Pontiac Facts

  • Alcoa made an "all-aluminum" Pontiac. It was a 1942 two-door streamliner and had its engine and other parts made of aluminum.


  • In 1943, Pontiac designed a one-quarter-ton 4X4 truck proposed for build by Chevrolet.


  • Some non-military work started again at Pontiac Engineering in 1943.


  • Work was started on a five-inch Rocket Bomb in 1944. Pontiac also started making a 155mm shell.


  • GM Coaches were worked on at Pontiac in 1944.


  • There was almost no road testing due to restrictions on manpower and fuel in 1944.


  • An experimental Pontiac 6 with a supercharger was built in 1945.


  • An experimental Pontiac 6 with an aluminum intake manifold dual carburetor set-up was built in 1945.


  • A first postwar V-8 design was a flathead.


  • Postwar Pontiac V-8 projects included:


  • 269 cid Flathead (8:1 compression ratio) - two designs – 268 cid OHV – 272 cid OHV using an Oldsmobile block


  • 287 cid that became the 1955 production V-8. It was apparently related to the 268 cid above.


  • In 1947, Pontiac demonstrated a car with the 269 cid flathead V-8 to GM management.


  • 272 cid OHV V-8 - first Pontiac engines made in 1948. A 265 cid OHV Pontiac 6 was designed in 1948.


  • 269 cid flathead V-8 work was dropped in May 1949 by Pontiac as not suitable for high compression.


  • Pontiac built one 1200 OHV V-6, 251 cid for GM use in late 1949. Pontiac 268 cid OHV V-Ss were made in 1950.


  • A 248 cid OHV 6 was proposed to replace the 239 cid flathead six. It used the GMC Truck 248 cid block and crankshaft.


  • A two-barrel, high output 239 cid flathead six was developed. Work stopped in 1950.


  • A 239 cid F-head (not flathead) six was designed in 1950. There were plans for a longer wheelbase 1950 Pontiac.


  • The 1951 Pontiac was originally planned to have a new "A" body to be shared with Chevrolet and Oldsmobile, with considerable interchangeability.


  • In 1950 there was a "City Police" generator. It was used in conjunction with a 19 plate battery and a special voltage regulator . It was specifically not heavy-duty. It was for cars operated at low speeds with heavy electrical loads. It was not intended for use over 60 mph except for short periods.


  • Special rear springs were offered in 1951 for Taxicabs, Police Cars, and Special Order Export. They were different from the Station Wagon and Sedan Delivery springs.


  • What became the 1953 Pontiac was originally intended to be the 1952 model.


  • Pontiac built an experimental car in 1954 with an L-head six-cylinder in the rear mounted transversely.


  • The 1953 and 1954 Pontiacs had provisions to accommodate the V- 8 finally introduced in 1955. Some people have reported seeing possible 1953-’54 prototype V-8 cars in Pontiac Detroit area junkyards.


  • Drawings of never made Pontiacs originally planned include:


  • The elusive 1954 Sedan Delivery, marked "Canceled 9/14/53". – A 1954 Business Coupe and Sedan Coupe, marked "Canceled 8/17/53". – A 1954 short wheelbase convertible.


  • A 1956 proposal with the transmission mounted under the seat. It had a flat floor and two driveshafts.


  • In 1954 a heavy-duty Hydra-Matic conversion package was available. It has an external transmission oil cooler, larger annular pistons, a modified engine water pump, and some other parts. It was intended for police cars, taxis, and road mail carriers. it could not be used on air conditioned cars. The cooler mounted on the transmission.


  • 1954 air conditioned cars used a six bladed fan, 13 pound radiator cap, special equipment generator and battery, and heavy-duty fuel pump. Non-A/C cars used a seven pound cap. Eventually, special water temperature gauges were used in A/C cars because of this difference.


  • The first stamped steel rocker arm (to be used in the 1955 Pontiac and Chevy engines, ultimately) was made at home by a Pontiac Engineer.


