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Starting the hunt for a 91 Grand Prix GTP


BradCH
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Hello!  Sort of an introduction - I live near Vancouver, BC.  I don't have a W-body, yet, but I think that's about to change with your much appreciated advice!

I am looking for a 91-93 GTP, similar to the 91 my father had brand new when I was just getting my drivers' licence.  His was black with grey leather, had a 5 speed manual, and I think the wheels were gold.  To be honest, I wasn't a huge fan of it when I was a kid - he traded in his beautiful 88 Thunderbird Turbocoupe which I absolutely loved (but was having repeated mechanical issues).  The GTP felt kind of like a downgrade in some ways, especially the rattling interior.  It sounded badass, but it wasn't very fast at all, something that kept getting hammered home every time I picked it up from the dealer after servicing - the dealer was a family friend who loaned us his personal 91 Trans Am every time the GTP needed something.

Anyway, fast forward a couple of decades and one pops up on craigslist.  Could never get hold of the seller, but it was just like my dad's except white.  I then remembered my Dad's more, especially all the buttons inside (!!!) and reading and watching videos made me really kind of want a GTP again as a fun/project car.  I think over the years I've come to appreciate it more as the unique car it was. Plus almost 25 years after Pontiac closed shop I'm really missing the whole brand.  Those 'heat is on' commercials were constantly on my TV back then.  My Dad passed away last year and my memories of learning to drive with him in it and the happier times of the early 90s are in my head now.

This era of GTP (before they refreshed the interior - I think around 94?) seems to be pretty rare these days generally and especially where I live.  I was trying to search for production numbers on the forum here to get a sense of what might be left out there but strangely the search engine reports 0 instances of 'GTP' across the entire forum even though I can see it plainly in various posts.  I was hoping someone here had posted production numbers.

There are two GTPs for sale right now near me.  One I think may be a bit of a basket case.  No rust (this is why I love the PNW). It is blue with grey leather, 'well loved' and apparently the brakes are shot.  In this video the seller revs it and to my ear it doesn't sound too healthy and the oil pressure looks like it's high.  It has 220k km and he's asking $2000cdn - it's been for sale for 6 months, I think maybe $1000 or less would be reasonable, but you guys let me know.

The other is 150km from here, it's a 93, doesn't have leather (meh), but it is in excellent shape with only 140k km and could qualify for collector plates.  

Both cars are automatic.  I was really hoping for a 5 speed but finding one out here may be impossible.  I had thoughts of maybe buying an automatic and converting - it's not a money issue for me but I'm thinking scarcity of parts would be a big problem.  If I had an idea just how many or few 5 speeds were produced that might guide my thinking.  Or might just make my peace and live with automatic.

As it's been a long time since I've bought a used vehicle (we just re-lease our Toyotas every 4 years), I was looking for advice on what to watch out for specifically with these cars, ie. things that might be broken that indicate you need to pass on this particular car.

I'm kind of leaning towards going cheap to start, just to scratch the itch, because I don't know if this nostalgia wave will last once imagination/memory becomes reality.  I think I'm almost in the market for something to literally just sit in and reminisce about Dad.  But it might become a passion project too.  Like I said, I really miss Pontiac.  Anyway sorry for the long post!

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Welcome!

Great backstory, I think it captures why many of us still love these cars.

So you covered a lot of ground I'll try and hit on some points, not to scare you off but to inform.

If you encounter a 1991 with ABS, don't walk, RUN. That was the last year the old PowerMasterIII braking system was offered in these cars. It was troublesome 35 years ago and in my opinion totally unsafe to use today, and its a massive headache to get rid of. Just spend some time reading here and you'll see. 92/93 had a far more reliable however underwhelming performance of the Teves IV ABS System. 

the "high oil pressure" is likely nothing more then a bad sending unit, when they start to fail they will read all over the place, $20 for a new one no big deal

A 1992 will have the highest possibility of being a manual, not sure on production numbers but 1992 was the most common year for manuals, again still very uncommon but highest chance.

As far as automatic vs manual, I've done both flavours of the 3.4 DOHC, the 5 speed is more fun but its truly a hateful gearbox to live with on a daily basis. I'm  good with it for a few days before I get sick of it, your mileage may vary. 

