cheap and easy to fix, and nice looking and classy enough to 'get some looks.' I would rather have one of these than a '70s Eldorado convertible for sure. Also, they're a bit more rare than Caprices. You may also want to consider a Delta 88 or Centurion/LeSabre of the same era if you end up passing on the Grand Ville. My first car was a 'reasonably similar' (same chassis, and 455 engine) '71 Buick Electra. It was a boat and hogged gas, but you probably knew that. Other than that, it was a great car: powerful, roomy, cheap to maintain other than the gas.

    What color is it? Where's the seller at with the price (you don't have to be specific if you don't want, but ballpark, and is he 'flexible'?).
  • parmparm Posts: 724
    The asking price is around $6,000 which I think is pretty reasonable if the car is as good as advertised. I've not gotten down to "brass tacks" in terms of price so I don't know how flexible the seller is with regard to price.

    If I paid to have it shipped to Indiana, I think the cost would be around $1,200. This equates to roughly 55 cents per mile which, according to a recent article in Old Cars Weekly, is about the going rate for a covered, long-haul transport.

    This car has the standard 400 engine which is big plenty for me. I wouldn't be taking this for any hot laps around the track so I'd just assume not have the extra gas-guzzling ponies of the 455.

    The color is dark copper with tan vinyl interior.
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonPosts: 19,603
    I've always liked those boats for some reason.

    I know that color is a very subjective thing...but, I'm thinking that combination would probably be my last choice. It's possible that if I saw it first hand I would feel differently.

    Not bad cars, and they kinda represent the lasst of an era. A lot of fun for only 6000.00!
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    You know, it would be great if you could just come down a few years to 1970-73.

    1975 is really not a high point in American auto manufacture. If the '75 Pontiac is anything like the '76 Eldo I lived with for a few months, I'd sure recommend you runa similar car for a few hours and see if you can tolerate what you experience. To each his own of course but I myself see a significant difference from a 1970 to a 1975 full size American convertible.

    Also I think $6000 for a car like this is fullbore retail, and perhaps over retail since you imply some paint issues, and with shipping you will have paid too much IMO.

    You must remember that with cars this old mileage is irrelevant to value. It is all about the overall condition it is in now, where it sits.

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  • parmparm Posts: 724
    Mr. Shiftright. Can you expound upon your thought that cars from 1970-73 are superior to a 1975 model? What are the differences you refer to and what makes the earlier models better? Inquiring minds need to know.

    Actually, the asking price on the car in Sacramento $5,625. Given that the car has only 52,000 miles, I didn't think that was too bad considering I've seen ads for other Grandville convertibles of similar vintage for closer to $10,000 - and these other cars have a bunch more miles on them. According to three value guides I've checked, $5,625 seems reasonable. Furthermore, there's a fully loaded '75 Grandville convertible on Ebay right now (the auction ends in a few hours) that reportedly has 5,200 miles. The seller's "buy it now" price is $18,900 which I know is ridculous. As of 12:40 EST today, the bidding is up to $13,609.

    You are certainly correct about the cost to get this car to Indiana. This issue is probably a deal breaker. I can't expect the seller to knock off $1,200 to $1,500 to cover my shipping cost. On the other hand, there is a similar car for sale here in Indiana, but the guy is asking around $8,000 as I recall. That's still cheaper than the Sacramento car + shipping.

    I like the copper exterior of this car, but admittedly wish it had a white or cream interior. This car has the Rally II wheels which I've always liked.
  • jrosasmcjrosasmc Posts: 1,711
    You had a '76 Eldorado for a short while? No offense, but it must've been awful.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    ...also had a '75 Grand Ville on the lot. I remember it was a medium blue with a white interior, and looked beautiful. It had a 400, and no air conditioning. I remember they wanted close to $6000 for it back then, in 1994.

    It was a beautiful car, but the '67 Catalina was the lust of my life back then!

    The main disadvantages of a '75 Grand Ville over an earlier model would mainly be added weight due to the bulkier bumpers and emissions controls, as well as the power that said emissions controls sapped from the engine. Build quality would also be down from, say, 1970, which was a different design, but shouldn't be any worse than '71-73.

    By '75, you also didn't have the high performance engines anymore, but a run-of-the-mill 400 usually put out around 175-180 hp, from the time they started net ratings in '72 on up to '79, its last year in the Catalina/Bonneville.

    I do have a fondness of the final B-body 'verts too. My favorites are the '75 LeSabre and the '72 Impala.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Parm, I just can't get behind the car.

    To each his own, but to me a '75 Grand Ville just about epitomizes Detroit's low water mark.

