In the 80s and 90s, it was tough to be a Pontiac fan. Detroit bean counters had relegated most of the division’s proud models to bland copycats of compromised, committee-driven designs. But, every once in a while, true car guys broke free from GM’s massive bureaucracy and knocked one straight out of the park! Wrapping a 300 horsepower, supercharged V6 in a slick, Petty-themed body, this 1999 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP is one such homerun. With its storied provenance, the car is museum-fresh in every way. And, as the ONLY Richard Petty-themed Grand Prix ever authorized by General Motors, it’s as unique as it is cool! Now that GM’s performance division has taken an indefinite hiatus, the search is on for modern collector cars which set the standard for future classics. And this one-of-a-kind coupe might just be the nicest nouveau Pontiac on the planet!
To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Petty Enterprises, Richard Petty wanted to create a limited edition street car that fans could purchase at their local Pontiac store. The project was jump-started by Indy 500 winner Danny Sullivan, who teamed with GM insiders and legendary gearhead Bruce Canepa. Eventually, Canepa’s longtime friend Chip Foose aided in graphics and color selection. And finally, all of the team’s aesthetic and mechanical upgrades were personally approved by King Richard himself. It looked as if the hot Pontiac was well on its way to becoming a reality. That is, until GM’s notorious bean counters scrapped the entire project. Ultimately, Canepa and company were left with the only official Richard Petty Pontiac Grand Prix GTP ever produced. And, for the past 15 years, the car has remained in spectacular, show-ready condition thanks to the Canepa Motorsports Museum in Scotts Valley, California.
From Grand Am SC/Ts to S.E.M.A. GXPs, Pontiac, in the spirit of its original GTO, always spawned specialty offerings from mass-produced hardware. It’s just too bad that hardly any of those offerings actually made it to the showroom. At the front of this bejeweled coupe, a clean and chip-free nose hangs clearcoated, NASCAR-style grilles between bright headlights, recessed fog lamps and an upsized Pontiac emblem. Behind that nose, an angled hood flows to like-new glass that’s centered between painted rearview mirrors. At the sides of that hood, a shaved profile balances Petty-themed accents on white rockers, Pearl Metallic paint and Candy Tangerine stripes. And at the back of that profile, a Carbon Kevlar spoiler reflects a shaved trunk, a small “Richard Petty” script and custom stainless exhaust tips.
As you probably know, the sixth generation Grand Prix was factory-equipped with GM’s beefy 3800 Series II V6. When customers checked the box for a top-option GTP, the car came standard with an Eaton supercharger. And, knowing this GTP’s original purpose, GM added some choice Delphi upgrades that create a Trans Am-worthy 300 horsepower! Internally dubbed the L67, this relatively light mill is a highly reliable piece that has an excellent reputation for strong internals and impressive power gains. The large-displacement block is perfectly suited for the car’s glossy black engine bay. All its hard parts are factory original, with the exception of beefed up electronics, a custom air box and an awesome carbon fiber cowl. And, as expected, all tags, markings and stamps are exactly where they should be.
Under this museum-fresh W-Body, spotless floors and clean factory hardware make it clear that the car’s current owner is meticulous about maintenance. Behind the growling V6, a proven GM 4T65-E 4-speed utilizes higher shift points to create better low-end torque. That drivetrain rides on a smooth MacPherson Strut suspension, which is fitted a with a front tower support, a rear anti-roll bar, high performance lowering springs and aggressive gas struts. Braking is provided by prerequisite power discs, which measure 12 inches up front and 11 inches out back. Exhaust rolls to brushed stainless tips via stainless, cat-back pipes. Power flows through massive 255/40 Goodyear Eagle F1s, which lap custom, 19-inch wheels. And overall, this coupe is an absolute delight to drive!
This low-slung Poncho’s sporty interior begins with custom Connolly leather seats that feature stylish Richard Petty scripts. Below those seats, like-new Canepa Design carpet is protected by tough Canepa Design floor mats. At the center of that carpet, a narrow console centers glossy carbon fiber accents between a leather-wrapped shifter and leather-covered storage. That console flows into a curved dash that seats factory instrumentation behind more carbon fiber accents. At the sides of that dash, Connolly door panels center official Petty plaques behind, you guessed it, even more carbon fiber accents. Above those panels, a spotless ‘mouse fur’ headliner stretches tight around a second console. In front of the driver, a leather-wrapped steering wheel retains all of its factory functionality. And behind the passengers, a cavernous trunk features Petty-branded Canepa Design carpeting.
The sale of this unique coupe includes an owner’s manual, a warranty booklet, a write up from Canepa Design, pictures from Canepa Design, a small stack of historical paperwork and a fitted car cover.
Concept cars are rarely sold to the general public, let alone one that was authorized by a true living legend. And today’s pedigreed metal is virtually guaranteed to be tomorrow’s blue chip collectibles. Whether you’re a diehard Pontiac fan, or just a smart investor looking for a good bet on solid appreciation, this rare Grand Prix is the modern classic you crave!