GTO Clone: 1974 Pontiac Ventura Shed Find

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The GTO is credited with starting the mid-size muscle car craze in 1964. But a decade later, higher insurance premiums, more stringent emissions controls and rising gas prices signaled the end of the line for the GTO (and others in the genre). As a one-year-wonder, the GTO became an option package on the compact Ventura and was just a shadow of what once was. This regular 1974 Ventura was restored in the late 1990s, made into a GTO tribute car, and then put away in a shed that would eventually fall down around it. This Pontiac has since been rescued and made able to run again but the work has just begun. Located in Scranton, Pennsylvania, it’s available here on eBay where the no reserve auction has reached $3,550.

Pontiac built 580,000 cars in 1974, which would be a recession year thanks in part to the OPEC oil embargo. Of that number, 96,500 were Ventura’s and almost half of them – 49,000 – would be 2-door coupes like the seller’s car. The biggest engine you could get in a Ventura was a detuned 350 V8 with a 2-barrel carburetor. For $461 extra, you could specify Option Code WW3 which was the GTO package that found its way into 7,000 Ventura’s. The GTO would get a beefier 350 engine with 4-barrel carburation.

The seller bought this car in 2020 from a local estate. As the story goes, the previous owner had purchased the car and did a redo in 1997. That effort included swapping the 350 for a rebuilt 455 big block. Said owner then drove the car for a couple of years and parked it in a shed where it stayed for the next 21 years. Problem is that the structure wasn’t much of a shed to begin with and deteriorated further over time, to the detriment of the Pontiac.

When this Ventura left the factory, it was wearing code 75 Buccaneer Red paint which was redone in Earl Scheib kind of blue during the restoration and the work wasn’t done well. While the seller says the sub frame, floors, trunk pan, rear quarter panels, and rockers are all solid, some rust in the fenders and corners of the doors will need attention. The interior was part of the late ‘90s initiative, but the windows were left partially open and it’s extremely dirty now, at a minimum.

Once the car was removed from its two-decade perch, the seller went to work getting it where it would at least run and drive around the yard. While the engine and transmission were the primary focus, the brakes were redone as well, and the carburetor rebuilt. Some of the work done in 1997 included performance upgrades. The seller provides two videos for interesting parties to review. The first documents the removal of the car from the shed and the second shows the resuscitation work being done and hearing it fire up for the first time in ages.

Unfortunately for the folks opting to restore this car, they’ll find that the 1974 GTO may have the lowest resale value of the cars built from 1964-74. NADA quotes top dollar at $26,500, easily half of what some of the others bring. And this isn’t really a GTO at all, just a Ventura with some badging and a 455 V8 that wasn’t available in the car in ‘74. But for those who thrive on the fruits of their labor, this could be a very satisfying project in the end.

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  1. Terrry

    The restorer could have put on the Pontiac honey comb wheels just so it could look more the part.

    Like 4
    • Fred

      The Honeycombs were not an option on the GTO, only the Rally wheels

      Like 5
  2. Brian Birmingham

    Pontiacs bad one “block” 326 through 455. There was no big block Pontiac. People get this wrong all the time writing about them.

    Like 1
  3. Gago

    Had a 73 Ventura in college. Came with a Chevy 250 six. Swapped in a built LT-1 and drove it for 30 years. Can’t imagine what it would be like with a 455! Brings back memories.

    Like 0
  4. JoeNYWF64

    The bumpers appear to have been tucked in – not sure if any weight was saved.
    A good way to eliminate the always cracking bumper to body plastic filler panels.
    Not sure if earlier model bumpers could be fitted.
    Seats from ? appear to recline. Probably worth keeping.

    Like 2
  5. DON

    How does one “restore” a car when you put an engine in it that it never came with, paint it in a color that it wasn’t originally ,and make it into something it wasn’t in the first place ?

    Like 4
  6. Rustytech RustytechMember

    It’s called a restomod. From what can be seen, it appears the body is straight and not very rusty. This would make a fun cruiser, and get lots of interest at any car show. Not just another Nova. I still don’t understand why these don’t generate more interest.

    Like 5
    • FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972Member

      I’m with you Rustytech as regards why these little Venturas aren’t more popular as I think they were better looking than the similar Nova. I think this GTO wanna-be could make for a very nice ride properly restored and who doesn’t like a big block in a small car? It looks to be in decent shape and it is a running car which should help it to be an easier sell. Since the previous owner put all that work into it, I don’t understand why he didn’t make an effort to preserve it a little better. At the very least, he could have replaced the deteriorating tent he left it in. Just one last point; why would anyone post a picture of a car with a car cover on it? I don’t know about you guys but I know what a car cover looks like so I don’t need a picture of one.

      Like 1
  7. BL

    Could be a decent muscle car for a young kid, no real bargains around anymore. $3500 would be about right for a top bid. Do the mechanical work yourself, do the body work and get a basic Maaco paint job on it ..some newer used rims…you might be able to do it all including price of car for about 6k.

    Like 0

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