    Not only is a full blown boat, it's one of the worst years for boats. Bigger and heavier than anything that came before or since, huge bumpers, smog controls...I'll bet that 400 is barely adequate to move it around.

    Any convertible is more fun to drive than its sedan counterpart but on a scale of one to ten a '75 Grand Ville has got to be a solid one. There's just not much there, aside from mass, and I'll bet driving it would get old way before it should.

    Finally, listen to the market. There's a reason a '75 Grand Ville is an affordable alternative. It's the collective experience of the market telling you everything you need to know about the desirability of the car.
  • parmparm Posts: 724
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    And don't believe asking prices and don't believe Ebay prices. The only prices you should believe are verified genuine sales, and I find it very hard to believe many people would pay more than around $5K-$6K for a car like this regardless of condition.

    And even IF someone truly bid $13K for the car, (not a shill bid) all that does is establish the baseline for what a fool is, it does not establish the baseline for the true market value of this car.

    You need to gather a decent number of verified signed checks to give a true market value, and I am suggesting that when you average out all the '75 Pontiac convertible deals world wide, you will find ours estimate astoundingly accurate (he said modestly). Nothing beats years of experience in buying and selling and going to auctions.

    I agree that 1975 is a low point in American automaking. These cars have poor driveability, poor build quality and poor engineering compared to their brethren five years older. Detroit got way behind in emissions technology and quality control by 1975.

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  • carnut4carnut4 Posts: 574
    at Memory Lane Classic Cars in Portland, OR. Don't know if you'd be interested or not. It's white with red leather interior, has everything, don't know if 400 or 455. They want $7500-but like Shifty says, that's only the asking price. The car looks good in the pictures. Check it out at www://
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    To me this would be a nice Sunday driver that's not worth so much I'd be paranoid about leaving it unattended. Sharp, decently quick, not too big or too small, would get plenty of admiring looks. I'm not wild about the Mickey Thompson valve covers and aftermarket air cleaner but they add a little sparkle and zip under the (GTO) hood. Great color combo. Don't know about the price but this is the general idea.

    Okay, Edmunds says the link has too many characters to post here but go to Hemmings and look at the red '69 LeMans convertible.

    This or something like it would be interesting enough to keep Dad happy but be mainstream and comfortable enough for the family.

  • parmparm Posts: 724
    Speedshift, thanks for posting this car. You're right. This type of car would be fun.

    With regard to THIS specific car, I have two things to say . . Come on! and Paaaaaaaleeeezzz!

    Far be it from me to question anybody's honor. But, the ad says "documented frame-off restoration" - which begs the question, who would go through the time, effort and cost to do a frame-off restoration on a nothing special 350 2bbl Lemans!?

    The trunk photo sure doesn't show the results of a frame off restoration. Me thinks I smell a rat.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    A clean original is the way to go.

    This car sure looks sweet. What a great color combination, sporty yet elegant. Skylarks feel substantial and they're not abused as much because the wannabe street racers avoid them. The '71 350-2v would burn unleaded regular too.

    This is what I'd be looking for if I wanted a substantial car but didn't want to spend an arm and a leg. A Cutlass from this era would be good too.

  • parmparm Posts: 724
    Too bad this '71 Skylark is for sale through a dealer - which probably added $5K to the price. For that kind of money, I'd want bucket seats, a console and A/C.

    At $14,000 we're fast approaching, if not already in, the price range for a decent 1962-64 Cadillac convertible (assuming a purchase through a private seller).

    I guess a nice, 1970's Pontiac (or similar) convertible for around $5K is not possible.
  • jsylvesterjsylvester Posts: 572
    I've seen a number of 25-30 year old convertibles for sale in that price range. The issue is deciding how picky you want to be over make, model, color, etc.

    Just speaking for my personal buying experience, I had the revelation that buying a 1960's convertible muscle car in good shape would be much more than I wanted to spend. I set a limit on what I would spend, decided it had to be close enough to see in person, and be in as good shape as possible, and something I liked as well.

    That is how I started wanting a Pontiac GTO or Plymouth Roadrunner convertible, and ended up with a 67 Ford Galaxie 500 XL convertible. For the price difference, I could have bought 4-5 XL convertibles in similar condition. It also gives me enough money to keep the car in tip-top condition, as well as planning the improvements I want to make the car faster. Plus, I can drive it and not worry about hurting the value of the car.

    I still like 60-70's Pontiac's. What's important is to buy something you like, but at a price you want to pay. I only looked for about 2-3 months, it just seemed like the time to start driving.
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    Sylvester, that's a great example of being flexible and adjusting quickly to market realities.

