Q: Hello Greg and I enjoy and look forward to reading every one of your columns in Auto Round-Up!
In the spring of 1966, my dad ordered a brand new 1966 Pontiac Grand Prix with a 421 cubic inch V8 and an automatic three-speed transmission. It had the single four-barrel carburetor and was rated at 338 horsepower.
I learned how to drive and got my license in that Pontiac and I have so many good memories of it, especially the weekend Friday and Saturday nights.
Is the 1966 Pontiac Grand Prix a rare car? I see a lot of the full-size Bonnevilles, Star Chief Executives, and Catalinas including the Catalina 2+2, and many smaller Lemans and GTOs. But I hardly ever see a 1966 Grand Prix at the area car shows.
I look forward to hearing from you and thanks again. Michael Miller, Wexford, PA
A: Thank you Michael for the comments about my work and your dedication to Auto Round-Up Magazine, which continues to grow each and every year serving the collector car hobby.
I dug up some interesting information on the 1966 model year and found that of all the full-size Pontiacs that year that were standalone models, the rarest is indeed. Specifically, just 36,757 Pontiac Grand Prix models were built and delivered to Pontiac dealerships from a total Pontiac production of over 750,000 cars.
This rarity is in full consideration of the Catalina 2+2, of which only 6,383 built of the 79,000 Catalinas sold that year in two-door hardtop and convertible style.
Notable, too, is the Star Chief Executive (45,212 built), which rode on a 124-inch wheelbase as opposed to Catalina, Bonneville and Grand Prix, all featuring a shorter 121-inch wheelbase. The Lemans and Tempest/GTO mid-size cars were built on a 115-inch wheelbase.
So, with this information at hand, and the fact that the Grand Prix was indeed a standalone model, it is the rarest of the 1966 family of Pontiac vehicles.
Adding to your car’s scarcity is the 421-inch V8, of which three were available that year in horsepower ratings of 338, 356 or 376 horses. The 338 horsepower 421 was optional on your dad’s car and replaced the standard 389 V8, while the 421/338 was the standard engine for the Catalina 2+2 models.
Now just so we don’t get into disagreements with some Catalina 2+2 owners as to the 2+2’s rareness compared to Grand Prix, the 2+2 again I emphasis was a Catalina option.
So, in this case only, if we use this logic pertaining to the overall rarest of all Pontiacs for 1966, it would be the mid-size Tempest Station Wagon, where just 4,095 were built. But we’re not using this logic, so the Grand Prix is the winner of the rare discussion.
As for pricing, today these full-size 1966 Grand Prix and 2+2 models are popular, although not as popular as the 1966 mid-size muscle cars of the day from GM, notably Chevelle SS 396, Olds 442, Buick Gran Sport, and the legendary Pontiac GTO. Still, the pricing is pretty impressive.
According to the NADA Classic Car price guide, the 1966 Pontiac Grand Prix goes from a low retail of $8,070 to an average retail of $15,540 to a high retail of $29,160…thanks to that 421 V8 which adds 20-percent to the value!
As for the Catalina 2+2, prices move up for the coupe at $15,540, 21,480 and $40,440, respectively, and if it’s a 2+2 convertible, add from $6000 to $9,500 more. (A Grand Prix convertible was not available).
So there you have it Michael, as dad’s 421 Grand Prix is indeed one of the very rare Pontiacs from 1966, and the scarcest based solely on standalone model status.
Thanks much for your letter and enjoy those great memories of the decade that in my opinion was the “most fun” era when it came to cars, cruising the boulevard and high horsepower Detroit muscle.