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HomeCar CulturePontiac’s Q-Ship: 1971 T-37 455 HO

Pontiac’s Q-Ship: 1971 T-37 455 HO

Muscle Car Campy shows us a Poncho with an LS engine — just not "that" one

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In 1970, Pontiac introduced a mid-year curiosity called T-37. Touted as Pontiac’s cheapest two-door hardtop, the T-37 was a submodel of the Tempest, which didn’t have a hardtop in its roster at the beginning of production. Everything from a Chevrolet straight-six to a 330-horsepower 400 was available, which was notable because 1970 was the first time an engine bigger than 350ci was available in something other than the GTO. There even was a sporty GT package to create the GT-37, which played the dual role of cosmetic supercar (due to its standard 350 two-barrel) and Road Runner-fighter (due to the available 400).

For 1971, the T-37 completely replaced the Tempest. Pontiac also allowed any engine to be installed, meaning the 455 (previously only available for the GTO) was now available. Though all Pontiac engines featured lowered compression to the tune of 8.5:1 or less, engineers had something up their sleeve with the 455 HO. What they did was take the round-port heads from the 1969-70 400 Ram Air IV and put them on the 455 — something they should have done in 1970 while compression was still at normal levels. The 1971 455 HO was rated at 335 gross horsepower, which didn’t sound like much, though in net measurements it was 310, which came off a bit more substantial.

Though long overshadowed by high-compression engines, the 1971 455 HO (and the nearly identical 1972 version) has come into its own as being one of the ultimate street engines of the era, full of low-end torque, able to use pump gas, and capable of outgunning high-compression competitors. Only 936 GTOs (including 374 Judges) were built with the 455 HO. Another 122 A-bodies were built with the same engine. Of those, only 15 T-37 two-door hardtops had the 455 HO.

Join Muscle Car Campy as he tells us more about Kevin Guido’s Q-ship Poncho, one of those 15.

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Diego Rosenberg
Diego Rosenberg
Lead Writer Diego Rosenberg is a native of Wilmington, Delaware and Princeton, New Jersey, giving him plenty of exposure to the charms of Carlisle and Englishtown. Though his first love is Citroen, he fell for muscle cars after being seduced by 1950s finned flyers—in fact, he’s written two books on American muscle. But please don’t think there is a strong American bias because foreign weirdness is never far from his heart. With a penchant for underground music from the 1960-70s, Diego and his family reside in metropolitan Phoenix.

10 COMMENTS

  1. I owned a 1970 T-37 in 1979-80 a couple years out of High School. When I left home, I traveled the west with my dog working day labor jobs, bouncing from city to city and state to state. In those days all these states had gov’t run “day labor” places where you could go in the morning, they would call out the job, and you would raise your hand if it was something you were interested in and the employer would pay you at the end of the day. Anyway, me and my pup lived out of that car-literally. I slept across the front seat and he slept in back. I had a bucket of water behind the drivers seat for him, and we went to a park every day so he could exercise. I kept the back window rolled down so he could jump out and jump back in whenever he wanted. One time he jumped out and never came back. I was devastated-but i guess even though I took really good care of him, he was tired of living in a car. It was a few months after that I was sleeping in a parking lot behind a Denny’s in Salt Lake City (Denny’s didn’t mind), but do tome mouthing off to a local deputy (I was drunk) earlier in the night, the local cops had an eye out for me. A city cop knocked on my window at 4a.m. and said “there you are”. I thought he was going to arrest me or beat me up, but he just told me to “find a place to stay or we’ll give you a place to stay”. I had what they called a “chauffeur’s license” back then, so I had been driving a Ford F-350 based delivery van for a local thrift store. They had been offering me a full time job for weeks, so I decided to take it, got a motel room across from the Mormon Temple that rented by the week, and finally started getting my sh** together.

    Bittersweet memories of my T-37. I used to tell people (since nobody had ever seen one), that is was a “hot rod version of a LeMans!” I actually thought it was, being young and dumb. “It must be special” I thought. It turned out it was-to me…

  2. No. LeMans was, like Tempest, a really old name for Pontiac. I had a ’63 Pontiac LeMans Sport 326 for a while, and I think the name goes back to ’61.

    • I have a 1968 firebird convertible with a ram air motor tach on the hood, why can’t I find any statistics on how many 68′ convertibles had ram air?

  3. They did put 400 CI engines in cars other than GTO’S. I had a ‘67 Bonneville with 400CI 4 BBL. Also had a 64 Bonneville with 389. All stock.

  4. My husband and I had one of these in 1971. He bought it new. It also had the factory installed hood tach. It was 4 speed standard.

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