Hiding In Plain Sight: 1974 Pontiac Trans AM SD455

There is just something exciting and cool about a good roadside find! Not knowing the story or if the owner would be willing to let it go makes it fun to dream of the possibilities. Reader Brian D just shared his latest sighting with us and I know I’d sure love to know the story behind it. And I’m sure there are more than a few of you out there that would love to buy this 1974 Pontiac Trans AM Super Duty 455! He spotted it behind an abandoned house, so he wasn’t able to get any details on it or if it’s for sale, but it’s still fun to take a look and dream.

The 1974 Pontiac Trans Am is the last of the high-performance muscle cars, well at least according to many muscle car collectors. Between emission regulations and gas prices, it’s actually amazing that Pontiac built these cars. If the 455 didn’t already drink fuel fast enough in 250 horsepower trim level, they decided to offer a Super Duty version that was rated at 290 horsepower. It’s believed that they only built 943 of these gas guzzeling SD Trans Ams in ’74. Brian didn’t want to get in trouble, so he didn’t try to open it up. If it’s a genuine 455 S.D. with a 4-speed, it would be worth serious money. Heck, even it’s an automatic car, it shouldn’t be out in the elements.

While a 40 horsepower jump from the standard 455 is quite a bit of increase, you might think the Super Duty simply received higher compression pistons and a bigger carburetor since the 455 was already a beastly engine. And while it did get those things, it also received engine block reinforcements, 4-bolt main bearings, forged rods, aluminum pistons, high-flow cylinder heads, and a different camshaft. Several magazines of the day took them drag racing and came to the conclusion that the 290 net rating had to be fairly under-rated. Both Hot Rod Magazine and Car and Driver were able to run mid-13-second quarter-mile times in a manual-equipped SD455 car.

This one clearly hasn’t moved in a number of years, which really is a shame. While it really deserves a proper restoration, it sure would be fun to show up to a few car shows with it looking more or less as found! So, if you happened to track the owners down and were able to buy this T/A, what would you do with it?

Our thanks to Brian for sharing his sighting with us! If you’ve spotted a cool classic alongside the road, be sure to snap some photos and send them to us via email.

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Comments

  1. J_Paul Member

    Oh man, what a shame. I can only hope that an owner can be located so that this gets rescued.

    Like 11
  2. poseur Member

    should be pretty easy to find the owner of record for the property where it is located and contact them to inquire about it.
    same with the VIN too.
    no idea if i am close but i’m happy to do the work to find out more & see if it could be bought for something halfway reasonable.

    Like 9
  3. mike b

    A H.S. friend borrowed his brother’s for 3 of us to go to lunch after commencement practice. The other friend, who got to ride the first leg, said it was the only car in which he was able to actually see the gas gauge needle move.

    Like 12
  4. Dave Mika

    Ya mike b, Pontiac didn’t give a flying you-know-what about any fuel crisis. The only fuel crisis that hit this car was when you hit the gas.

    Like 10
    • Pat

      Common on many muscle cars of that era. Classmate had a 69 z28. When he was down to half a tank of gas, and he hit it hard, the acceleration would push the gas to the back of the tank and the gauge would go down to almost empty, as he let off of it, it would come back to normal…..

      Like 8
      • Robbie R.

        Pat, don’t ruin a good story with facts! 😂

        Like 21
  5. gbvette62

    I knew three guys who had new SD-455’s in 74. One belonged to the son of the owner of a local Pontiac store. It was Admiralty Blue with a white interior, an automatic and was loaded with every imaginable option. The second was Cameo White with a tan interior, an automatic and AC. The third one belonged to the owner of a Sunoco station, was Buccaneer Red with a black gut, 4 speed, and no air.

    I had a 74 Cosworth Vega on order, and when Chevrolet cancelled the 74 Cosworth’s, I tried to find an SD-455 Trans-Am. There were plenty of regular 455’s around, but no SD’s. Since I couldn’t find an SD, and regular 455’s only came with automatics, I ended up with a no air, Admiralty Blue, 400, 4 speed. My 400 ran high 14’s out of the box, and 13.9-14 flat after some simple hot rodding tricks.

    The dealer’s son’s SD eventually ended up on the his used car lot, but by then I had my 400 4 speed, and didn’t really want an automatic.

    If there’s any mid 70’s cars that deserve to be preserved, it’s the 73-74 Trans-Am’s, especially the SD-455’s.

    Like 22
  6. George Mattar

    A guy in my town got a brand new blue SD 455 in late 74. I saw him driving it all the time. It sounded great. After 1979, I never saw it again. But I heard about 5 years ago, it was in the hands of of a young kid who knows what he has, but no money to restore it. The car is blue. This red car must be saved.

    Like 7
  7. Dave

    Something to remember is that 1974 model cars were available for sale in September, while the Yom Kippur war began in October. The oil embargo began later. The build date would be interesting here. If this was an early model year build it would be interesting to see how many of these Pontiac built after November 1, 1973.

    Like 5
  8. LARRY

    Wouldn’t it be amazing if someone could find the owner and the owner just wanted ( that old pile of junk) removed from the property!! I know it’s just a dream but it actually happened to me years ago while I was cleaning up a guys back 40…I became the owner of a 68 Ford ranger that really wasn’t in too bad of shape so it doesn’t hurt to ask. He had forgotten about the truck and wanted it removed!

