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Pontiac Ventura

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Pontiac Ventura
1973 Pontiac Ventura Sprint
ManufacturerPontiac (General Motors)
Body and chassis
ClassFull-size (1960–1970)
Compact (1971–1977)
LayoutFR layout

The Pontiac Ventura is an automobile model which was produced by Pontiac between 1960 and 1977.

The Ventura started out as a higher content trim package on the Pontiac Catalina, and served as the inspiration for the luxury content Pontiac Grand Prix in 1962, then remained as a trim package on the Catalina until 1970. Its name was derived from Ventura, California, joining other similarly derived contemporary models such as the fellow Pontiac Catalina, the Chevrolet Malibu, and the rival Mercury Monterey.

From 1971, the Ventura nameplate was used on Pontiac's version of the Chevrolet Nova until it was replaced by the front wheel drive Pontiac Phoenix.[1]


First generation
1969 Pontiac Catalina Ventura
AssemblyPontiac Assembly, Pontiac, Michigan
Arlington Assembly, Arlington, Texas
Doraville Assembly, Doraville, Georgia
Fairfax Assembly, Kansas City, Kansas
Linden Assembly, Linden, New Jersey
South Gate Assembly, South Gate, California
Wilmington Assembly, Wilmington, Delaware
Body and chassis
Body style2-door hardtop coupe
4-door hardtop sedan
2-door convertible
RelatedChevrolet Impala
Pontiac 2+2
Oldsmobile Holiday 88
Buick Invicta
Engine389 cu in (6.4 L) Pontiac V8
421 cu in (6.9 L) Pontiac V8
Transmission3-speed manual
3-speed automatic
4-speed manual
Wheelbase123 in (3,124 mm)
Length213.7 in (5,428 mm)
Width78.6 in (1,996 mm)
SuccessorPontiac Grand Prix[1]

The Ventura was first introduced for 1960 as a custom trim package on the Pontiac Catalina's 123-inch B-body wheelbase, and was only available as the Vista four-door hardtop, or the Sports Coupe two-door hardtop.[2] It was offered all standard and optional equipment from the Catalina, and added unique exterior identification, deluxe wheel covers, a sport steering wheel, and distinctive tri-tone "Morrokide" upholstery.[3] It was more expensive than the longer Pontiac Star Chief but was priced below the top-level Pontiac Bonneville.[1]

The sales success was influential to the introduction of the Pontiac Grand Prix in 1962, as a custom trim package coupe using the Catalina platform, while the Star Chief became the entry-level trim package of the Bonneville. The listed retail price for the Sports Coupe was $2,971 ($30,599 in 2023 dollars [4]) before an extensive list of optional equipment, that included several choices of radios, including the "Sportable" battery operated dashboard removable portable unit, electric extendable radio antenna, air conditioning, "E-Z-Eye" tinted glass, bucket seats, "Safeguard" speedometer, "Magi-Cruise" cruise control, windshield washer, under-hood utility light, remote adjustable driver-side side view mirror, power windows, power steering, power brakes, and two choices of heater and windshield defroster selections.[1]

With the introduction of the Grand Prix for 1962, the Ventura continued as a trim option for 1962 through 1970 on Catalina models, wearing a "Ventura" nameplate and could be installed with the Pontiac 421 H.O. V8.[1] In 1964 the Pontiac 2+2 was introduced with very similar equipment to the Ventura while installing bucket seats for both front and rear passengers.[1]


Second generation
1974 Pontiac Ventura 4-Door Sedan
Also calledPontiac Ventura II
Model years1971–1977
AssemblyVan Nuys Assembly, Van Nuys, California
Willow Run Assembly, Ypsilanti, Michigan
North Tarrytown Assembly, North Tarrytown, New York
Body and chassis
Body style2-door coupe
3-door hatchback
4-door sedan
RelatedChevrolet Nova
Pontiac Phoenix
Oldsmobile Omega
Buick Apollo
Transmission2-speed automatic
3-speed manual
4-speed manual
3-speed automatic
Wheelbase2,814 mm (110.8 in)
Length4,940 mm (194.5 in)
Width1,839 mm (72.4 in)
Height1,334 mm (52.5 in)
SuccessorPontiac Phoenix

In 1971, Pontiac moved the name to their new X-body entry, the Ventura II.

