1974 Pontiac Trans Am 455-SD
Lot No. 522
Auctioned on Saturday, March 23, 2013
Sold for $ 64,900
- Currently featured in a six-page article of the June 2013 "High Performance Pontiac" magazine
- One owner car, ex-Pontiac engineer
- Approximately 12,000 original miles
- Many magazine appearances
- Well-documented from new
- Many performance upgrades via Pontiac engineering
This Pontiac 455-SD Trans Am was ordered by the current, original owner in October 1973 as a college graduation present to himself while completing his General Motors Institute of Technology (GMI) thesis in the Pontiac Product Engineering Chassis Development department. The car was ordered through Pontiac Product Engineering. One of his assignments in the Chassis Development group was to tune the 1973-74 Trans Am for radial tires. He kept Herb Adams, the engineer who tuned the original Trans Am suspension, “in the loop” with his findings and production recommendations. The owner then remained at Pontiac Product Engineering (and then at CPC Advanced Vehicle Engineering) for almost 20 years (1969-1987).
The car currently has 12,323 miles (as of 11-22-2012); this mileage may now be slightly higher, as the car is driven occasionally in nice weather. The paint was repainted the original Admiralty Blue in the summer of 2012.
The June 2012 issue of Automobile Magazine featured this car in a three page “Collectible Classic” article and described the car as “a modern performance car as Pontiac engineers intended.” A copy of the magazine is included in the sale. Additionally, High Performance Pontiac will be publishing a six-page article about this specialized car in the May or June, 2013 issue that is due to be released in March. The feature is greatly anticipated by afficionados of the Trans Am Super Duty. Previously unpublished information is to be included, such as Super Duty dyno curves, the MBT spark curve, internal Pontiac directives regarding the project and much more. This certainly suggests that this unique Trans Am 455 Super Duty is well-known to Trans Am and muscle car enthusiasts alike, and that the interest in this car is at a peak rarely seen since the project began nearly 40 years ago.
The original order form for the Super Duty Trans Am was initiated at Pontiac Engineering on 10-25-1973 per order number R 59005 through McMullen Pontiac in Waterford, Michigan. The car was delivered in March 1974. The order form is included with the sale of the car. The car was ordered with the aforementioned Admiralty Blue exterior paint, white vinyl custom interior, LS2 SD 455-cid engine, M40 THM automatic transmission, 3.08:1 positraction axle, GR70x15 white letter tires, no radio, no decals, front console, Rally II wheels, tilt steering, power windows, electric door locks, Soft-Ray glass for all windows, maintenance-free battery (TP1), air conditioning, electric rear window defroster, engine block heater, front floor mats, space saver spare, custom seat belts (AK1) and lamp package that consists of luggage lamp, IP courtesy lamp and glove box lamp. The car was undercoated at McMullen Pontiac where the owner took delivery.
The car remained original except for de-smogging, a chassis dyno tune that included revised primary rods and jets, secondary hanger, secondary metering rods, initial timing and distributor curve (set up at Pontiac Engineering per SD MBT curve, copy included in sale) and functional hood scoop. The open mesh insert was made in the Pontiac Engineering machine shop.
The running objective by the current owner, using input from a group of Pontiac engineers and technicians, was to create a Firebird capable of matching the performance of a Ferrari 365 GTB/4 (Daytona). The proposed parameters consisted of 165-mph top speed, 0-60-mph in 5.0 seconds, 110-mph quarter mile speed, 0.85 lateral G’s, excellent transient response and improved braking. The car was to retain its streetability, good ride and appear unmodified except for a lower ride height. The owner/Pontiac engineer wrote a letter to Tom Goad in Pontiac Product Planning in late 1973 (the original letter, on Pontiac Engineering stationary, is still in the owner’s possession) requesting that Pontiac Engineering “improve” a Super Duty Trans Am (the improvement recommendations are listed in the letter) and provide the completed car to Car and Driver magazine for a direct comparison test with the Daytona. This would have been a continuation of the controversial, high reader interest Car & Driver editions that featured Ferrari vs. Pontiac road tests (1964 GTO, 1965 2+2). Pontiac chose not to build this version of the Trans Am; our owner eventually decided to modify the car to the specifications laid out in his letter to Tom Goad.
The work began in 1980; an experienced Pontiac Engineering technician, John Crawford, and the owner did the majority of the work; Mr. Crawford built the engine and coordinated the block and head work executed by George DeLorean at Leader Automotive.
The engine output was increased based on the 600-hp SD-455 engine developed at Pontiac Engineering (increased flow four-barrel carburetor, hotter cam, headers, modified aftermarket aluminum intake and higher compression). The head and block incorporated cooling system improvements proven on the SD-455 GM Desert Proving Ground high speed tire test car. The engine also incorporates valve train components developed for the higher revving RA IV engine and is fitted with a 421 Super Duty forged steel crankshaft. The shorter stroke racing crankshaft allows increased engine speeds versus the production cast iron crankshaft.
The chassis and the interior were updated with the best of the second generation “F” car production components including: WS6 suspension parts, column-mounted dimmer, remote deck lid release, 1979 Limited Edition red lighting for the IP, air conditioning control (a one-of-a-kind part built by Delco for this car) and console-mounted shift-pattern indicator.
The car has unique suspension tuning; the rear sway bar was constructed to the owner’s specifications and was one of several prototype bars used for the 1973-74 Trans Am suspension development done by the original owner/Pontiac engineer at the Milford Proving Ground in 1972. The bar was not released into production for a variety of reasons.
This very special car also incorporates numerous custom parts fabricated in the Product Engineering machine shop.
The car was additionally updated using the very best in aftermarket supplied components; e.g., a Herb Adams VSE deep sump cast-aluminum oil pan. In some cases, this means one-of-a-kind custom fabricated systems, e.g., a 180-degree header system that has since been removed because of ground clearance issues. Most, but not all, of the removed parts are in the owner’s possession.
This extensive performance work started in the early 1980s – the car was not driven again until the Woodward Dream Cruise in 2009 and sparingly since.
Numerous copies of original documents as well as some original documents will be included in the sales transaction that verify the history of this exceptional Trans Am SD-455.