Pontiac For 1999
By Carey Russ
Pontiac got 1999 off to an early start with the introduction of the 1999 Grand Am in early 1998. The newest Grand Am brings bold Pontiac styling and character to the compact sedan and coupe markets. In other news, the minivan formerly known as Trans Sport has a new name, the Firebird and Grand Prix lines have performance enhancements, and the Sunfire GT convertible is new.
The Grand Am is Pontiac's best-selling car, and has been the most popular car in its class for the past five years. The 1999 sedans and coupes went on sale in early 1998 and brought Pontiac's expressive style to the masses. Both sedans and coupes have a similar roofline, for a sedan with sporty style and a coupe with real interior space. But there is more than style involved. An all-new, very rigid unibody chassis has a longer wheelbase and wider track for handling improvements and more interior space.
Coupes and sedans are available in five trim levels. Engine choices are the 150-hp 2.4-liter "Twin Cam" four-cylinder and the torquey, 170-hp 3400 V6. Four-speed automatic transmissions and antilock brakes are standard equipment.
The Montana option package, offered on the Trans Sport minivan for the past two years, was so popular that Pontiac has dropped the Trans Sport name for 1999. Besides the usual year-to-year color and trim changes, the 1999 Montana has plenty of comfort, convenience, and even performance options.
A passenger-side power sliding door is now available on extended-wheelbase models. Available heated, leather-covered front seats and a "Montana Vision" VCR-based inflight entertainment system for the rear-seat passengers will keep passengers happy. A "Sport" performance and handling package features puncture-sealant tires. Both regular and extended-wheelbase body styles are offered.
After last year's restyling and new V8 engine, what more could be done to the Firebird? Try a Hurst (r) shifter for the six-speed manual gearbox with the V8. Yes, the same Hurst that made the shifter in the GTO back in the Sixties. Also, to help get the power to the ground, full-feature traction control is now available on V6 Firebirds as well as V8s. A Torsen (r) torque-sensitive differential can be installed on all Firebird V8s and V6 models with the 3800 Performance Package to further limit wheel slip.
Power has always been a Firebird trademark, and 1999 is no different. The 3800 Series II V6 makes 200 horsepower. The 5.7-liter LS1 V8 has 305 horsepower. If that's not enough, a 320-hp WS-6 version is available. Coupe and convertible body styles are offered.
The Grand Prix is offered in SE sedan, GT sedan and coupe, and GTP sedan and coupe form. All have interior upgrades for 1999. The 3800 Series II V6 used in GT models now has 200 horsepower, five more than previously. If that's not enough, GTP models use a supercharged version of the 3800 Series II with 240 horsepower.
The Sunfire, Pontiac's youth-market car, is offered in coupe, sedan, and convertible body styles. The GT convertible is new, and features the same front and rear styling as the GT coupe.
SE sedans and coupes have a 115-hp, 2.2-liter four-cylinder engine. Optional in the SE and standard in the GT coupe and convertible is the 150-hp 2.4-liter "Twin Cam" engine, which has minor upgrades this year.
The Bonneville sedan continues with new color choices for 1999. A choice of naturally-aspirated 205-hp or supercharged 240-hp versions of the 3800 Series II V6 ensures Pontiac levels of performance.