Posted in 1967, GTO, Pontiac

A 15-Year Project Culminates in a 1967 Pontiac GTO Equipped Just How Its Owner Would Have Ordered It – Thomas A. DeMauro @Hemmings


“I think the 1967 GTO is one of the most iconic muscle cars of the ’60s,” Jake Stossel of Ebensburg, Pennsylvania, asserts. Shortly after purchasing this example in August 2005, the then-28-year-old electrician began planning out his project, but he soon arrived at that fork in the road where it was time to choose between “Factory-Equipped” and “How I Really Want It.”

After negotiating with a nearby seller for two weeks, who wanted to move a 1968 GTO out of his collection of restorables instead of the ’67, Jake was certainly grateful to have snared this Goat, yet there were a few lingering issues. The Pontiac was Signet Gold, but he didn’t really like gold. It didn’t have a Cordova top, but he wanted one for it. It was fitted with the standard 335-hp engine, but he preferred the 360-hp 400 H.O. It had the Turbo 400 automatic, but he wanted a Muncie four-speed. You get the picture

Nevertheless, like most of us, Jake didn’t possess unlimited funds, so he had to settle. Or did he? Rather than be forever haunted by what could have been, he instead decided to deviate from the original equipment path and build this Pontiac how he would have ordered it in 1967

.Based on input from his wife, Lindy, he decided to paint the Goat Linden Green, his friend Matt Lamer suggested changing the black Morrokide interior to Parchment, and Jake specified a black Cordova top. The resulting trinity of contrasting hues heighten the visual appeal of an already arresting body design. And, each of those choices were readily available for 1967. Regarding the mechanical aspects of the build, Jake used factory-issued or reproduction components for the majority of the upgrades. Thus, the GTO retains a primarily stock appearance.

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Posted in 1978, Hemmings, Pontiac, Pontiac V8, station wagon

The Pontiac Grand Safari was a flagship station wagon hauling on in an era of downsizing – Matt Litwin @Hemmings


By 1974, 5,000-plus-pound family cars were suddenly as impractical as the ol’ muscle car had been to newlyweds holding a freshly printed mortgage and a newborn baby just a few years earlier. Detuned as they were, the large-displacement—still a prevalent means of motivation within the market segment-remained incredibly thirsty. As a result, Pontiac’s full-size output fell to just under 145,500 cars in 1975, and only 137,216 were sold a year later.

Suffice it to say, Detroit needed a diet, and the automakers knew it well in advance thanks in large part to looming federal mandates. At GM, the first to be first slimmed down were the 1977 model-year full-size cars. Among them was Pontiac’s flagship station wagon—the Grand Safari.

The downsized wagon’s chassis was reduced from 127 inches to a svelte 115.9 inches. Much of the basic architecture, however, carried over from the previous generation: independent coil spring front suspension, rear leaf-sprung suspension, power steering, and power front disc brakes. Also included as a standard were FR78-15 radial tires that provided sure-footed control in all driving conditions.

The redesigned chassis cradled an equally new 5.0-liter ( V-8 engine. It was more than the division’s new “economy” powerplant; rated for a rather capable 135 horsepower, the block, crankshaft, cylinder heads, and intake manifold—collectively—weighed 136 pounds less than the V-8. Factory literature touted the availability of a “new 6.6 litre (400/403 CID) V-8” on the Grand Safari’s option chart—technically a carryover engine revamped for ’77—that was rated for 180 or 200 hp. Californians could have opted for the 170-hp 350. A Turbo Hydra-Matic automatic was the only transmission available.

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Posted in Firebird Trans Am, Pontiac

The most valuable Firebirds from every generation – Greg Ingold @Hagerty


Almost everyone has an opinion about Pontiac Firebirds. Ours, for the record, is that they’re pretty great. Spanning 35 years, four generations, and myriad high-performance variations—not to mention three Smokey and the Bandit movies, Knight Rider, and countless other cultural touchstones—the Firebird transcends typical collecting considerations and cuts to the core reason most of us like old cars—they’re fun. Although most were relatively affordable when new and remain so today, a select few have appreciated into exotic-car territory. We looked at each generation, and here are the most expensive cars from each series.

First Generation (1967–1969): 1969 Firebird Trans Am Convertible

#2 (Excellent) condition average value: $1,000,000

1969 is when it all started, with Pontiac introducing the famous Trans Am to the Firebird lineup. Aside from the famous Cameo White body with Tyrol Blue stripes, the Trans Am included plenty of other upgrades. This included a standard Ram Air III 400-cubic-inch engine, with the optional Ram Air IV, heavy-duty suspension and quicker ratio steering. Trans Ams are very uncommon to start with.

