Each year in late January SEMA hosts the MPMC Media Trade Conference in Southern California. The automotive press convenes with aftermarket manufacturers to check out their new products in scheduled 30-minute meetings over a three-day period. This format promotes sharing of ideas between both sides. New products are presented—some of which weren’t finished in time for the SEMA show in November—and future products are discussed, as are magazine projects and possible tech stories.
From my perspective, it’s also a great opportunity to get in front of these manufacturers and show them the Pontiac hobby is still vital, and remind them Pontiac people buy lots of parts, too—so the companies should continue to make new products for them. Sure, I am often asked, “How is the magazine surviving since Pontiac went away?” It’s a valid question that I’m happy to answer. We all should battle the perception that the Pontiac hobby will go the way of the Pontiac division. Whenever there’s an opportunity to explain that we are all still here and dedicated to the brand, I take it.
Another interesting aspect of the meetings was how many of the people who work for these manufacturers—designing parts for Chevys, Fords, and Mopars by day—go home to work on their Pontiacs at night. There are more than I thought—always a good thing. Typically, once we say all there is to be said about the new products and HPP, the conversation turns to Pontiacs these manufacturer reps own or desire, and even ones they are chasing. I was asked a few times whether I thought the Pontiac with the “For Sale” sign in the photos on their cell phones was worth the asking price.
In a situation and industry dominated by early- and late-model Chevys, Fords, and Mopars, it is encouraging to hear that some key people in these aftermarket companies love and own Pontiacs. As long as Pontiacs are on their minds, parts should follow, despite the fact we have to wait until after the Chevy, Ford, and Mopar versions are released. Even if Chevy parts are developed first, it can still be a benefit to our Pontiacs.
We can thank GM for the chassis parts interchangeability among the A-body and F-body car lines. From ’64 forward, the GTO/LeMans/Tempest, Chevelle SS/Malibu, 442/Cutlass/F-85, and Gran Sport/GS/Skylark/Special shared basic suspension and brake designs per generation, as did the four generations of F-body Firebirds and Camaros. Differing ride quality and handling characteristics were achieved by tuning the spring rates, swaybar sizes, shock valving, and firmness of the bushings, but the layout was the same, allowing for plenty of crossover. As a result, new suspension products that fit a Chevelle or Camaro (the models usually considered first by manufacturers and marketing people) will usually fit the Pontiacs of the same platform and era.
Another interesting aspect ... was how many of the people who work for these manufacturers ... go home to work on their Pontiacs ...
The aftermarket is responding to the needs of the hobby. While meeting with Heidts Hot Rod and Muscle Car Parts, I was told the company is currently developing and testing some of its latest products on an early Second-Gen Firebird. American Powertrain says it will soon offer a bolt-in steering column with electric power steering for First-Gen Camaros and Firebirds.
Drivetrains also share some components across GM, mostly the transmissions, and in some cases, rearends. (The bellhousing bolt patterns are the same for Buick, Olds, and Pontiac, but different for Chevrolet.) TCI has a new Super Streetfighter 700-R4 trans that is capable of handling up to 1,000 hp. The company has also released new easy-to-set-up TV Cable Corrector kits for 700-R4 and 200-4R transmissions on engines using Edelbrock or Holley carbs. QA1 says it will offer off-the-shelf and custom-made carbon-fiber driveshafts, beginning this summer.
Though GM brand interchangeability is not shared by engines of the musclecar era, carburetors and throttle-body-style EFI that was developed for the Chevy market first will also easily work on a Pontiac when a square-flange manifold is employed. Edelbrock says its E-Street universal EFI system is now available, and the company has developed a trick new fuel system for it. Holley is releasing its Terminator EFI throttle body system.
Regarding pure-Pontiac-specific engine parts, Professional Products tells HPP it will debut port EFI systems, including one for Pontiac, later this year. Edelbrock now offers the Pontiac Performer RPM cylinder head with CNC’d chambers, and Crane tells HPP it will have a new Pontiac distributor by mid-summer.
On the restoration front, Classic Industries has released via OER its long-awaited reproduction ’68-’69 Firebird automatic and manual trans Burlwood-pattern consoles, and has reproduced the popular 17x9.5-inch R-15 Firehawk wheels for Third-Gens.
Of course, there were more parts on parade, but I’ve touched on some of the highlights here. Since I only have room to mention these products in this editorial, look for more in-depth descriptions in upcoming issues of HPP as more info becomes available.