Tag: pontiac

Love Is A Battlefield — Andrew Miles @Driven To Write (Reblog)

Love Is A Battlefield — Andrew Miles @Driven To Write (Reblog)


A (power) ballad to Pontiac. Image: veikl We are young, heartache to heartache we stand… Idly perusing a non-car related website recently, the Pat Benatar tune in question popped into my head and refused to leave. The song was inspiration enough to look back at a time when power dressing, Miami Vice, blocky computer graphics […]

Love Is A Battlefield — Driven To Write

Buyer’s Guide to the 1964 Pontiac GTO @Hemmings


The Pontiac Synonymous with ’60s Performance is Still a Perennial Favourite

For some Baby Boomers, Pontiac’s GTO is the automotive equivalent of Jimi Hendrix’s Star Spangled Banner guitar shred at Woodstock: powerful, iconic and emblematic of an extraordinary era in American history. Pontiac offered a GTO until 1974, then dusted off the badge again for its last hoorah 30 years later on the 2004- ’06 edition. A few versions of the model were significant, at least one was legendary (we’re looking at you, The Judge), but it was the pure-and-simple ’64 that lit the fire. The GTO’s origin story is almost as legendary as the car’s performance reputation. In the late 1950s, Pontiac General Manager Semon E. “Bunkie” Knudsen resuscitated the brand with an infusion of electrifying styling and performance. The division also firmly established itself in motorsports and became America’s third best-selling automaker. All of this attention neatly coincided with many Baby Boomers reaching driving age. When Knudsen left for Chevrolet in the early 1960s, Pontiac was flush with talent, and the young engineers he’d hired to aid in the division’s turnaround were promoted. E.M. “Pete” Estes became Pontiac’s general manager and John DeLorean became its chief engineer.

These young execs recognized the need for a fast, agile, affordable car that could further expand Pontiac’s performance image. The perfect candidate arrived in ’64: the mid-size A-body that replaced the compact Y-body. The new car eschewed the earlier model’s advanced unit-body platform, swing-axle rear suspension and transaxle, in favor of more traditional architecture: a full-frame, a solid axle with four-link rear suspension and a conventional drivetrain layout. As a result, the 389 V-8 engine from the full-size line, and three- or four-speed manual transmissions could easily fit in the A-body. Paired with heavy-duty suspension, the car’s handling qualities could be elevated to equal the big engine’s performance.

As the story goes, during tests of a ’64 Tempest at the Milford Proving Grounds, Pontiac chassis engineer Bill Collins noted that the 389 would fit in the new chassis, engineer and engine specialist Russ Gee proposed the swap and DeLorean agreed. Soon after, a running prototype was completed.

The name “GTO” was chosen for this performance edition; it’s an acronym for “Gran Turismo Omologato.” When used on a Ferrari, it meant it was homologated by the Fédération Internationale D’Automobile for racing. Pontiac’s GTO wasn’t, but the name implied exotic performance, and that was good enough.

At the time, GM had limited its intermediate cars to a 330-cu.in. V-8 ceiling, so to get around that, the GTO was offered as an option instead of a model. Thus, for $295.90, code 382 turned a Le Mans into a GTO with all of the performance bona fides, plus emblems, blacked-out grilles, and hood scoops to make it stand out. Just $2,776 ($27,000 in 2022) bought you the base pillared GTO sports coupe.

Many road testers were enthusiastic about the GTO’s style and acceleration. Others panned it for its name and other short-comings, like its brakes. Nevertheless, the overall impression was positive. A masterful marketing campaign for the GTO by Jim Wangers and his team at Pontiac’s ad agency MacManus, John & Adams, did more than a little to create that same impression among buyers. With 32,450 GTOs sold that first year, the formula for success was established.

What is a First Generation GTO Worth?

First generation GTOs have been a mainstay of the collector car hobby for decades due to their popularity among Boomers. According to multiple value guides, 1964-’67 GTO prices have remained fairly steady over the last five years averaging in the $50,000- $60,000 range, overall. The ’64—which we’re singling out for analysis here—has followed a similar trend. One of the more notable, recent sales of a ’64 GTO occurred back in July 2022, at a GAA Classic Cars auction in Greensboro, North Carolina. The car was a nicely restored black coupe and it changed hands for $88,000. At Mecum’s Chicago auction in October, a good-looking black ’64 convertible sold for $64,000; at the company’s Kissimmee sale in January, a stunning black convertible sold for an impressive $107,250. Meanwhile, on the more affordable end of the market, a very presentable, driver-quality ’64 coupe was sold by its second owner on Hemmings Auctions in September for $24,460.

