Bill's '75 Nova SS

Pontiac Ventura & Phoenix History


   The Ventura II--Pontiac's version of the Nova (which stood for Nova-Omega- Ventura-Apollo)--was introduced on March 11, 1970 as a 1971 model. With its 111-wheelbase, Chevy 250-cid in-line six and entry-level $2,458 price, the Ventura was as small and basic as a Pontiac got. It was essentially a Nova with wider tail lamp lenses and a split, twin-grill. Standard equipment included cloth-and-Morrokide upholstery, wood-grained dashboard accents, and wood- grained door trim. A Sprint option included a three-speed with floor shifter, wheel trim rings, a remote-control color-keyed rear view mirror, carpets, a custom sport steering wheel, a blacked- out grille, stripes, and whitewalls.
   With the additional production of 48,484 Venturas during the model's extra- long model year, Pontiac's 3,279 dealers managed to knock Plymouth out of third position in U.S. auto sales by outselling Chrysler Corporation's low-end brand by 13,139 units.


1972
   There were virtually no changes in the 1972 Ventura II, but two special options were offered. The Ventura SD (Sport Deluxe) was a limited-edition package only for cars built in Van Nuys, California. It was introduced in mid-year and 500 production units were scheduled. The Sprint option included three-speed manual floor shift, whitewall tires, body- colored mirrors, a custom sport steering wheel, chrome wheel trim rings, custom carpets, a blacked-out grill, side striping , 14x6-inch rims, and Sprint II decals.


1973
   The name Ventura II was shortened to Ventura. Its styling included a "double-deck" twin-slot grille. A Sprint package with a Firebird-inspired grille was available on the two-door notch-back coupe and the hatch-back. Ventura Customs included a choice of cloth or all-Morrokide upolstery, custom cushion steering wheel, bright metal front seat side panels, glovebox lamp, nylon carpeting, deluxe wheelcovers, pedal trim plates, body decor moldings and body sill beauty strips, and custom roof piller scripts.


1974
   The Firebird-style grille seen on 1973 Ventura Sprints was now used on all Venturas. There were minimal styling changes otherwise. Ventura Customs had all features found on base models plus more trim and equipment. Hatchbacks had load floor carpets, folding seats, a Space Saver spare, cargo area dome lights and sidewall trim.
   The GTO option package for 1974 Ventura and Ventura Custom coupes sold for $195 and included a 350-cid four-barrel V-8, front and rear stabilizer bars, radial-tuned suspension, Pliacell shock absorbers, power steering, front and rear drum brakes, E78-14 tires, heavy-duty three-speed manual gear box, dual exhausts with splitter extensions, 3.08:1 ratio axle, Rally II rims less trim rings, special grille driving lights, rear facing "shaker" air scoop and computer selected high-rate rear springs. This was the 11th and last GTO.
   The base Ventura coupe with the added GTO package sold for $3,212. The Ventura Custom version was $3,371. Customs had all the features found on Venturas plus a choice of cloth or all-Morrokide trim, custom cushion steering wheel, bright metal front seat side panels, glove box lamp, nylon carpeting, pedal trim plates, right-hand door jamb switch, deluxe wheelcovers and drip, scalp, and rocker panel moldings. Hatchbacks also had load floor carpeting, fold-down seats, Space Saver spare tire, cargo area dome lights, and trimmed sidewalls. Total GTO option installations came to 7,058 for both trim levels.
   The code J engine was included in the Ventura GTO option package. This was a 350-cid V-8 with a four-barrel carburetor and 7.6:1 compression ratio. It developed 185 hp at 4000 rpm. The X-body Ventura had a 111-inch wheelbase and an overall length of 199.4 inches, making the 1974 model the smallest GTO. For many years, these cars were ignored by GTO enthusiasts, but they are now beginning to catch on with a younger generation of car collectors.


1975
   Venturas were restyled. The new frontal treatment featured distictive grille ports with integral parking lights and an energy-absorbing front bumper. Rooflines were made somewhat slimmer, the beltline was lowered and there was more glass area than before.
   The Ventura was the base model at the start of the year, with features about the same as 1974. The GM Efficiency System was made standard equipment, but on Venturas-- as well as Astres--it did not include radial tires. The Ventura Custom added interior/exterior trim upgrades. A Ventura SJ with custom finned wheel covers, a custom steering wheel, a Grand Prix-style instrument cluster, extra acoustical insulation, rocker panel moldings and decor trim was new. The SJ interior was similar to that of the Grand Am. In midyear a Ventura S with less equipment than the base model was introduced.


1976
   The 1976 Ventura came in base and SJ trim. The coupe, hatchback and four- door sedan rode on a 111-inch wheelbase. The 250-cid in-line six was standard. Options were the 260-cid 110 hp V-8 and a pair of 350-cid V-8s with 140 and 155 hp. A new five-speed manual gearbox became optional on models with the 260. Ventura options included a landau roof. The SJ added custom finned wheel covers and full-width front seats.


1977
   During the mid-1970s, Pontiac sales catalogs began using the word "luxurious" as much as possible. The new Phoenix was introduced as a mid-1977 model and as a luxury compact. It was set for introduction in 1978, but when early Ventura sales missed the mark, the Phoenix was allowed to rise fron the ashes a little early. It replaced the Ventura on which it was based. In fact, the main difference between the two cars was that the Phoenix had a hood with a wider riser panel, a vertical-bar grill, and square headlights.
   Venturas featured a new split grille with six segments per side. A plusher interior had a Grand Prix-style dash. Base engine was the 3.8-liter V-6 with 301 or 350-cid V-8s available. Landau roof treatments and an SJ package were optional.


1978
   Both Astres and Venturas faded away in 1978. Following the downsizing of full-size models for 1977, the mid-size Lemans recieved similar this year. Returning this season for its second appearance was the the Grand Am nameplate.
   The compact Phoenix came in coupe, sedan, and hatchback models. A wide center divider at the front held Pontiac lettering below a Pontiac emblem. The split grill extended to the single headlamps and tall side markers. A large Phoenix emblem was low on the cowl. Flush-mount tail lamps in bright frames had two divider ribs. Back-up lights were in the center of each lens. The 3.8-liter V-6 with three-speed manual shift was standard. Equipment included E78x14 blackwall tires, hubcaps, lighter, a heater and defroster, and an instrument cluster similar to the Grand Prix's. The LJ added a stand-up hood ornament, wheel opening and rocker panel moldings, and deluxe wheel covers.




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Ventura GTO Production Numbers

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Most text used without permission from:
"75 Years of Pontiac--The Official History"
by John Gunnell ©2000

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This Page last Updated 12-12-2009


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