PONTIAC GRAND AM
(Continued from page 52)
That's why we began to look for a car with Mercedes virtues but for less money and upkeep. The Grand Am has common domestic faults, but the ride is true and precise, it doesn't float at highway speeds, it turns in a reasonable circle, it doesn't stick out yards beyond the axles, it fits into my garage, it carries five people at 70 mph, and you can carry on a normal conversation at that speed."
(Please turn to page 52D)
What are some of those "domestic faults"? Owners rated workmanship good/excellent by a two-thirds majority—terrific for a Detroit car. When asked for specific complaints, 23.3 percent had none—a remarkable showing. But there are gripes.
"Alloy wheels are too soft—a brick will total one, and did!" "It's extremely difficult to find steel-belted radial snow tires to fit this car." "No rear legroom in the coupe, no light in the heater control or trunk." [They're optional.] "The tuck-under of the body makes it impossible to keep clean." "Louvered rear side windows look nice, but the glass is hard to clean, and nobody sitting in the back seat can see out." "Gas mileage is less than I expected with the two-barrel carburetor." [Lots of owners complained of poor gas mileage.] "Not enough headroom, legroom, nor trunk space." "Lousy workmanship."
We asked owners, "If you were willing to spend $1000-$2000 more for a car, would you have bought a different one?" An amazing three out of every four said no. Of those who said yes, 31.3 percent wanted a Pontiac-probably the Grand Prix or Grand Ville with more luxury and comfort options than they ordered with the Grand Am. Next came Mercedes-Benz, then Toronado and finally Cadillac. We also got a smattering of BMW, Pantera, Triumph Stag, Corvette, etc.
Several owners mentioned that passersby would punch the Grand Am's pliable nose just to see it spring back. This caused the pinstriping decal to crack and peel. But the ultimate testimonial in favor of the plastic schnozzola came from an Indiana postmaster. He says, "I am adding this little note to tell you just how effective the new bumper really is. My wife was struck across the front of our Grand Am while waiting at an intersection. The car that swiped her was doing more than 40 mph, according to the police report, when he brushed his side against the Pontiac's nose. The other car's doors and fenders were torn, and damage was estimated at $700. Damage to our Grand Am: $30. The investigating officer said that if he hadn't seen it with his own eyes, he'd never have believed it."
What are some suggestions owners have for improving the Grand Am?
"Swivel bucket seats and the door straps moved back so they're not such a long reach."