Pontiac Astre1972 - 1977
The Pontiac Astre is a subcompact automobile that was produced by the Pontiac division of General Motors. A rebadged variant of theChevrolet Vega, it was introduced in Canada for the 1973 model year and sold there exclusively through 1974. It debuted in the U.S. for the 1975 model year, competing with other domestic and foreign subcompacts that included the Mercury Bobcat and Toyota Corolla.
Built on the H-body platform, the car was available in hatchback, notchback, wagon, and panel delivery body styles. It shared the Vega's aluminum-block 2.3 liter inline-four engine through 1976, while the final 1977 models used Pontiac's all-iron 2.5 liter inline-four engine.
The Astre was cancelled with the Vega at the end of the 1977 model year. In the 1978 model year, the discontinued Astre/Vega hatchback and wagon body styles were added to the Pontiac Sunbird line.
The Astre features Pontiac's trademark split grill, emblems and steering wheel with an upgraded interior trim to help differentiate itself from the Chevrolet Vega. Other styling differences compared to the Vega include — 1973 model Astres have a black-finish grill and clear parking lamp lenses on all models, and chrome headlight bezels on non-GTs. 1974-1977 models have first generation Firebird-styled taillights on the Notchback and Hatchback.
The Hatchback Coupe featured a lower roofline and a fold-down rear seat. The NotchbackSedan had the lowest price and is the only Vega model with an enclosed trunk. The SafariWagon has fixed rear-side glass and a swing-up liftgate. A Panel delivery based on the wagon was sold through the 1975 model year. It has steel panels in place of the rear-side glass, and an additional enclosed storage area. An auxiliary front passenger seat was optional.
The SJ Hatchback and SJ Safari Wagon models feature soft nylon upholstery, cut pile carpeting, padded and cloth covered door panels, and a fabric headliner, plus rally instruments, the higher-output two barrel engine, four-speed or automatic (over a three-speed manual) gearbox and radial tires. A GT package option for the hatchback and Safari wagon combined the lower-line interior with the SJ's performance and handling features.
The 1974 model year brought the only major body design changes, due to revised front and rear 5 mph (8.0 km/h) bumper standards-A slanted header panel with a new split grill and recessed headlamp bezels complement the larger, front 5 mph aluminum bumper. Front and rear license plate brackets were relocated and a larger rear 5 mph aluminum bumper was used increasing the overall length three inches compared to the 1973 models. A revised rear panel on notchback and hatchback models had new Firebird-styled taillights and ventilation extractor grills were eliminated on trunk and hatch lids.
The 1975 Astre, introduced in the United States September 1974, gave U.S. Pontiac dealers a needed fuel efficient subcompact. A budget "S" series was added during 1975. More than 267 changes were made including new High-energy electronic ignition system and a catalytic converter. Power brakes and a tilt steering wheel were new options. The Astre Panel delivery was discontinued the end of the model year.
A unique Astre package was offered in 1975. Dubbed the 'Lil Wide Track, it was the creation of Jerry Juska of Dymar to help with lackluster Astre sales. Juska took his ideas to Dave Landrith of Motortown Corporation specializing in custom auto work. The package includes a front air dam, rear spoiler, appliance wire mag rims, window louvers, a chrome exhaust tip, and bright stripe decals for the hood, body sides, rear spoiler, door handles, and wheel centers. They assembled a couple of cars in Jan. and Feb. 1975 and took pictures to local Detroit dealers where the package gained acceptance. It added a little over $400 to the price of the Astre but dealers felt the difference in looks was worth the price. Production was later switched from an old warehouse in suburban Detroit to a factory beside theLordstown Assembly Vega/Astre plant. An estimated 3,000 Lil Wide Track Astres were ordered by dealerships. The package components were later offered as a dealer installed kit.
Astres were confined to a single series for 1976, but they were refined with extensive engine, chassis, and body integrity improvements. A modest facelift included a revised grill. The 2.3 L engine, named Dura-built 140, received improved cooling and durability refinements, and a five years/60,000 mile warranty. The chassis received the new Pontiac Sunbird's upgraded components including the box-section front cross-member, larger rear brakes and torque-arm rear suspension, replacing the four-link design, and effectively eliminating wheel-hop on rough roads. The body received extensive anti-rust improvements.
The last-of-the-line 1977s were treated to Pontiac's new 151 cu in "Iron Duke" inline-four engine. Both the cylinder block and cylinder head are cast-iron. Standard in the Astre and Sunbird, they were the first GM vehicles to utilize the engine which was widely used into the 1990s. 1977 Astre models also featured a new vertical design grill and aluminum wheels (13-inch) were a new option. The "Formula" option was also introduced for the Astre's final year, which included the handling package, chrome valve cover, three-piece spoiler, Formula T/A steering wheel and special decals.
|1975 Pontiac Astre|
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