  • The 1955 GMC L’Universelle Show Van had a front-wheel drive Pontiac V-8 powertrain.


  • The 1956 Pontiac Club de Mer show car had a brushed metal skin. Guess who the head of Pontiac Advance Design was at that point?


  • The 1957 and 1958 Pontiac fuel injection systems used different intake manifolds; 1957 was tubular and 1958 was cast.


  • Notes from Pete Estes indicate the 1959 "Wide-Track was primarily viewed as a styling feature, with the handling advantage seen as secondary."


  • There was a 1959 proposal for a Pontiac version of the El Camino. One prototype still exists in a private owner’s hands.


  • Various 1959 studies with different side trim or models versus what was released for production. These included a Star Chief Safari station wagon and a ’Ventura," which was the beginning of the Grand Prix concept. – A 1961 Star Chief two-door sedan. – A 1962 Ventura series (not just a Catalina with the Ventura option).


  • 1963 Tempests with different front end styling versus what was finally used in production.


  • A 1966 Ventura Safari station wagon with woodgrain.


  • Pontiac used Cadillac bodies during development of the transaxle, which led to the 1961 Tempest.


  • The first 1961 Tempest four-cylinder engines were made by putting bob weights in place of piston and rod assemblies in 1958 V-8 engines in Chieftains.


  • 1958 big Pontiacs were used to develop the XB-60 "rope-drive" transaxle for the 1961 Tempest.


  • Around 1959 Pontiac made 389 cid aluminum cylinder blocks in conjunction with Reynolds Aluminum. They had no liners. In the same period, aluminum heads without seat inserts were made; valve seat wear was a serious problem.


  • The name "Ventura" was often used on concept sketches for proposed Pontiacs and Tempests.


  • Pontiac built experimental 1961 Tempests with 316, 347, and 389 cid engines.


  • A 1961 Tempest was built with a side-mounted radiator and an engine compartment with seals.


  • A 1961 Catalina was built with a 336 cid V-8 for performance and economy testing.


  • Automatic overdrive transmissions were tried in large Pontiacs in 1961 and 1969, at least.


  • While "Ventura" was used as a generic code name for many Pontiac styling proposals, a document has been found that indicates it was the intended name for what became the 1962 Grand Prix. It also says the car was to use special springs for a one inch lower ride height.


  • Vinyl tops for large Pontiac coupe models were announced as being available as of 1-30-62. "Cobra" grain vinyl was used.


  • A 35,000 mile chassis lube was intended for the 1962 Tempest.


  • There are reports of a factory prototype 1964 Tempest with a turbine engine.


  • There are reports of a factory prototype 1964 Tempest with front- wheel drive.


  • The 1963 Tempest 326 cid V-8 was really a 336. In 1964 it became a 326.


  • A 421 cid SOHC V-8 "Sports Engine" was seriously developed by Pontiac. A 395 cid was also proposed. 1963 test data on the 421 SOHC showed the four-barrel version produced more power than the Tri-power one.


  • An Engineering report dated 5-29-63 is titled "Preliminary


  • Performance and Fuel Economy Comparison - G.T.O. (with periods!) versus 326 HO engine and 326 low compression ratio engine".


  • Data was found that indicates an informational description of what became the 1964 GTO was published inside Pontiac on 7-3-63, revised 8-13-63, 8-19-63, and 10-18-63. The 8-13-63 list indicates the GTO crest was to be red, white, and blue. It also shows that the GTO was intended to have a 116 inch wheelbase (with a modified suspension) versus the Tempest 115 inches.


  • Pontiac designed and built a front-wheel drive 1964 Tempest with a 326 cid V-8. It used unequal length driveshafts. The engine was mounted longitudinally.


  • There was a plan for a six bolt rocker cover for the 1964 Pontiac V-8.


  • There was a Hilborn-like fuel injection system designed by Pontiac Engineering for the GTO.


  • Pontiac partially developed a Rochester six-barrel carburetor. It had a 3-2 barrels on a common base.


