The '75 T/A can be a great collectable Pontiac-especially with 455 HO power. To distinguis
As many of us know, 1975 was not a high-water mark for quick cars. Despite the fact that the Trans Am was slower than in years passed, it still flourished sales-wise in a tough climate. Current values on the underrated '75 T/As can make them a shrewd choice as an affordable collectible today.
By 1975, the GTO, Z28, GTX, AMX, Cuda, Challenger, and the real Mustang were all casualties of the musclecar wars. The remaining GSs and 442s were handling packages, the Road Runners' wings were clipped, and the Charger became a luxury car. Even the Trans Am was kicked in the powerplant. When the '75 model press releases came out, not only was the SD-455 gone, but so was the D-port variant. The only Trans Am engine was a 185hp 400, shy 40 horses from the previous year.
Then came some bad press. The March '75 issue of Road Test magazine published "A Bird Without Wings"-a blow-by-blow account of a Trans Am test, wherein its 400, automatic trans, and 2.56 rear conspired to produce a 0-60 time of 11.2 seconds and a quarter-mile e.t. of 17.99 at 79.36 mph. The writer stated that the Pontiac's 4,035-pound curb weight, power-robbing emissions controls, automatic trans, and Bonneville Speed Week rear gears were to blame.
The outlook began to brighten later in the year when Pontiac released the L75 455 H0 Trans Am package that also included special exhaust, a Super T10 four-speed trans, a 3.23 limited-slip rear, metallic brake pads, and a $150 price tag. Output was 200 hp and 300 lb-ft of torque (a loss of 50 hp as compared to the '74 D-port 455). The impact was felt at the strip as Car and Driver testers in "Firebird: Keeping the Flame Alive" revealed in the September issue that their 4,015-pound 455 HO T/A covered the 1,320 in 16.1 seconds at 88.8 mph. It was a vast improvement over the 400 of the same year but well off the mark of past T/As that were flooding the used car market following the recent gas shortage.
The profile was largely unchanged from 1974 save the new rear glass, which improves over-t
Truth be told, the '75 455 HO was not the HO of recent legend. It was more akin to the '74 D-port 455. There was no aluminum intake, no round-port heads, streamlined exhaust manifolds, or 288/302-degree duration 068 cam. In fact, the '75 455 HO shared its 2.11/1.66 valve D-port heads, 273/289-degree duration 067 cam, log-type manifolds, 7.6:1 compression, Y-pipe, and cat converter with other Pontiac lines. Its modest advantage over them was that the 800-cfm Q-jet carb and ignition were dialed in and a special muffler was utilized.
Sure, the 455 T/A was slower than years passed, but keep in mind, there was no serious competition. Buick GSs and Olds 442s could still be had with 455s, but power was down and curb weight was close to 4,300 pounds. The Camaro's 350 four-barrel was wheezing at just 155 hp, and the new Mustang II made a pathetic 134 hp. Therefore, the Bird's crosshairs became fixed on the Corvette, as it would be its only real U.S.-based competitor for the next couple of years.
Not all changes in 1975 were bad, though. Rear visibility was given a boost with the introduction of an all-new rear window that wrapped into the quarters. The HEI ignition was a step forward in ease of maintenance and consistent performance. And, of course, the T/A's handling was still in a class by itself thanks to quick-ratio power steering, 1.25-inch and 0.812-inch front and rear sway bars, and Radial Tuned Suspension with fat GR70-15 tires.
Given its May '75 debut, just 857 455 HO Trans Ams were built that model year; 26,417 came with the 185-horse 400. How much of an advantage was realized by Pontiac in producing a muscle-like T/A when most other Division rivals and competing automakers pulled the plug on their performers? Total T/A production rose to 27,274 in 1975 vs. 10,255 for 1974-that's about a 166 percent increase in sales during a recession year.
