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4 bucket 67's 1967 GTO

2023 December
of the Month

1971-1976 Trans AM 455/HO/SD

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Out of all the Firebirds produced there were more made between 1970 and 1981 than any other generation. Just one highlight of this era was the 455 Formula and Trans Am. This car came along at the very end of the original muscle car era and would be the last from Pontiac. Horsepower numbers soon began to plummet into pathetic amounts. The 455 stood for the displacement of the engine, one of the largest ever offered in a production car. When the car was introduced in 1971 power output was 335HP. The previous year of 1970 actually offered a more powerful 400ci engine which put out 370HP. New pollution controls were put into place for 1971 along with a new classification on rating the power of engines which was the reason for the lower output, such trends would continue for the next decade. The engine was meant to one up the folks over at Chevy with their 454.

1971 would mark the introduction of the engine which made 335HP and 455TQ. Power would drop off considerably until its demise in 1976 when it bowed out making a wimpy 200HP. Big block engines have never really made a return since. Modern technology allows several horsepower more with much smaller displacement. However something a modern engine would have trouble doing is making 335HP with only a 8:4:1 compression, the 455 did this! Forged rods and pistons were used along with a quadrajet carb. Block and heads were composed of Iron. Transmissions were either a Hurst 4 speed manual or a Turbo 400 3-speed automatic.

Only a few thousand cars were equipped with this optional engine, this may seem like more than enough to not be classified as rare. What must be considered is that the cars are now almost 40 years old and that a few thousand was but a drop in the bucket for a car that sold annually more than 100,000 units for 5 straight years during the 1970s.

Performance was impressive delivering high 13 sec passes at well over 106mph. To put in perspective few performance cars of the time could deliver sub 14 sec quarter miles. 0-60 times were a few ticks over 6 seconds. These cars did not offer anything like traction control, ABS, or independent rear suspension. To be driven at the limit true skill was needed as these cars were a handful to say the least. Body spoilers at the front and rear did an excellent job providing downforce in an era in which things like a wind tunnel simply weren't even a thought. It is also interesting to note the 73 SD Trans Am with 3.08 gear ratio was the fastest GM production car built from 1973-1987.

The exterior delivered all the classic elements a Trans Am should, it started up front with the huge Firebird decal on the hood that let everyone know you were coming. Shaker hood scoop with the 455 written on it if anyone wanted to know what you were running. Functional air extractors on the front fenders, honeycomb wheels with raised white lettering on the tires. Much less chrome than other cars of the era and certainly before it. Plastic front bumpers were viewed by the public as "cheap" but the Trans Am skillfully used slight chrome pieces with the majority still being plastic. Many who ordered the option waited more than 6 months to get the cars. Interestingly enough the option code was known as "LS2". Even in the 70s LS meant getting big time performance.

Of all the many special edition Firebirds produced in its 35 year run the 455s command the highest amount of money, many sell now for well over $100,000 dollars. Its at the very top of many Pontiac collectors' lists. Despite its brawn with little or no technology there would not be another Firebird faster until 1989. Imagine if performance cars did not improve at all for nearly 15 years? We are privileged to live in a such an era today, for many older generations of gearheads had to endure some pretty dark times.

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