Pontiac's most notorious regular-production V-8 is likely the Super-Duty 421, which was a factory-installed option on certain '62-'63 models. Rated at 405 hp and 445 lb-ft of torque, the Super-Duty was designed as a maximum performance combination for NASCAR and NHRA professionals, and those enthusiasts who competed regularly. This publicity photo gives us a glimpse of a factory-fresh '63 Super-Duty 421 engine complete with cast-aluminum exhaust headers. Notice its chrome-plated valve covers, which were not otherwise introduced until '64.
Pontiac may be gone, but nothing can diminish its celebrated history, which traces back to 1926 when it was created to complement the Oakland model line. To most performance enthusiasts, however, their chosen interest begins in model-year '55 when Pontiac released its first V-8. It was with the 287ci engine that the dreams of many HPP readers were founded, as the basic design grew to 455 ci by '70, but also included such memorable monikers as "Ram Air," "High Output," and "Super Duty."
Always looking for fresh or rarely seen vintage artwork, we approached GM Media Archives to see if any unique images existed of the assembly line at Pontiac's Engine Plant (No. 9) or any V-8 that we could include in our tribute to the engine that fuels our passion. We were rewarded with a plethora of black-and-white and color photographs that we're happy to share with you. Some of you may recognize a few, but there may be others that HPP is proud to reveal to hobbyists for the very first time.
On The Line
The Engine Assembly line at Pontiac Plant No. 9 was bustling with activity around the clock. These black-and-white photographs of its different stations gives us an idea of what a typical day was like while producing the 287ci V-8 during the 1955 model year.
These three photographs depict...
These three photographs depict how a typical '64 389ci four-barrel, a fully-dressed '65 389ci Tri-Power, and a standard-production '70 400ci four-barrel may have appeared before installation into their designated vehicles. Notice that the exhaust manifolds were left natural but the original oil filters were painted engine color in these photos.
This photo appears to have...
This photo appears to have been taken in the Pontiac Studio. The presence of a "transfer lug" cast into the block just above the bellhousing and near the ignition coil indicates that this Tri-Power engine is a 421. Though the cylinder head lacks any identifiable casting numbers, such characteristics as the A.I.R. rail, the overall shape of the center exhaust port, and unique cylinder-head bolt at center suggests that it's of '66 model-year vintage. It is quite possibly a pre-production '66 421 that designers used for mock-up during vehicle development.