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Pre-Owned: 1992-1998 Pontiac Grand Am

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Not always so Grand

It is a tradition in the North American automobile industry to name vehicles after something that creates emotions or reactions. Take Challenger,
1997 Pontiac Grand Am (Photo: Philippe Champoux,
Charger, Phoenix, Galaxie and Grand Prix as examples. Sometimes, these names suit the car, sometimes, they do not.

In 1973, Pontiac revealed the first-ever Grand Am. It was available as a 2-door or a 4-door. It was big and it was powerful with a selection of V8 engines. Its name made reference to the Grand American Road Racing Association and it made sense given the performance and look of the car. The following generation of the car, 1978-1980, had shrunk and lost some of its bite. From 1985 to 1991, the compact Pontiac had a sleeker look. The real performance came from the turbocharged 2.0L (1987-89) and from the two versions of the Quad-4 engines. This car also marked the appearance of cladding as a sporty ad-on.

The forth generation Grand Am (1992-98) took the plastic body cladding from the third generation to a whole new level; the more it had, the faster
1997 Pontiac Grand Am (Photo: Philippe Champoux,
and sportier the car had to be. The major design elements of Grand Am included the twin-split front grill, slim slanted headlights, the thick side moulding that travelled from one bumper to the other, the large rear elevated taillights and wide assortment of wheels.

The choice of body styles, engines and trim levels basically insured that just about anyone could find something to suit their tastes and needs. When equipped with the right alloys and add-on accessories, the Grand Am looked sporty and aggressive. Although there was a fair level of attention given to the final appearance of the product, the quality of the panel assembly was fair at best. The Grand Am underwent a facelift in 1996.

The cabin of the Grand Am gives the impression that it was overdone. There is almost a cartoonish quality to the way that the multiple sections of the dash come together. Many of the buttons and controls are large, grey and cheap to the look and feel. The ergonomics were correct. The gauges are large and simple to read. The seats are fair generally speaking although the padding is a little thin. The rear bench is comfy and roomy enough for two passengers.

This generation of the Grand Am was delivered with a large variety of engine selections. The most widely available was the 2.3L 4-cylinder.
1997 Pontiac Grand Am (Photo: Philippe Champoux,
Throughout the years, the power numbers ranged from 115 hp to 155 hp with SOHC or DOHC. The high-output Quad-4 put out 175-180 hp. As of 1996, the displacement climbed to 2.4L and it generated 150 hp. In 1992 and 1993, a 160 hp 3.3L V6 was obtainable. From 1994 to 1998, the 3.1L was an option at 155 hp. Between 1992 and 1993, transmission choices were a 5-speed manual or a 3-speed automatic. By 1994, the 3-speed was replaced by a 4-speed autobox. The V6 was only offered with an automatic. Brakes consisted of front discs and rear drums and the suspension was independent up front and semi-independent in the rear.