    If I was looking for a family Sunday driver I'd do what you did: focus on getting the best car in my price range, without straying into orphan territory and without buying something that was hard to get parts for twenty years ago.

    That's why I like GM intermediates. They have proven drivetrains with good parts availability, they sold a gazillion of them so there's still plenty around and there should be good demand down the road if you decide to sell.

    But if it was really for me, there's a '60 Lark convertible with 350 that looks interesting for under $10k. You could hear the jaws dropping for miles.
  • parmparm Posts: 724
    Actually, I too like the '67 Galaxie 500 XL convertible - especially if I could find one with bucket seats, a console (where these options even available on this car?) & A/C.

    Tell you what, I'm envisioning a kind of "adopt a car" program here. You'd simply sign your Galaxie over to me and I'll drive it and keep it in my garage. Of course, if a major repair issue arises, I have the option of returning the car, no questions asked.

    That's a win-win proposition, at least for me!

    Think it over and get back to me. I'll go make room in the garage. ;-)

    Seriously, what do you think would be a reasonable price for a nice 500 XL convertible?
  • jsylvesterjsylvester Posts: 572
    There are numerous 65-67 Galaxie Convertibles out on E-bay, Hemmings, etc. They have a pretty large following, and while not as popular collector's wise as the early 60's ones, they are easy to maintain and easy to find parts for, and they literally built millions of full size Fords in those years.

    You want the XL if you want bucket seats and the console, which is what mine has. I have no air conditioning, so not sure how easy that is to find. I believe in 67 Ford built about 20,000 Galaxie 500 Convertibles, and 5,161 Galaxie 500 XL convertibles.

    I would guess a similar story for Chevy's and Pontiac's, though I believe the Fords are less expensive to buy right now. Just realize none of them are good handling cars, but without trac-lock, very easy to lay a patch.

    Depends on how original you want it to be, but a Galaxie XL Convertible in high #3 condition should go for around $7,000, which is probably the condition you want if you don't want to feel guilty driving it. However, each car is different, so for me it is worth paying an extra $1,000 if the paint, interior, top and mechanicals are in good condition. NADA on-line shows $8,500 for average retail, and #3 condition can be open to a lot of interpretation.

    Beats the depreciation of a late model convertible.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    Most "restored" cars advertised that I eventually see and appraise are, in fact, #3 condition cars.

    As for the Volo museum ad, I'd like to caution people to be very careful about buying museum cars, as they are often neglected. This comment is not directed toward Volo in particular, but all museum cars. They usually have needs and, surprisingly, are often a bit shabby. (which is why the museum is selling it--it was probably a donation or a car bought in a lot with others that are more valuable or interesting).

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  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    The 'problem' with the late '60s-early '70s Chevelle/Cutlass/Skylark/LeMans convertibles is that they're generally quite expensive. If we're still looking at the Gran Ville as a less costly alternative to a '62 Cadillac, the intermediates don't make much sense. They are nice, 'reasonably' sized, perform well and are easy to find parts for, but lately they've become a bit too pricey, IMO. Also, I think they're a lot more likely to have seen abuse than a Gran Ville.

    Volo is technically a 'museum', but their bread and butter is collectible auto sales. I don't think most of their cars are donations. Most of their cars are 'on display' more as a sales tool than for any quasi-historic purpose.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    I guess if Franklin can have a mint, than Volo can have a museum.

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  • parmparm Posts: 724
    I can certainly vouch for Mr. Shiftright's thoughts on museum cars. The '62 Eldorado convertible I was trying to buy was an excellent example. It had some problems (some due to inactivity) and had been a donation to a museum.

    These issues impacted why I was only willing to offer $10K for this car. Of course, they sold it for $12,500. While this car was near stunning to look at from 10 feet, it had too many mechanical/convenience glitches. At $10K, it would've been worth it, but not at $12,500 IMO.
  • parmparm Posts: 724
    The auction closed with a high bid of $14,100. Who knows whether this represents a legitimate bid or a "shill" bid. Just thought I'd pass the information along.
  • jsylvesterjsylvester Posts: 572
    Was 75 the last year for a Pontiac full size convertible? Maybe someone had a personal ambition to own one, and the money to make it happen. It does sound pretty pricey, but who knows.

    I think the Pontiac Nationals are coming up in Norwalk, OH, which is pretty close to Northern Indiana. May be worth a trip to check out and see what kind of Pontiac you like.

    What ever happened to your 68 300M Convertible? Those are probably a good choice for the features and price you are looking for.
  • parmparm Posts: 724
    1968 Chrysler 300 (technically, a non-letter car) convertibles are very tough to find, at least as far as I've been able to determine.

