There is ALWAYS a bit of controversy over the color of the Super Duty engine. I even had a conversation with one of the better known aftermarket suppliers of Poncho restoration parts who assured me that they had an all original 73 and that the engine was the same blue as all the others. Well, I'm here to tell you different. All during the Super Duty's EPA certification process, it ran into one obstacle after another. (The reason the scoop opening was riveted shut was because of the passing noise at full throttle standard. They had to cut out the carb noise to squeak past it.) It seems the PMD engineers noticed the EPA emmissions test lasted all of 50 seconds so they designed the EGR system to kick out after 53 seconds! Well, it didn't fool the Feds so the EPA demanded a different EGR valve be used. In order to be able to verify that Pontiac had indeed complied, the EPA demanded that the engines be painted a different color so their inspectors could easily ID them. The blue is a much darker bluish/green color then the bright powder blue usually seen. I was even told at one car show it looked like the old Chevy Blue used in the early 60's but I have yet to compare it. I did call Ditzler to see if they had any record of the formula but hit a dead end there so I actually took a valve cover to a local paint supply company who matched and formulated it for me. Feel free to print and use this engine paint formula. It all looks like secret code to me but I guess you paint guys know what it all means. I recently found out that Classic Industries now carries an engine paint for the SD they call Slate Blue, stock# 62230 and POR-15 offers a Chevy blue that DOES look real close so you might want to check it out.

In many of the articles I have read through the years, there was often an indication that the SD Program was slipped past the GM Brass and when it was uncovered, they shut the program down and wanted to distance
themselves from what the engineers had done.

The early 74 ads and brochures had a red Trans-Am
next to a yellow Formula in what appears to be a garage.
On the scoop of the T/A is the SD-455 insignia.

When the program got cut, so did the SD on the scoop
which simply vanished, somewhat supporting the rumors that
GM brass wanted all indications that the SD was EVER built, gone!

In spite of that, it was reported way back in 1972 that this engine was to be offered on ALL the cars in PMD's lineup. I don't know about you, but the thought of an SD powered 73 Catalina Ragtop gets this boy pumped up!!! Along with the Trans Am, the SD engine was installed in a 73 GTO as well as a 73 Grand Am and were made available to the automotive press. The level of excitment was incredible as road tests had the cars running mid to high 13's in quarter mile trials while top end runs resulted in buried speedo's everytime. One writer said he ran out of courage long before the SD ran out of air.
Everybody was primed and ready. But, as we all know, it was not to be.

You must remember the events of the time when this engine was born. It was a time of oil embargoes, big pushes to conserve all resources as well as the insurance companies screaming to keep horsepower under 300. So as far as a public relations thing goes, it was not a welcomed event. But in the automotive world, as I already pointed out, it was extremely well accepted. Heck, Cars Magazine even named the 73 Super Duty GTO as their choice for "Top Performance Car Of The Year!!" It would have been a perfect choice if only Pontiac had produced them. GM did concede, however, to allowing the use of the Super Duty engines in the Firebird line only. That was a big change in policy and there were doubts that it would even see the light of day at all. In fact, Cars Magazine wanted to name the Super Duty Trans Am as Car Of The Year for 1974 but GM seemed so wishy washy about it all that they decided to pick a different car instead. (Probably still a bit gunshy over the 73 fiasco) So in an effort to rekindle the faded excitement, Pontiac unveiled the Super Duty powered
"John Player Special" at the 1974 Chicago Auto Show.
Talk about a rare beauty.

This BEAUTIFUL Replica Of The JP Car Is Owned By Andrew

It was done in Black and Gold with large golden metal flakes in the paint. We're talking two full years before the 76 Limited Edition made it to market. The rumors about this car run rampant. I've heard everything from it got crushed in 1976, to it was totaled in a wreck, to it's still alive and well stashed away in a Detroit warehouse.
If this were true, it would be the rarest of the rare!
Whatever it's fate, it's a shame it never made production.

Andrew purchased this car in 1999 and has spent the last two years knee deep in it's
restoration! This 27K mile ride started out it's life dressed in Cameo White with
a blue and white interior. Using a bit of imagination & tons of dedication,
Andrew has recaptured a piece of forgotten Poncho history!

So whatever happened to the GTO and Grand Am?? I haven't a clue! Back in 1985 I spoke with a fellow who claimed to have THE Grand Am in his garage. After several failed attempts to make arrangements to look at it, I came to the conclusion he was either lying or paranoid so I figured I was not going to see it. Anyhow, in the SuperCars Magazine Test Series from 1973, the Trans-Am's stats were 3410 At The Curb, 4 Speed Tranny, 3.42 Axle, 0-60 in 5.9, 13.50/104 in the quarter and they called it quits in this "Monster Mutha", as they called it, at 125 MPH. The GTO weighed in at 3800, Turbo 400 Trans, 3.42 Axle, 0-60 time of 6.3, cranking the quarter in 13.7/103 while burying the 120 Speedo. Lastly, the Grand Am's stats matched those of the GTO except in the quarter mile run which came up to 13.9/103.
In the words of Star War's Darth Vader...
"Impressive, Most impressive"

All those stats listed above have often been called a sham with some folks claiming that the engines used in the cars given to the press were NOT the same one's that ended up in the production cars. In fact, the most notable of the "questionable" test cars was the one used in the May of 1973 Car and Driver Magazine test! This car cranked out a 13.8 quarter mile time with it's 0-60 run clocking in at 5.4 seconds. This was done with a 3.42 axle ratio turned by a Turbo 400 automatic transmission. So was it run with a production engine or not??!! That question, among others, was clearly answered in an article written by Jerry Heasley for Musclecars Magazine titled "MEXICAN SHOOTOUT." Mr Heasley did NOT start out with the intention of settling that question, but with an odd turn of events, he did just that! It all started with a shootout between a 73 SD455 Trans Am and a 67 440 Dodge Coronet R/T set to take place at the Houston International Raceway in Texas.

It was a really good matchup. Both cars tipped the scales at 3800 LBS, had an automatic tranny, 4 BBL carb with a 440 High Compression Engine in the Mopar VS a 455 Low Compression Engine in the Pontiac. How much more perfect could it get? Anyhow, both drivers were given as many practice runs as needed to get a feel for the track and during these runs, the R/T's 14.70 times were no match for the 13.90's the Trans Am was turning. Everyone agreed to take a break before eliminations but when they returned, the Coronet and it's driver were gone. He left behind a lame excuse and the race was off. Hoping to still be able to write a race article, Heasley decided to run Mike's 81K mile stock Trans Am against the times Car & Driver Magazine recorded back in 73! Out of three runs, Mike bettered C&D's times TWICE with a best run of 13.75!
It seems fairly obvious that the engine in that "1973 Press Car" was indeed a production motor!

It would be REAL easy to go on and on about inconel valves, chromemoly rings or wide flanged, 8640 chrome-nickel forged, peen and triple fluxed connecting rods. Or I could yak about forged aluminum pistons,
double valve springs and push rod tubes that allow for an extra 1/8" on the intake ports. The list is long enough that it would take a month to load this page if I tried to cover it all. Sooo, I think this is a good place to hit the skids for now. I do hope you had as much fun reading this page as I had making it. If so, it was well worth the effort. In the meantime, have fun, stay healthy and happy and keep those Ponchos Crankin'.
Maybe next time I'll get into
My Second Most Favorite Car!!



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