Pontiac's 15x7 Rally II wheels were standard and so were the GR70-15 steel-belted radials
King of the hill for the '75 Trans Am was this WX-code 200-horse D-port "455 HO." Though i
Inside the racy Trans Am cabin is a tilt steering column with a Formula wheel and a Super
The black rear Endura bumper was first added in 1974 and was one of the more aesthetically
The standard high-back buckets were comfortable, despite the lack of rake adjustment. Note
Why You Should Consider One
The fact that the '75 T/As haven't seemed to garner the respect of those that came before them and some that came after, is a benefit to the hobbyist who would like to actually enjoy his prize on the road and at the shows. The buy-in price is much lower than those other years, yet the '75 Trans Ams offer nearly all of the attributes that make the Second-Gen T/As great. Lacking only the neck-snapping power in stock form, some mild exhaust mods, (a rear-gear swap on 400 automatic cars), and engine super tuning will result in tire-smoking output that narrows the performance gap with its forbearers.
Our Feature Car
Carl and Dave Alger's '75 455 HO T/A is one of the best examples of the breed that you're likely to find, and it represents the high end of the price scale. This Cameo White T/A was located in Buffalo, New York, through AutoTrader magazine, and they purchased it in December 1995. "It was in excellent shape when we picked it up, and we didn't need to do anything to it," Carl says. It was the trip home, however, that nearly proved disastrous.
They arrived at the seller's house and looked over the T/A from top to bottom. Carl says, "It was a true, 11,000-mile, matching-numbers original." They made the deal, loaded it onto the trailer, and set out for Kentucky, but meteorologists were predicting heavy snow, so Carl and Dave decided to press on and try to beat the worst of it.
The odometer tells the story of this T/A's low miles.
Despite the treacherous weather, they arrived safely in Lexington late that night with the 455 HO Trans Am. They realized just how lucky they were when Carl woke up the next morning and turned on the Weather Channel to find that New York was hit hard. It was so severe that state officials shut down the highway for a few days to remove the few feet of snow that fell.
Going through the included paperwork revealed that the T/A was ordered by an 18-year-old kid from Austin Pontiac in West Seneca, New York, in July 1975 and was built in the fifth week of that month. In addition to the 455 HO package, it received a few other options, including a hood decal; rear window defroster; power windows; tilt steering wheel; front seat console; AM/FM radio with rear sear speaker; Soft Ray glass; and roof drip moldings. As a result, the window sticker read $5,604.10.
The dealer installed splash guards ($17.95), body side moldings ($35), and rustproofing ($129.50). The Alger's favorite appearance item, however, is the scoop decal. The passenger-side 455 HO decal was applied askew at the factory, and it hasn't been touched.
The standard interior had no pull strap on the doors and retained the Firebird emblem on t
While this may be one of many Trans Ams in the Alger's burgeoning collection, it's not "just another" Trans Am. It has a distinct character and is painted Cameo White with blue graphics, a very T/A color scheme. The crooked decal gives it major cool points, and the original drivetrain, paint, and interior make it a rare find. Carl claims he and Dave haven't had to touch the car except repaint the engine. The condition was so immaculate that it's just a wash and wax away from the next show.
Pontiac persevered in 1975 not only by retaining the 400-powered Trans Am when most other ponycars and musclecars went away, but also with the bold move of introducing the 455 HO option in the midst of a recession, ever-tightening emissions standards, and concen-trated focus on increasing fuel economy.
The gamble paid off as the Trans Am and Firebird went on to record sales. Now you, like the Algers, can enjoy the fruits of Pontiac's mid-'70s labor. T/As from this era are still a great buy for the hobbyist who cares more about enjoying his Pontiac than whether or not it can provide instant financial gain on a quick flip at the auction. Get yours while they're still underdogs.
|In The Codes|
|455 HO engine||WX|
|Super T10 four-speed||WF|
|3.23 Safe-T-Track rear||LDG|
|Cameo White paint||11|
|Standard Black interior||19V1|
|15x7 Rally II Wheels||HM|