1974 Pontiac

­The push to meet federal rollover-crash standards meant more changes for 1974 Pontiac. Catalina and Bonneville two-door hardtops received a new "colonnade" roof with large rear-quarter windows. The design essentially gave the cars a B-pillar, though small roll-down windows just aft of the doors remained for a true pillarless look.

Sales levels dropped for the 1974 Pontiac.
Sales levels dropped for the 1974 Pontiac.

New front styling included a return to a central radiator -- a design with definite Mercedes-Benz overtones. A strip of parking-lamp/turn-signal lens filled the gap between the bumper and headlight bezels. With new, more damage-resistant bumpers in back, the license plate holder was moved up into the rear fascia, filling an area that had previously been part of the trunk opening.

The 350-cid engine was dropped from the full-size line, leaving the 400 two-barrel as the base engine for the Catalina and Bonneville. The 455 four-barrel was standard in the Grand Ville (with dual exhaust as an option). The big engine could be ordered in Catalinas and Bonne­villes, as could the four-barrel version of the 400.

With just a few six-cylinder models to offer suddenly mpg-conscious car buyers, production of 1974 Pontiacs tumbled to around 560,000 cars. The full-size range felt the pain worse than some of the others: With 175,766 built, it sheared off nearly 200,000 units from 1973 -- and things would get worse before they would get better.

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