  • The 1966 Tri-Power and 1967 four-barrel intake manifold/carburetor/ air cleaner systems had equivalent power. The restrictive Tri-Power intake manifold was replaced by a 1967 four-barrel design that was related to the early 1960’s NASCAR manifold. In addition, the small Tri- Power air cleaners were quite restrictive also versus the large element used with the four-barrel.


  • One Pontiac OHC V-8 is currently running in a private owner’s car. Several different Pontiac OHC V-Ss were built.


  • Pontiac tested a water heated 2-4 barrel ram intake manifold for the 1965 GTO engine.


  • A RPD speed-density fuel injection system was tested on a 1965 GTO engine with a modified 3-2 manifold, a ram manifold, and a cross-ram manifold.


  • A 265 cid OHC6 was built for possible use in the Catalina and Tempest. It apparently had a longer stroke. One-barrel and four-barrel versions were built.


  • There was a plan for cast iron eight-lug wheels for the 1966 Tempest. Brake drum distortion and high unsprung weight killed the program.


  • 1966 Engineering Bulletin P66-22, dated 10-14-65, indicates the release of a "LeMans Ride Option for GTO". It was to include LeMans V- 8 springs, shocks, and stabilizer bar. The purpose was "for the owner who desires a GTO with its looks and performance but with LeMans type ride."


  • An engineering drawing dated 8-23-65 shows the cast iron styled wheel/brake for the 1966 Tempest. It shows eight lug


  • nuts. It had 24 cooling fins versus 16 on the aluminum version. This wheel never went into production due to high weight and distortion.


  • What became the 1966 230 cid OHC6 was originally to have been 215 cid.


  • Pontiac Engineering Bulletin 66-20 indicates that the OHC6 was to have black painted ribs on the cam cover and timing belt cover. Red paint was to be on the "Overhead Cam" letters, the "PMD" letters, and the ribs that framed the PMD letters.


  • Pontiac developed a rear mounted transmission, the EX-724, which was used in five experimental independent rear suspension transaxle cars.


  • Pontiac designed an independent rear suspension with inboard disc brakes. A number of experimental cars were built.


  • Pontiac designed a variable venturi carburetor. The design had no throttle blades. Rochester Products took the work over.


  • Pontiac Engineering Bulletin 66-16 indicates that an electrically heated front seat and seat back was to have been a special order option on the 1966 Bonneville Brougham only.


  • Pontiac developed (starting around 1967) a X-4 engine. It was an aluminum, two cycle, four-cylinder, air cooled, fuel injected engine.


  • As late as 7-15-66, the 1967 Firebird was called the "PF" car. What appears to be the "Banshee" name is hazy on the drawings. What becarre the Firebird 400 was originally to be the "TT" with a different hood and emblems than finally used.


  • TT stood for "Tourist Trophy". Some data indicates the TT was also to have the four-barrel OHC 6 available.


  • The original 1967 Firebird option list shows "D35 - Bullet outside rearview mirror".


  • Pontiac built a 1967 Firebird with a ground effects machine in the trunk to increase traction.


  • Many Canadian Pontiacs, including the Canadian specific muscle cars, used Chevrolet engines.


  • A 1968 GTO Hatchback prototype was built. It was white with blue stripes (ala the 1969 Trans Am).


  • The prototype 1969 Trans Am was silver. It has a fiberglass hood with push down and rotate style hood locks.


  • Some 1969 development projects on the Pontiac 303 cid Trans-Am engine included center feed crankshaft oiling and gravity feed camshaft oiling.


  • In 1969, Pontiac proposed an aluminum 297 cid V-8. Experimental 250 cid versions were built.


  • In 1969, Pontiac built a 230 OHC 6 "Hemi". It had 325 gross hp.


  • What became the 1969 Tempest Custom S was originally to be called the "Pontiac TC".


  • Around 1969, Pontiac Engineering installed a 318 cid Plymouth V-8 in a Catalina for a performance and economy study.


