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Interesting 1974 GTO and 1973 Firebird Pontiac promotional films

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1974 Pontiac GTO. Still images from video below.

Today, via various cell phone apps, we have access to film effects that can be added to the videos we take to make them look like overexposed, high-contrast, color-shifted films of the 1970s. Well, these two produced-for-Pontiac films already have those effects because they ARE films of the 1970s. According to Pete Stack who loaded them onto YouTube, “These are from a friend’s archives. They are on large 8-track-tape-like cassettes. He recorded them on a video format.”

Despite their vintage appearance, both offer interesting insight into Pontiac’s past, and we’ll begin with discussing the 1974 GTO, because that’s the first film on the video.

Pontiac knew that it had a rich history with the GTO and decided to play on it for this film. It begins by reciting the specs of the 1964 GTO as it races toward the camera and then dives into a turn. It follows with listing the specs for the 1974 GTO while it performs the same maneuver. Though it doesn’t overtly say it, Pontiac seems to be implying a kinship between the two cars that goes beyond sharing the same name.

Pontiac officials likely realized that basing the 1974 GTO on the compact X-body Ventura platform was quite a departure from the 10 midsized Goats that came before it. Offering up the specs on both and taking the time to include the 1964 GTO in a 1974 GTO promo film infers that Pontiac wanted to illustrate that the Ventura-based GTO was actually closer the original than the public may have realized.

Also noteworthy is that the ’64 GTO chosen for the film had a few non-stock parts on it. I noticed the later Rally II wheels and the raised white letter tires, the aftermarket steering wheel and the gauges mounted under the dash. See if you can pick out any items I missed.

I liked the fact that the while describing the 1974 GTO, the suspension components were shown installed in the car. Notice how they are all painted different colors to highlight each one, much like what was done in the print ads. Though the four-speed shifter was shown being slammed into the next gear, and the Shaker hood scoop was shown quivering, there was no mention of horsepower ratings. That’s an area where the ’64 still had an advantage, even after figuring for the net vs. gross readings.

1973 Pontiac Firebird

1973 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am.

The 1973 Firebird film depicts a base Bird, an Esprit, a Formula with a white Cordova top and the optional side stripe and a Trans Am with Honeycomb wheels and a hood bird on the road on the way to the GM Proving Grounds. The Esprit and, to a lesser extent, the Trans Am are tested at the GM Proving Grounds. You may find the transmission and driveline test a bit disconcerting to watch.

A highlight of the Firebird film is Special Projects Engineering Supervisor Herb Adams discussing the attributes of the new Super Duty 455 engine using a cutaway of it as a visual aid. Love to know where that cutaway SD-455 is now!

For 1974 GTO fans and 1973 Firebird fans, this video a great way to spend 9 minutes and 20 seconds.