While the Pontiac Grand Prix nameplate was introduced in 1962 as a sport-oriented full size B-body, similar to the Chevy Impala SS, the car really hit its stride with a third generation redesign that launched in 1969.

Fun Fact: When it debuted in 1969, the Grand Prix had the longest hood ever available on a Pontiac. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

That’s because the 1969 Grand Prix rode on an all-new variation of the GM A-body chassis, rechristened the G-body, that would also underpin the Chevy Monte Carlo coming a year later. The move shifted more focus on performance as well, with standard disc brakes and a base V8, along with options like a 428ci engine and M21 Muncie four-speed.

1969 Pontiac Grand Prix SJ, front quarter
An easy way to tell a 1969 Grand Prix from facelifted 1970 models is with the horizontal bars in the “beak” grille up front. The bars were vertical in 1970. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

But at the top of the order sheet sat the “SJ” package, a designation supposedly pulled from the legendary Duesenberg portfolio. It automatically gave you the 428 Pontiac powerplant, a robust gauge package, and a host of upscale enhancements. (There was also a high output “SJ H.O.” model too, which we’ll talk about in a moment.)

Though Duesenberg used SJ to refer to its “Supercharged J” model, in Poncho parlance, the SJ meant “Sports J”, with J referring to the base Model J Grand Prix. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

The particular Grand Prix SJ we spotted is owned by Scott Mancini, a diehard Grand Prix fan who’s had plenty of these cars in the past.

“I’ve had many of them, but this is the best one,” Mancini quips as he gestures to the mere 13,000 miles on the odometer.

With guidance from John Delorean, the redesigned 1969 Grand Prix took aim at the performance luxury segment and cars like the Mercury Cougar. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

Mancini bought the car in 2016 from the original owners in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who had kept it stunningly clean for decades. “This car sat in the garage on jack stands from 1986 to 2016, never started,” he smiles.

“The only things that’d ever been really changed were the tires and the battery.”

When asked about the rarity of the manual transmission, Mancini responds “In the SJ, they made 302 of ’em, They made a little over a thousand total four-speeds in 1969.” (Image/OnAllCylinders)

In Mancini’s possession, the car continues to be well cared for, and he’s making only minor updates to maintain the car’s originality. “I replaced the nylon gear in the timing chain, had the radiator re-cored, and that’s about it.”

As a testament to its condition, Mancini popped the trunk to reveal a spotless rear cargo compartment. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

While this particular Grand Prix Mancini drove to the show was a standard SJ model, he tells us that the he’s got another one resting in his garage too—a coveted four-speed 1969 Grand Prix SJ H.O.

We alluded to the High Output model earlier, but checking that “SJ H.O.” box on the options sheet got you the 390 horsepower 428 V8, up 20 ponies from the 370 hp 428 that came with the standard SJ trim seen here.

In 1969, SJ models got the 370 hp 428ci Pontiac V8. The SJ H.O. pushed the 428’s output to 390 hp. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

Speaking of engines, in 1970 the fire-breathing 455ci powerplant was added to the Grand Prix SJ.

But by 1975, performance had taken a back seat to luxury and a new “LJ” model slotted above the SJ. The Model J, SJ, and LJ hierarchy endured until the SJ designation was replaced by the Brougham trim in 1981—the LJ name would last until 1983.

And in 1988, the Grand Prix switched to GM’s front-wheel drive W-body, where it would remain until Pontiac was shuttered in 2010.

Along with its GM G-body stablemates the Cutlass, Monte Carlo, and Regal/GN, the Grand Prix would ultimately become one of the last of the V8-powered RWD holdouts with ties to the 1960s muscle car era. (Image/OnAllCylinders)

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Author: Paul Sakalas

Paul is the editor of OnAllCylinders. When he's not writing, you'll probably find him fixing oil leaks in a Jeep CJ-5 or roof leaks in an old Corvette ragtop. Thanks to a penchant for vintage Honda motorcycles, he spends the rest of his time fiddling with carburetors and cleaning chain lube off his left pant leg.