There is also the reoccurring problem of these cars in the 5 speed manual, no parts! you can get axle seals, clutch sets, sometimes clutch hydraulics and not much more. Shift cables are another issue they don't break often, and you can repair the main shift cable when the rubber bushings fail. But the cables themselves, they are unobtainable now.

And lastly Timing belt components are getting harder to come across, specifically the timing belt tensioner actuator, its been discontinued by GM and you're basically scrounging old stock or used ones at this point. Literally no idea what I'll do next time I need one. Probably have to get creative. 

The video of that 91' you posted sounds in a pretty sorry state, could be something simple. Can't really tell from the video.

Of the 2 you are looking at the white one with cloth looks better taken care of. 

That said, If you do want one try and hold out for a nice one, at least around me these cars are just gone from junkyards so replacing broken pieces could be a challenge.

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Many thanks for the detailed reply!  

I think ABS was just becoming a thing in the early 90s.. I can't remember if our original GTP had it.  The seller of the blue GTP says the brakes are 'unsafe' to drive, so..  

The white GTP sold in under 24 hours, so that's off the table.

Parts are definitely something I've had to wrap my head around.  I think as your sense of time kind of freezes up - the early 90s are 30+ years in the rearview now but I still feel like they should be considered 'modern' and parts ought to be plentiful.  I had 2 Edsels to go along with my 88 Thunderbird at one time and I had an easier time finding parts for those.  So that'll be something I guess I need to think about, not that I anticipate putting more than 1000km on a future GTP annually.  Honestly I'd be okay with just having one to sit in, run the radio and transport myself back to being 16 again for a few moments.

The 5 speed is something I do kind of want just because it's how I remember our car.  I do also remember the anxiety I had with that car as I was a brand new driver with all the angst that entails PLUS having to deal with things like hill stops.  The GTP was not too forgiving as I recall with the clutch, I remember stalling it a lot.  

I'm having a think about the blue GTP.. if I could get it for less than $1000 then I don't really care if it ends up being a failure, it's surely worth that in parts - it could become a donor to a future, better GTP.  Plus, although I think the Pontiac nostalgia will last, I think the same might not be said for the GTP once reality collides with the imagination.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Here are some 5 speed stats for you.  
 

 

I think finding the cleanest car body wise you can auto or 5 speed would be your best bet.   
 

even if it needs mechanical work, that can be done overtime.  

IMG_9616.png

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  • 1 month later...

Hey Brad. I saw both of those GTPs on Facebook marketplace.  I live in Kelowna so check often (looking for parts always).  I’d pull the trigger on the blue GTP just because I love that colour on a GTP. I checked just now though and can’t find it so maybe it is sold. The white GTP is back up for 4500 I’ve never seen it around Kelowna so not sure if it’s like mine and just sits most of the time.  It has the B4U lower valance intact so that’s a huge plus. You could probably get the seller to move on the price. GTPs of this era hardly ever come up in BC so you should pounce.  You might not ever see another in that shape again around here.
As for 5speeds. I’ve only ever come across 3 of them in my life. And 2 of those 3 transmissions are on my bench and took 15 years to score way back. I have all the parts for a swap and slowly working towards an engine rebuild and install.  Forget the 5 speed it’s a true unicorn now, was 20 years ago. Even if you found a complete junk parts car all your efforts are best placed to just get an auto to restore over time and enjoy. I would look carefully at the trailing arm mounts for rust, if it’s solid there go for either car.  
If you get the white one painting the hood louvers white should be your first order of business. just heat the screws up before you take ‘em out. 

Edited by GTP091
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Agreeing here with what everyone else is saying.  

Here in the States, it seems the Z34/5 speed cars are the most common.  If I were you, and if you're really wanting a 5 speed car, I buy a 5 speed GTP, PLUS...a Z34/5 speed car for just parts.  You could then scavenge what you needed from it to get the GTP reliable, (if it's not already), or have a back up parts car for when the time is needed.  I post any rare cars that come up for sale here so please keep an eye out for that information.  I also post junkyard cars that people can scavenge from in order to keep our cars alive and road worthy.  I also do it for historical reference as well.

Edited by jiggity76
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  • 1 month later...

Jumping in here because after 20+ years, I wanted to get back into the W-body game, and specifically wanted a 3.4 5-speed.  

 

I found a 1991 4 door GP in minnesota (im sure many saw the gentleman selling 9 W bodies on facebook) and decided to pull the trigger.

