Pontiac built a lot of wildly festooned cars in the 1980s and '90s, but this one is more interesting than most.
The Grand Prix Turbo by ASC/McLaren featured a turbocharged V-6 and was stuffed with in-period tech.
With just 4300 miles, this car is a well-kept example of a rarely seen model. The auction ends on November 22.
The cheapest new McLaren you can buy costs north of $200,000. A vintage Buick GNX in top-notch condition will set you back well over $100,000. But what if you could get your hands on a rare coupe that combines the DNA of both and is likely to sell for much less?
That would be this 1989 Pontiac Turbo Grand Prix by ASC/McLaren. It's today's find from Bring a Trailer—which, like Car and Driver, is part of Hearst Autos. The beginning of this car's name is pretty self-explanatory: Pontiac built eight generations of the Grand Prix between 1962 and 2008, each one blending performance and luxury, sometimes successfully, sometimes not so much. The "by ASC/McLaren" part is where things get fun.
The sixth-generation Grand Prix was sufficiently advanced for its time to stir up a little pride at Pontiac. In fact, some dealers were so pleased with it, they even pulled a publicity stunt and sent one to then-USSR leader Mikhail Gorbachev. He still owned it at the time of his death in 2022, and you have to hope he at least once drove it to Moscow's first Pizza Hut.
Still, the car's standard 2.8-liter V-6 was weak sauce, with just 130 horsepower and 170 pound-feet of torque on offer. To remedy that, GM turned to a skunkworks it had previously used to great effect.
ASC, the American Sunroof Company, was at its height as a sprawling automotive empire. Founded by German immigrant Heinz Prechter, who had started out by renting shop space from George Barris and sawing holes in the roofs of various coupes, it went on to build custom folding roofs for everything from the Porsche 944 to the Mitsubishi Spyder 3000GT to the Chevy SSR. Porsche in particular was so happy with ASC that it gave Prechter a four-door Porsche 928, a sort of proto-Panamera. It's currently in Porsche's museum collection.
At around the same time as Prechter was first starting out, a young Kiwi named Bruce McLaren founded a racing development shop in Michigan. The idea was to build engines for Indy and Can-Am racing, while F1 testing was done on the other side of the Atlantic. By the 1980s, most of the work had shifted to the U.K., which is when ASC came calling, looking to diversify.
The best-known ASC/McLaren program is undoubtedly the Buick GNX. Buick Grand Nationals arrived at the ASC/McLaren shop, and there they received a comprehensive upgrade that resulted in one of the most thoroughly badass machines of the 1980s, basically Darth Vader on basket-weave alloys.
Pontiac figured the same trick would work with the Grand Prix. So it sent over its sixth-generation cars, and the team at ASC/McLaren got to wrenching.
Power came via turbocharging, with the now 3.1-liter Pontiac V-6 fitted with a turbocharger and intercooler. With a 205-hp peak output, the Turbo Grand Prix at least now had sufficient grunt to be feisty despite the four-speed automatic. Some wild bodywork was fitted and the fenders flared out to accommodate 16-inch gold mesh wheels, which on this car are wearing 245-series BFGoodrich tires.
The interior is fantastically 1980s, with plush, heavily bolstered seats. This car features what is likely a record number of buttons (even on the steering wheel), and there's a head-up display. This is flagship-level Pontiac, crammed with as much technology and performance as the brand could offer.
With between 2500 and 3500 sold over two model years, it's not likely you'll see another ASC/McLaren outside of a Radwood event. And with only 4300 miles showing on this car, it's hard to imagine there's a lower-mileage version out there. The auction for this bodacious Pontiac ends on November 22.
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