1963 Grand Prix Sports Coupe.
In 1963, along with the other B-body Ponchos, the Grand Prix shared an all-new body that was more angular and modern-looking than the previous year. Gone were the '62's side cove and the chrome fender wind-splits. The most apparent change was the radical stacked headlight treatment and the new "Coke-bottle" body style.
The 1963 Grand Prix is considered by many enthusiasts to be the first "true" Grand Prix. Even the 1977 Pontiac dealer catalog incorrectly listed the 1963 version as the introductory year of GP production.
While we don't agree with that notion, there is no denying that the 1963 GP is a significant and desirable vehicle. Talk about a show-stopper! This car, along with the other full-size '63 Pontiacs, is credited with changing the look of Detroit offerings for the next several years.
To help differentiate it from the Catalina, the GP featured round signal lights set off with a single horizontal chrome strip within the grille cavity.
The sides of the car were clean and unadorned except for the "Grand Prix" lettering, plus moldings for the rocker panels and wheel openings. This year, the roof was unique, featuring gracefully sculpted C-pillars housing a concave rear window. The roof would continue to be a GP styling trademark through 1968. Out back, the '63 featured a special full-width molding that covered the rear of the decklid and simultaneously hid the taillights.
The public responded very warmly to the restyled GP, as production jumped to 72,959 unitsmore than double the previous year's total. In fact, the GP stole a good deal of sales from the stunning new Buick Riviera, which could muster only a 40,000-unit production run.
The powerplants for the '63 were similar to 1962, but some changes were made. The base engine was still the 303-horse 389, again with 3-speed, 4-speed, or automatic. The 230-hp regular-gas engine was again an auto-matic-only option, and the 313-hp Tri-Power 389 was also a carryover with the same tranny choices as before.
Where the similarities end is the "official" deletion of the two 389-425A Trophy powerplants. In their place were two regular-production 421 HO engines. The first was the single 4-barrel version, a 10.75:1 block that kicked out 353 hp at 5000 rpm and 455 lbs.-ft. of torque at 3400. The top street engine for 1963 was the 421 HO Tri-Power. With 370 hp at 5200 rpm and a whopping 460 lbs.-ft. of torque at 3800, there was little for a Tri-Power HO to fear on the street, especially if it ran the optional 4-speed and 3.42 gears.
A 1963 Grand Prix so equipped for a Motor Trend road test clicked off a 0-to-60 time of 6.6 seconds and covered the quarter mile in 15.1 seconds at 94 mph. Very respectable for a car of that size and weight!
While the 421 HO Tri-Power was the top street engine for 1963, it was possible to order a 421 Super Duty Grand Prix for competition purposes. Only three were ever built, one with the 390-horse NASCAR 4-barrel 421 SD, and two with the 405-hp 421 SD with dual quads and aluminum front ends! Unfortunately, none of the three are thought to survive today.
Pontiac built another X-400 Grand Prix show car for 1963. It is believed that the 1962 X-400 was parted out by Pontiac to make the new car. The '63 was painted a wild Pearl Yellow and featured many of the same customizing tricks as its predecessor, including wire-mesh headlight screens, a fiberglass top boot, a wood-rim steering wheel, and exhaust ports in the quarter panels. In addition, the new version also had a 4-71 blown 421 with four Corvette side-draft carbs. It may very well have been the '62's engine. The interior featured four custom bucket seats and a full-length console extending all the way back between the rear buckets. Like the 1962 version, the new X-400 was also equipped with a three-position exhaust bypass lever, and the dash had a full complement of accessory gauges.