Only 697 total cars were produced, so any car in excellent condition brings six figures. Convertibles are a completely different story, though, with only eight being produced. While all are equipped with the less powerful Ram Air III engine, a pristine T/A Convertible is easily a seven-figure car. Being even rarer than a Hemi Cuda Convertible, these cars come up for sale just about as infrequently

Second Generation (1970–1981): 1970 Firebird Trans Am 400/370-hp Ram Air IV Coupe

#2 (Excellent) condition average value: $172,000

Although the second-gen Firebird achieved pop-culture fame in its later years—think T-Tops and screaming chicken—serious collectors prefer the high horsepower, tightly wound thoroughbreds of the early ’70s. It should thus come as no surprise that a the most expensive of this era would be an early Trans Am. For the first few years of Trans Am production, numbers were the lowest and the most sought after engine options were offered—one of the rarest  the Ram Air IV. Pontiac offered this engine (distinguished by round-port, high-compression cylinder heads) in the Trans Am for only two years, producing only 88 of the cars. The Ram Air IV T/A is closely followed in value by the 455 Super Duty equipped cars in 1973.

Third Generation (1982–1992): 1992 Firebird SLP Firehawk Coupe

GM discontinued production of Pontiac V-8 engines in 1981, forcing the third-gen Firebird to find other ways to distinguish itself from its Chevrolet twin, the Camaro.

The Firebird of this era that managed to do that well is the Firehawk, built by Street Legal Performance (SLP). While SLP was technically an outside tuning company, you could walk into your Pontiac dealer and order yourself a Firehawk using option code B4U. This got you a fire breathing Firebird making 350-hp out of it’s 350-Chevy engine and a number of additional braking and handling upgrades. With 25 cars produced in total, these represent the top end in terms of both performance and value, for F-Bodies. The very best of these cars can flirt with the $100,000 mark. Given how rarely they come up for sale, we wouldn’t be surprised to see these continue to climb.

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Posted in 1974, Firebird Trans Am, Pontiac

It really didn’t take much to turn this Super Duty-powered 1974 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am into a capable restomod – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings


Few cars fit the definition of restomod better than this 1974 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am for sale on (mostly) stock exterior and interior appearance, selected upgrades, better performance than the original. But scratch beneath the surface, and you’ll see that – aside from the modern automatic transmission, the flappy paddles, and the 17-inch wheels – all those upgrades are mostly tweaks to the car’s original specifications. There’s no electronic fuel injection, the brake components are all factory-available equipment, and nobody redesigned the suspension to incorporate cantilevers or coilovers or anything trick and expensive. Does that mean the mid-Seventies F-body was already a perfectly capable platform, in need of little to keep up with modern traffic? From the seller’s description:

This 1974 Trans Am started life as a Super Duty with the very rare Cordova top option. When I discovered the car efforts were made to find the original drive train and I determined it was destroyed by the original owner. At that point I decided to do a modern interpretation of a SD with it remaining as understated as possible. This car is custom in most ways except for the way it looks. Below is a partial list of modifications.

17 inch Year One Rally II wheels. Pro-Touring F-body springs all around. Pro-Touring F-body adjustable tie rods. Moog rubber bushings on flex points. Global West offset A-arm shafts. Global West Del-A-lum A-arm bushings. Competition Engineering subframe connectors. 10 bolt rear with 3.42 gears. 1LE front brakes/spindles with Porterfield street pads. WS6 rear disc brakes. Dual diaphragm WS6 master cylinder, metering block and booster. Tribal Tubes tri-y headers. 2.5 inch Pypes SGF70 exhaust system. Mallory 140 electric fuel pump. Custom fuel pickup. Ford impact kill switch for fuel pump. Blocker BHVIS drop base air cleaner. 1974 SD coded Quadrajet rebuilt by Cliff Ruggles. Performer RPM intake, water crossover separated. Edelbrock aluminum heads, port matched, flow sheet available. Harland Sharp 1.65 roller rockers, custome Butler pushrods. 1974 date coded 400 block with stroker kit. SRP pistons, 4.155 bore. Floating pins. File fit rings. Eagle 6.8 inch rods. Tomahawk cast crank. 3 inch mains. ARP 2 bolt main studs. Butler Pro-Series oil pump. Comp Cams 230/236 hydraulic roller cam. Comp Cams hydraulic lifters. Canton Road Race pan and windage tray. Northern aluminum radiator. Sanden AC compressor (R12). Custom AC brackets. 4L80e transmission. TCI transmission control unit. 3000 stall converter. Twist Machine paddle shifters. Custom Speed Hut GPS speedometer and tach gauges. Custom brushed aluminum trim rings on custom dash insert. Stock shifter with Shiftworks kit. Custome kick panels with speakers. Custom cd/usb head unit

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Posted in 1970's, Buick, Dodge, Ford, Hemmings, Matt Litwin, Nascar, Pontiac

NASCAR downsized: Which one of these sell-on-Monday cars would you choose for your dream garage? – Matt Litwin @Hemmings