    Like 5
  9. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    What’s in front of it – a GTZ ?

    • Tom Member

      I think it is a Grand Prix GT, probably 1989-ish.

      The TA, a great car…..too bad someone was foolish enough to let it rot…..I can NOT imagine that the car is NOT full of rust and rot. I hope I am wrong. They were bad for rust and rot when they were NOT neglected.

      Like 2
      • Fiete T.

        If the camera was over a little more to the right it would be easy to conform if it is an ASC/McLaren GTP turbo conversion. I tore one apart in a junkyard a couple years back. Kept the badges & the hood vents for my modified Regal GS

        Like 2
  10. Troy s

    Of all the Trans Am’s to be left in the leaves! These have been worshipped by Pontiac gear heads And collector’s for years and years.
    With so few being actually built I wonder if this one’s for real, or at least still original under the hood. Great car if so.

    Like 4
  11. redwagon

    oak seedlings growing out of the cowl. It takes a long time to create enough soil from rotting leaves for that to happen.

    I see eastern hemlock, oaks, red maple, sycamore and eastern white pine. My guess is this is somewhere in the east, more mid-Atlantic, say NC, SC, TN, eastern KY. Possibly as far north as PA or the southern half of NY state.

    Happy hunting!

    Like 5
  12. Martin

    One of my eternal regrets is declining a straight up trade for a SD for my old C10 pickup. My truck was beat and I was selling it to buy something better, and I had no use for a car at the time so I said no. He took me for a rip to try to convince me but I needed something I could load my dirt bike into. I think I was asking less than $1000.00 for my pickup at the time.

    Like 4
  13. Jeff

    Nice car. Im really a MOPOWER guy but id b PRIVILEGED TO own one of these ROCKETS. I drove a couple. Of em back in late 70 s. at a body shop i used to work at with 4 speeds. Guys were dumpin em when gas hit a buck a gallon. My boss was a CAR guy. And was gettin GAS GUZZELERS like this for practicality nuthin. We RECONDITIONED em NICELY and sent some really nice muscle cars to local auction. Had about a 30 mile drive to Butler auto auction. WE HAD FUN 55 mph speed limit. Was about top of second gear. 4 th would getcha in SERIOUS TROUBLE on PA turnpike. One nice find there was a 70 ss 454. boss STOLE for 1600 bux 4 speed. It needed 2 quarters. But was other wise PERFECT. Boss was a smart. cool older guy. And told me that guys dumping theese cars WILL REGRETT IT. He was kinda right on that. Id say. Thanks for the MEMORIES JACK FLORACASSI. GOOD GUY I HOPE YOUR DOING WELL. JIM DEMJIE ALSO.

    Like 4
  14. JamesD

    Where is this or did I miss it in the article / comments?

    Like 1
  15. Frank Y Member

    Is it my imagination or Did anyone else notice how shiny and clean the rims are compared to the rest of the car?

    Like 4
  16. Erik F

    Early second Gen TAs are rare regardless of whether or not they are SDs. 1970 = 3196 (88 were RA IV 400s), 1971 = 2116 (All 455s), 1972 = 1286 (All 455s), 1973 = 4802 (all were 455s of which 252 were SD 455s).
    As you can see Pontiac produced only 10,400 TAs from 1970-1973. In 1974 – 10,255 TAs were produced (943 of which were 455SDs, 5591 (455s) and 3721 (400s). It is interesting to note that this 4 year production of Trans Am from 1970-1973 compares to the 1 year production of the 1974 Trans Am (10,400 vs 10,255 units); an almost 4 fold increase in Trans Am production numbers for 1974. This event is repeated again in 1976 (46,701 units) with another 4 fold increase in Trans Am production as compared to the 1974 Trans Am (10,255 units). 1979 was the highlight of the second gen TAs with 117,108 cars produced.
    When put into perspective the 1970-1973 Trans Ams(1) are very low production cars regardless of Make or Model when compared against other 2nd Generation Trans Ams and other performance cars of the era like the 1969 GTO Judge Hardtops (6,725 units)(2); 1969 440 RT Chargers (18,344 units)(3); 1969 SS 396 Camaros (13,970 units)(4) and 1969 428 CID Mustangs (13,261 units)(5).
    References:
    1. Firebird Red Book, The Standard Catalogue of Firebird and http://www.transamworld.com/bird-prod-numbers.php
    2. http://www.gtoheaven.com/gtostats/69gto.html
    3. http://www.moparmuscle69.com/productionfigures.htm
    4. http://www.thecamaro.com/Production/1969-Camaro-Production-Totals-and-RPO-Numbers.php
    5. https://www.428cobrajet.org/production

    Like 5
  17. TimM

    Clean it up go over the mechanicals and drive the snot out of it with a respirator on so you don’t smell the mouse piss!!!

    Like 1
  18. Mark

    My favorite car! I want it.

  19. TDM Member

    Clean out fuel system. New hoses that can stand up to this E85 crap. Rebuild carb. Let it ride Baby, yeah!! It’s totally shagadelic!!

  20. Brian P

    Is there a picture of the VIN, by chance?

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