This is Brian’s low-mileage...
This is Brian’s low-mileage SD-455 automatic T/A. Aside from one repaint, it is otherwise original, and has provided a wealth of details for Brian to apply to the restored four-speed T/A.
I wasn’t prepared for what was about to happen, and as a result, I didn’t get a photo to document it either. But it did lead to this feature. It was show day for the GTO Cruisin’ Tigers “Indian Uprising” all-Pontiac event. My first awareness that something special was happening was the sound—the sweet raucous rumble of four Super-Duty Trans Ams arriving in tandem, four of them together burbling and gurgling independent of the others. I turned around and saw a gleaming ’73 Brewster Green SD T/A leading the invasion. What an impression they made—visually and audibly!
Each of them looked really sharp, but it had been a long time since I had seen a Brewster Green stand-out like this one. It’s not an easy-to-paint color—it demands excellent preparation to look its best. The Brewster T/A caused quite a stir as the day progressed, and I had to learn more about it.
The restored SD’s 15x7 Honeycomb...
The restored SD’s 15x7 Honeycomb wheels are shod with F60-15 reproduction Firestone Wide Oval tires.
I soon found out that it was a four-speed car. What are the odds of finding a ’73 Brewster Green SD-455 T/A four-speed? With just 72 four-speed SD-455 T/As built that year and considering the rarity of the hue, the chances must be infinitesimal. Nobody told 49-year-old Brian Hoffeller that though. This sales manager from Amberg, Wisconsin, already had a low-mileage ’73 Brewster Green SD-455 T/A with an automatic trans when he found this one. I can’t imagine the likelihood of finding two of these Pontiacs.
Brian first saw the four-speed model at the 2003 T/A Nationals in Dayton, Ohio, but was not able to purchase it until 2005. He recalls: “As soon as I saw it, I was hooked! I had to have it. The car showed such detail, it pulled you right in to look for more.
“Owner Neil Cofell (who unfortunately passed away in 2011) and I had talked on the phone and by email on several occasions, but we had never met or saw each other’s cars. I remember it like it was yesterday! Neil had not been feeling well that weekend and had stayed in his hotel room until Sunday morning [show day]. I was sleeping in a motor coach ... in a field with a lot of show trailers. Being awakened by a ’73 SD popping out the back of a trailer will brighten things right up. I jumped to the window and watched as the beautiful Pontiac pulled out and headed for the show field. I had coffee on and was ready to move within minutes. Neil won First Place in the 1970-1973 Trans Am class at the Trans Am Nationals, the only time he showed the car at this level following its restoration in 2001.
The code WW7 hood bird featured...
The code WW7 hood bird featured a light green secondary color to better integrate with the Brewster Green hue.
“Over the next couple of years Neil and I became good friends. We talked often regarding the cars … always trying to improve something along the way. He guided me during the purchase of my automatic SD, confirming numbers and tags to verify it as a low-mileage original.”
In 2005, Brian offered to purchase Neil’s four-speed SD and the deal was made. He drove to Neil’s home in Bismarck, North Dakota, and spent a weekend going over every inch of the SD in order to learn more about how the restoration was performed. He even had lunch with Mike Dahl, owner of Northland Auto Restoration, who restored the car for Neil. Mike has over 35 years of experience in the paint and body business and provided more details for Brian.
The 310-horse (later rated...
The 310-horse (later rated 290-horse) SD-455 remains as Pontiac built it on the inside. Outside it was cosmetically restored and detailed to concours standards.
This stock ZJ-code LS2 SD-455, M20 four-speed T/A was ordered with the custom black interior without console. Also listed on the order form were “Honeycomb” wheels (code P05), the ever-popular hood decal option (code WW7) and the Performance (3.42) Rear Axle (code G92). Also specified were HD Battery (code UA1) and HD Radiator (code V01) options. Finally, “Sil&Hood” moldings (code B85), Roof molding (code B80), Custom Trim Group (code Y90), “Soft-Ray” Glass (code A01), AM Radio (code U63) and Rear Speaker (code U80) were chosen to complete the order. The suggested retail price on September 9, 1972, its original purchase date, was $5,079.75.
Although the 36,000-mile T/A had been hit on the passenger side, requiring the rear-quarter, door, and front fender be replaced (with correct GM parts) previously, this restoration was largely cosmetic and focused on the use of top-quality GM parts. Brian emphasized that no reproduction parts were used, and that Neil’s goal was to produce a Pontiac that would meet the highest judging standards.
Owner Brian Hoffeller tells...