    The only nice example I found was the red one that was the subject of my other forum. But, the price on that car, at least by most who weighed in on that discussion, was high. If I recall correctly, the asking price was $14K and was offered by a dealer. Plus, that car was down in Texas which presents the same transportation problem we've discussed above.

    By the way, the Pontiac-Oakland Club International (POCI) national meet is July 9-13 in Charleston, W. Virginia (I'm a member of POCI).

    Do you have any more info on the Pontiac meet in Ohio? This would be closer to my E. Central Indiana locale.
  • andre1969andre1969 Posts: 23,040
    ...was the final year for all the GM B-bodied convertibles (Caprice, Grand Ville, Delta 88, LeSabre). Only the Eldorado 'vert, which I believe was called the E-body back then carried into 1976.

    Just for kicks, here's a quick summary of the various '75 B-bodies...

    Chevy Caprice Classic: 121.5" wb, base weight: 4343 lb, $5113 base price, 145 hp 350 V-8 standard (a 2bbl, I'd guess), 8,349 built.

    Buick LeSabre Custom: 123.5" wb, base weight: 4392 lb, $5133 base price, 165 hp 350 V-8 standard, 5,300 built.

    Oldsmobile Delta 88 Royale: 124" wb, base weight 4455 lb, $5200 base price, 170 hp 350 V-8 standard, 21,038 built.

    Pontiac Grand Ville Brougham: 126" wb, base weight: 4520 lb, $5858 base price, 185 hp 400 V-8 standard (guess this was a 4-bbl; the lesser Catalina/Bonneville only had 170 hp), 4,519 built.

    So the Pontiac was the least popular of them all. I guess that's not too surprising, considering it was the largest, heaviest, most expensive, and had the largest engine, which was a definite handicap in 1975, in the wake of the first fuel crisis.

    I'm surprised at the high price of the Grand Ville, compared to its siblings as well. This might be partly because the Grand Ville tried to compete in the same market as the C-body Electra and 98, even though it was "only" a B-body.

    It's also interesting that the Delta 88 outsold all its siblings combined. I guess the combination of good looks, a low price, decent V-8, and the Oldsmobile name (back when it meant something) made that car a winner. I believe the Olds 350 also took to emissions controls better than the Chevy, Buick, or Pontiac 350's, which might have made the car more desireable.

    As long as you don't over-pay, I think any of 'em would be a cool car to have. I can't speak from driving experience on the '75's, but I drove a '72 Impala and a '73 Caprice 'vert. Neither of 'em handled as well or took off as quickly as my '67 Catalina, but I wouldn't be ashamed of any of 'em.

    I did drive a '75 LeSabre once, but it was just a 4-door sedan. This was back when I had my '69 Dart GT, which I had just fixed up, and I was thinking about buying a beater to keep the miles off the Dart. Only problem was, they wanted more for this LeSabre than I paid for the Dart!
  • speedshiftspeedshift Posts: 1,598
    I've always thought that the "museum" part of Volo Museum is either a tax dodge or a marketing gimmick. Those folks seem to be in business to make money.

    It's interesting that the Skylark is about the same price as the '62 Cadillac. The Buick is a far better driver but doesn't have the wretched excess appeal of the Cadillac. Maybe a continental kit and wide whitewalls would fix that.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaPosts: 57,595
    The high bid on the '75 Pontiac was on a car with only 5,200 miles, correct? This may have driven the price up, although again I am totally mystified because this car will never be a classic or a collectible of any stature; however, it is a freak with 5,200 miles and there are a few people who will pay for freaks. There is something sort of appealing about a "time capsule" type of car that looks, smells and is essentially new.

    My own rule of thumb still applies I think : If a car was a big nothing when it was made, it will always remain a big nothing.

    Having desperately tried every trick in the book to sell a gorgeous 1976 Caddy Eldo with 60K miles, I can safely say that my initial estimate of true market value was nearly perfect. The car sold for $8,500 afte 6 months. I think the mid-70s GM convertibles will always sit right about in that price bracket, $5K8K depending on condition. I'd say "mine" was a high #2.

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  • ghuletghulet Posts: 2,628
    I really don't see the point in spending $14k, even if it's the nicest '75 Gran Ville in the world. The point is, it's still a '75 Pontiac. At that price and with those miles, it doesn't make a good 'driver'. I can think of 'trailer queens' I'd rather have than a 1975 Pontiac. I'd rather have a cheaper example of this car, or a more interesting $14k 'driver' (like a '62 Eldorado). $5-8k does seem like the target price for the big GM 'verts of that era, and it's a sum you could spend for a nice car that you wouldn't be paranoid to actually drive.
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