Pontiac Heaven History page 3- 1970-1981 (after John DeLorean)
1972-Net horsepower ratings take effect, changes in head castings made for better cooling, 5/8s spark plugs now used. This is the first year that the engine code is in the vin #, Judge, GT-37 and GTO conv discontinued. GTO returned as an option as in '64 and '65, 455HO still standard in T/A and now standard in Formula 455, WW5 package introduced to "A" body, including 455HO with complete suspension and performance enhancements, unitized ignition introduced
1973-EGR introduced (lovely), so do those 5mph bumpers, 455HO dropped which is bad but, 455SD replaces it which is good. Problem is, 455SD production is very limited and only allowed on T/A and Formula, "A" body restyled (no comment on appearance but, disc brakes are now standard ), GTO regulated to standard type 400 and 455 engines ( for the first time a high performance engine is not available in a GTO), Grand Am introduced, electric sun roof now an option on "A" & "G" bodies, a Pontiac first. It was at about this time when, what I call, the "modern era" of Pontiac performance knowledge came about when Craig Hendrickson and Kern Osterstock formed H-O Racing Specialties. These two men did more to promote Pontiac knowledge and performance through their business and their mailings than anyone else I know of throughout the 70s (more to follow).
1974-Late '73 oil embargo hurts US auto industry including Pontiac big time. 455SD still available and production actually increases but, not but by much. GTO now an option on the Ventura ( Venturas were the last Pontiacs with standard drum brakes )with a 350 engine. Last year for 455 Formula, last year for 400thm in firebird.
The 1974 GTO was based on the smaller "X" body. It was the only year GTO for many things. Some of them- All had functional cold or Ram Air, shaker hood, unitized body, leaf spring rear suspension, only year with 350 engine (also no engine options), hatchback body style, no GTO emblem in left grille. It was a changing world when the '74s were introduced in late '73. After the bad sales of GTOs for a few years (and all muscle cars for that matter), Pontiac tried to appeal to a newer market by downsizing/ lightening the car and used new marketing too. The industry was already hurting and adjusting to changes imposed on them by the government. Things like upcoming mandatory unleaded fuel requirements, 5 mph bumpers (later reduced in the 80s), strict emissions standards. All those things hurt horsepower/performance and/or added weight. The GTO and performance were not popular words when you had to wait an hour or more to get gas and more expensive gas too! With another poor sales year in '74 , Pontiac axed the GTO. It was still a good car but, facts are facts, if people aren't buying them they can't make money and that is that.
1975-First year for catalytic converters, compression drops into the 7s, horsepower falls further,455 dumped on T/A only to be reintroduced late in the year, GTO gone, on the bright side the HEI ignition is introduced and T/A sales continue to climb, rectangular headlights are introduced on Bonneville and Grand Ville, last year for full size convertibles, Astre introduced in US
Raymond Walker ran this blown Pontiac powered Vega bodied funny car
1976-Pontiac celebrates its 50th year with Grand Prix and T/A anniversary editions, T-tops were an option ( Hurst Hatches ), Formula has new steel hood and graphics, last year for 350, 455 Trans Am fastest-best handling car in US, last year for 400thm in full size models, last year for Honeycomb wheels,
1977-Pontiac introduces new engine for better mileage the 301, 455 dropped for good, T/A6.6 replaces it. Black and gold special edition Trans Am w/ t-tops is a big hit, full size models are downsized to cut weight and improve economy, Grand Prix production soars, last year for 400thm trans for Pontiac
1978-mid sized models are now downsized, including GP, WS-6 suspension introduced for Trans Am including the 15x8 "snow flake" wheel, Gold edition replaces black edition for most of the year, black returns after paint problems cannot be solved with gold paint, nicer, larger Fisher T-Tops introduced, last year for 400 engines offered on full size models, last year 400 with automatic available on Trans Am and Formula
1979-Pontiac introduces 4 wheel disc brakes to the WS-6 package. The press goes wild about this car and rightfully so, Trans Am peaks in production, Formula gets WS-6 as an option. 301 first available in T/A as a delete option, 403 Olds engine standard in T/A with automatic ( for the first time in Pontiac history, the top performance car has a standard engine from another manufacturer ). The 400 was available for the last time, only with super T-10 4spd ( '79 400 T/As and Formulas are recognized as the last muscle cars of the era. This gives Pontiac the first ('64 GTO) and last muscle car of the era) . 10th anniversary T/A "Silverbird" available with 403 or 400.
1980-400 discontinued, now the 301 Turbo is the new engine, 265 engine introduced (small bore version of 301), Trans Am paces Indy 500. Turbo T/As and Formulas with WS-6 have different style wheels now known as "Turbos", all Trans Ams and Formulas have automatics, 4spd dropped. Only Pontiac offered this year with a clutch is a V-6 base Firebird
1981-301 Turbo still top option but, still only with automatic. Pontiac paces with Daytona Special edition T/A, 4spd returns but only with a 305 chevy ( the writing is on the wall ), worse yet this will be the last year for Pontiac V-8 production, ending an era and splitting Pontiac fans forever. T 1000 introduced starting a "number" trend in Pontiac names, last year for second generation F body ending a well liked 12 year production run, the new "Door Stop" type body style firebird will debut in '82 with all v-8s supplied by chev
A lot has happened since the apparent death of the Pontiac V-8 by GM in '81, most thought the motor would dry up and fade away but, us die-hards know that that could not happen. Today there more parts available for Pontiacs since the "juicy" early SD era and more are on the way! Post '81 history and development will be covered here too! Check back from time to time as things are constantly changing. Any input to this page or my site is appreciated and welcomed. Thank you, Steve Barcak
Bill Alexander (2003 ) pauses for a quick pose with the recreation of the Pontiac fueler he drove 50 years ago. Gabe Gutierrez is behind Bill and was his partner back then as well as a partner of the recreation. This is an outstanding addition to Pontiac drag racing history.
1970- OHC 6 dropped, 455 engine is introduced and is surprisingly marketed as an engine to "handle accessories", Ram Air IV 400 still top performance engine ( BIG mistake, Pontiac goofed here, should have built a 455 Ram Air IV, to compete with the Stage 1, W-30, Ls-6 and such. Could this blunder have had something to do with John DeLorean leaving?), Stunning second generation Firebirds introduced at mid-year ( disc brakes are standard, a Pontiac first ), Formula and T-37 debuts. All models now have side beams in doors and bracing in quarters to aid in side impact, Last year for high compression engines. Last year for full size Ventura and Executive, 455 "A" and "G" bodies have 12 bolt rears (identical
to the HD chev unit, main difference is the companion flange, still uses u-bolts). 455 stick cars get new 11" clutch, GT-37 introduced
1971- Pontiac Introduces new 455HO LS-5, Standard on Trans Am and Judge, optional on Formula, GTO, GT-37 and Lemans. All engines now have 8 to 1 compression, this the only year that both gross and net horsepower ratings are advertised. Formula now available with 350, 400 and 2 455s. High back bucket seats introduced in all Firebirds. Honeycomb wheels optional in 14" and 15" sizes on all "A", "G" and "F" bodies, standard on
Trans Am w/o trim rings. Cassette player introduced, Last year for the Performance sales brochure. From now onward all "F" and "A" bodies with standard 455 option require automatic trans, full size or "B" body gets redesign with disc brakes standard, Grand Ville is new model. Arnie Beswicks blown fuel "Boss Bird " funny car turn all time low ET for a Pontiac 6.94 215mph. (to date)