1971 Pontiac Ventura II Coupe

Ventura II production ran from 1971 to 1977. The "II" suffix was dropped after 1972, and the Phoenix name replaced Ventura in 1978. Engine offerings for the abbreviated 1971 model year included a 250 cu in. six cylinder or 307 cu in., only the 307 was available for the Sprint option in '71. For 1972, a Pontiac-built 350 cu in. V8 with two-barrel carburetor was added to the option list and became the base V8 for 1973 and 1974. Transmission offerings consisted of a standard column-shift three-speed manual with options including a four-speed manual, two-speed automatic (with six-cylinder) or three-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic automatic (with V8s). The 1973 six-cylinder Ventura was the last Pontiac model to offer the two-speed automatic, a badge-engineered Chevrolet Powerglide, which was dropped completely from all GM cars and trucks after this model year in favor of the Turbo Hydra-Matic.[3]

A Ventura Sprint option package was offered on two-door models 1971 to 1975, including three-speed transmission with floor shift and optional 350 cu in. V8 equipped four-speed, body color mirrors, custom carpeting, all-vinyl upholstery with either the standard bench or optional Strato bucket seats, Custom Sport steering wheel, blackout-grille trim, special striping, blackout grille, and 14x6" (36 cm diameter, 15 cm wide) wheels.[3]

In mid-1972, Pontiac introduced the limited production Ventura SD for the Southern California market as sort of a sporty-luxury compact to counter imported luxury sedans then taking the U.S. market by storm. The SD option added the high-back Strato bucket seats from the Firebird along with a Custom Sport steering wheel, Rally II wheels, uprated suspension and other items. Some 250 Ventura SD's were built for 1972, all at the GM Nova/Ventura assembly plant in Van Nuys, California plant.[3]

In 1973, higher spec cars received a new split grille in the Firebird/GTO style. Lower grade cars retained the split level grille used in 1971 and 1972. The Ventura Custom became a separate series (2Z, versus 2Y for the regular Ventura), carrying a "Custom" script on the rear roof pillar. In addition to the two-door coupe and four-door sedan, a three-door hatchback coupe was added to the lineup.[3]

In 1974, the Pontiac GTO name moved to the Ventura from the intermediate LeMans line. The GTO package gave the basic Ventura a 350 cu in. (5.7L) engine with a four-barrel carburetor of about 200 hp (149 kW). The package also came with a functional "shaker" hood scoop, tri-color GTO decals, Rally II wheels, and special grill-mounted driving lights. The GTO package could be ordered on the hatchback Ventura as well as the base and Custom coupes.[3]

1975 Pontiac Ventura

The GTO was dropped in 1975, along with the Pontiac 350. The Ventura could be optioned with the Buick 350 V8 instead.

The Ventura SJ was a new offering for 1975, when the Ventura and other GM compacts were restyled with new rooflines along with improved suspensions shared with the second generation F platform (Camaro/Firebird), plus standard front disc brakes. The Ventura SJ was marketed as an American rendition of a Euro-style luxury sport sedan that Pontiac created with the larger mid-sized Grand Prix in 1973, as well as a competitor to the new-for-1975 Ford Granada and Mercury Monarch, both marketed as luxury compacts designed to compete with the more expensive imports such as Audi and Mercedes. As such the Ventura SJ included an upgraded interior with reclining bucket seats in either cloth or vinyl along with a center console, rally instrumentation and other items and borrowed the trim package "SJ" from the Grand Prix.[3]

1976 Pontiac Ventura 4-Door Sedan
1976 Pontiac Ventura Coupe

Only minor appearance changes were made to the Ventura for 1976 and 1977 including new grilles and revised taillights. 1976 saw the inclusion of the Oldsmobile 260 cubic inch V8. For 1977, the Chevy 250 six was replaced by Buick's 231 cu in V6 as the base powerplant and the Chevrolet 305 cubic-inch V8 was introduced as an option. The availability of the 2.5 liter "Iron Duke" 4-cylinder was optional along with the 301 cu in V8. One unique feature for 1976 was the availability of a 5-speed manual transmission (Borg Warner T-50) with the 260 cubic inch V8; it was the standard transmission with the Iron Duke. Under 700 units total with this combination were built in 1976.[3]

At the beginning of the 1977 model year, the Ventura SJ was the top-line model but at mid-year was replaced by the Phoenix, which featured a distinctive center grille and rectangular headlights and the most luxurious interior available in a Pontiac X-body car. Otherwise, the Phoenix was basically a plushed up Ventura much like the Chevrolet Concours was related to the more mundane Nova.[3]

For 1978, the Ventura nameplate was retired and all X-body cars were sold under the Phoenix nameplate through that year and into 1979 with a top-line Phoenix SJ designated as the top-line series.


  1. ^ a b c d e f Gunnell, John, ed. (1987). The Standard Catalog of American Cars 1946–1975. Kraus Publications. pp. 50–92. ISBN 0-87341-096-3.
  2. ^ 1960 Pontiac brochure, storm.oldcarmanualproject.com Retrieved 19 February 2018
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Gunnell, John; Kowalke, Ron (2012). Standard Catalog of Pontiac, 1926-2002 (2nd ed.). Iola, WI: Krause Publications. p. 139. ISBN 978-1-4402-3234-3.
  4. ^ 1634–1699: McCusker, J. J. (1997). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States: Addenda et Corrigenda (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1700–1799: McCusker, J. J. (1992). How Much Is That in Real Money? A Historical Price Index for Use as a Deflator of Money Values in the Economy of the United States (PDF). American Antiquarian Society. 1800–present: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis. "Consumer Price Index (estimate) 1800–". Retrieved February 29, 2024.