 

How bad of a mistake did I just make if the car isnt rusty? 🙂

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7 hours ago, Amanita said:

Wait @jiggity76Was this sedan owned by that guy you know?

Yes sir.  I had first dibs on the car but decided against it since I've already got my dream STE.  

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8 hours ago, SuperBuick said:

Jumping in here because after 20+ years, I wanted to get back into the W-body game, and specifically wanted a 3.4 5-speed.  

 

I found a 1991 4 door GP in minnesota (im sure many saw the gentleman selling 9 W bodies on facebook) and decided to pull the trigger.

 

How bad of a mistake did I just make if the car isnt rusty? 🙂

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436470347_2014467549070283_7376155149304010785_n.jpg

447729069_825326635734240_6837042581809371639_n.jpg

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448214185_1150439992775420_6283850755783307876_n.jpg

447907325_981453723680429_5741910188682807006_n.jpg

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Jeremiah is a cool dude.  I message him frequently...actually talked with him today.

Just a warning...you better do this car right or I'll hunt you down.  I actually had first dibs on this car but I already have an STE and therefor told Jeremiah that I just couldn't pull the trigger on it.  I don't have the time and space for another one otherwise I'd be talking it on.  This car deserves to be restored and preserved and you sir have a unicorn of a car.  I'm here to help find parts and such and will help in any way to get it good again.  Just ask.  

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11 hours ago, jiggity76 said:

Jeremiah is a cool dude.  I message him frequently...actually talked with him today.

Just a warning...you better do this car right or I'll hunt you down.  I actually had first dibs on this car but I already have an STE and therefor told Jeremiah that I just couldn't pull the trigger on it.  I don't have the time and space for another one otherwise I'd be talking it on.  This car deserves to be restored and preserved and you sir have a unicorn of a car.  I'm here to help find parts and such and will help in any way to get it good again.  Just ask.  

I promise the only thing you will be hunting me down for on this is pictures. 
 

im going to do a rwd conversion, automatic, ls swap, chrome wheels and a killer sound system on this thing!

 

kidding lol

 

I will as meticulously and rabidly restore and preserve to stock condition with utmost cleanliness. My ONLY concern, which Im working with jeremiah on, is insuring it isnt rusty.  Jeremiah seems like a fantastic guy. 
 

i hate that car discussion is on facebook nowadays. Theres 47 w body groups and then other gm groups etc. I wish this place was what it used to be!

Im deeply appreciative of your offer to help  I have a pretty open budget for this so am in the market for any/all nice/NOS parts.  Stock and perfect are the ultimate end goal.  My nerves are really centered around the powermaster 3 and rust.  Anything else I should be stewing about?

adding a couple of pix of my old w-bodies, my garage now, and an article about a mercury milan i refurbished and sold.  

 

 

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1 hour ago, SuperBuick said:

I promise the only thing you will be hunting me down for on this is pictures. 
 

im going to do a rwd conversion, automatic, ls swap, chrome wheels and a killer sound system on this thing!

 

kidding lol

 

I will as meticulously and rabidly restore and preserve to stock condition with utmost cleanliness. My ONLY concern, which Im working with jeremiah on, is insuring it isnt rusty.  Jeremiah seems like a fantastic guy. 
 

i hate that car discussion is on facebook nowadays. Theres 47 w body groups and then other gm groups etc. I wish this place was what it used to be!

Im deeply appreciative of your offer to help  I have a pretty open budget for this so am in the market for any/all nice/NOS parts.  Stock and perfect are the ultimate end goal.  My nerves are really centered around the powermaster 3 and rust.  Anything else I should be stewing about?

adding a couple of pix of my old w-bodies, my garage now, and an article about a mercury milan i refurbished and sold.  

 

 

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You have a wonderful and impressive collection and beautiful shop.  Very cool to see this.