  • Some 1970 GTOs were equipped with an optional vacuum controlled exhaust system called "The Tiger Button". A knob, similar to that used for RAM AIR, changed the exhaust sound. Few were sold before the option was canceled.


  • The 1970-1/2 Firebird came close to having a production Bendix Fuel Injection System (TBI type).


  • It’s believed that approximately 100 1971-1/2 GT-37s were built. Evidence of cars built at Fremont, as well as Pontiac, was uncovered. After a lot of searching in various records, no announcement was found that the 1971-1/2 existed although the stripes did find their way into the parts catalog.


  • A drawing has been found that indicates the original plan for the 1971 GT-37 was to have it use the 1970 GT-37 stripe, which is the same as the 1969 Judge.


  • For those that wonder: Yes, the candy apple green color on the 1971 evaporative emissions line clip near the canister is correct!


  • The major change in 1971 vs. 1970 horsepower ratings didn’t come from the change in compression ratio. Instead, it comes from the use of more realistic net hp ratings in 1971 (which included a fan, an air cleaner, exhaust system, etc.) versus the gross hp used in 1970.


  • The 1972 "A" duck tail spoiler was never installed in production. Factory pictures exist showing it installed on a LeMans GT and a GTO. Some parts appear to have been sold through GM Parts Division and installed.


  • The 1972 GTO was originally going to have a 350 cid four-barrel engine as standard.


  • What became the 1973 Grand Am was originally intended to be the GTO.


  • One 1973 "A" SD 455 was built. It was in a Grand Am and was an engineering prototype. There were no production 1973 "A" SD 455s.


  • No 1973 production "A" cars were produced with functional NASA scoops. However, one prototype, now in private hands, does exist. In addition, some other units may have been sold through GM Parts Division and installed.


  • What became the 1973 "A" was intended to be released as a 1972, but was delayed by the long GM strike.


  • SD455 Formula Firebirds came from the factory with Trans Am hoods and shakers.


  • Prior to the development of the 1977 151 cid four-cylinder (which started in 1974), four-cylinder proposals using V-8 tooling (like the old 195 cid version) were looked at. Possibly the most unusual was a S-4. This engine used the most forward cylinder on one side, then the two inner cylinders on the other side, and an end cylinder on the same side as the first. A prototype was built using a V-8 block and bob weights. It had unacceptable vibrations, later analyzed mathematically.


  • This proposal resurfaced in 1978. A prototype vehicle, using the Grand Am appearance, was built. This vehicle, now updated to 1980 appearance, is in the Pontiac Historical Vehicle Collection. A similar proposal, using LeMans sheet metal, was proposed to be sold by GM Truck and Coach.


  • The 1979 Firebird Type K came close to going into production. The build process required that a Firebird be partially built in the plant, transferred to an outside body facility, and then returned to the plant for completion. As a result, the total number of Firebirds able to be built was reduced due to the assembly line interruptions. A financial analysis of the situation showed Pontiac would lose profit from this situation and the project was canceled.


  • One of the 1980 Phoenix optional trims combined a basically black interior with saddle colored seat inserts. The trim brochure shows saddle inserts on the door trim panels also, but due to a factory error, some cars were built with all black door panels.


  • Many factory photos and Product Description Manuals (an assembly guide) are incorrect versus how the cars were actually made.


  • In 1981, Pontiac proposed a "Safari" pickup based on the Sunbird. Production would have been in 1985 or 1986. The Norwood plant recently built one on its own.


  • The 1982 Firebird was designed to contain the Pontiac manufactured V-8. The Turbo 301 required engine repackaging to make it fit.


  • There was a serious production design to use the 1.8 liter, four- cylinder, non-turbo engine in the 1984 Fiero. The intent was to provide even higher levels of fuel economy.



  • 1,229 1986-1/2 Grand Prix 2 + 2s were made. Despite original plans, no 1987s were made. There were also four 1986-1/2 prototypes (including a black one and a maroon one). Beware, some people have already made additional ones by buying parts from Pontiac. All production ones were silver fastbacks.


  • * Standard Catalog of Pontiac



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