Factory 4-Speed: 1974 Pontiac GTO

It came in with a bang and went out with its head held high. While a shadow of its former self, Pontiac’s 1974 GTO tried to find a place to fit within an increasingly hostile regulatory environment, fuel shortages, recession, and outsized insurance premiums. It was a noble attempt and I am happy to have one here for your review. This GTO is located in Franklin, Massachusetts and is available, here on eBay for a current bid of $9,200, five bids tendered as of this writing.

The truly low production GTO, 1973s Colonnade version

The GTO had been a GM intermediate, positioned on GM’s “A” platform from its inception through 1973. And the ’73 version was, kindly speaking, awkward. The ’68-’72 version of the A-body had been a grand slam, not only for Pontiac, but for its corporate cousins at Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, and Buick too. And the other division’s muscle cars, SS, 442, and GS enjoyed similar sales success just as the GTO had. The colonnade body style, ushered in for ’73, just didn’t cut it as a car with sporting intentions, though they had other qualities that helped move a lot of metal. In’74, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, and Buick stayed the course with the previously referenced models but Pontiac moved the Goat downstream to the Ventura-based X-body. How did it work out? Depends on your perspective, sales-wise, only about 7K copies rolled off of the assembly line but it was a significant improvement over the 4,800 or so built in the ’73 model year. And GTO sales were in a notable decline after ’70 anyway. Performance-wise? Fair, but fair was pretty typical, and acceptable, in ’74. Pontiac pulled the plug at the model year conclusion and the GTO was no more, except for the slow-selling Holden Monaro version from 2004-2006.

The seller states that this is a very rare factory black car with a four-speed manual transmission, 350 CI engine, dual exhaust, rally gauges, shaker hood, console, and more. So it’s a surprise that he has not included an image of the 200 net HP, 350 CI, Pontiac sourced engine. And Pontiac was not entirely out of the performance business in ’74. All one needs to do is review the excellent 455 CI Super Duty engine from ’73 and ’74 to know that Pontiac could still get it done in spite of regulatory obstacles. But the product designers and engineers decided that a 350 CI engine was as hairy as the GTO was going to get. Unfortunately, there is no reference in the listing as to this 51K mile GTO’s operating prowess.

The exterior of this GTO is curious as the decal-ed name badges are gone and a more traditional GTO emblem has been affixed to both front fenders. Traversing both sides is a bump-strip that has been added; while not original to the GTO, it’s a good idea as it offers some protection from clueless drivers who just throw open their doors with reckless abandon. The tailpipes on this example are incorrect too but that’s a minor issue and probably one of preference. The body panels of this Pontiac are undoubtedly straight and there are no signs of rust or rot. Black is one of those colors that doesn’t always hold up so well, specifically due to fade and oxidization, nevermind the fact that it highlights every imperfection. The black finish on this GTO, however, looks fine – no noted issues. Wheels are always a matter of choice and this seller has installed Cragar S/S units in place of the original Pontiac Rally II stamped steel pieces.

Moving inside, we find what separates a Pontiac from a corresponding Chevrolet. There were actually a lot of things that separated the two marques, but the interiors in Pontiacs were, in my observation, always a little better finished off. The seats, in particular, are usually a bit better padded and Pontiac’s vinyls, which they referred to as Morrokide, is known for being tough. The black interior of this GTO looks great, with no rips, tears, or splits. Ditto the carpet, it shows as new and the rally gauges are always a nice addition.

I have to admit that I like the ’74 GTO’s decal badges and am sorry to see them missing on this example but that is an inconsequential matter. While not in the same league as the earliest GTOs, this Pontiac is absolutely in the club and is worth considering, if for no other reason, because they are so seldomly encountered. One day to go in the bidding and only five bids tendered, I thought there would be more. I like this end-of-the-line GTO, how about you?

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Comments

  1. alphasud Member

    It’s too bad Pontiac corporate couldn’t offer the 455 in the Ventura body as well as the Firebird. That would have made it really special as well. The 70’s were hard times for manufacturers on our side of the pond.

    Like 11
  2. Moparman Member

    This is a nice one, definitely MUCH better than the other one listed here earlier this week. I would consider tucking the bumpers, but at least they have the rub strips to help disguise their bulk! GLWTA!! :-)

    Like 10
    • bry593

      Anyone know if pre-5mph bumpers could be fitted? I’ve not had a x-body before, but it seems like a ’72 bumper would be the first thing I’d try.

