The Trans Am was not without options, and one in particular made this Trans Am the king of the no-horsepower kingdom


The year 1974 was a tough time for American automakers, with many legislated changes. The results were not good.

New emission regulations, which had gone into effect in 1968, gradually sapped horsepower by the early 1970s. They also added additional weight, further inhibiting performance. In addition. the government enacted Corporate Average Fuel Economy standards (CAFE) requiring incrementally higher mileage for all automakers across the entire passenger car line-up. Finally, the Arab oil embargo hit in 1973, and suddenly gas was expensive and national speed limits were imposed.

Cars were required to use unleaded fuel beginning with the 1972 model year, and cars that had sported a conservatively rated 400-plus horsepower in 1970 were neutered to the point of having only 250 horsepower two years later.

However, all was not bad in the performance car world. One exception was the 1973 and 1974 Pontiac Trans Am Super Duty. This little-known option produced 290 horsepower, more than the contemporary Corvette.

In 1973, the lightly marketed Super Duty would find homes with only 252 people. However a handful of international buyers were not subject to all the American regulations and an export Trans Am SD sported ten additional horses.

The Worldwide Group enthusiastically presents one of the two known export 1973 Pontiac Trans Am Super Dutys. Originally exported to Lebanon, the 1974 Trans Am Super Duty now resides in the sunny and dry atmosphere of Texas.

This Cameo White numbers-matching car comes with only 59,571 miles on the odometer, its original 300-hp engine, and its original Muncie M-40 3-speed automatic transmission.

Other major options include D58 factory rear console, U69 AM/FM radio, B85 sill and hood moldings, N33 tilt wheel, A31 power windows, C60 air conditioning, AU3 power door locks, and U57 8-track player.

This restored Trans AM Super Duty has benefited from one correct repaint and is in mint condition. Starting with an unmolested and correct car, the owner set out to do a concours restoration, resulting in what is possibly one of the finest examples extant.

This 1974 Super Duty comes with the original GM export papers verifying the provenance of the car. It also comes with a PHS certification, further adding to its unblemished history.

This is a truly special SD T/A for the serious collector. Of the second chapter in the story of the Pontiac Trans Am, it is certainly of, if not THE, most desirable example available.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1974 Pontiac Trans Am Super Duty
Number Produced:1973, 252; 1974, 943
Original List Price:$4,446 (Base Trans AM)
Tune Up Cost:$385
Distributor Caps:$36
Engine Number Location:Near passenger side cylinder head, close to timing chain cover
Club Info:National Firebird and T/A Club, P.O. Box 11238, Chicago, IL 60611
Investment Grade:C

This 1974 Pontiac Trans Am Super Duty was sold for $67,100 at the Worldwide Group auction in Houston, Texas, on May 5, 2007.

Forget everything you know about the 1970s as it applies to cars. Let’s also just forget the Trans Am part, the disco-era design cues, and all the abundant baggage that goes along with it.

Drop the geegaws, the decals, the fake or real scoops, the spoilers, the early attempts at ground effects known to all the world as wheel opening air deflectors.

Poor build quality? Just get it out of your mind for now. Forget the phony engine-turned dash, or the fact that for all their efforts, the sporty car as we knew it was on its way out, killed by both an oil embargo and the rumor of looming $1-per-gallon gas prices. It really is time to rethink what we know about cars of this ilk.

Camaros, Trans Ams, and Corvettes from the 1970s were clearly not the cars from just a generation earlier. The horsepower wars were over-anemic numbers were the norm. Styling and design had become slave to the bumper regulations mandated for cars from model year 1973. The requirement that safety systems not be affected by a 5-mph hit to the front bumper and 2 1/2-mph impact to the rear took styling out of the sketchbooks of designers and put parts of it into the hands of engineers. (The 5-mph mandate was later rolled back to 2 1/2 mph front and rear).

Meanwhile, over at the Blue Oval, the Mustang, once a reasonably-sized pony car, had shrunk in size starting with the 1974 model year. The Mustang II lost any remaining sizzle that the previous body style held. It went from an object of automotive desire to an item of derision, a shrunken shell of its past glory-from a sexy pony car to a rebadged Pinto. Aside from my college dorm mate, (a future dentist), no one was fooled. Oddly, the Mustang’s stablemate, the Mercury Cougar, went in the opposite direction, growing in size and heading to the “personal luxury” market that was defined by the Chevrolet Monte Carlo). Such was the era.

Super Duty, less than super car

Still, in the kingdom of the blind, the one-eyed man is king. One of the few performance cars still around for 1974 was the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. Still the accepted size for a pony car, still with a big-if not all that powerful-V8 up front, the Pontiac, along with the Camaro, survived without shrinking or growing, as the Mustang and Cougar did.

The Trans Am was not without options, and one in particular made this 1974 Trans Am Super Duty the king of the no-horsepower kingdom. By ticking the correct box, a standard Trans Am could become a 290-horsepower, 455-cubic-inch Super Duty. In 1973 and 1974, only a handful were built.

The 1974 total was 731 automatics and 212 manual-transmission cars-943 units out of a total of 10,255 1974 Trans Ams. With less than 10% of total Trans Am production, they were as desirable as was possible at that time.

Not all 455-ci motors were Super Duty, resulting in the usual confusion and attempts at clones. The fifth digit in the serial number of the Super Duty cars is X, the “standard” 455 carries a Y in the same place.

Our 1974 Super Duty is a low-miles example that was at first exported to the Middle East when new and at the time of the sale was a Texas car. It carried a pre-auction estimate of between $85,000 and $105,000. The catalog stated that, as an export car, it actually carried an additional ten horsepower, 300 as opposed to 290. When the hammer fell, the car was sold for a more realistic $67,100, a good representation of actual market price.

A 1973 or 1974 Trans Am Super Duty will never have the panache of a first-tier muscle car. Born too late, it’s the younger sibling that tried hard yet could never get the grades-or the chicks-of its older brothers and sisters. So if you can’t afford a ticket to the pricier, earlier motor car party, you’ll have to accept the ’73 or ’74 as your entry-level ride.

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