1975 Trans Am L75 455 H.O. - The King Returns?

1975 Trans Am (L75) 455 H.O. - The King Returns?
By Pete D.
1975 will never be known as a banner year for muscle cars. The GTO, Chevelle SS, Challenger, and Cuda were among some of the most famous
muscle cars to bite the dust by 1975. By 1975 the only Mopar muscle car names that remained were the Plymouth Road Runner and Dodge Charger which were underpowered luxury barges with pillow seats and new body styles that looked similar to it's cousin the Chrysler Cordoba. Ford had completely given up, the Mustang by 1975 was know as the Mustang II which was based on the Pinto platform, though it was a sales success it was as far from a muscle car as a car could venture. The availability of only 4 and 6 cylinder motors for the Mustang II, was also a big reminder of that fact. The Torino had also grown to almost Thunderbird proportions however it still packed a V8 under the hood. Sadly the Torino's largest displacement V8 was the 351 Cleveland V8 which was a little light on the horses. AMC was also out of the muscle car making business by 1975. At GM things also looked grim. Olds still had a 442 and a Hurst Olds and Buick still had a Gran Sport but these cars were so detuned, that the decals were the only similarity to their predecessors only of only a few years back. Chevrolet also threw the white towel in the ring, by 1975 the largest displacement V8 in the Corvette was now a 350 CID V8. The Camaro had dropped so far in performance, Chevy dropped the Z28 from the Camaro lineup staring in 1975.
Pontiac too was feeling the pinch like everyone else with the new EPA mandated emissions standards for 1975, lower compression motors that started in 1971 for GM (EPA mandated that all 1972 cars run on unleaded fuel, hence no more high compression motors), skyrocketing insurance rates, and the after effects of the 1973 OPEC oil embargo. Pontiac not one to give in to adversity, had seemed to have beaten the odds the mandated lower compression engines had killed just about every high performance motor by 1972. Pontiac continued as if nothing happened and just converted to high performance low compression V8s. The Pontiac high performance low compression V8 motors were so good that they could propel a almost 4,000 lbs Trans Am in the low 14 second to 13 second 1/4 mile time range. These motors were the 1971-1972 455 H.O. (rated at 330 gross horsepower, 300 net horsepower) and the 1973 and 1974 SuperDuty 455 (rated at 310 and 290 net horsepower respectively). As an example in 1973 Hot Rod Magazine test drove a factory stock '73 Trans Am and obtained a 1/4 mile of 13.54 at 104.29 mph. This was faster than most of the high compression muscle car motors. Pontiac seemed to be leading no matter what the odds were up until 1975. It seemed the new EPA emissions mandates which choked the engines with a single catalytic converter, EGR valve, and a maze of new vacuum hoses under the hood were putting Pontiac's back against the wall. Pontiac still wanting to be number one announced in late 1974 that the 1975 Trans Am would only be powered by a L78 400 CID V8. This seemed like good news since the competition's V8s were much smaller in displacement, but the 185 net horsepower rating of the L78 brought any muscle car fan back to the cold hard reality that things had changed drastically from the previous years. The good news was that the Trans Am by 1975 was skyrocketing in sales, even though the Trans Am was detuned it still was faster than it's competition. And the buying public was taking note of this fact and voting with their dollars.......CONTINUED
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