The GTO’s traditional fanbase is still a driving force in the collector car hobby, but it’s gradually turning the market over to Generation X and Millennials, who may be less interested in cars of the early 1960s. Still, the original GTO isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It’s probably safe to say that expertly restored examples and cars with professional-grade restomod treatments will continue to command lofty prices, but the overall value trend will remain steady into the foreseeable future. If you’re in the market for one of these pioneering American performance machines, here are some points to keep in mind.

First Generation GTO Engine Options

The GTO’s standard-issue 389 was topped with a Carter four-barrel carburetor and rated at 325 hp at 4,800 rpm/428 lb-ft of torque at 3,200 rpm. The Tri-Power option swapped the four barrel for three Rochester two-barrel carburetors. The center carburetor acted as the primary and, when the throttle was two-thirds open, the outer carbs kicked in via a vacuum-diaphragm-controlled linkage.
Pontiac advertised the Tri-Power 389’s output as 358 hp at 4,900 rpm/428 lb-ft at 3,600 rpm. Both engines came standard with a cast-iron, dual-plane intake manifold; 421 H.O.-spec cylinder heads with larger ports; 1.92-inch intake/1.66-inch exhaust valves and HD valve springs; cast-aluminum pistons helping to deliver 10.75:1 compression; a cast crank and rods spinning in a block with five main bearings and two-bolt main caps; and iron exhaust manifolds feeding dual exhaust. The single four barrel and Tri-Power 389s used a hydraulic flat-tappet cam with 273/289-degrees advertised duration and .410/413 lift activating 1.50:1 ratio rocker arms. To help keep the package cool, a seven-blade 18-inch declutching fan was also included. The 389 is a generally reliable engine but be sure to check for any odd noises, smoke, and leaks that would indicate mechanical issues due to age or neglect. Many owners added Tri-Power to their ’64 GTOs years after purchase, so be diligent in checking engine codes and date codes to ensure that a purported factory Tri-Power GTO is accurately represented.
There are no new stock-replacement engine blocks or iron heads being reproduced, and though cores are getting scarce, they are still available. If you’d like to modify your GTO, large-bore aftermarket Pontiac-style blocks, various aluminum cylinder heads and intake manifolds, and carburetor and EFI options are offered. There are also solid and hydraulic flat-tappet and solid and hydraulic roller camshafts, forged rods and pistons, cast and forged cranks, and stroker kits on the market.

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This ’78 Pontiac Firebird Esprit Clocked 250k original Miles and Counting! – Jeff Koch @Hemmings


Then and now, Pontiac’s second-generation Firebird occupied a strange spot in the car world. Mind you, we’re not talking about the spatted, stickered, and spoilered Trans Am; its place known and secure. After the summer of 1977 and Hal Needham’s good-ol’-boy Smokey and the Bandit saga, America suddenly remembered that the Trans Am was the closest thing this country still had to a muscle car, and in between the fuel crises, that shot T/A sales up 35 percent year-to-year.

No, we mean the non-T/A chunk of Pontiac’s F-body lineup, consisting of Firebird, Esprit, and Formula. An Esprit (pronounced uh-SPREE, not EE-sprit—French for “spirit”) may have been pretty, and may have shared DNA with the beefier Trans Am, but it wasn’t a showy peacock of a car, a corner-carving terror, or tire-smoking recalcitrant. There was no secret life beneath that long nose or behind that new-for-1977 split-grille beak. Nor did it have the bones of something with greater potential, or the raw material for a hot-rodder to mess around with. (Why would Jim Rockford, arguably the world’s most famous Esprit pilot, drive a car that drew attention to itself?) A Firebird Esprit was simply, in the parlance of the day, “a nice car.” Looked a little sporty, felt a little plush. But in a division that had the Ventura, Grands Prix, Le Mans, Grands Am, Bonneville, and Catalina, all of which offered two-door versions and any of which could fill the division’s personal-luxury-car quota… what sense did the Firebird Esprit make?

