The Best Pontiac Headsby Christopher Phillip
Heads create power, so it's important to know the best ones for your Pontiac. Though most Pontiac heads share basic characteristics with each other, knowing which are the best may still be confusing because Pontiac's head foundry only produced each specific head casting for one or two years. With this list, you'll see the best Pontiac heads of all time and what characteristics allow them to make the list.
D-Port heads are the most popular Pontiac heads. They were put in over 95 percent of Pontiac V-8s from 1959-1979, with the most popular of these manufactured for model years 1967-1976. They're called D-ports because of the "D" shape of the exhaust ports, which is the part of the head that connects to the exhaust manifold or header. These heads are divided into small-valve heads (1.96-inch intake and 1.66-inch exhaust or 1.96-inch intake and 1.77-inch exhaust) and big-valve heads (2.11-inch intake and 1.77-inch or 2.11-inch intake and 1.77-inch exhaust). (The valve sizes are for model years 1967-1976.) As a standard rule, big-valve heads were put on the high-horsepower Pontiacs, and small-valve heads were put on low-horsepower Pontiacs. Always go with the big-valve Pontiac heads because they are the ones that create the most horsepower. Here is a list of the top 5: - No. 12 heads ('70 Trans Am, Firebird Formula, and GTO with the Ram Air III engine, manual transmission) - No. 13 heads ('70 Trans Am, Firebird Formula, and GTO with the Ram Air III engine, automatic transmission) - No. 16 heads ('68 Firebird 400, GTO, Grand Prix, Bonneville, Catalina) - No. 48 heads ('69 Firebird 400 and 350HO, GTO, Grand Prix, Bonneville, Catalina) - No. 6X heads ('76 Pontiacs with the 455 engine)
Round-port heads came on the highest-horsepower Pontiacs in 1968, 1969 and 1971-1974. They are much rarer than Pontiac's D-port heads because they were produced in limited quantities. They're called round-ports because of the round shape of the exhaust ports, which is the part of the head that connects to the exhaust manifold or header. All Pontiac round port heads are big valve heads with 2.11-inch intake and 1.77-inch exhaust valves. Here are the top 5: - No. 722 heads ('69 Ram Air IV Firebirds, Trans Ams, and GTOs) - No. 614 heads ('70 Ram Air IV Trans Ams and GTOs) - No. 197 heads ('71 455 HO Firebird Formulas, Trans Ams and GTOs) - No. 7F6 heads ('71 455 HO Firebird Formulas, Trans Ams and GTOs) - No. 16 heads ('73 and '74 Firebird Formula and Trans Am SD-455s)
Private manufacturers offer heads that will bolt onto your Pontiac V-8 block. These heads are designed primarily for race use and offer even higher performance than any factory Pontiac heads. Here are the top 3: - DCI/Allpontiac.com Tiger aluminum head - Kauffman Racing High Port aluminum head - Edelbrock aluminum head
Christopher R. Phillip is the senior associate editor for Source Interlink Media. He has 21 years of professional writing experience, with an emphasis in the areas of music, arts and culture, as well as automotive history, motorsports and current trends in the automotive aftermarket field.