      Like 1
  3. Jcs

    Now, this is a nice one. Never a Nova equipped nearly as well, very cool car.

    It would take three times the current bid to bring that other one even close to this example.

    Great job on the write-up, thanks Jim.

    Like 10
  4. Keith

    Yes a 455 in this car would bring memories of big block novas of the past. Could not even imagine a 455 SD 74 GTO. Would have been the Motor Trend Car Of The Year

    Like 9
  5. 433jeff

    What everyone else said, a 455 would have been the an outro just like the intro

    Like 3
  6. Stan Marks

    No pics of the under carriage or under the hood? .
    IMHO, there seems to be something missing, with this plain Jane.
    Sold today for $13,850

    Like 3
  7. Gremlin X

    14k for a 200 horse mid-70s Nova. Who woulda thunk?

    Like 3
  8. morrisangelo

    Had a Buccaneer Red 74 GTO hatchback with 4-speed. A Pittsburgh rust bucket by the time I got it around 1982.

    I’ll never forget, riding home from Penn State McKeesport one night, I hit a patch of ice at 45 mph on a mountain road with no guard rail, car quickly turned sideways and then caught dry pavement and straightened up like nothing every happened

    I can still feel the sphincter clench from that night all of these years later.

    Like 11
  9. Steve Clinton

    Sold today for $13,850.00!

    Like 2
    • JCA

      I looks like it didn’t sell for $13,850 on Ebay. The seller ended the auction early. Someone probably gave him $15k offline?

      Like 2
      • Steve Clinton

        I beg to differ. This is from the eBay auction page. Or am I missing something?

        Ended:Nov 23, 2020 , 7:17AM
        Winning bid:US $13,850.00

        Like 1
      • JCA

        Ok, I could be wrong on that. I just saw it only went 3 days. I haven’t bought or sold a car on Ebay for a few years now but last time I did, I was pretty sure the min was 5 days for an auction..

      • Steve Clinton

        eBay changes their auction rules as often as a momma changes her baby’s diaper!

        Like 2
  10. David Ulrey

    I was honestly expecting to see a bunch of negative comments here but was pleasantly surprised. I had a Ventura with a Chevy 307. I liked the the car itself but the motor was quite tired by the time I got it. I also had an Olds Omega with an Olds 350. That car would really move! I would not mind this car one little bit. Yes you could stick a 455 in it or even go old school and rebuild the 350 in it and add performance goodies. Either way would work just fine for me. Those were tough years for all the American car manufacturers but overall I think they did the best they could given all the new rules and regulations forced upon them.

    Like 5
  11. JoeNYWF64

    Pontiac should have at least optionally offered the 400.
    If there’s no factory tach, might as well put 1 on the hood.

    Like 4
  12. Jeff

    More grease on the tires than in Bowzer’s hair from the band Sha Na Na!

    Like 2
  13. RJ

    I like the Firebird like tail lights in these. I hope the new owner removes the mud flaps from behind the front wheels or at least adds some in back. What a odd look on a RWD car.

  14. Troy s

    It’s one of those cars that an owner turns into a real screamer,,, a personalized Main street brawler. It could be,, no doubt about it. Take over from where the factory left off so to speak.
    And why not? Novas have been getting the “treatment” since the Chevy II made its appearance. Then again, people look at these much like the fuel gauge here….is it half empty or half full?
    Nice ride all decked out black on black.

    Like 1
  15. Charlie H

    Google the sellers phone # from the auction…….

    • DayDreamBeliever Member

      Oh my….
      A lot of information out there, none of it positive.
      From the BBB, a single complaint, which went unanswered:

      Complaint Type: Problems with Product/Service
      Status: Unanswered

      10/04/2018
      The car was advertised on ebay as runs and drives great. The car has multiple issues that make it impossible to pass a safety inspection in Texas. It has electrical issues that drain the battery while it is parked . The speedometer does not work, that tachometer does not work, the headlights dont work, the radio does not work. windshield wipers dont work. When you put the cloth top up the driver side door wont close. According to my mechanic the carburetor needs to be replaced. The hardtop is attached to the body with erector set pieces and bolts . I paid for the shipping to get the car. I offered to pay the shipping back to the seller if he would return my money. He refused. In one phone call he said this is a project car. that was not listed in the ad. Buy from this business at your own risk and do not by from him over ebay.

      A car from this seller was featured here earlier this year:
      https://barnfinds.com/28k-original-miles-1969-chevrolet-camaro-convertible/

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