Owner Brian Hoffeller tells HPP, “When I was 12 years old, a friend let me sit in his Trans Am and shift the four-speed when it wasn’t running. That did it! I had to have one.” Keep this in mind the next time one of your neighborhood youngsters stops to ogle your Pontiac—you never know how far your kindness and its influence might reach.
According to Mike, “The body was stripped to bare metal, cleaned and treated with a metal conditioner, and primed with PPG- DPLF Epoxy Primer (all PPG products were used). Next, all bodywork was done to make it as straight as possible. There was no sheetmetal replacement or rust, just normal use and abuse. After the bodywork was completed, each panel was then sprayed with three coats of filler primer (NCP 271) and dry-blocked with 180-grit two to five times until the panel was flat. Then it was again sprayed with three coats of NCP 271, and final dry-blocked with 320-grit and wet-sanded with 600-grit.
“Next came one coat of sealer (DAS 3025), followed by three coats of DCC Concept Acrylic Urethane, wet-sanded with 600-grit then three coats of clear (DCU 2002 High Solids Polyurethane), wet-sanded with 600-grit, then the last three coats of clear (DCU 2002). Final cutting was started with 1,000- and then 1,200-/ 1,500-/2,000-grit before buffing, which was done with 3M Perfect-it III polish using foam pads, coarse and fine.”
Mike did all the detail work, including the drivetrain, engine compartment, suspension, and interior (with the exception of the seat covers). Front suspension parts were all either rebuilt or restored GM parts, and the rear suspension consists of original components that were refurbished. The disc/drum brake system was rebuilt and detailed.
Here’s an idea of the chassis...
Here’s an idea of the chassis detail.
“The engine is original to the car and has never been apart, except for dropping the oil pan to check the internals,” Brian tells HPP. It retains the original 800-cfm Quadrajet, LS2 stamped-iron intake with EGR, No. 16 Round-Port heads with 2.11/1.77 valves, 301/313-degree duration cam with 0.410/0.410 lift, nodular-iron crank, forged SD rods, forged pistons, and beefy four-bolt main block with dry-sump oil provisions. And let’s not forget the SD exhaust manifolds.
Neil told Brian he had collected parts for over 12 years, and sometimes had as many as three different parts to choose from for the perfect look when assembling this T/A.
Homecoming: The Fun Begins
According to Brian, the car...
According to Brian, the car is all GM down to its exhaust system. Although the factory never offered a ’73 replacement exhaust system, it did offer the ’74 system, which was used in the restoration. The only difference is a set of resonators, which were added to replicate the ’73 system.
“Getting the SD four-speed home and parking it next to my SD automatic was, like, so unbelievable!” Brian says. “I remember spending as much time as I could in that garage—to the point where my wife said enough!
“One of the reasons the four-speed is so accurately detailed is that I had the automatic here for comparison. It was used as a reference to make the small decals for the brake booster, the power steering pump, and the EGR valve for example. These kinds of things helped bring the four-speed restoration to a higher level.
“In the process, I also realized that the VINs of my two Brewster cars were only 29 units (apart); VIN ...X...403 versus VIN ...X...432, so I dug up their PHS records and confirmed the cars were shipped on the same date. It was a reunion right there in my garage, 33 years after being separated at the factory.”
The interior is quite businesslike,...
The interior is quite businesslike, without a console for the Hurst shifter.
According to PHS documentation, the automatic shipped on June 23, 1973, to Cobb-Kirkland Motor Company in Montgomery, Alabama. On the same day, the four-speed was shipped to Schwab Motor Sales in Warsaw, New York, to fill an order placed on September 22, 1972, by Richard L. Slocum, who took delivery of his SD on July 12, 1973.
Not only was I blown away by the restored SD four-speed on that Indian Uprising Sunday, but so were many others. Its impact was such that it earned one of five category Best of Show awards at the event. This meant that Brian was expected to display it again at the next year’s show as a Winners’ Circle car. He went one better. He also brought the automatic and had a great time showing both of the cars!
After the Indian Uprising event, Brian took the four-speed to the Trans Am Nationals in Dayton, Ohio, where it placed Second in Class to a fresh ’701⁄2 Ram Air IV restoration and earned the coveted People’s Choice award. More recently, the car earned 398 out of 400 points to earn the Gold Award at the POCI Covention in Ohio in 2009. It seems wherever Brian “goes green,” he comes home with gold.
One of the reasons the four-speed is so accurately detailed is that I had the automatic here for comparison. These kinds of things helped bring the four-speed restoration to a higher level.