By 1974, the American horsepower wars were over. With oil and insurance prices rising, along with the switch from gross to net horsepower ratings, it seemed as if car guys would have nothing left to love. But Pontiac didn't give up quite so easily, and introduced a revised Catalina lineup in the early 1970s that was not only stylish, but still packed 400 cubic inches and a ton of luxury in a full-sized package. By the standards of the time, performance was robust, and if period-perfect vintage style and delicious '70s paint colors are your thing, this survivor-grade 1974 Pontiac Catalina's has really aged well.
This particular Catalina sedan is one of the better-preserved examples we've seen and with a survivor presentation, it's loaded with the '70s styling that got American families through gas crises, the death of Elvis, and the respective administrations of Dick Nixon and Jimbo Carter. If you're like me, you remember your Dad espousing the benefits of 5MPH bumpers, torque-monster V8s, and cavernous interiors that were featured on big family land yachts from this era. From what we can tell, this Poncho is still wearing its original Lakemist Green over some pretty straight factory sheetmetal. Sure, the paint has definitely seen some better days and it's every bit of a survivor, but if a little patina is what you need in your life, then this sedan is just what the doctor ordered. The 70s were all about earth tones and strange light shades, and the Pontiac color palette featured on this car is certainly of the times. With excellent proportions that recalled the performance Pontiacs of the past, this Catalina still carried the banner of full-sized luxury with a sporty edge. The Mercedes-like split front grille continued to be a Pontiac trademark, and although there's not a ton of chrome and brightwork on this car, what's there shines just enough to provide nice contrast to the light green finish.
The light green vinyl bench seat interior appears to be original, again indicative of the car's easy life thanks to conscientious ownership throughout the years. The seating surfaces are clean and show no more than the expected wear, while the door panels and headliner match up nicely. Original green carpets continue the theme, and the faux woodgrain on the dash, door panels, and steering wheel give the interior an air of sophistication. Pontiac's wrap around dash was retained, with featured round gauges in square housings, backed by a wood-grain applique that houses most of the car's switches and controls. A matching 3-spoke steering wheel mirrors the exterior with its combination of luxury and sport, and although there aren't many options inside, the cabin is a very comfortable place to be. The back seat area shows little wear, while out back the spacious trunk features a newer plaid mat and full size spare tire.
Pontiac was still building big block horsepower in 1974, and this Catalina is equipped with the optional 400 cubic inch V8. While the numbers changed with the switch to net horsepower ratings (the factory rating in 1974 for a 400 V8 was 230HP), internally, it was still the same engine. As a result, it makes good power and impressive torque to move the big sedan in traditional Pontiac fashion. It also idles smoothly and purrs along on the highway without a lot of fussing and drives all the power accessories effortlessly. Still dressed in the remnants of its original Pontiac Turquoise paint, it certainly plays the part of a survivor but also shows signs of maintenance and clean living. The transmission is a TH400 3-speed automatic, which shifts almost imperceptibly at part throttle, and nails the downshifts when you open the throttle aggressively. The suspension has that floating ride that made American luxury cars famous in the 1970s, and this car can be guided with little more than your fingertips. Steel wheels adorned with correct Pontiac hubcaps look great as always and wear relatively recent 225/75/15 whitewall radials.
As a great starter collectible, this Catalina has a lot going for it: handsome good looks, a roomy interior, and a big V8 under the hood. Nicely preserved and completely stock, this is still a car that gets second glances on the road and more than a few Pontiac fans will have fond memories of similar vehicles in their past. That's what collecting is all about, and when you're gliding down the highway in this luxurious land yacht, you won't be thinking about gas prices or horsepower, you'll just be grinning because the car is so much fun to drive. Call today!