An ode to the Pontiac McLaren Grand Prix Turbo
I have a dream. In this dream I introduce myself to McLaren Technology Center in Woking, England driving a new Pontiac McLaren Grand Prix Turbo. Zak Brown, so impressed with my possession of this amazing vehicle, climbs into the passenger seat as we make donuts in front of the glass entrance.
When we’re done, we line up my Grand Prix Turbo alongside other amazing feats of automotive engineering such as Can-Am cars from the 1970s and James Hunt’s 1976 Formula 1 machine. At this point the dream ends, but presumably, I will remain Zak Brown’s best friend for life and he lets me drive all of his great cars.
I almost saw my dream come true – the part about having a Grand Prix Turbo, anyway. One appeared on Bring a trailer two weeks ago, and it sold for a reasonable price of $ 6,999. When he first appeared on my Twitter timeline, I set a limit for myself. I would not bid more than $ 8,000. But I was theoretically supposed to close a house five days after the auction ended, and I thought putting so much money on a car when I still needed a fridge, washer and dryer probably wasn’t the right thing for a responsible adult to do.
We didn’t end up closing the house – we still could, maybe Monday, but I have no hope – and I didn’t end up getting the Turbo Grand Prix. But it will remain one of my dream cars, probably until I eventually own one.
Longtime Jalopnik readers may recall that my first car was a 1989 Turbo Grand Prix, the one my whole family ended up driving at one point or another. It was my mother, then my father, then me, then my younger brother. By the time I inherited it, it was a rolling death trap where pretty much everything had long since stopped working or was in its final stages..
If it got too cold I needed to start this. If it was too hot, then I was screwed; it wouldn’t go anywhere unless it was a optimum temperature. Almost all electronic devices were dead after the Grand Prix made a trip to a ditch. The interview was a dream that had died about a decade ago.
I did not care. I liked it.
Part of it was nostalgia. Once, when I was a toddler, I threw a whistle in the back seat as I opened the top of a vial of mini M & Ms and tossed them all over the cabin. As a teenager, part of one of the seats just fell off and I found a disgusting chocolate stain left by one of the M & Ms who failed to pass through the void.
Every time I hear Alice in Chains and close my eyes, it’s like I’m still sitting in the back of this car on my way home from an October trip to the beach, and I watched the shadows twinkle across the drying cornfields. I look inside, and I read the phrase “Grand Prix” for the first time (yes, I pronounced it “grand pricks”, and yes, my dad laughed until he cried).
Part of that, however, is the fact that this is an absolute threat to a car in the best possible way – something that reading the Bring a Trailer list has paid off for me.
I mean, just look inside. When was the last time an automaker dared to cover their seats in beige leather and corduroy? Corduroy. No one would dare.
And in the driver’s seat, I felt like I had stepped into the cockpit of a spaceship designed based on what a 1980s company took into consideration futuristic. Power adjustable in 10 positions the seats are controlled by a multitude of rocker switches and buttons on the center console, and that would be a huge an understatement to pretend I didn’t like playing with these buttons as a kid. The steering wheel itself is, literally, just buttons and switches.
And the dashboard. My God. The box on the left side of the steering wheel that controlled the lights and wipers was divine. The air conditioning and audio controls were extremely satisfactory. But nothing compared to the digital readout below which showed a small picture of your car, the direction you were going, and the date.
The model on BaT is newer than my first car, and it has more interesting features. I did not have head-up display or a sunroof or keyless entry, but I made having that lush tan interior (and, when paired with my car’s red paint job, the boy made this thing look slick).
I had the gold spoked wheels, working louvers, the turbocharged 3.1-liter V6 engine that produced 205 horsepower and 225 lb-ft of torque when new. i had a whore beast of an automobile. And, since I liked to bow to my friends from high school, I didn’t just have a McLaren. I had a Pontiac McLaren, which was arguably even better.
For now, the best I can do is wait for one of these cars to show up for sale when I’m no longer trying to get into a house while dreaming about Zak Brown telling me how my The McLaren collection is.