Rusty Racer: 1974 Pontiac Ventura

031316 Barn Finds - 1974 Pontiac Ventura 1

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Let’s be optimistic: maybe that’s just surface rust on this mean looking 1974 Pontiac Ventura found on Craigslist in Hillsboro, Oregon. And that’s not a fake, plastic thing sticking out of the hood–this is one hot little Ventura.

031316 Barn Finds - 1974 Pontiac Ventura 2

This X-Body Pontiac is a clone of the Chevy Nova, Buick Apollo, and Oldsmobile Omega, apart from a few design details and, of course, the front and rear treatment. The seller doesn’t mention any rust in the advertisement, so maybe this car was just just sanded down and left with that rusty finish to intimidate drivers in the next lane at the christmas tree. The owner says that this is a “bracket racer” and it’s a “very straight car”. They also add that the roll cage itself is worth $800.

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The transmission is a turbo 350 automatic, but there is no mention whether it’s built up or not. This probably won’t be the car that you’ll take on a cross-country trip, unless you do it at 1/4 mile at a time! Neither the seats nor the ingress/egress look ideal for daily driving duties, but it’s said to be street legal; you could fill the trunk with groceries if you wanted to.

031316 Barn Finds - 1974 Pontiac Ventura 4

Whoomp! There it is! In 1974, there was a Pontiac GTO package available for the Ventura for one year only. It came with a 200 hp, 5.7L V8, 4-barrel carb, a functional hood scoop (not exactly this one), and grille-mounted driving lights. I don’t see driving lights here, but with the listed 350 and that hood cutout it had me thinking for a minute. If this were a GTO it could be worth restoring back to original spec because of its rarity. The seller says that the horsepower isn’t known, but I’m taking a wild guess that it’s more than the stock 200 for that year. You can see the left front wheel in this photo, so they must have lightened the car for race duty. Does this Ventura intimidate you or would you drive this rusty racer to your next PTA meeting?

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  1. Gnrdude


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  2. Jacob

    This thing has been on craigslist for close to a year now. I thought it looked familiar.

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    • jaygryph

      Yeah, have seen it for quite a while. The pictures are old. Wonder what it looks like now. Cool car, I’d drive it as a summer cruiser but the plexi windows would have to go. At least the door ones anyway.

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  3. paul

    You could get a Pontiac 350 2bbl as an option on any 74 Ventura, my 4 door had it. The GTO package had the same Pontiac 350, but with a 4bbl Rochester carb. The GTO came with different grill inserts and the GTO hood. Looks like this one might have a Chevy 350.

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  4. Cassidy

    Looks like a fun driver, but those seats would need some padding before this became a daily driver. I used to have a Olds Omega with the 350, fun car to zip around town in, but not too fun on a long trip. Price seems pretty good if the engine isn’t messed up. I don’t think that’s covered in rust, its primer with patina lol

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  5. Bill

    My Grandmother traded her Olds F-85, three on the tree for a ’73 Ventura. Orange with a light tan interior. 350 automatic. Never went over 30 mph unless my brother got ahold of it. I think it’s still around.

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  6. HoA Howard AMember

    Never understood why Nova’s got all the attention, and the other ones didn’t. Someone in my little town has a Ventura like this,( better than this) sat out all summer with a 4 sale sign, I think a grand would have bought it, and nobody wanted it. It’s still out next to their garage. IDK, it doesn’t look like this particular car will do either task very well, street or strip. Since there are so many of this type around, it has to be nice, or it will sit, as evidenced here.

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  7. Joe Nose

    This thing looks ready for the sequel to Grindhouse.

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  8. JW454

    Chevrolet Nova = N
    Oldsmobile Omega = O
    Pontiac Ventura = V
    Buck Apollo = A…. N-O-V-A.

    The legend is that they used these names in pre-production to identify the other breeds. I don’t know if its true but its quite a coincidence.

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    • George

      The Nova name preceded the OVA models by many years. Nova was orignially the top end of the Chevy II and replaced the name of it in 1969. The Omega, Ventura, and Apollo were variants of the style changes all produced starting in 1973.

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  9. Doug Towsley

    I saw this on my local CL as I live nearby. I thought it was an interesting car and amusing to see it show up here. As I used to own a 72 Rally Nova I was interested to see this but always felt these secondary brands never looked right. And at one point they made them as hatchbacks! (Oh! the Horror, although pretty function really)

    This car looks to me pretty well done on a limited budget with more time than money but could be wrong. The hood scoop is not anything performance but it DOES give it a look though doesnt it? I am looking for a used Alloy scoop with the 3 holes across the front that mimics the old Fuel injection scoops. Mr Gasket and perhaps someone else still makes them new. I want one for one of my prewar rat rod coupes with kind of a Mad max theme.

    This car could be fun, Cool find.

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  10. HeadMaster1

    I had a 76 Buick Skylark hatchback in HS back in 86’……3,8 buick with an auto. I LOVED that car, could fit 6 people in it easy, looked cool like a Nova, and you could lay that back seat down and “enjoy some horizontal time” if you were lucky…..My Favorite of this mid 70’s Nova platform is the Caddy Seville which nobody mentioned(76-79)…Same platform, all had 350 Olds in them and 4-wheel disk brakes……

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  11. Chris In Australia

    That’s a Chev 350. ’74 GTOs came with the Pontiac 350. The ” grille-mounted driving lights” mentioned are the park/indicators on the ’74 GTO

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  12. metalman

    I’ve driven past this car multiple times, as I work in Hillsboro. Believe me, it’s rough.

    Like 0

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