1992 Pontiac Grand Prix

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1992 Pontiac Grand Prix

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Available in 5 styles:  Grand Prix 4dr Sedan shown
Asking Price Range
$2,612–$8,068
Estimated MPG

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Expert Reviews

    Expert Reviews 1 of 3

By 

Orlando Sentinel

Pontiac has given birth to the 1992 model year's first potential collector car.

It's the Grand Prix Richard Petty Edition, and only 1,000 will be built.

Pontiac officials say dealers have been angling for the Richard Petty Grand Prix since the General Motors division unveiled the car recently during the Daytona 500. All 1,000 have been ordered by dealers, according to Pontiac.

Petty, who drives a Grand Prix race car with Number 43, is retiring at the end of the NASCAR racing season. He has driven a Pontiac on the circuit for the past 12 years.

The Richard Petty Grand Prix costs only $399 more than a regular Grand Prix equipped the same way. While it doesn't offer any mechanical modifications, the difference is a special trim package and a personalized letter from Petty, verifying the car's authenticity and certifying its number in the 1,000-car production run.

PERFORMANCE

You can't put Richard Petty's name on anything that isn't fast - that would be a crime. But don't worry, Pontiac hasn't.

All of these cars come with General Motors' new 210-horsepower, 3.4-liter Twin Dual Cam V-6. If you can find one with a five-speed, knock $333 off the $20,290 sticker price.

The test car came with a four-speed automatic and delivered zero-to-60-mph performance in 8.6 seconds.

In a family sedan, this engine would be a little too raucous. But it's perfect for the Petty Grand Prix. The dual exhaust system is loud when the engine is revved high, and the four camshafts - two for each cylinder head - whine pleasingly at higher RPMs. Most of the power is delivered before the engine revs up high, say from 2,000 to 4,500 rpm. That means that the Petty Grand Prix will accelerate from a stop faster than most other cars of the same size.

This is one car that penalizes you for driving with a heavy foot. In town with the air conditioner on and driving with spirited enthusiasm, I got just 14 mpg. The test car, however, had fewer than 500 miles. Mileage might improve once the car is broken in.

GM's four-speed automatic is one of the best. The shifts were smooth and perfectly timed.

HANDLING

The Grand Prix is a front-wheel-drive car. In most instances, the power from the high-output V-6 is handled well.

However, you can expect to fight with the steering wheel when accelerating with a heavy foot while turning at slow speeds.

The test car came with the optional ($50) rally suspension. That stiffened the ride a bit, but not so much that the car was unruly over bad pavement. The test car more than held its own in aggressive driving, thanks in part to four-wheel independent suspension.

One gripe: The test car was not able to make sharp turns. The turning radius is a massive 39.0 feet, whereas 30 feet is more common for a coupe.

Thiscan be bothersome when jockeying for a parking space at the mall or trying to make a U-turn. The Petty Grand Prix has 16-inch tires , which increases the turning radius from the barely acceptable 36.7feet of the regular models.

FIT AND FINISH

The heart of the Petty package is a special trim package that adds unique side molding, rear spoiler, special alloy wheels, stripes, a stylized logo and a dash plaque. The car can be ordered in red, white or blue.

Dressed in white, the test car looked sharp and turned heads like no other GM car I have driven recently.

The splashy, colorful Grand Prix logo should live on. It looks much nicer than the standard Grand Prix script.

The test car's build quality was close to flawless. Nothing rattled or squeaked, and many interior parts fit tightly together.

A pair of comfortable bucket seats, a console-mounted shifter and a full set of gauges punctuate the car's sporty nature. There's an interesting switch on the console that allows the transmission to start in second gear. That is to prevent the wheels from losing traction on slippery su faces - and that could easily happen in a high-powered front-drive car.

If you are interested in a Grand Prix sport coupe, you might want to check several dealerships and see if a Richard Petty Edition is in stock.

Courtesy Pontiac/Sterling in Longwood had one in stock earlier this week and two more on order, all with automatic transmissions. McNamara Pontiac on Colonial Drive in Orlando had one in the showroom and one on order, both with automatics. Russell Pontiac in Kissimmee hada Richard Petty Grand Prix, but sold it.

In the long run, this car may turn out to be the best $399 option available this year from any automaker - foreign or domestic.


    Expert Reviews 1 of 3

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