Consider: Pontiac painted itself as the “excitement” division of GM, and while the Trans Am (and even the Formula) may have bullseyed the target, the Esprit… well, how do you define excitement? Esprit was “The Firebird with luxury,” according to the 1978 brochure, although with a shape like that you could be easily convinced that any Firebird was infused with sporting moves. Esprit’s luxury touches included (mostly) bright and body-colored trim: all-vinyl buckets; added interior grab handles on the doors and dash; added sound deadening; rear ash trays; color-keyed “luxury cushion steering wheel” and outer door-handle inserts; brightwork on the pedals; body-colored sport mirrors with left-hand remote; bright moldings on the roof, windowsills, hood, rocker panels and wheel openings; and deluxe wheel covers. That’s $304 more than a base Firebird cost. Do rear ash trays, chrome trim, and grab handles excite you?

It’s unclear whether the buying public at large was convinced either. In 1978, a year when Pontiac sold 187,000 Firebirds (a solid 20-percent gain year-to-year across the whole Firebird line, with base, Esprit, Formula and Trans Am models all benefitting from a sales boost), nearly half were Trans Ams. Had Pontiac convinced another 300 buyers out of Esprits and Formulas and into a T/A, the numbers would have been half Trans Am, and half everything else combined.

Today, four-and-a-half decades on, Trans Ams are getting all of the attention. The chasm between Esprit and Trans Am seems even greater, both on the secondary market and at auctions nationwide. Trans Ams are seemingly everywhere. Where are you going to find an Esprit (besides, perhaps, in pieces under a restored T/A)? The Esprit is considerably more rare than the performance variant, but certainly not price-guide valued up there with the far more common Trans Ams. Yet consider: For every five Trans Ams in ’78, Pontiac built just two Esprits.

Trans Ams got Shaker scoops and 400 cubes, but the Firebird Esprit’s top engine was this Canada-built 350-cube small-block Chevy. With the four-barrel carburetor on board, it was rated at 170 horsepower. Air conditioning was an option.

Bob Lane of Yorba Linda, California, didn’t have to go searching for his ’78 Firebird Esprit because it found him —all the way back in 1979. Bob was commuting round-trip more than 40 miles to USC and home again in the late 1970s, en route to his law degree, and discovered that his econo-car ride had a terrible habit of melting its engine at regular intervals.

“My dad was a directional driller in the oil fields around Los Angeles, and a co-worker on the rig in Culver City, California, had purchased this Firebird Esprit new in Ohio in June of ’78. After he brought it to California, he decided to sell it,” Bob says. His dad knew young Bob needed a better ride, and this Esprit was it. Visions of banzai missions for cases of Coors Light danced in Bob’s young head, and when presented with the very Esprit you see here, he was elated. “My previous car was manual, with no air conditioning and plenty of mechanical issues. This Firebird was perfect for me — 6,500 miles on the odometer and only a small dent on the B-pillar from when it was hit with a baseball.”

As with any American car of the era, Firebirds could be optioned to the hilt, and this one was loaded to its wingtips. A Van Nuys-built car that was sold new in Ohio (something of a mystery, since the Lordstown plant that also built F-bodies was right there in the state), it was built with air conditioning, automatic transmission, and the top Esprit engine, a 170-net-horsepower, four-barrel Chevy 350 — an engine that was called out as a Chevy engine on the Monroney, and a considerable step-up from the standard two-barrel 3.8-liter Buick V-6. Those three options alone added $1,111 to the bottom line

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Does a car’s popularity in stock car racing naturally precede its popularity as a collectible – Matt Litwin @Hemmings


A good friend recently told me of a 1978 Pontiac Phoenix he spotted for sale near our Bennington, Vermont, office with an asking price of just $2,200. It was a four-door sedan that boasted just 40,000 miles managed by a then-optional 305-cu.in. V-8 and automatic transmission power team. Inside was a standard interior fitted with a vinyl bench seat, along with what was reported to be factory air conditioning. While the cabin looked surprisingly clean, the exterior exhibited “nice patina,” which was to say faded blue paint complemented by ample surface rust on horizontal panels. The Pontiac had not run in some time, either, as it had just been pulled from storage.

Not that its mechanical health would have been a great concern to fellow Hemmings editor Dave Conwill or me. The 305 was a veteran V-8 in GM’s lineup by the time this late-decade replacement was introduced to take over for the Ventura as Pontiac’s X-body. Even up here in northern New England, any parts that would have been required to revive all eight cylinders wouldn’t have been difficult to locate or costly to source.

