Nineteen-seventy is often considered the high-water mark of the muscle car era, but for whom? That was the year General Motors lifted its rule that limited A-body vehicles (Chevelle, Tempest, F-85, Skylark) to 6.6L motors or smaller. Hence, the Chevelle SS had a new 454 and the other three brands had unique 455s. It was a cavalcade of horsepower with cars faster than before . . . except for Pontiac. Strangely, Pontiac installed a relatively mild 455 in the GTO that wasn’t necessarily faster than its Ram Air III and IV 400s. Still, 455 GTOs like this convertible on eBay are very collectible − who can argue with cubic inches?
The new 455 only put out 360 horsepower for the GTO. On paper that was 10 less than the Ram Air IV, which had a 55ci deficit. What was Pontiac’s deal? Why didn’t they take advantage of the increased cubes and performance like every other brand within GM? Likely because Pontiac had planned to introduce the tunnel-port Ram Air V. However, due to a shrinking market, the 1970 recession, and impending government regulations, Pontiac cancelled the RAV. Interestingly, for 1971-72, Pontiac added the RAIV’s round-port heads to the 455 and created the motor that it should have had in 1970. Why was 1971 too little, too late? Because Pontiac lowered the compression of all its motors. A round-port 455 with 10.5:1 compression would have been a fantastic street motor, but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be.
Sales fell drastically for 1970 despite this “high point.” Hence, certain permutations of 1970 GTOs are quite rare, such as this 455 convertible. Only 158 manual tranny 455 ragtops were built (that’s both 3- and 4-speed, with the latter being much more popular), plus another 241 automatics. Seller seems to think that since this Goat was built in Pontiac, it’s worth more (“factory location is a plus in terms of value”) but that’s somewhat laughable. He also thinks that it’s the only red-on-red 455 GTO 4-speed convertible (“his could very well be 1 of 1 in this color combination”) but let’s see some documentation to prove that, right? Clearly a great car that doesn’t need the puffery, and he’s dreaming if he thinks he’ll get $75,000. Sure, the car is largely original, but doesn’t seem to be a survivor, so perhaps some bargaining is called for.