1971 Pontiac T-37
When talking about Pontiacs from the muscle car era, we usually think about the GTO, Firebird, and Trans Am. The LeMans, Tempest, and the Ventura also get some credit among diehard fans, but there’s at least one Pontiac that’s been entirely forgotten. I’m talking about the T-37.
But there are a few good reasons why this Poncho is not as famous as its sibling. For starters, it was produced for only a couple of years. Introduced in mid-1970, just as the muscle car market was slowing down, the T-37 didn’t live past the 1971 model year. Second, it wasn’t aimed at a different type of buyer. At least when compared to the mighty GTO.
You see, muscle cars were no longer that affordable in 1970. Sure, many muscle cars were still priced below the $3,000 mark, which would be only $23,600 in 2022, but the insurance rates were higher than ever, especially when the said car came with a high-performance big-block under the hood.
Looking to bring younger buyers into dealerships with a car that looked like a GTO but had a significantly smaller sticker, Pontiac created the T-37. A stripped LeMans devoid of any fancy features in standard form, the T-37 was an economy-minded midsize.
Priced from around $2,600 ($20,500 in 2022), it was about 18% cheaper than a GTO and almost $30 more affordable than a Judge. Not only that, but the T-37 became GM’s lowest-priced midsize hardtop during its production run, outgunning the Chevrolet Chevelle. Why was it called the T-37, a departure from Pontiac’s naming strategy? Well, T stood for Tempest, while 37 was the company’s internal code for hardtop coupes.
But even though it was affordable, quite spartan on the inside, and came with an inline-six engine as standard, the T-37 was also available with the company’s high-performance powerplants, including the mighty 455-cubic-inch (7.5-liter) H.O. V8. While most customers purchased the T-37 as a cheaper-to-insure car with an inline-six, a few enthusiasts noticed the potential of a bare-bones Poncho with a big V8 and went with the 455 H.O
But these T-37s are extremely rare. Of the nearly 36,000 examples sold in 1971, only 54 of them were ordered with the H.O. unit. That’s only 0.15% of total production and an extremely low figure that puts it on par with legendary Mopars of the HEMI variety. And because some of these cars were purchased for drag racing due to their excellent power-to-weight figures, fewer than 54 are still around. The plain white Pontiac you see here is one of them.
But this one is actually even more special than a “regular” T-37 H.O. That’s because it’s only one of six equipped with the Turbo 400 automatic transmission and one of only two (!) ordered with the hood-mounted tach. It’s probably a one-of-one car based on the color or other options it may have, so it doesn’t get any rarer than this.
So how did it survive in such a fabulous condition for more than 50 years? Well, we could say it got lucky because it’s one of those cars that was purchased for drag racing. This Poncho ran the quarter-mile as “The Quiet Gent” in the early days, using a modified Cadillac gearbox for improved grip and acceleration.
Come 2022, and it was reunited with a period-correct Pontiac trans and it still rocks its numbers-matching 455 V8. It’s highly original and pretty much unmolested, as the odometer shows only 18,000 miles (28,968 km). Definitely a Pontiac for the history books and a rare gem that deserves a lot more attention. So go ahead and find out more about it in the video below.
Credit – https://alvanews.net/