Sure, it may not have looked as stunning as it once did, but at just $2,200, the thought was, “How could you go wrong?” Both of us have teens who will be license-eligible very soon, so we’re on the lookout for cheap wheels that can pass state inspection; up here, cars that meet that criteria have become quite scarce. Heck, the Phoenix itself has become a rarity, a comment I made in passing as we looked this example over. During my days on a local stock car team, I witnessed a fair share of this Pontiac’s X-body brethren get unmercifully thrashed past the point of existence.

That was during the mid-’80s to early ’90s, when local circle track racing at the entry level was still relatively inexpensive. Anyone with enough raw talent, or, at least, a preconceived notion they were going to be the next Darrell Waltrip, could have sauntered into their local junkyard and found a high number of base X- and G-body cars from General Motors that had complete, rust-free foundations to work with. Any corrosion on the body panels was a moot point—most of that would be cut away during the transformation to race car. The junker’s engine would be swapped out, so its condition didn’t matter much, either.

These once-commonly-discarded commuter cars became highly coveted after a few brilliant wheelmen figured out that the 1968-’72 GM A-bodies, which had been a circle-track stock car staple since the late Seventies, were as much as a few hundred pounds heavier than the competition. On top of that, growing interest from vintage muscle car enthusiasts was driving up the values of those models. The A-body racers were priced out seemingly overnight.

15 of Our Favorites From Buick, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac Over the Last 100 Years – @Hemmings


People born the year that GM pulled the plug on Oldsmobile will turn 18 in 2022. That means they grew to legal voting age having never seen a new car from Lansing. They might vaguely remember seeing a new Pontiac, as that brand’s demise came about after GM’s bankruptcy, bailout, and subsequent restructuring around 2009. Perhaps these hypothetical 18-year-olds might aspire to buy the new Buick Electra electric vehicle that Flint unveiled in September—if it ever progresses from a bold-looking concept car into production. Also, as long as they grew up in China, where the concept was shown and where this new Buick EV is slated to be built and sold.

Times have most definitely changed for Buick, Oldsmobile, and Pontiac but one thing hasn’t—the popularity of the cars those storied marques produced from the prewar era through the 21st century. The B-O-P issue of HMN is one of our most popular, both with readers and with sponsors. It’s for good reason: GM’s middle three divisions produced some of the most innovative, exciting, reliable, luxurious, sporty, etc. vehicles in history and they remain popular with old-car buffs today.

Recently we polled the HMN staff to find out what B-O-P vehicles intrigue them the most and why. Some of the results were surprising and clearly there was a dearth of 1950s- and 1980s-era vehicles that we’ll need to address in a future issue. Here for your perusal are the results.


Oldsmobile already had decades of production on the road when the 1920s dawned, and the division continued to innovate. Three model lines were available for 1922: the Model M43A “Four,” which relied upon a 224-cu.in. inline-four; the Model 47 “Smaller Eight” that used a 233-cu.in. V-8; and the Model 46 “Larger Eight,” which sported a 246-cu.in. V-8. The M43A sold best, representing 14,839 of the 22,758 Oldsmobiles built that year. Sending its 40 hp to the wheels via a torque tube, the four-cylinder was an advanced design that included three main bearings, a two-stage carburetor, and overhead valves, the latter disappearing after 1923 and not returning until Olds debuted the 1949 Rocket V-8. The entry-level model came as a Roadster, Coupe, Sedan, or Tourer; it was much pricier than the contemporary mass-produced Ford Model T, the range of $1,195 to $1,795 being roughly equivalent to $19,510-$29,310 in today’s dollars. Marque enthusiasts covet surviving examples.— Mark J. McCourt


Buick was a star of the middle-price market in the 1920s. In fact, it held third place overall in the industry four times in the 1919-’29 period, an era in which Ford was virtually unchallenged and where Chevrolet never wavered from the number-two spot. Model year 1926 was the peak of this period: Flint cranked out 266,753 units, of which 40,113 were $1,195 Standard two-door sedans like the car illustrated, making it the third-most-popular iteration of the third-most-popular car of 1926. Even a Standard was demonstrably better than a $645 Chevrolet Superior or a $580 Ford Model T, while the $1,395 Master was better yet. The Standard chassis had a 114.5-inch wheelbase, while the Master was 5.5 to 13.5 inches longer. Both cars used six-cylinders, with the Standard receiving a 60-hp, 207-cu.in. engine and the Master boasting 75 hp from 274 cu.in.— David Conwill


