The 1972 Pontiac full-sized models received only minor changes. A revised frontal design featured larger turn-signal lamps built into the fender caps. The "classic" grille lost its horizontal extensions and both headlight pairs were grouped in shared bright bezels instead of being mounted independently of each other, as in 1971.
The 1972 Pontiac posted impressive sales gains
over the previous model year.
Grille bars on Bonnevilles and Grand Villes now had a prominent vertical pattern over subtler horizontal bars. Bonnevilles gave up the louver pattern on their rocker trim. A heavier-looking bumper with a black rub strip was also added, anticipating the upcoming federal bumper regulations. The rear bumpers also received the rub strips.
A change in the ventilation system did away with the decklid/tailgate louvers. Beyond this and some updated paint and interior appointments, things stayed largely as they were the year before.
One area of significance under the hood was in the way horsepower was measured. Beginning with the 1972 model year, all General Motors divisions began rating engine output using the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) net method.
Power was measured at the transmission tailshaft with all power accessories installed and with factory air-cleaners and exhaust systems. The SAE net figures were more representative of the power levels that the engines were actually generating when installed in the chassis. The truth is, there was not any significant difference in power output or performance between the 1971 and 1972 Pontiacs.
The 350 was rerated from 250 to 160 bhp (175 with dual exhaust) at 4,400. The 400 two-barrel went from 265 to 175 (200 with dual exhaust) at 4,000 rpm; and the four-barrel version, previously rated at 300 horses, received a net rating of 200 at 4,000 rpm (250 with duals).
Among 455s, the two-barrel went from 280 to 185 at 4,000 rpm (200 with duals). The four-barrel variant was still the top dog of the Pontiac B-car lineup, though it was now rated at 220 bhp at 3,600 rpm; dual exhaust upped that rating to 250.
The 1971-1972 full-sized General Motors cars were the subjects of a recall that involved the steering system. It had been determined by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration that stones or other small debris could become trapped in the steering-shaft coupling, causing a possible loss of steering control. Shields were added to the recalled cars. A redesign of the coupling alleviated the problem in time for the 1973 model year.
Production tallies for 1972 jumped by 31 percent, surpassing 342,000. With 228,262 assemblies, Catalina production alone almost matched total 1971 full-size Pontiac demand. Bonneville and, especially, Grand Ville experienced gains, too.
To learn about the 1973 Pontiac, see the next page.
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