Yes, that STE is pretty special and so is Jeremiah.  I have bought a lot of NOS STE parts over the years, actually started a long time ago before I even found my STE.  Luckily, that has paid off.  There are a few things that pop up now and again but it's pretty slim now.  If I were you...and what I would have done if I decided to buy the car, find a Z34/5 speed parts car or something similar.  Having spare 284 parts and LQ1 stuff is always a good thing.  It also helps with keeping this correct, having the correct hardware, clips, and seeing how things are correctly put together on these cars.  I also thought about getting a good body shell sedan just in case I needed rust free panels for replacing anything that might be bad on the STE.  Any 90-96 rust free sedan will do.  The hardest part will be things that are unique of course to these STE's.  Those door speaker grills, seat material, some of the electronics, some LQ1 stuff such as the generator's cooling system, of course the 5 speed stuff...but again, a parts car will be your best friend here...some of the interior electronics, those sort of things will be a challenge.  By the looks of your shop and your story on the Milan, that might not be much of a challenge for you.

Hopefully my thread and another members thread will help answer some questions and be helpful.

 

 

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1 hour ago, SuperBuick said:

I promise the only thing you will be hunting me down for on this is pictures. 
 

im going to do a rwd conversion, automatic, ls swap, chrome wheels and a killer sound system on this thing!

 

kidding lol

 

I will as meticulously and rabidly restore and preserve to stock condition with utmost cleanliness. My ONLY concern, which Im working with jeremiah on, is insuring it isnt rusty.  Jeremiah seems like a fantastic guy. 
 

i hate that car discussion is on facebook nowadays. Theres 47 w body groups and then other gm groups etc. I wish this place was what it used to be!

Im deeply appreciative of your offer to help  I have a pretty open budget for this so am in the market for any/all nice/NOS parts.  Stock and perfect are the ultimate end goal.  My nerves are really centered around the powermaster 3 and rust.  Anything else I should be stewing about?

adding a couple of pix of my old w-bodies, my garage now, and an article about a mercury milan i refurbished and sold.  

 

 

IMG_7988.jpeg

IMG_6139.jpeg

200204251606283.jpeg

IMG_9359.jpeg

200207282039768.jpeg

IMG_5689.jpeg

The thread on my 91 LQ1/automatic Cutlass Supreme International Series coupe.  It might help with some of the LQ1 stuff.

 

 

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On 6/14/2024 at 3:26 PM, Amanita said:

You should run the vin for it by @ManicMechanicand he can tell you everything about that specific car

@ManicMechanic 1G2WT54X5MF270726

1G2WT54XXMF286162

Edited by SuperBuick
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16 hours ago, ManicMechanic said:

@jiggity76might have the numbers, if not I will look them up in a day or two.

Thank you @ManicMechanic and @jiggity76

i purchased the parts car from Jeremiah as well, but Im only taking the engine and transmission and shifter/cables/etc from that as I dont have the space to store a parts car  

 

 

 

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22 hours ago, ManicMechanic said:

@jiggity76might have the numbers, if not I will look them up in a day or two.

I did at one time but that was a long time ago.  If you would please Manic.

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1 hour ago, jiggity76 said:

I did at one time but that was a long time ago.  If you would please Manic.

On it, try to have them tomorrow.

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On 6/17/2024 at 1:15 PM, SuperBuick said:

@ManicMechanic 1G2WT54X5MF270726

1G2WT54XXMF286162

1G2WT54X5MF270726:

5150 STEs; 652 had Cassette and HUD; of 652, 33 had a 5 speed; of 33, 21 had a sunroof; of 21, 4 were Bright Red with gray leather.
 

1G2WT54XXMF286162:
5150 STEs; only 1 was Garnet Red with Garnet Red wheels, 5 speed. and CD.

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3 hours ago, ManicMechanic said:

1G2WT54X5MF270726:

5150 STEs; 652 had Cassette and HUD; of 652, 33 had a 5 speed; of 33, 21 had a sunroof; of 21, 4 were Bright Red with gray leather.
 

1G2WT54XXMF286162:
5150 STEs; only 1 was Garnet Red with Garnet Red wheels, 5 speed. and CD.

Thank you Manic!  It never gets old seeing numbers like this. 

Man, that Garnet Red/Red alloy wheel car would be quite the find.  I would love to see it...maybe even own it someday.

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1 hour ago, jiggity76 said:

Thank you Manic!  It never gets old seeing numbers like this. 

Man, that Garnet Red/Red alloy wheel car would be quite the find.  I would love to see it...maybe even own it someday.

Thank yoj as well Manic

 

jiggity76 - the garnet red one is, unfortunately, the parts car. I bought it but wont be able to take it home with me - I’ll just be taking the drivetrain. 
 

pics here

 

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