1978 - A new generation.
The General's new G-body made its debut in 1978. Riding on
a new 108-inch wheelbase, the Grand Prix shared a common platform with the Chevy Monte Carlo,
Buick Regal and Olds Cutlass. The new GP lost almost 750 pounds and a full 17 inches in length.
Due to the increased commonality of body parts and a much
boxier look, the GP was more generic than ever. Although the '78 did have some traditional GP
styling cues, they were confined to the front and rear end treatments, and almost looked like
token gestures. A large radiator-style grille and quad rectangular headlights adorned the front.
The roofline was a formal notchback design, while the rear had vertical taillights with slotted
As before, the new-generation GP was offered in three versions,
the standard model, the sportier SJ and the luxurious LJ. While the most recognizable differences
between them were trim and interior levels, the differences became less apparent under the skin.
For the first time in its 17-year production run, the GP did
not come with a Pontiac V8 or any V8 as standard equipment. If you didn't check any other engine
option, you received a 231 Buick V6, hooked to a 3-speed manual gearbox. Other available engines
included a 301 2-barrel in the LJ and a 4-barrel version in the SJ.
While the reduced weight helped the bottom-line performance
of the new GPs, they were still not the performers they had been even a few years before. Manual
transmissions were not offered in California, and Chevy 305s replaced 301 Pontiacs in the Golden
State and high-altitude counties.
The interior of the new Grand Prix was one area in which it
could keep up the tradition of the previous generation. A new dash with a squared-off perimeter
was complemented by an array of round gauges with simulated wood trim. Bench seats were available
in the base Grand Prix, and a loose-pillow version of the bench seat came in the LJ. Bucket seats
with see-through headrests Came on the SJ, and leather upholstery in a new "Viscount" pattern was
optional in both upper-level models.
The Grand Prix SSJ moniker was revived for 1978 as a
dealer-installed conversion (it was in no way connected with Hurst). The SSJ was offered only in
Ohio and Indiana, and included a heavily padded landau top with silver- or gold-tone targa band
moldings. It also sported smaller-than-stock opera and rear windows. SSJ badges and window decals
resembling etched glass rounded out this fairly tasteless package. It is unknown just how many of
these disco cruisers were ordered, but they must have been a hit with the lounge lizards in those
Pontiac built 228,444 GPs for 1978. The standard version
garnered the lion's share of the production run 127,253 units, to be exact with 65,122 LJs and
36,069 SJs making up the difference.