- The Washington Times - Friday, March 1, 2002

Pontiac, this year, is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the first Grand Prix, an elegantly styled two-door hardtop coupe model.

During the first four years the motoring public quickly accepted the new model and during 1966 a total of 36,757 Grand Prix coupes were manufactured. One particular blue one with a white vinyl top, which carried a base price of $3,492, was 30 years later near its end in Glen Burnie, Md.

It was there that Elliott Mosely, proprietor of Rolls Royce Limousine Service, first saw the rusty Grand Prix. He had been looking for a car of that vintage for some time to restore. "It had to be a two-door hardtop or a convertible," he said.

He made an offer for the Grand Prix, which the owner rejected. He told Mr. Mosely that he also had a 1966 Pontiac Catalina that had to go so it was either buy both cars or none.

While the Catalina had no appeal for Mr. Mosely it was in running condition. Therefore, in the summer of 1996 he purchased both cars in order to get the one he wanted. Soon, thereafter, the business-astute Mr. Mosely sold the Catalina for twice the amount he had paid for both cars.

The Grand Prix that he kept had the original 421-cubic-inch optional V-8 engine with Tri-power carburetion. The standard V-8 engine was a 389 cubic-inch model.

Unfortunately, the power plant wasn't in the car and, beyond that, it was torn apart. The odometer had recorded 89,000 miles.

That's when Mr. Mosely began the restoration of the 4,015-pound Grand Prix. The initial step was to remove all the trim from the rocker panel. "I cut out all the hidden rust and replaced it with metal," Mr. Mosely reports. "I also had to cut out the rust from both front fenders."

As for the floor pan, Mr. Mosely said, "It was mostly in good shape and I only had a few patches to replace."

A typical rust spot on any 1966 Pontiac Grand Prix is at the base of the swayback rear window. "There was no rust there," Mr. Mosely comments. "Unbelievable."

With all the rust excised and replaced with healthy steel, the exterior of the Grand Prix was stripped to bare metal. That's when Mr. Mosely selected viper red as the color for his prized vehicle. No vinyl top for him.

For the inside of the spacious cabin Mr. Mosely selected red and white vinyl as reupholstery for the rear bench seat and front bucket seats after they had been rebuilt.

Behind the two-spoke steering wheel the 120 mph speedometer is clearly visable, as are all the gauges spread across the dashboard, all canted toward the driver. On the console mounted on the driveshaft hump is the manifold vacuum gauge, just forward of the floor shifter, with gear selections front to rear:

•Park.

•Reverse.

•Neutral.

•Drive.

•Second.

•Low.

Altogether, Mr. Mosely's Grand Prix is very well equipped with its big engine, air conditioner, power steering, automatic transmission, AM/FM radio, vacuum gauge and bucket seats.

This Pontiac was designed and built when cars were being made wider and lower, which explains the overlapping windshield wipers.

Inboard of the stacked headlights the parking lights are nestled unobtrusively in the grille cavity. Twin backup lights are incorporated in the rear bumper.

As far as Mr. Mosely can determine he is the third owner of this 1966 Pontiac Grand Prix. He does know that if it were not for him the car was rapidly heading for the junkyard.

At the rear of the Grand Prix are four wall-to-wall stainless strips that are cleverly designed to conceal the outboard taillights.

Supporting the big car on a 121-inch wheelbase, to the dismay of tire changers everywhere, are special-dimension, eight-lugnut wheels. Owners of these cars should be cautious of where they have tire failures.

After 18 months Mr. Mosely's Pontiac Grand Prix was completely rebuilt, including the engine and the automatic transmission.

Since the completion of the restoration in 1998 Mr. Mosely has boosted the total on the odometer to 94,000 miles.


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