Pontiac Grand Prix Performance Mods

A stylish w-body sedan.
A stylish w-body sedan. | Source

From humble beginnings

Despite today's big budget builds and million dollar Barret Jackson showings, America's classic muscle cars had decidedly humbler origins. Originally, these dream inspiring machines were conceived on a simple premise; take a small to mid size, light weight vehicle, and put in the most powerful motor you could find. As time wore on, and gasoline prices rose, this mantra seemed to fall by the wayside. Performance became relegated to the handful of cars that were designed solely with that in mind. But Pontiac, in a similar move to the Honda Civic Si and Ford Taurus SHO, decided to reintroduce performance for the people with it's redesigned Grand Prix GTP, which debuted in 1997. With 240 hp and 260 ft lbs. of torque stock, the Grand Prix as a high performance Pontiac had returned.

A handsome GTP coupe in red.
A handsome GTP coupe in red. | Source

A wolf in sheep's clothing...

A quick glance at the 1997-2003 Pontiac Grand Prix (as known as a w-body after the factory code) might not impress an uncontrollable need for speed. But as any owner knows, when in GTP trim these cars are just a few tweaks away from serious speed! This is thanks in large part to the GTP's M90 supercharger, forced induction vehicles are almost always easier to make power with over similar NA cars. But what Grand Prix mods are worth your time and money, which can be avoided all together, and what order should you install them in? With lots of experience(and learning from my own mistakes) as a builder and owner myself, read on to learn the best way to effectively and safely modify your 1997-2003 Grand Prix GTP.*,**

*This information applies only to the identified vehicles. Owners of GTP's produced before or after the above dates or owners of non-GTP Grand Prix's will find this information does not apply to them.

**I have made every effort to make this guide safe, reliable and accurate. However, everyone's car is different. I assume no responsibility for damage caused to your vehicle from any information resulting from this guide. Additionally, if you find any information I have put forth to be incorrect please let me know and it will corrected. Thank you.

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Start with a solid base

As mentioned above, safety is going to play a key role in our discussion here. It makes no sense to spend several thousand dollars created a perfectly tuned performance vehicle only to see it literally blow up in your face because you forgot to take care of some little throw-away part.

To that end the first step in taking your GTP from streetcar to hot rod is making sure you do a thorough full maintenance check up. This might not be the most glamorous part of building a car, but it's one that you'd be foolish to overlook. Here is what you need to look at in your tune up:

  • Change your fuel filter.
  • Transmission filter change. Do this sooner rather than later.
  • CHANGE YOUR SUPERCHARGER OIL. I cannot stress this enough. Far too many owners overlook this maintenance item and have the same S/C oil sloshing around in there far past the recommended interval. The S/C is your key to making power and to having a functional vehicle, treat it well!
  • Check your spark plugs and wires. Depending on the mileage of your car you may want to replace them, however depending on the level of modification you are shooting for you will some cooler plugs anyway. If your plugs and wires need changing now go ahead and do it, if not wait until you make some other changes and do it then.
  • Engine manifolds. This especially applies to the lower intake manifold gaskets. Also check your coolant elbows as these tend to be easily damaged parts.
  • Last but not least flush your coolant system. The Dexcool coolant these cars came with from the factory is junk. Have it flushed out and have regular green or yellow coolant added.
  • You may also want to check normal wear items like your oil and oil filter, brake pads and rotors, head and tail lights etc. While many of these components are not immediately critical to your performance goals I repeat that the goal of this stage is to get your car in tip top shape so you can have a strong base to build from in the future.

That's it. When all these steps have been completed take a well earned break and get ready to start the real fun of building your performance pontiac!

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Comments 2 comments

Guy 2 years ago

Where is the rest of it...?


Paul Welch 19 months ago

Surprisingly enough, I actually found this to be VERY useful. In reading this article, I found that I could actually LOSE time by doing so. But while reading it, I discovered Capt. Obvious seems to have an affinity for the GTP and the article serves as a well written (if not a little long winded, much like my comments/review) reminder to those owners who may tend to procrastinate,that YES SIR, routine maintenance and preventative maintenance is vital to your engine's longevity. Throwing money away on power adders to install on a ragged out P.O.S. that has been neglected and denied its basic needs is the epitome of ignorance. However, as an informative article on the proper modifications to enhance your GTP's performance, and the proper order to make them in, which face it, is the reason we ALL read the damned thing, it's as useful as tits on a boar hog. The author gave not one single performance enhancing SUGGESTION, let alone a list of mods and the order in which said mods should be made. If I could, I would file a lawsuit against the author for false advertising, misleading titling and generally just pissing me off by willfully, wantonly,and maliciously wasting my time. Thanks for letting me share.

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