Lifelong Pontiac Passion Comes from Memories Made in Mom’s Grand Prix

From as far back as he can remember, all AJ Koszi can remember his parents driving were Pontiacs. That included his mother’s, Vilma’s, set of classy wheels, a burgundy-colored 1962 Grand Prix. While she bought it for humble transportation, it would go on to play a pivotal role in AJ’s life, influencing and affecting him for decades to come. Vilma purchased the GP new from her local dealer, Key Pontiac, in Bethlehem, PA. AJ was all of thirteen years old when she brought it home. “It was the first year for the Grand Prix,’ recalls AJ. “Something about it caught her eye.”

AJ Koszi is the third owner of his Grand Prix, which he bought because of memories made with his mom’s car. (Photo by Matt Avery)
AJ stands between his dad (with the 1960 Ventura Vista sedan he drove) and his mom, in front of her Grand Prix. (Courtesy of the Koszi family)
AJ, age 13, stands in the family home’s driveway with mom’s GP. (Courtesy of the Koszi family)
Vilma with an unknown family member visiting a friend’s farm. (Courtesy of the Koszi family)

A few years later, AJ joined the Air Force, moving out of state and becoming an aerospace ground equipment technician. He was first sent to Lackland AIr Force Base, in San Antonio, Texas, then on to Tech School at the Chanute Air Forece Base in Rantoul, Illinois. From there, he headed overseas, landing in the Hunsrück Mountains, serving at the Hahn Air Base, in Lautzenhausen, Germany.

The Road To Romance: Part I

Meanwhile back home, AJ’s older brother, Louis, began taking over driving duty of the Grand Prix, using it to get to his classes at Moravian College, in Bethlehem, PA. The car also played a pivotal role in his puppy love. “He and his sweetheart, Lorraine, met and started dating in junior high,’ explains AJ. “They were always together.” Upon Louis’ college graduation, he treated himself, heading to Key Pontiac to buy a new 1970 Pontiac GTO. While he was big on muscle, he wasn’t on maintenance. “All four years of driving, he never once changed the Grand Prix’s oil,’ said AJ.

Louis with Lorraine and the Grand Prix they dated in. (Courtesy of the Koszi Family)
These lovebirds got married in October of 1970 and remained so until their passing in 2000 and 2017. (Courtesy of the Koszi Family)
Lorraine sits perched on the Grand Prix’s fender. (Courtesy of the Koszi Family)
Vilma beams from between her Pontiac and Louis’ new GTO. (Courtesy of the Koszi Family)

A Familiar Routine

In 1970, AJ returned stateside, back to his hometown and to the familiar, but well-worn, family car. Needing some wheels, the serviceman bought the Grand Prix from his mom, paying her $500. “She had a new Firebird Esprit (also bought from Key Pontiac), and with Louis’ GTO, neither needed the car anymore,’ explains AJ. The GP was a bit tired from all the use, and lack of regular servicing. “With the help of my cousin, Richie, we got it running again,’ chuckled AJ. Just like his brother before him, AJ began using the car for college, too, commuting to the North Hampton Community College. And just like in the case of Louis, mom’s car proved to be matchmaker once again.

The Road to Romance: Part II

A spark occurred one afternoon while AJ was browsing his local Almart, shopping for civilian clothes. Instead of new duds, his eyes caught something else far more attractive. “I spied this stunning blonde in a really short skirt,’ laughs AJ. “Following her around, I finally overcame my embarrassment to introduce myself. I couldn’t let her get away!”

As it turned out, the two were neighbors, living just a few streets from each other. While promising, the blossoming romance did get off to a rocky start. “I asked her out and wouldn’t you know it, the car wouldn’t start,’ explains AJ. “I stood her up on our very first date.” Carol was forgiving and the two spent more and more time together, usually in the Grand Prix. “She used to sit on a pillow she placed on the center console,’ said AJ. “That way she could put her arm around me while I was driving. It was all very sweet.”

Trading In

After a year, the young lovebirds talked marriage. AJ had secured a steady job and just purchased a new 1972 VW Baja Beetle. Needing cash for an engagement ring, he found an interested buyer for the well-loved Grand Prix. It was one of Louis’ friends who lived in Toms River, New Jersey. “Carol followed me all the way down in her 1968 Buick Skylark. It was a good thing since the GP shut off and had to be jumped,’ laughs AJ. “When we left and were heading home, we started talking about how some day we’d replace the Grand Prix and get one that was ours.”

Reviving the Past

That day finally arrived in 1993. Tom read an ad for a suitable candidate, one located in Doe Mountain, Pennsylvania. After the purchase, a full frame-off restoration commenced, with the final product being completed in 2005. “The car was as straight as can be but everything was upgraded,’ explains AJ. “I’m a purist – everything is the way it was in 1962.” A finishing touch was the license plate, which reads R62GP. “While the first car was mine, this new one belongs the two of us,’ said AJ.

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On the Road Again

Just a week later, the Koszi’s were already on the road. They trailered the vehicle to Pontiac, Illinois, in a caravan of twenty-seven other classic Grand Prix’s, taking the iconic Route 66. From there, in 2006, they drove to California and along the coastal highway, including rolling along the famous Lumbar Street in San Francisco.

In 2007, the enthusiasts drove to Tulsa, OK and back. Other notable journeys include drives to Las Vegas, Gettysburg, Wisconsin, Dayton, Ohio and even to Texas for the chance to drive on the Texas Motor Speedway. “I really like to hit 40 mph,’ said AJ. “That’s when the exhaust seems to mellow out the best. She loves the open road.”

Awards & Accolades

The black beauty received its highest honor in 2005 at the National Pontiac Oakland Club’s International convention in Greenville, South Carolina. The vehicle scored 376 points out of a possible 400. In 2006, she placed third in her class at the AACA Hershey, PA  meet. 

Other accolades include a class first place in 2006 and again in 2007, along with many local awards, including participating in the Concours d’Elegance of the Eastern United States in 2013. Having made such accomplishments, the Koszis no longer pursue participation in points judging shows, opting instead to drive their special ride.

Mounted proudly on the car’s grille is the club badge and the Route 66 crew badge. (Photo by Matt Avery)

A Model Example

In 2014, diecast toy company, Ertle, reached out to AJ about through the Grand Prix Chapter of the Pontiac Oakland International club about recreating his black beauty in 1/18th scale. It was to be part of their American Muscle Car series. “I encouraged them to use my plates but for legal reasons, they said they couldn’t,’ said AJ. “However, when I got my case of supplied cars, there was one with it (R62GP) on. It was very special.”

Destinations Ahead

Many happy memories have all stemmed from his mom’s Grand Prix and AJ is looking forward to making many more. “Decades have passed but Carol still has her engagement ring, we have another ’62 Grand Prix and we celebrated our 46th wedding anniversary this year,’ gushes AJ.  “We still have miles ahead of us.”

AJ displayed his car at the 56th Annual Das Awkscht Fescht car show, held in Macungie, PA. (Photo by Matt Avery)