Word on the street was that Detroit was introducing downsized cars for 1977. When NASCAR got wind during the ’76 season, it began exploring the idea of initiating a rule change that would mandate a 110-inch wheelbase chassis, versus the then-current 115-inch design. But once that process began, developmental cost was a concern, prompting Bill France Jr. to issue a statement: “Eventually, we will have to follow Detroit’s trend. In order to curb expenses, the teams will be permitted to use equipment they already have instead of letting new equipment become obsolete in a short time.” The changes Bill hinted at were finally scribed into the 1981 rule book, with one exception: the outgoing cars would be permitted to race at the season opener at Riverside International Raceway (in Riverside, California) on January 11. Bobby Allison won at the helm of a 1977 Chevrolet Monte Carlo. New downsized cars were permitted to compete side-by-side, even though they were not fully mandated yet. Dale Earnhardt finished third in one such Grand Prix, owned by Rod Osterlund.

Posted in Pontiac, Smokey and the Bandit

Are you Bandit enough to hit the road in this visionary sixth-gen Trans Am? – Brandan Gillogly @Hagerty


Just about every Pontiac lover still mourns the loss of one of America’s coolest car brands. Pontiac built some of the brawniest muscle cars of the ’60s and ’70s and paired them with lurid graphics that were, quite frankly, over the top. If you think the high-contrast graphics on the Judge were too much, or look at the garish, screaming hood bird on the Trans Am and clutch your pearls, perhaps a nice, understated Buick is more your speed—but to each their own. True Pontiac fans embrace the bold muscle cars, and a few even manage to bring some back.

A die-hard muscle-car fanatic, Rick Dieters of Trans Am Specialties of Florida worked with the team at Trans Am Worldwide to make the model rise from the ashes like a phoenix. Dieters has been involved in getting new Trans Ams back in showrooms since 2013 when, using the fifth-generation Camaro as a foundation, his company began to build and sell new, legitimate Trans Ams. Designer Kevin Morgan worked with SCCA to obtain legal use of the name; even back in the ’60s, the SCCA licensed Pontiac to use the name of their race series on each model sold. While Pontiac was gone, Trans Ams returned.

The sixth-generation Camaro debuted as a 2016 model, but it took more than a year to develop the look and the parts required to make the sixth-generation Trans Am come to life. Automotive designer Bo Zolland, known for his gorgeous renderings and restylings of classic cars, was tasked with interpreting the spirit of the second-gen Trans Am using the Alpha-platform Camaro as a base. Zolland, along with engineer and designer Tom Sawyer, worked to infuse as much Pontiac DNA into the new car as possible.

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Posted in Engine, Hagerty, mercury, Pontiac, Pontiac V8, V8

5 famous V-8s whose displacements stretched the truth – Diego Rosenberg @Hagerty


We know that the 1960s were full of horsepower hijinks, but did you know that manufacturers sometimes fibbed about the size of their engines? Indeed, that burbling V-8 in your beloved classic may actually not measure up to its promised displacement. We rooted out five of the worst offenders.

Ford/Mercury 427

Available from mid-1963 to mid-1968, the 427 was Ford’s crowning achievement in the 1960s, carrying the torch during Ford’s “Total Performance” reign of global competition. However, to American enthusiasts, the 427 is best known for powering Fords and Mercurys to success on the drag strip and in NASCAR. The FE-series engine was introduced at the same time as Ford’s semi-fastback roofline for the Galaxie 500 and Galaxie 500/XL (as well as Mercury’s Marauder sub-series), and the silhouette’s aerodynamic advantages helped maximize the engine’s performance on the banked ovals. The street 427 was available with either a single or pair of four-barrel carburetors for 410 or 425 horsepower, respectively. Several thousand 427s were built through 1964, with popularity falling drastically in 1965, the last year of big Mercury; in its swan-song year of 1967, the 427 was installed in 89 full-size Fords.

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Posted in David Conwill, Firebird Trans Am, Hemmings, Pontiac

A decrepit “Bandit” 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am proves no car is too far gone if you want it bad enough – David Conwill @Hemmings


A deceptively deteriorated driver turns into a full-scale restoration – Part I

“Love the one you’re with,” is a tough directive for a car enthusiast. It seems like no matter what vehicle you start with, it’s always in worse shape than you imagined starting out. The temptation to get rid of a project car and begin with something nicer is immense, so it’s refreshing when something the average hobbyist might consider beyond economical restoration is given a new lease on life.

Consider our feature car here. When it rolled across the auction block at one of the major Scottsdale, Arizona, sales, it was what you’d probably call a 20-footer. Something that might make you go, “Ooh, a ‘Bandit’ Trans Am!” Get closer, though, and start picking away at the details, and that “ooh” might have turned to “oh.

