Auto World creates a rare souped up Ponty with a V8 …
Back in 1969 GM was in the midst of its popularity and market share dominance with Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Buick, Cadillac and Pontiac cars all selling like Mary Jane at a Stones concert.
But the tide was turning and the many stellar designs of the 1960s were about to come crashing into the flat, blah styling and gas crisis of the early 1970s, plus the influx of Japanese makes with much better reliability.
The Grand Prix, a popular Pontiac nameplate, still exuded style with a long lean look and a nose that still resonates as car makers keep going back to a big proboscis up front to differentiate their brands from competitors. Thus we have the 1969 Pontiac Grand Prix, here gussied up in the rare Royal Bobcat Model J version that was a super limited edition thanks to the work of Royal Pontiac of Royal Oak, Mich.
Only 12 of these babies were produced and now Auto World has gone and made its own Limited Edition 1/18 scale die-cast model for collectors.
First a little history. Grand Prix was redesigned for 1969 with a look that John DeLorean, Pontiac’s GM and later founder of DeLorean Motor Co., wanted to remind buyers of old luxury. Think Duesenberg, Cadillac, or Packard. Opera windows were soon to follow.
But for now the Pontys hoods were long with a raised pointed section that led to a giant arrow-like nose that was all chrome. Apparently, then and now, the bigger the nose and grille, the more luxurious and prestigious the vehicle. The profile was sleek, but seemed stretched to extreme, and DeLorean loved using SJ and J as special models, just as in the classic car days of the 1930s.
Well, Royal Pontiac had been souping up Pontiacs for much of the post-WWII era and so it was natural that it would want to perk up the new Grand Prix, even if it looked more luxurious that muscular.
First, it added a tachometer to the hood so a driver, maybe at the drag strip, could easily see its readout while tromping the gas pedal. Think of it as an early Head-Up Display. All Royal models were then ordered with GM’s optional 428 High-Output four-barrel carbed V8 that is said to have made 390 horsepower. That’s a lot of oomph now, and was then too.
The compression also was raised and the engine used the same camshaft as Ponty’s Ram Air III system for added power. Tim (the Toolman) Taylor would be proud.
Royal also ordered its 12 special models in Matador (did AMC know?) Red with painted white three-quarter roofs that were popular at the time. That left a red hoop over the roof’s rear, sort of like a visual roll bar.
This model faithfully delivers on the Royal Bobcat (why a Bobcat I don’t know) look with a thick red finish and white roof, along with plenty of chrome. Front and rear bumpers and the nose are chrome, naturally, plus door handles, mirror and side rocker panel trim. Silver paint traces the wheel wells and windows, plus five little hash marks as a decorative design on the C-pillars.
That hood tach is represented by a domed reverse scoop, but really stands out as something unusual on this model. Cool!
Headlights are etched to look realistic and surrounded by squared silver trim plates while there’s also a Royal GP ’69 Michigan license front and rear.
Under the massive hood is a finely detailed V8 with blue engine block, chrome air cleaner, plus copious plumbing and wiring. Auto World includes all the fluid containers too and a big fan shroud.
In back the trunk opens to reveal a spare tire and you’ll also find Grand Prix spelled out in lettering below the trunk’s keyhole.
Inside, the dark red interior has well molded seats with horizontal ribbing and chrome trim while the dash is full of round gauges that are recessed to add depth. The steering wheel is a matching dark red with three spokes. But it looks a bit too plastic, although experience tells me the late 1960s and early 1970s GM steering wheels were often a slick plastic that turned sweaty in summer. We had a ’69 Olds Cutlass with a sweaty wheel.
Again Auto World creates a fine undercarriage with suspension and exhausts visible for collectors who like to put their cars in cases with mirrored bases. However, like other Auto World cars, this Pontiac comes in a box with windows all around that make it easy to display this Ponty just as it is.
This is a rare Pontiac, but one that still delivered both power and style.
Vital Stats: 1969 Pontiac Royal Bobcat Grand Prix Model J
Maker: Auto World
Stock No.: AW1273