October 1984

Old News - Wrong Model, Right MakeFor anyone that enjoys a good automotive mystery, try your hand at this one.

However, unlike the Mysterious Chevy Test Car post, this one is positively identified.

As the title indicates, the journalists at the time correctly deciphered the car’s make, it’s a Pontiac. But as of late 1984, they were still apparently in the dark as to the model.

Try and take a guess before continuing to the answer.

GM10 or W-body?
1988 Pontiac Grand Prix mule from Oct 1984To the right is the full image that was teased above. Between that and the subheading above, you probably figured this one out. If that didn’t do it, the familiar twin-kidney-grilled nose in the picture below likely made it more obvious.

1988 Pontiac Grand Prix mule from Oct 1984The subject car of this post is a test mule for the all-new 1988 Pontiac Grand Prix.

Where the October 1984 issue of Motor Trend got it wrong is by mislabeling the car a Bonneville.

The program which started sometime in early 1982, under the internal code name GM10, went through all sorts of troubled waters during which time the platform was re-designated W-body. This car shared that platform with the Buick Regal and Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, and later the Chevrolet Lumina.

1988 Pontiac Grand Prix mule from Nov 1985The picture to the right appears to be of the same test mule only it was from November 1985 and, this time, Motor Trend correctly identified it as the forthcoming Grand Prix replacement. It provides a much clearer look at a couple of oddities.

For one, the rear-side windows are larger than and shaped differently from the production car’s (shown bottom). The car’s door handle appears to be on the flank, below the glass, unlike the production car which positioned it on the B-pillar. (Although that could be a decoy.)

In addition, the tail lights and rear end in general are masterfully disguised, assuming they didn’t represent potential styling variations. Further, the car sported four rectangular headlights, opposed to the flush-mounted units on the production model.

1988 Pontiac Grand Prix mule from Dec 1985A month after the photo above right broke cover, this image to the left was published (December 1985) and looks substantially more like the product that would wind up on dealers’ lots. The rear looks in order, the door handles are in place and the rear side windows are properly shaped.

1988 Pontiac Grand Prix mule from Dec 1985 headlights closeupHowever, there is one remaining curiosity.

The headlights still appear to be four rectangular units, sitting behind a clear lens.

Below is a picture of the production Pontiac Grand Prix for 1988. Notice the differences from some of those curiosities above.

1988 Pontiac Grand Prix SE

Continue below to the photo gallery.

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