Established as a part of GM’s “companion makes” program in the 1920s, Pontiac proved so popular that not only did it long outlive the other companions (La Salle, Marquette, and Viking), but when its own parent faltered in the early years of the Great Depression, Pontiac absorbed it into its operations. The Model 302 was the former Oakland chassis, wearing an enlarged version of the Pontiac Six bodywork. The Model 302 also bore the 1930-vintage Oakland V-8, an 85-hp, 251-cu.in. flathead with a flat-plane crank—which caused considerable vibration but was easier to manufacture with the industrial tech of the time. The next year, the V-8, with its complicated mounts and vibration compensator, would be replaced by the first example of the long-running Pontiac straight-eight family, a 77-hp, 223-cu.in. unit, in a chassis derived from Chevrolet designs—a longstanding part of Pontiac’s formula.— David Conwill


In the immediate prewar era, Pontiac went upmarket, stepping further from Chevrolet and blurring the division lines between it and Oldsmobile—the next rung in the GM hierarchy—by introducing the full-sized Custom Torpedo line. These glamorous long-wheelbase cars shared their premium Fisher Body “C” bodyshells with the Oldsmobile 90 series Custom Cruiser, Buick Roadmaster, and Cadillac Series 62, with the Pontiac version offered in sedan coupe, sedan, and wood-trimmed station wagon forms. Under their long hoods sat a division-traditional 90-hp, 239.2-cu.in. L-head straight-six or optional 103-hp, 248.9-cu.in. L-head straight-eight. Total production of the 1941 Custom Torpedo Six and Custom Torpedo Eight amounted to just 25,448, with 8,257 and 17,191 units built, respectively. Arguably the most attractive, the two-door Model 29 Custom Torpedo Eight Sedan Coupe is thought to be the rarest variant remaining, making it a prize for collectors.— Mark J. McCourt


When its new car lineup was announced for 1962, Pontiac pitched the freshly minted Grand Prix as, “The personally styled car with the power personality!” It was a fine way of suggesting that the two-door hardtop was a new personal-luxury car, or gentleman’s grand tourer, before outlining just what it came equipped with. It turned out to be quite a list: recessed grille and tail panel design unique to the GP, a lower roofline to enhance its sleek profile, a standard 303-hp 389-cu.in. V-8 engine with a true dual-exhaust system, three-speed manual transmission (although a four-speed and Hydra-Matic were optional), aluminum wheels, an acceleration-friendly axle ratio, Morrokide bucket seats, center console, and full instrumentation that included a tachometer. In short, all the performance of a GTO, combined with the rich appointments of a Bonneville, tucked into a package the size of a Catalina. Starting at $3,490 (or $30,302 today), it found 30,195 buyers; this number quickly increased in the ensuing years.— Matthew Litwin

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The best car-related Christmas present I’ve ever received – Thomas A DeMauro @Hemmings


Just to get you into the spirit of the season, here’s a 1960 Chrysler ad featuring Santa.

Unlike the “Old Man” cheerfully unwrapping his can of Simoniz in A Christmas Story, my track record with scoring car stuff as holiday gifts has been notably poor, but it’s all my own fault.

For years, family members have asked what I would like for my endless projects, but I’ve always felt guilty about taking them up on their offers, since what I needed was usually too expensive for a gift (at least in my mind), so I told them not to worry about it.

Nevertheless, thinking about cars and Christmas did remind me of the best automotive-related present I’ve ever gotten—my 1967 GTO. Though I’ve discussed some of its aspects before, I have yet to delve into how I found it and what the test drive was like.

I’m sure you’ve seen the seemingly endless ads each holiday season that depict people receiving a car for Christmas by simply walking out their front door and finding the latest and greatest model, already in their driveway wearing a big red bow and ribbon. Yeah… that didn’t happen to me.

This only front ¾ photo of the GTO I have from when I first bought it.

ack in the mid-1980s, I was in college but had a decent-paying job, so I was searching for a muscle car project. Since the local newspaper classifieds were no help, the Want Ad Press offered the best opportunity for finding something remotely close to home.

The ritual went something like this, I waited for the new issue to come out each week, rifled through it, circled the ads that interested me, and called the sellers to ask them a list of prepared questions. More times than not, their answers dissuaded me from even going to look at the prospect. Then I had to wait a week and do it all over again. Of course, there was no internet back then, so all I had to begin with was a small print ad, typically with about 3 or 4 lines of text, and no photos.

