1970-1971 Pontiac GT-37

The GT-37 owes its existence to Division Manager John DeLorean’s departure from Pontiac in 1970. DeLorean’s arrival at Chevrolet signaled a change of approach for both Pontiac and Chevrolet. Soon after his arrival at Chevrolet DeLorean expanded the list of standard features on the Corvette which in turn raised the base price on this car. DeLorean preferred cars that provide a bit ‘more’ and an ‘image’ at a price.

Back in 1968, DeLorean blocked Pontiac’s attempts to release a Roadrunner fighter named the ‘E.T.’ which was essentially a GTO stripped down with Spartan appointments and a 350-4 barrel HO engine. When DeLorean finished with the ‘E.T.’ concept it morphed into a top level 1969 GTO named the Judge. No vestige of the E.T. remained save for stripped Rally II wheels and the Carousel Orange paint job. The Judge was packing a Ram Air III 400, spoiler and many upgrades over the standard GTO.

DeLorean believed in image and perceived value for money instead of a bare bones sticker price. This approach worked at Pontiac and to some degree at Chevrolet. Those that didn’t want a fully loaded Corvette or a sumptuously laid out GTO could buy something else. In 1970 the ‘something else’ was a Plymouth Duster.

Pontiac management watched Plymouth crank out a bazillion Dusters and since John DeLorean was over at Chevrolet there was no one to stop them from bringing out a stripped version of the Tempest/ LeMans. Pontiac named their entry into the econo car market the T-37. Partway through the year it occurred to Pontiac that the Duster 340 was scooping up musclecar guys who would otherwise be unable to afford or insure the typical big block intermediate GTO style musclecar. The GTO had suffered a sales slide due to these factors. Time for a Pontiac version of the Duster 340. The old E.T. concept was revived by adding a ‘G’ in front of the T-37 for an inspired name choice. The GT-37 name resonated with the name GTO and tied into the existing econo platform name. Pontiac announced the new GT-37 on May 15, 1970.

The GT Sport Package, a $198 option to the T-37, automatically added:

  • 1969 GTO Judge-style accent stripes
  • Hood locking pins
  • Dual exhaust with chrome splitters
  • 14 x 6-inch Rally II styled steel wheels
  • GT-37 identification on each front fender and trunk lid
1970 Pontiac GT-37:

In base form, the GT-37 carried almost identical equipment to the Duster, but was no match for the Duster 340 in straight line performance.

Each GT-37 came with the 350-cu.in. engine (L30) as standard equipment. The engine produced 255hp and 355-lbs.ft. of torque, thanks in part to the casting-number 11 heads and a two-barrel carburetor in 1970;

If you wanted more power, three options were available for the 1970 model run, beginning with the two-barrel-carbureted 400-cu.in. plant, also referred to as L65. With number 11 heads, it made 265hp and 397-lbs.ft. of torque. A four-barrel variant, known as L78, made 330hp and 445-lbs.ft. torque with number 16 heads, backed by an automatic transmission, while the L78/manual transmission combo–with number 12 heads–produced 345hp and 430-lbs.ft. of torque. A dual-snorkel air cleaner capped off the option.

GT-37’s received 14 x 6-inch Rally II styled steel wheels as standard equipment. The Rallys were finished in Argent silver and medium Charcoal and featured a red Lucite center cap with black letters; trim rings were a dealer-only accessory item. A full set of Goodyear G70-14 Polyglas GT bias-ply tires were mounted to the wheels. No other wheel options were available in 1970.

Getting the power to the rear wheels was the job of an industry-standard semi-floating rear axle with hypoid gears; the available final drive ratios were 2.56, 2.78, 3.07, 3.08, 3.23, 3.31, 3.55, 3.90 and 4.33:1 depending upon engine/transmission combination and model year. Safe-T-Track limited-slip was also available.

1971 Pontiac GT-37:

in 1971, the 350-cu.in. engine specs were tweaked somewhat, yielding 250hp and 285-lbs.ft. of torque with number 94 heads.

The option chart was expanded for 1971 to include the L75 and LS5 engines, though it should be noted that a change in cylinder-head casting numbers and the testing method used produced different output ratings. Briefly, the aforementioned two-barrel-equipped 400 (L65) still produced 265hp, but now carried number 99 heads and cranked out 400-lbs.ft. of torque. As for the four-barrel 400 (L78), it now had number 96 heads and produced 300hp and 400-lbs.ft. of torque.

The L75 engine previously mentioned was a 455 with a four-barrel carburetor and number 66 heads, which produced 325hp and 455-lbs.ft. of torque, whereas the LS5 was a high-output 455 with number 197 heads, capable of 335hp and 480-lbs.ft. of torque (note that all 1971 output ratings are gross, not net).

A slight redesign to the grilles and nose carried over to the GT-37 of 1971, now part of the Le Mans line due to Pontiac’s decision to nix the Tempest name. The 1971 also used body-color sport mirrors.

The 1971 GT-37 lacked a Pontiac grille emblem or an exterior Le Mans emblem. A mid-year variation was the addition of a full-length body stripe made of reflective foil emblazoned with the GT-37 badge

In addition to the Rally wheels and Goodyear tires that were available in 1970, the 1971 GT-37 were also available with Honeycomb wheels and tire options from BFGoodrich, Firestone and Uniroyal.

Photos:

1970 Pontiac GT-37

1970 Pontiac GT-37

1970 Pontiac GT-37

1970 Pontiac GT-37

1970 Pontiac GT-37

(1971 Pontiac GT-37)

The GT-37 hood pins came with cables that attached to the front of the car through the front grille. Note that the grille doesn’t have the PONTIAC lettering. The T-37 saved money by deleting the identification plate from the grille. Look close and you can see the two mounting holes.

1971 Pontiac GT-37

1971 Pontiac GT-37