What could have been the ultimate 1972 stealth Supercar, a GTO/Firebird 455-inch HO-powered Ventura Sprint, never really happened. They built just one production-ready prototype.
It was an unassuming Pontiac Ventura II Sprint coupe motivated by a 455 engine. Little more than a grille and badge-engineered Chevy Nova, this screamer with an EPA certified engine would have flown under insurance companies’ radar. Pontiac built one and everyone loved it.
But it was not to be!
I drove it in June 1971 during Pontiac’s 1972 model press preview at GM’s Milford Proving Ground. Most writers were much more interested in sexier new GTO and Firebird models, than a boxy X-platform Nova clone. Once I saw its hood tach, Honeycomb mags with F60 Goodyears and “455 H.O.” fender ID, I couldn’t wait to toss it around Black Lake, GM’s seemingly endless skid pad.
Unlike most late-model Novas that I had driven, this Pontiac variant cornered extremely flat and was easily controllable at high speeds through the cones. I discovered that this Ventura II had Trans-Am front coil springs and upgraded Sprint power steering and brakes. The engine was a stock 455 H.O. mated to a beefed THM 400 automatic and 3.42 rear gears.
I didn’t have an opportunity to run it through the clocks, but the engineer assigned to the car let me know that it had run 14.20s at 101 mph with stock dual exhausts and F60 tires. He was quick to add: “With a little tuning, open exhausts and 3.90 gears, you could expect one-second-quicker ETs!”
The 455 Ventura II never went into production. It wouldn’t surprise me if Chevrolet had been really concerned after seeing what Pontiac had done accomplished with their car and threatened to end X-body platform sharing. Hopefully it survived the crusher!
The one-off 455 Ventura, along with a portfolio of prototypes, limited-production and production 1962-1974 high-performance cars are covered (like nowhere else) in DAY ONE, An Automotive Journalist’s Muscle-Car Memoir,https://www.amazon.com/Day-One-Automotive-Journalists-Muscle-Car/dp/0760352364/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1493561421&sr=1-1&keywords=Day+One+by+Martyn+L.+Schorr
Also, check out Poncho Perfection magazine, April 2018 issue, for coverage of this one-of-none Pontiac, http://ponchoperfection.com/