Today Super-Duty Firebirds are so coveted that hobbyists go to great lengths to salvage a relic. Just 252 Super-Duty Trans Ams were produced during the ’73 model year, and value and rarity make them worth restoring. So what about a ’73 Super-Duty Formula? Only 43 were produced--10 with a four-speed. While they weren’t nearly as popular as a Trans Am, most weren’t laden with weight-adding options and they maintain a strong following today.
Jeff Walls of Sunbury, Ohio, always wanted one for its uniqueness and rarity, and he stumbled across this SD Formula, which was completely disassembled and in two different states. Amazingly, he reunited thebody with its drivetrain, producing the beautiful example before you. Follow along as he shares his painstaking experience.
While a dual-scooped hood...
While a dual-scooped hood was a Formula trademark, those equipped with the $675 SD-455 engine option were fitted with a Trans Am Shaker. The rebuilt SD-455 now displaces 462ci and features a hydraulic roller camshaft. The combo generated a stout 435hp at 5,200 rpm and 510 lb/ft of torque at 3,800 rpm on Willard Auto Machine’s dyno.
The 50-year-old general contractor tells HPP that his love affair with Pontiacs began around 1980 when
he spied a Grenadier Red ’64 GTO in a afield. "The 389 didn’t run, but it had Tri-Power and looked so cool that I had to buy it," he recalls. "I had the body repainted and got the engine running. I can still remember how well it ran. I really enjoyed that car."
Jeff’s acquaintance with Second-Gen Firebirds came in the late ’80s when he found a ’74 Trans Am for sale locally. "It was Admiralty Blue and had a Super-Duty 455 in it. I had no idea what the SD-455 was at the time, but the car looked cool and was very fast, so I bought it. It took me a few years to find how special the SD-455 was, and from then on I thought the Super-Duty Firebirds were the greatest Pontiacs ever made," he adds.
The ’73-’74 SD-455 (No. 16)...
The ’73-’74 SD-455 (No. 16) cylinder heads are capable of as much as 240-cfm intake flow at 0.550-inch lift in stock form. They were rebuilt using new 2.11/1.77-inch valves and produce a compression ratio of 8.8:1 on this engine.
In 2008 Jeff learned of ’73 Super-Duty-spec Rochester Quadrajet for sale in Tennessee. "I asked the seller if he had any other Super-Duty-related components. To my surprise I found that he owned a ’73 SD-455 four-speed Formula in Admiralty Blue that he used to race. He had completely disassembled it but had most of its original parts, including the numbers-matching drivetrain."
It seems the Formula was sold new through Suburban Pontiac in Glen Head, New York, in July 1973. The seller became its third owner in 1981 while living in Florida, and he began racing it shortly after. He moved to California, and then to Tennessee. Just before leaving California, he completely disassembled the Formula, taking with him to Tennessee anything of any value--including its title--but left behind its body shell, with plans of claiming it later. He lost interest in racing, however, and made arrangements to have the body shell hauled away, presumably to be scrapped.
Variable Power Steering ($113)...
Variable Power Steering ($113) (not shown) and Power Disc Brakes ($46), which were extra cost options on the Formula, were required with the SD-455.
Jeff struck a deal to purchase anything Super-Duty-related with the intent of someday building his own Firebird, and he hauled most everything from the Formula back to his Ohio home. He also received many other non-Super-Duty Pontiac pieces from the seller, but most importantly to Jeff, the names and phone numbers of individuals in California who might know the whereabouts of the Formula’s body.
After some inquiries, amazingly, Jeff found that the body hadn’t been scrapped, but instead had been converted into an unregistered race car. "I couldn’t believe it was still around," he says. "It was in very poor shape, however. I went through hoops to verify its originality, and once I was convinced that it was legitimate, I purchased it and reunited the body with the original drivetrain."
The Formula package included...
The Formula package included a 1.125-inch front sway bar and a 0.625-inch unit at the rear. This particular car was originally equipped with 14x7-inch Rally II wheels, but the owner opted for 15x7-inch units on F60-15 Firestone Wide Oval tires during the restoration.
The Formula was in dire need of a complete restoration, and Jeff shared the details of his find with friend Chuck Henley. "Chuck strongly recommended that I let Steve Schappaugh of Musclecar Memories Restorations (MMR) in Lincoln, Nebraska, perform the restoration. I contacted Steve to discuss the project, and he sent me photos of Firebirds he’d restored over the years. I was very impressed with what I saw and decided Steve was the right person for the job."