1976 Olds 442/Cutlass S
Like the Laguna, the Olds also sits on the ’73-77 GM A-body platform. Its body-on-frame construction means it’s rock solid, even at almost 40 years old. Its Radial Tuned Suspension (RTS) was also the first one designed by GM on a computer, making it light-years ahead of the ’64-72 A-body. Make sure to search for Cutlass S and 442 models; the normal Cutlass grille is a vertical brick wall, not beautifully beveled like this. Plenty of suspension parts exist for the A-body, virtually any GM engine/trans/rear powertrain configuration will fit, and there is loads of room for a large wheel/tire package (in this case 18- and 19-inch Grip Equipped “Grudge” wheels with 275 and 315 wide rubber). Ben’s mods: Mercedes-Benz Diamond White Metallic paint with silver metallic accents; smoothed, tucked, and painted bumpers; relocated directionals sourced from an ’80s Cutlass; W-30-style hood; ’80s 442 trunk spoiler; ’88-97 GM truck composite headlights.
1976 Pontiac Ventura
The Ventura is one of those cars nobody remembers until they see one on the road, and sometimes not even then. The old-timers will tell you it’s a Ventura, and that as a fourth-gen GM X-body, it will take any engine, front suspension, or brake component from a ’70-81 F-body, and any rearend, rear suspension, or brake hardware for a ’68-74 Nova. If you score a Ventura, you can build it virtually any way you want with an unlimited supply of aftermarket parts. The Ventura pegs the coolness meter because it looks sleek, and yours will be the only one around for hundreds of miles. This one features Lucerne Blue paint from a ’70 Trans Am, satin white graphics, smoothed, tucked, and painted bumpers, recessed grille shells with honeycomb mesh inserts, composite headlights, blacked-out window trim and B-pillar trim, satin silver headlight and grille trim, and 18-inch Wheel Vintiques Pontiac Rally II wheels.
1976 Olds Omega
Never heard of an Olds Omega? They made over 58,000 of them in 1976 alone. It is the Oldsmobile variant of the fourth-gen X-body (Chevy Nova, Olds Omega, Pontiac Ventura, Buick Apollo), and is one of the better looking versions. The same massive fourth-gen Nova aftermarket is available to the Olds (see comments for the Ventura), only the body is more formal looking than the Nova or Ventura. Like the Ventura, you will be guaranteed to be the only one around with one, and you will look good driving one. You could score the Omega in ’76 with 260ci or 350ci Olds V-8s, as well as a 305ci small-block Chevy, but virtually everything else fits, from big-block Chevys and Oldsmobiles, to late-model LSs. Ben painted this one Volvo Vibrant Copper with dark pewter accents, and smoothed, tucked, and painted the bumpers with brushed silver accents. The side windows and B-pillar trim are blacked out, and this Omega rolls on 18-inch Budnik “Force” wheels with dark pewter accents.
“It’s not about what a car came with from the factory, it’s about what you can do with it.”
1976 Pontiac Firebird
When you think of mid-’70s F-bodies, you never think of Camaros, you think of Firebirds. And while Burt Reynolds was the ringleader behind the wheel of a full-chicken-dinner Trans Am, many enthusiasts took a more gentlemanly tact with the Firebird. Nobody epitomized “understated” and “high-class” more than James Garner’s Jim Rockford character, and his trademark Firebird. If Rockford was still working his gumshoe beat today, no doubt he’d be driving a ’76 Firebird very much like this one. You can’t buy a Pontiac anymore, so the only right thing to do is modernize Rockford’s steed with a full DSE suspension and a 620hp “Black Label” LS plant from Mast Motorsports. This one has BMW silver paint with dark red accents, recessed grille shells with honeycomb mesh inserts, a Trans Am spoiler, and 18-inch Foregeline MD3P wheels with titanium powdercoated centers.