The Pontiac Grand Prix was well-positioned for the upsurge in personal luxury car popularity in the 1970s, as it had been serving that market since its 1962 debut. With the SSJ conversion offered by the Hurst Performance Research Corporation, its standing could be further elevated.
When reinvented for '69, the Grand Prix featured contemporary long-hood/shortdeck styling, a much trimmer appearance than its full-size predecessor, and a cockpit-inspired interior. Borrowing nomenclature from Duesenberg, GPs were offered as a Model J or the sportier Model SJ. They posted record sales.
George Hurst wanted to introduce a limited-edition Pontiac, and when he saw adman Jim Wangers' white '69 SJ with Tiger Gold Royal Pontiac paint accents, George bought it to use for development. Hurst partnered with the Pontiac Motor Division to produce the 1970-'72 SSJ Hurst.
The '72 GP's 400-cu.in. four-barrel low-compression engine was standard and a 455 was optional. Both had D-port heads, were rated at 250 hp, and were backed by the rugged TH400 three-speed automatic, but the 455 had an additional 50 lb-ft of torque at 370.
A 10-bolt 3.08:1-geared differential was standard and 3.23 gearing was optional. The C-type 12-bolt differential with 3.07 gears was used with the 455 and 3.31s were available. Safe-T-Track (limited-slip) for either type cost extra.
The 118-inch wheelbase of the G-body Grand Prix's perimeter frame was 6 inches longer than that of the A-body GTO and two-door Le Mans, but like them, it used a short, long arm (SLA) front suspension with anti-roll bar, the four-link rear, and coil springs and shocks fore and aft. Power assists for the variable-ratio steering and disc/drum brakes were standard.
For '71, single headlamps replaced the dual layout on each side of the new grille. Boattail styling was revealed in the revised deck lid, and the taillamps and bumpers were updated. The grille pattern and taillamp details were altered for '72.
To buy an SSJ, a Model J (J or SJ for '70) was ordered at a Pontiac dealer in Cameo White or Starlight Black. Interestingly, George Hurst's '72 SSJ was silver, and a Bluestone Gray (1971 color) '72 SSJ also exists, as does a green one. Rumors of additional colors have surfaced as well.
Body-colored mirrors were required by Hurst but a Cordova top was not allowed. Morrokide or cloth-and-Morrokide-covered buckets with the factory Sport shifter and console, or a notchback bench seat without them could be had. Extra-cost Rally II or Honeycomb wheels with G78-14 whitewall tires were mandated. A Hurst order form was also completed by the salesperson.
American Racing wheels with gold centers, GR60-15 BFG T/A Radials, Wheel- Guard Sentry, Auto Security Alarm System, Auto/Stick shifter for bench-seat SSJs, Roll/Control, and engine super-tuning and blueprinting were offered by Hurst at extra cost. The Digital Performance Computer that calculated ET and mph, a portable Sony TV, and an onboard telephone were innovative for the era.
GPs destined to become SSJs were built on a Pontiac assembly line and then drop-shipped to Roseville, Michigan, ('71-'72) for the Hurst conversion. Shipping code "50 012" ('71-'72) is on the lower right of the factory invoice. (A copy of it is included in a package that can be purchased from PHS Automotive Services, www.phs-online.com, which also contains additional useful information).
An electric sunroof and a black, Antique White, or plain white landau-style half-top were installed, Hurst Fire Frost Gold high-metallic paint accents were applied to the upper body (and wheels) and outlined with hand-painted pinstripes, and die-cast SSJ Hurst emblems were added. For '72, the package's retail cost was $1,275.00. The buyer could take delivery at Hurst or the dealer.
Published production figures we've seen for '72 SSJs are 60 and 52, but Jim Mattison of PHS Automotive Services believes it could be as high as 200, based on his research. In "Pontiac SSJ Grand Prix—A Grand Story" by Rocky Rotella, published in High Performance Pontiac magazine, former Hurst General Manager and SSJ Project Manager Don Morton explained that some dealers made their own versions of SSJs, so those aren't counted here.
Engine OHV V-8; cast-iron block and cylinder heads
Displacement 400-cu.in. (standard); 455-cu.in. (optional)
Horsepower 250 @ 4,400 rpm (400); 250 @ 3,600 rpm (455)
Fuel system Four-barrel with cast-iron intake manifold
Transmission Turbo Hydra-Matic 400
Wheelbase 118 inches
Length 213.6 inches
Width 76.4 inches
Height 52 inches
Curb weight 3,960 pounds (approximate)
Production Unconfirmed, believed to be between 52 and 200 for 1972
Abridged article courtesy of Hemmings, written by Thomas A. DeMauro.