Many plans have changed this season, so what’s one more?
First and foremost, yes the Grand Prix has returned at last! Its departure from storage was significantly pushed back this year but it is indeed now home alongside the “other Pontiac” (insert all the S15/Grand Am jokes here). And it’s also now stuck here. Oops.
Let’s rewind a bit first though – why the heck did I only just pull it out of storage in September?
Last winter when I was laying out the planned budget for the cars this season, I had allotted some to the Grand Prix for a mini refresh as the old sedan had certainly earned it, and a couple of issues had popped up in 2019 which needed attending to. For a car its age it is still doing phenomenally well in the “not looking like a mess” department but after almost 3 decades of use – including 20 Calgary winters – without any sort of serious restoration/overhaul (save for the 3 panels I had painted in 2010) there would inevitably be a few things piling up on the to-fix list.
Then of course, 2020 happened. The world locked down back in the spring and with no major events on the horizon I decided this was the perfect time to get the S15 repainted, and so I moved that item up on the calendar significantly. This also meant I had to rearrange the money set aside for each car’s 2020 progress and moved the GP’s funding to the S15. It would’ve been great to give Speedy both cars and have both refreshed simultaneously, but I had to draw a line on the spending somewhere. So, I decided the GP’s turn would come later on.
As for why I didn’t bring the car out regardless, there were enough other cars at the house already so the GP would have to sit outside and we were experiencing frequent severe hail storms at the start of summer. Obviously I didn’t want to risk anything happening to the car and given it was well protected in storage I left it there until it could come home at a later time. As well, the only annual event that it “has” to go to is the Iron Indians’ Father’s Day show, but given there wouldn’t be one this year the car wouldn’t miss anything.
To be fair, 2019 was the best year the Grand Prix had seen in quite some time. Even though it wasn’t on the site much (I think it only really showed up in the iMSS coverage), it hadn’t seen so many kilometers in a single season since it was still my daily driver nearly a decade ago! I took it all over the place and had a ton of fun doing it, so I didn’t feel too bad for the car seeing less this year. Each season the cars see varying amounts of mileage based on the year’s events and 2020 would simply be one where the GP saw less than average.
Anyway, fast-forward to this month and the idea was that it would finally come home not only so that I could drive it a bit while the weather still held, but so that its space in storage could be lent to another car instead; it was the GP’s turn to spend a winter at the house. Before any real trips could happen though it needed tires, so our old friends at Stampede Collision held it for a few days while new rubber was brought in and fitted.
With new Yokohamas mounted I was able to have the GP out at A&W with some of the gang on Friday so it did at least make it to one “event” this season. On Saturday then I excitedly grabbed the keys and used it to go for coffee and run a couple of quick errands with my mother and Mario. While out doing so however, the low coolant light suddenly came on and then the temperature needle started to move. Uh oh.
We weren’t too far from home so were able to get the GP back under its own power before Mario and I immediately got to work looking for the culprit. The coolant reservoir was pulled and we initially thought it was the cause of the leak but in fact it was completely fine. A bit more digging revealed that one of the hardlines had developed a pinhole where one of the mounting brackets was welded on. Some rust had taken hold after all these years and finally caused the line to fail. So, now on the top of the list of parts to find is a replacement for this line; and it’s a big one, snaking from the front of the engine back and around the bay, across the firewall, and down into the heater core. It’s of course possible to repair what the car has now as the bulk of the line is fine, but the search for a full replacement will go on regardless.
So, sadly the Grand Prix is now parked for the moment. Again.
Side note: no, that’s not rust on the shock tower. It’s old rustproofing spray.
The coolant line is the primary task for now, but come winter it’ll be time to get back on the hunt for various other little OEM bits and pieces the car needs and putting the plans together for another attempt at its mini refresh. The wiper cowl and keyholes could use some fresh paint, a spot of rust has started to show on a quarter panel, a couple of window trims should be replaced, and there’s also this random dent in the passenger door (how the heck was it hit there?) that needs to go.
The biggest item however (in terms of size and how much of an eyesore it is) is the upper dashboard panel as, unfortunately, at the end of last season it finally cracked due to age. I have been researching shops that could potentially fix it but if that option fails I do have an idea of how to address the blemish while bringing a minor custom touch to the interior. The ideal scenario would be stumbling across an NOS (or even a clean used) prefacelift, non-HUD, Garnet Red dash topper but not surprisingly I don’t have a ton of hope for that.
Mechanically of course (coolant line aside now) the car is fantastic so all of these “issues” are mainly cosmetic, but when added up they’re really starting to let the car down. Time to fix that. Especially now that the Suburban is getting its own well-earned refresh, it would be nice to have the GP see the same as we actually intend to bring both of them out to the Father’s Day shows from now on given both are eligible. Before any of that however, I really hope I can get the line fixed to squeeze in at least one more drive this year!
Maybe it’s just mad at me for buying that silly backwards Grand Am.