- The Washington Times - Friday, June 30, 2000

MODEL: Pontiac Grand Prix GTP
VEHICLE TYPE: Two-door coupe
MILEAGE: 18 city, 28 highway

This week, the Walter Mitty in me played with my mind. I led the pack while driving a Pontiac Grand Prix Daytona Pace Car Replica as crowds cheered.
Of course, Walter Mitty was nothing more than a dreamer, but the Grand Prix is for real. As a result, I did a lot of pretending. And the Pace Car Replica made me want to play a lot of make-believe games.
This is a sharp-looking coupe with bold aggressive styling decorated with the official Daytona decals and painted in an unusual but eye-catching silver color. Adding to its attractive appearance are 16-inch three-spoke highly polished aluminum wheels, and the heat extractor that is cut into the hood actually works. The rear deck lid has a spoiler and even the exhaust pipes have snazzy bright tips. What's more, the Pace Car Replica is somewhat of a rare sight as it is a very limited-edition car.
The Daytona theme is seen in the inside, too. The leather seats are in a contrasting color and have the distinctive Daytona emblems sewn into the seat back headrest inserts. Although the power controls on the driver's seat allowed me to sit in an optimum position, I discovered a drawback. I prefer to sit upright and forward and my head seemed a bit close to the sun visor. This is due to the steep rack of the windshield plus the low ceiling due to the sunroof. Incidentally, the driver's seat has a seat warmer plus a four-way lumbar support. There is very little room in the rear seat but the trunk is enormous.
The instrumentation on the Grand Prix is straightforward; there was no need for me to consult the owner's manual to figure out what was what. Even the dual air conditioning system is easy to operate. The same thing applies to the sound system. My tester was equipped with a Bose AM/FM stereo with a CD player and equalizer. The controls can be operated on the radio itself or from buttons on both sides of the steering wheel.
Another nice feature on this coupe is the head-up display, available as an option. The speed projected on a screen that can be seen in the windshield area; it also briefly projects the radio station as they are tuned using the steering wheel controls. It also shows when the directional signal is operating. All this allows the driver's eyes to stay focused on the road.
The head-up display is but one of the numerous safety features on this car. Others include the dual frontal air bags, four-wheel power anti-lock brakes, programmable door locks, daytime running lamps, front and rear outboard lap and shoulder belts, and remote keyless entry. And for good measure, it has fog lamps.
The 2000 Grand Prix is available as a coupe or sedan but the GTP coupe is something extra special. Although the base price is $24,280, the Daytona package plus a few options, brought the bottom line of my tester to $29,185. That's a lot of money for playing head games with Walter Mitty, but the real fun and value of this car is the responsive performance of the engine, and the way it handles.
Pontiac is known for building wide-track cars; this extra stability makes the GTP coupe a solid road-hugger when making sharp turns. Add the 3.8-liter supercharged V-6 engine that produces 240 horsepower and 280 foot-pounds of torque and an open road becomes a wonderful experience. It handles like a dream, with or without Mitty.
Even though this car is only a replica, it's fun pretending. As for any Walter Mitty types, you had better act quickly. Pontiac is only going to produce 2,000 of this special edition, and they'll go fast.

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