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The FREE Complete Bay Area Auto Enthusiast Guide
1964 PONTIAC GRAND PRIX

By KENNETH HALL – Motoring Tampa Bay correspondent
Mitch Garrison and his wife Megi, of Lutz, wanted a classic American car they could take to car shows and cruise-ins. In 2010, they bought a 1964 Pontiac Grand Prix to provide Mitch with a project to celebrate his 60th birthday. Although he had owned a Pontiac GTO when he was younger, Garrison says that purchasing the Grand Prix was a bit like reliving his childhood. He was seduced by the sporty look of the car and its luxury features, even though the car was built more for highway cruising than for racing.
“The Grand Prix was more of a luxury Pontiac model. It was more of a dad car than one kids would want for drag racing,” Garrison admits. “When I bought it the car was in fair condition, but it was definitely a fixer upper. It had been painted flat black and needed a full interior restoration, plus the engine and trunk needed a lot of work.”
Christened “Candy Baby” for the candy apple red paint job, the Grand Prix features a powerful chrome-trimmed 389 cubic inch V-8 engine, power windows, rear wheel fender skirts, air shocks, tilt wood steering wheel and dashboard trim, fully-restored interior, rare eight-lug wheels and a three-speed transmission with overdrive.
Pontiac was at the top of its game in 1962 when it introduced the two-door Pontiac Grand Prix. The car was basically a sportier version of the full-size Catalina. Led by designer John DeLorean, Pontiac eliminated most of the Catalina body chrome, replaced the front bench seat with bucket seats and introduced a center console with a shift lever and tachometer. The Grand Prix epitomized the early 1960s trend of combining high performance with luxury. At 213 inches long and 78.5 inches wide, the Grand Prix was from the era of American cars when bigger was better. With the price of gasoline at 30 cents a gallon, such “land yachts” were a common sight on American roads.
Garrison wanted to return his 1964 Grand Prix to its glory days, but with the custom touches that were popular in the 1960s, including the candy apple red paint job and GTO-style side pipes. Aside from a new stereo system and 10-CD changer, and the GTO side pipes, all the parts used in the restoration were available on a 1964 Grand Prix and sourced from the legendary Pontiac Paradise boneyard in Minnesota.
Garrison kept the original engine with a Carter four barrel carburetor, which was rebuilt just before he bought the car, but decided to change out the Roto Hydramatic transmission.
“They call that transmission a Slim Jim transmission,” Garrison explains. “It was still working fine, but it was a two-speed power glide transmission and I decided to go to a three-speed transmission with overdrive as it gets better gas mileage when cruising. I still have the original Slim Jim and all the parts in a plastic case.”
The notorious Pontiac wide stance of the Grand Prix allows for more stability and control, and Garrison says the car is fully capable of speeds up to 120 to 130 miles per hour.
Designed and built just prior to the assassination of John F. Kennedy, the 1964 Pontiac Grand Prix is an American classic that reflects the optimism of the times, when the open road beckoned and all things seemed possible.
Unfortunately for Garrison, unforeseen medical bills are forcing him to sell his beloved Candy Baby, which he has listed on oldcar.com. “I had like to find a good home for it and someone who will give me what I feel is a fair price for it,” he adds.

Do you have a classic or rare American car you would like to see featured in Motoring Tampa Bay? If so, send details and contact information to kenneth.hall54@gmail.com or motoringtampabay@gmail.com