“Still, that initial impression was correct about something: This is a real Y82, the black-and-gold Special Edition that looks like the ones driven by Burt Reynolds in the hit 1977 film Smokey and the Bandit.

That’s what attracted owner John Prenzno of Paradise Valley, Arizona, when he saw it at auction nearly four years ago. Having owned a brand-new one just after high school, the pull of nostalgia was strong and John bought it, warts and all. As you might have guessed, the warts were extensive.

That much was evident from even a casual inspection. The first problem made itself known even without taking a look, when a leaky fuel line caused it to run out of gas before it could be driven away from the auction site.John took the car straight to Ward Gappa at Quality Muscle Car Restorations LLC, in Scottsdale. QMCR made a temporary fix to the fuel line (extensive rust demanded complete replacement) and gave the car a thorough going-over so John would know exactly what he was up against to get his Trans Am up to snuff.

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Posted in Buick, Hemmings, Oldsmobile, Pontiac

Best of B-O-P: Hemmings staffers pick their favorites from Buick, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac – @Hemmings


Oldsmobile and Pontiac are history. Buick, which has been hugely popular in China, currently sells only bean-shaped, badge-engineered sport-utility vehicles in North America—one of which is manufactured exclusively in China. All of the new Buick trucklets have model names as forgettable as their styling would suggest and none are badged with “Buick” emblems. This isn’t an attempt to eventually wipe the slate clean of all things Buick, assures GM—the company that in the last two decades has shuttered Oldsmobile, Pontiac, Saturn, Saab, and Hummer. Instead, we’re told, the Tri-Shield logo that appears on all new Buicks is recognizable enough to stand alone, thus making the name “Buick” redundant. Yes, we hear it too. The sound of David Dunbar rolling in his grave.As bleak as the future looks, the historic, collectible vehicles of Buick, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac, are alive and well thanks to the efforts of passionate enthusiasts—several of whom work for Hemmings. Recently, we went around the virtual room (the offices in Bennington, Vermont, are still closed and we’re all working remotely) to determine which B-O-P vehicles from the last 100-plus years intrigue us the most. It was tough to narrow it down, but here’s what we came up with.

1910 Buick Model 10

Early in its history, Buick was in a tight race for the number-one slot in the domestic auto industry, spearheaded by its Model 10. Introduced in 1908, it used an 88-inch-wheelbase chassis that cradled a four-cylinder engine and two-speed planetary transmission. Noted for its ease of control, the model’s standard equipment included acetylene headlamps, oil-burning side and taillamps, and a bulb horn, all at a very attractive $900 price tag. Buick built 4,002 Model 10s in ’08, which climbed to 8,100 a year later when its wheelbase was lengthened to 92 inches, coupled with the expansion from one to three body styles. Bolstered by its success in race trim, along with improved cooling by changing from a gear-driven water pump to a centrifugal type, the Model 10 reached its popularity zenith in 1910 when an impressive 11,000 units were built—more than a third of Buick’s staggering 30,525- unit output for the year. That was enough to catapult the Flint-based company to first place in the industry. —Matthew Litwin

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Posted in Hemmings, Matt Litwin, Pontiac

A father-son bond lives on in this one-family 1964 Pontiac Catalina – Matt Litwin @Hemmings


Automotive history books are brimming with iconic vehicle names, both domestic and foreign, that have left an endearing legacy in the minds of millions. They’ve originated from all eras, no matter how narrow or broad each is defined: brass, prewar, postwar, and so on. And while each era can arguably claim a rich legacy like no other, perhaps some of the most indelible names appeared when the first, true postwar designs from Detroit emerged in the late 1948-’51 period.Take General Motors, for instance, and its collaboration with Fisher Body that resulted in the first mass-produced hardtop body style.

Buick took full advantage of it in 1949, using it first in the Roadmaster series when the Riviera moniker was applied to the striking design. Cadillac called its hardtop the Coupe de Ville within the Series 62 line, while Oldsmobile chose to name its hardtop the Holiday coupe. Chevrolet’s Styleline series received the Fisher hardtop a year later and called it the Bel Air. The same year, Pontiac’s Chieftain Eight and upscale De Luxe Eight lines received the hardtop, which was bestowed with the Catalina name.In due time, nearly all the carefully selected hardtop names—which obviously or subliminally provided a greater sense of exotic driving pleasure— graduated from trim level nomenclature to full-fledged stand-alone series.

Among them was Catalina, which became Pontiac’s new entry-level model when it replaced the Chieftain line in a calculated move that coincided with GM’s corporate-wide 1959 redesign. The all-new Catalina, offered in five body styles (in addition to six- and nine-passenger station wagons), all with a bevy of standard equipment and a price tag that ranged between $2,633 and $3,209, attracted 231,561 buyers in its freshman year. It also eclipsed the prior year’s Chieftain series by nearly 103,000 units.

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