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400 V8 Hot Rod: 1974 Pontiac Ventura

The third generation of the Chevy Nova was selling so well that Pontiac clamored for and got their own version of it. They would call it the Ventura II beginning in 1971 and it would differ little except in trim and front-end treatments. By 1974 you could even get a Ventura with GTO badging. But the seller’s car is likely nimbler than the GTO was as a 400 cubic inch V-8 resides under the hood where before a 350 was the largest available. The seller refers to this ’74 edition as a restomod although it looks like all the changes are just under the bonnet. It’s located in Johnson City, Tennessee, and available here on eBay where the Buy It Now price is $15,500 but you can make an offer.

Pontiac first used the Ventura name, likely as a nod to the Southern California beach community. It appeared either as a trim package or a full-size model of its own from 1960 to 1970. After that, it was used for seven more years as Pontiac’s companion to the X-body compact Nova. So as to not confuse it with the earlier editions, it was called the Ventura II at first. However, the “II” was dropped from 1973-forward. Throughout its run, the biggest engine you could get was the 350 V8 as the industry was in the midst of detuning and downsizing most everything. 1973 marked the first availability of a hatchback with the coupe.

The seller presents a beautiful example of a 1974 Ventura, with an attractive blue exterior paired with a nice but loud plaid pattern interior (well, it was the ‘70s and that was a factory option). We’re told the car is rust-free, that being attributed to being indoors when not used (the car has 68,000 miles on the odometer). While in the current owner’s possession, it was largely used for attending car shows and other related events. If there is a mark anywhere on the outside of the car, it isn’t readily apparent. If this is the original paint, that would be amazing as these cars were known for rusting in the back.

Where the car really shines is under the hood, literally and figuratively. A Pontiac 400 resides there which has to be a transplant unless this was somehow a special-order car, which is not mentioned. It’s not a stock 400 either, with a mild Lunati camshaft and COMP roller lifters. The standard ignition system has been replaced by one from MSD. A Demon 750 4-barrel sits atop the motor and fully coated ceramic headers by Doug’s are mated through a custom exhaust system. Finally, a Be Cool radiator and twin electric fans are used to cool things down. The transmission is the TH-350.

As a Ventura, NADA thinks this is a $12,000 car. Double that amount if it was a Ventura-based GTO from 1974. This car was built as the former but could very well be better than the latter because of the motor. Given the condition of this car and what $15,000 buys nowadays in the collector market, this sounds like an attractive purchase. It’s likely more car than some of the Chevy Nova’s that might turn up at Cars & Coffee.


  1. Fahrvergnugen Fahrvergnugen Member

    This car looks great, so much nicer than what came before and after. Apparently the 400 was available in the GTO, but in this car I think looks better without the scoop of the GTO, and the hatchback is perfect.

    Someone will get their own ‘scoop’.

    Like 13
  2. Poncho

    Being a Pontiac fan, I was interested, even at the Buy It Now price…until I saw it is a hatchback. Deal Breaker. Nice clean car as compared to what you would get for the same money for a Nova. A hatchback though? Ventura or Nova…. Nah!

    Like 2
    • Rocco

      What is wrong with the hatchback? My first car was a 73 Nova Hatchback, 350, bucket seats floor-mounted shifter. Would love to find another one that they do not want an arm and a leg for.

      Like 2
      • Bryant Tippett

        I have a 1974 nova 350 ac bucket seats floor shifter hasn’t ran in 10 plus years but ran good when I stopped driving it

        Like 0
  3. Boatman Member

    What is the device on the passenger inner fender?

    Like 0
    • Jcs

      It looks like a remote oil filter, possibly for clearance issues.

      Amazing what a restyled front and rear end can do to an already good looking Nova, she looks great. Not sure of the red in the plaid but like the pattern itself. If only they had put in a better dash and a full set of Pontiac gauges.

      Like 10
  4. Rosko

    Loooooove it!

    Like 1
  5. bobhess bobhess Member

    I knew my Dad knew what he was buying when he bought his. It was fast and fun. Oil filter would be less messy to change if it was upright like it’s supposed to be. Nice car.

    Like 5
  6. Mitchell Gildea Member

    This over a same-year GTO change my mind

    Like 2
  7. Brian Ellis

    I had the same car but red swapped out then350 for a 455 had monster torque broke the motor mount so I welded a chain to the frame and bolted it to the head. I loved that car it probably wasn’t as cool as I thought it was but it had a gto good and scoop,cragars, and side pipes drive it to high school in 94.

    Like 2
  8. Ted-M

    Needs black or white bucket seats! Does it have AC?

    Like 1
    • Cav427

      Unless the compressor is low on the engine, does not appear to have AC but heck AC was a luxury option then. Wouldn’t want it, parasitic loss of power.

      Like 3
    • ACZ

      No, but not that hard to add.

      Like 1
  9. Cav427

    Didn’t like the Pontiac Ventura… Until now! Always hated the profile with the subframe below the rockers, looked cheap. I could live with that with a 400…

    Like 1
  10. Gene Degele

    Just a bit of useless trivia…Nova was used in the naming convention of all GM’s similar platforms to the Nova…Chevy (N)ova, Oldsmobile (O)mega, Pontiac (V)entura and Buick (A)pollo…

    Like 4
  11. Kevin

    Nice car,wouldn’t pay over nada value though,and with the 400 I’d put sub frame connectors in,the novas,and their cousins, notoriously twisted up sub-frames back in the day,and rear shackles and mounts always rusted out,and you would see them driving cock-eyed all the time!

    Like 1
    • John Polacek

      Not to mention those bolts that would always break in the rear suspension, which would cause the rear end to move to one side. We used one for a bracket car with a mild 400/400 trans. Ran well, wasn’t fast but did ok.

      Like 0
  12. Troy s

    Going with the amount of absolute disdain people express over the ’74 GTO optioned Ventura here and elsewhere I’d figure this cool cruiser would be more valuable. Both in money and in using.
    It’s really mild looking. The wheels and tires are nice, really sharp paint, hate the plaid seats but the rest is okay. Floor shifter and the tach on the steering column are the only hints of possible thunder between the fenders, and even the 400 looks to be a nice street engine, not overdone. Nice driver.

    Like 1
  13. Keith

    The hatchback is a very noisy interior compared to having a trunk. Not that poplar of a body style. No way to hide your valuables with this body style.

    Like 0

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