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Using a name that was once an option-trim package for the 1960-1969 full size Catalina/Bonneville line, the Pontiac Ventura became a model all its own in 1971. Obviously a Chevrolet Nova clone, the Ventura became a moderate success for Pontiac, even becoming a platform for the hallowed GTO in 1974. The Ventura would undergo one redesign in 1975, and would be renamed Phoenix in mid-1977.

Here's a quick rundown on each generation:

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Pontiac Ventura II/Ventura
Pontiac
Production: 1971-1974
Class: Compact
Body Style: 2-Door Coupe
3-Door Hatchback
4-Door Sedan
Length:
Width:
Height:
Wheelbase: 111"
Weight: 3000-3300 lbs
Transmissions: 3-Speed Manual, RWD
4-Speed Manual, RWD
2-Speed Automatic, RWD
3-Speed Automatic, RWD
Engines: 4.1L (250 cid) I6 (1971-1974)
5.0L (307 cid) V8 (1971-1973)
5.7L (350 cid) V8 (1971-1974)
Power: 110-170 hp
Similar: Buick Apollo
Chevrolet Nova
Oldsmobile Omega
Platform: X

1st Generation (1971-1974)Edit

The Ventura debuts, initially being called Ventura II. As mentioned, the Ventura II was a corporate clone of the X-body Chevrolet Nova (some in the automotive press mocked the car as a "Pontiac Nova"). While it did share the Nova's exterior and interior, it did have a different nose with a quad-sectioned grille with a Pontiac arrowhead symbol in the center, along with longer taillights than the Nova had. Its engine and transmission options were also lifted intact from the Nova - the 4.1L (250 cid) I6 was standard, along with the 5.0L (307 cid) V8 and 5.7L (350 cid) V8 as options. 3- and 4-speed manual transmissions were available, and 2- and 3-speed automatic transmissions were options, except the 2-speed was not available on the 350. A sport-oriented Sprint package was available (similar to the Nova SS), which came with a blacked out grilles (2 only), unique bold striping, remote driver's side mirror, Rally II wheels, floor shifter and sport steering wheel. The Sprint could be had with any engine or transmission option. 1972 Ventura IIs were a virtual carryover from 1971.

In 1973, the "II" designation was dropped, becoming simply the Ventura. Venturas became slightly larger and longer this year due to new, larger front and rear bumpers. Taillights were new - well, sort of, as they were the exact same taillights that were previously used on the 1967-68 Firebird (and incidentally later used on the 1975-77 Astre). A new 3-door hatchback model was added this year, along with the 2-door coupe and 4-door sedan. Ventura Sprints got a unique grille this year that wasn't shared with other Venturas - a one-grille per side design (as opposed to two) that looked as if it was lifted intact from the current Firebird. 2 more Nova clones were introduced this year, the Buick Apollo and the Oldsmobile Omega. The 2-speed powerglide tranny would be dumped at the end of this year. In 1974, the previous Sprint-only grille was now standard on all Ventura models. The Ventura would be the basis for the GTO this year (see separate report), replacing the Sprint. The 307 V8 was dropped this year, leaving the 250 I6 and 350 V8 engines. There would be an all-new model in 1975.


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Pontiac Ventura
Pontiac
Production: 1975-1977
Class: Compact
Body Style: 2-Door Coupe
3-Door Hatchback
4-Door Sedan
Length:
Width:
Height:
Wheelbase: 111"
Weight: 3000-3300 lbs
Transmissions: 3-Speed Manual, RWD
4-Speed Manual, RWD
3-Speed Automatic, RWD
Engines: 3.8L (231 cid) V6 (1977)
4.1L (250 cid) I6 (1975-1976)
4.3L (260 cid) V8 (1975-1976)
5.0L (305 cid) V8 (1976-1977)
5.7L (350 cid) V8 (1975-1977)
Power: 105-170 hp
Similar: Buick Apollo
Cadillac Seville
Chevrolet Nova
Oldsmobile Omega
Platform: X

2nd Generation (1975-1977)Edit

The Ventura was all new this year, as were the rest of the X-body clones. Naturally the Ventura was still a near carbon-copy of the Nova, but the Ventura had unique taillights and its nose had 4 small grilles again, although this time they were side-by-side instead of on top of one another like the 1971-73 models. The parking lights were placed in the outboard grilles. Engine and transmission choices carried over from the previous generations, and the 2-door coupes, 3-door hatchback and 4-door sedans were still available. Base, luxury-oriented LJ and sporty SJ models could be had, the latter with the Rally II wheels, floor shifter, sport steering wheel and a dashboard borrowed from the Grand Prix with full instrumentation. 1976 models changed very little from the 75s, other than getting a new Chevy-built 5.0L (305 cid) V8 as an engine option. 1977 Venturas got a new nose, complete with 6 grille blocks on each side with concealed parking lights again in the outboard portion. The Chevy-built 250 I6 was replaced with a Buick-built 3.8L (231 cid) V6 as its new base engine. 1977 would be a shortened model year for the Ventura, as the car would be renamed the Pontiac Phoenix in mid-1977.


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