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22 August 2019

The only factory-built overhead cam Pontiac V8 can be yours right now!

By Iain KellyIain Kelly

America is known for its love affair with simple pushrod V8s but, long before Ford brought out the Modular V8 in the 1990s, US auto manufacturers were experimenting with overhead-cam V8s.

Pontiac were the first to sell an OHC motor to the public with their Sprint 6 in-line six-pot available in Firebirds and A-body (Tempest, GTO, Le Mans) platforms, as General Motors' high-performance division. A couple of years before this, when Pontiac's Super Duty Catalinas and Tempests were ruling drag strips and NASCAR ovals, their chief engineer Mac McKellar had started development on a range of innovative engines, including a DOHC V8, a three-valve SOHC V8, and a two-valve SOHC V8 wearing three Rochester two-barrel carburettors.

All were over 421ci and featured some interesting engineering, like a rear-mount timing belt on the three-valve motor. After these projects were scrapped due to cost and the fact Pontiac had no problems selling their cheaper-to-make pushrod V8s, McKellar actually fitted the 421ci SOHC V8 to his 1963 Pontiac Grand Prix daily driver, and used it for many years. This motor has now been listed on Craigslist in Detroit at a cool $US250,000 ($368,500). Tin Indian fans will note the motor shares a garage with an exceptionally rare Ram Air IV 1969 Pontiac Trans-Am, too! It is a these engines weren't developed to their potential, as Ford showed how effective an OHC big-inch V8 could be just a few years later.

In the late 60s the Blue Oval unveiled their fearsome “Cammer” 427 cubic-inch big-block V8. It was headed for stock car racing, but was banned from NASCAR before it ever fired a shot. While the Cammer went on to rack up some impressive drag strip results Chrysler started developing a DOHC-per-bank  426ci Hemi, though it never progressed past one engine pull on the dyno.

Check out the listing for the one-of-one Pontiac V8 here.