1973 Pontiac

The 1973 Pontiac model year represented the beginning of significant changes to the entire full-size line. Many of these changes were made to comply with ever-increasing federal emissions and safety regulations.

The 1975 Pontiac featured greater fuel efficiency.
The 1975 Pontiac featured greater fuel efficiency.

In the interest of simplifying the product line, the Catalina convertible and the entire Catalina Brougham series were dropped. Also, all nonwagon B-body Pontiacs now rode on a common 124-inch wheelbase. (Station wagons retained their 127-inch stretch.)

A new front-end design was characterized by a truly massive energy-absorbing bumper that jutted from the new full-width grille. As before, the Catalina received a horizontal grille-bar pattern, while the other series used an "eggcrate" design.

Grand Ville hardtops and convertibles now came with standard rear fender skirts. Taillight designs were also redone again, with the Grand Ville having an ensemble that was different from the other lines.

More changes were also made under the hood to meet more-stringent emissions standards. All Pontiac V-8s received a new generation of emission-control devices, including an "exhaust gas recirculation" system, which reduced production of oxides of nitrogen by injecting a small amount of exhaust gas back into the cylinder to cut down combustion tem­perature.

All engines returned for 1973 with the exception of the 455 two-barrel, though most lost some power in the process. The twin-pot 400-cid engine became the new standard Bonneville powerplant.

The 1973 Bonneville hardtop coupe was the first B-body Pontiac to offer an optional "Radial Tuned Suspen­sion" (RTS) package. In addition to radial tires, the RTS package included stiffer springs and shocks to improve the handling capabilities of the full-size chassis.

Riding a record sales year for the industry at large, Pontiac had its best year ever in 1973. Total model-year production for the division hit 919,872 -- a gain of 281,000 from the year before.

The full-size line contributed 32,089 to that increase as production of Catalinas, Bon­nevilles, and Grand Villes neared 375,000 units. There would be no chance for a repeat, though.

That October, just weeks after the 1974s went on sale, the outbreak of war in the Middle East spurred an oil embargo by Arab producer nations. With gasoline supplies pinched for months, Ameri­cans' traditional taste for big V-8-powered family cars soured -- as did a national economy that had relied on cheap energy. The next couple of years would be brutal on Detroit.

For more on the 1974 Pontiac, see the next page.

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