By the fall of 1987, I had endured months of frustration and knew that once the winter weather arrived, everything would become even more difficult. Finally, I caught a break in December. This 1967 GTO was listed, and while most of the cars I had looked at previously were an hour or more away, this one was only about a 25-minute drive, and it passed the telephone interrogation.

When I arrived, I instantly noted the third-gen Trans Am wheels (which I didn’t like on this car), the body damage up front, and the chalky silver repaint over the original Mariner Turquoise hue. Further examination revealed body filler in both quarter panels and the driver’s door, and a rotted trunk floor.

The Goat looked like this in the 1990s when I was driving it regularly.

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Tour the mountains by rail in the 1956 Pontiac Fairmont Hy-Rail #18 replica – Thomas A. DeMauro @Hemmings


Though we aspire to make lasting memories with our own vintage cars, we don’t always require them to embark on awe-inspiring journeys. One such opportunity is offered by the Nevada Northern Railway Museum in the town of Ely. It has recreated the Fairmont A34 Hy-Rail Inspection Motor Car Pontiac station wagon that the railway had ordered new in 1956, and you can ride the rails in it when visiting the museum on certain days, or even drive it for an additional cost.

This is the original A34 Hy-Rail #18.

The Hy-Rail’s purpose was to ease track inspection by providing a means for which the same car or truck could operate on the road or the rails, by attaching an apparatus to the front and rear of the frame to facilitate the latter. The vehicle would access the track (or leave it) at railroad crossings. With the tires positioned on the rails, the flanged guide wheels of the Hy-Rail were lowered, locked in place, and the steering was locked, to make the car track ready.

Fairmont Machine Company, which was established in the early 1900s in Fairmont, Minnesota, became Fairmont Railway Motors Inc. in the 1920s, and it developed the Hy-Rail in the 1940s. During the 20th century, the enterprise became a leading producer of railway service and maintenance equipment, which was sold worldwide. Fairmont was acquired by the Harsco Corporation in 1979, and Hy-Rail system production continued. Among the various vehicles that were converted over many decades by Fairmont were 1956-1958 Pontiac station wagons

With this Pontiac’s front bumper removed, the Hy-Rail assembly can be viewed easily.

According to the company’s brochure, the Hy-Rail employed a hydraulic pump driven by an electric motor, and at the front and rear of the car was a pushbutton to actuate them, a lever to control a hydraulic valve, and a hydraulic cylinder to raise and lower the guide-wheel and arm assemblies. Mechanical locks (with a safety pin) secured each Hy-Rail unit in the wheels-up or wheels-down position and were engaged by a centrally located lever in front and a lever at either side in the rear. A manual steering lock was also employed and featured a light on the dashboard that indicated when it was in use.

The guide-wheels carried a portion of the vehicle’s load when on the track, and Fairmont explained that it was applied through adjustable rubber-cushion torque units, which aided in maintaining a smooth ride. However, the tires, which also rode on the rails, still supported most of the car’s weight and provided the traction for driving and braking

In the rear, the ball-top lever controls the hydraulic valve and the other lever is for the manual lock on the Hy-Rail.

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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.

After 18 years, it’s about time to jumpstart my stalled 1977 Trans Am project – Thomas A DeMauro @Hemmings


“Considering our choices, I think the Trans Am has the best chance of getting finished,” my son Tommy commented while we were shooting photos in the driveway for a Hemmings Daily article this past week.

He was right, given the decrepit condition of our other vintage projects. The T/A has been nestled in the garage since we moved to Western Pennsylvania in 2003. Its bodywork, paint, and graphics were completed about a year before. For those who are doing the math, that’s 19 years ago, which is embarrassing to admit to myself, let alone all who will read this. To put that fact into more painful perspective, Tommy was about a year old when this car came out of the restoration shop. He’s 20 now.

Longtime readers already know that I got the T/A (along with a pile of parts for my 1967 GTO) in the early 1990s, in trade for my 1969 Judge that needed work. The ‘Bird served as a daily driver for several years, and during that time I swapped in a four-speed. Its body was later restored at Melvin Benzaquen’s Classic Restoration Enterprises in New York State. The process was covered though a series of articles published in a now-defunct magazine I edited called High Performance Pontiac.

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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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