V8-Wielding 1975 Pontiac Astre Is Obscure No More, Packs Bonus Camaro Parts

As the custom car scene is bursting with the retro icons we all know and love, there seems to be a growing number of enthusiasts who go for the underdogs when starting a build. Case in point with the 1975 Pontiac Astre, a car that very few people remember today, not that too many knew about it to start with. However, with this restomodded example now packing a V8—that’s twice the number of cylinders it had when it left the factory—it can certainly draw attention.

Before we get up close and personal with this Bomber Blue-dressed Poncho, we’ll take a bit of time to see what the Astre name is all about.

You see, normally when thinking of an underdog from that era that people love to better nowadays, enthusiasts choose between models such as the Ford Mustang II or the Chevrolet Monza. Now, the latter is basically a Vega that’s been reworked for extra cool points and their Pontiac equivalents are the somewhat sportier Sunbird and the basic… Astre.

The main in-brand difference between these H-Body subcompacts was that the entry models came with four-pots, which, given the emission constraints of the era (more on this below), would often produce double-digit outputs. As for the more elevated brothers, these received V8 hearts, albeit subjected to the same limitations.

The Malaise Era caught America automakers on the wrong foot and they took their time with sorting things out

All these cars were part of GM’s early Malaise Era efforts. Generally regarded as the decade between 1973 and 1983 and marked by two oil crises and booming insurance prices, that was a difficult time for American carmakers. The companies had to abandon their gas-guzzling, generously-sized rides in favor of more economical machines, just like the ones that were pouring in from Japan and Europe.

Alas, Chrysler, Ford, and GM didn’t exactly do a good job and, to make a long story short, one could argue that it took Detroit’s Big Three until the 2000s to deliver a constant stream of cars that could no longer be criticized over performance and reliability in the way their early Malaise siblings were.

Now, back to the Pontiac Astre, this made its way into the world via Canada (1973-1974), while entering America for the 1975 model year seen here.

We’re dealing with a sloping roofline coupe that sends its power to the rear and packs classic lines, so there are plenty of reasons to root for this underdog. of course, that’s especially facile when planning a vast number of upgrades that can do away with its serious performance and maintenance shortcomings of the original.

This was supposed to be a Chevy Vega

As Kevin, the builder of the Astre explains in the Summit Racing-delivered video below, he was initially seeking out the more popular Chevy Vega. However, when realizing that the less known Pontiac version would allow the project to stand out even more, he switched to the Astre.

The man explains that most Astre projects he had seen are drag strip heroes, which is understandable given the light nature of the vehicle and its design, which is pleasing, but not as impressive as that of the era’s muscle cars that instantly shine on the street.

He bought the car back in 2012, coming across an example that appears to have been in good condition—this is portrayed in the first two images below. And, after a few years on the bench, the car finally got the attention it deserved, with Kevin’s son Matthew also helping.

Motivation now comes from a Chevy 350 ci (5.7L) that’s been fitted with a fair amount of performance upgrades, albeit without the project being taken to extremes.

The unit is mated to a Turbo 350 three-speed automatic, which sends the power to the rear wheels via a Ford 9-inch rear end with 3.50 gears.

A collection of GM parts

Once again, this build seems to keep things reasonable as far as costs are concerned, which only makes it more relatable! So while it still appears to feature drum rear brakes as it did back in the day, the vehicle was completely overhauled.

And, in his quest, Kevin found out how GM used to shuffle parts between divisions back in the day and decided to do a bit of bin digging himself. That’s why you’ll find multiple second-gen Camaro bits and even some ’74 Nova body and interior pieces on this Pontiac.

Burnouts? Sure, the first clip below has one. Nevertheless, if you wish to know more about the Malaise Era we discussed above, Donut Media just happened to release a video on the matter today, so we’ve also included this.



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