The 1964 GTO enjoys legendary status, having been credited with kick-starting the muscle car era, and it remains a revered collectible. Conversely, the 1974 example has been viewed as the Goat that ended that same era, resulting in fewer fans and lower resale values. The Ventura’s compact economy car status, its close kinship to Chevrolet’s Nova, its smaller engine than found in previous GTOs, and the climate in which it was introduced are a few reasons that are typically cited.
To be fair, any car produced for 1974 faced difficult circumstances. Insurance companies had been cracking down on muscle cars for years, hiking rates and putting them financially out of reach of many potential buyers. Additionally, in a continuing effort to reduce pollution, federal emissions standards were becoming more stringent. Compression ratios started dropping in 1971 to burn cleaner low-lead and unleaded fuel but that also reduced power. Federal safety regulations were increasing occupant protection in a crash, but also added weight in many instances, further degrading performance and economy. The advancing bumper requirements also influenced styling.
Related – The Humbler: 1970 GTO’s vacuum-operated exhaust was ahead of its time