We resume coverage of Stutz today, starting in the mid-70s. With the reborn brand’s personal luxury item, the Blackhawk, attracting the rich and famous across the country, Stutz tries to keep the car fresh by checking out modifications every two years. In addition to the marketing appeal of the next-generation Blackhawk, management was able to cut costs: the split windshield became a one-piece, and the custom doors were replaced by Pontiac Grand Prix doors.
Meanwhile, the price of the Black Hawk continued to rise and doubled by the end of its first decade.it is from afar The most expensive American car on sale. We’re back in 1977, when Stutz continued to modify the Blackhawk after a unique convertible called d’Italia was scrapped.
The Blackhawk entered its fifth generation form in 1977. With minor visual revisions, the Blackhawk will see another three model years before a major makeover.Note that due to interesting Stutz started adding “VI” badges to the Blackhawk as early as 1975, following the way Stutz cars are labelled. The badge remained until 1979.
These badges are located on the door panels next to the golden Black Eagle text and are one of the only ways to distinguish later Black Eagles from their predecessors. Other interior materials have only changed slightly, such as an updated gear lever and a modernized Cadillac dual-zone climate control system.
Outside, a small VI badge appears on the grille, although it looks like a square from any distance. The stock wire wheel has a slightly changed design, with a deeper disc style instead of the flat threads of the early races. Model years after circa 1973, the changes are small and mixed, so it’s hard to tell the years apart without looking closely.
As mentioned last time, it looks like the Blackhawk is assembling all trims this week at the body shop in Turin, Italy. Few cares if it matches the current “next generation” Blackhawk.
A notable change for 1977 was an overhaul of the engine lineup, as emissions regulations in the late ’70s suppressed power and slowly killed the big V8. The entry-level Black Hawk engine in 1977 was Ford’s 302-cubic-inch (4.9-liter) Windsor V8, used in products like the Ford Turin and Explorer from 1966 to 2001. Next in displacement is the Pontiac 350 V8 (5.7 liters), taken from the contemporary Grand Prix. Ford also gave Stutz a 351 Windsor (5.8 L), not to be confused with Ford’s 351 Cleveland V8.
Growing to 400 cubic inches, the Blackhawk can be used with Trans Am’s Pontiac T/A 6.6. Two more 400-plus engines joined the line in 1977, its larger 425 Cadillac V8 (7.0 liters) for large sedans and Ford’s huge 460 V8 (7.5 liters) used in E-Series wagons between 1975 and 1996.
Back then, the Black Hawk was a mix-and-match: a platform from the late ’60s, GM interior materials from the ’60s and ’70s, and a Malay-era engine. But that’s coming to an end soon. Between 1977 and 1980, private luxury coupes (and North American cars in general) were drastically downsized, and Stutz could no longer produce the 1969 G-body Blackhawk.
As mentioned, Stutz hired renowned designer Paolo Martin in 1976 to paint a new, more modern version of the Black Hawk. It has less overhang and overall cleaner, straighter proportions. The company is sticking with these sketches, fully aware that the end of the original Black Hawk is nearing its end. Its last G-body release was in 1979, but it launched a new model on a dead platform before Stutz’s puzzling decision.
Indeed, the idea of a Stutz convertible continued to permeate after the failed cancellation in Italy. Backstage work continues after selling the topless roadster to Evel Knievel.New safety regulations require convertibles to have roll bars, says company founder James O’Donnell persist in The designers at Stutz realized this.
So, in 1979, Stutz added a second vehicle to the lineup, the Bearcat. It’s a resurrection of the sports car nameplate from the company’s early life. After 1933, in the days of the DV-32 engine before the company’s first bankruptcy, no one bought a new Bearcat.
Essentially, the Bearcat is d’Italia, but modified to comply with rolling rules. Although it is considered a different model from the Black Hawk, it has the exact same body except for the roof. As shown in the only public relations photo of a 1979 Bearcat on the internet, the Blackhawk’s roof was replaced by a thin strip of Targa, wrapped in canvas and emblazoned with Bearcat lettering. The rest of the roof folds behind the rear seats and is covered by a snap-on tonneau.
There is no further information on the number of Bearcats in 1979, but presumably the demand for a panda that year was $100,000 ($423,292 adjusted), the same as d’Italia. Undoubtedly, only a small portion will be produced, as Stutz prepares to bring its two bread and butter products to a new platform. Time is on Pontiac’s sidebar.
Downsizing in the late ’70s hit the Grand Prix hard, as the 1978 individual luxury coupe moved to the smaller A-body platform. The platform was later renamed G (new) from 1982 because GM liked to confuse people with its platform. . The new 108-inch wheelbase for the 1978 Grand Prix was a far cry from the 118-inch Stutz was accustomed to.
As a result, Stutz had to increase the size and opt for a B-body. Beginning in 1980, the Blackhawk was based on the Pontiac Bonneville. Bonneville entered its sixth generation in 1977, when GM launched a full-size downsizing program with great success. The B-body Bonneville has a wheelbase of 116 inches, not far from the Grand Prix chassis used by Italian craftsmen since 1971.
The Blackhawk’s new look must be shorter, as the nearly 228-inch body gives way to a 214-inch body closer to Bonneville. In 1977, Bonneville had an overall width of 76.4 inches. No measurements for the 1980 Blackhawk have been released, so we’ll have to rely on Bonneville’s measurements to get the general idea. The B-body platform is a good replacement for the late Grand Prix G.
With its new platform, the Blackhawk was forced to become more formal. Just look at the Grand Prix in the late ’60s and the two-door Bonneville in 1977 to see why. Straight and boxy, the Bonneville feels more like a two-door sedan than a sportier, more relaxed fastback or hardtop. The glass is straighter in every direction, and the roof cuts sharply toward the tree trunk.
There’s nothing the Stutz people can do from this starting point. The Blackhawk retains its former glory as much as possible, but the changes brought about by the modern platform are palpable. Virgil Exner died back in 1973, so there was no guidance from the coupe’s creator either. We’ll come back to this topic next time and take a look at the styling, interior and mechanics of the new Blackhawk.
[Images: Stutz, YouTube, GM]
Become a TTAC insider.Be the first to get the latest TTAC news, features, shots and all the truth about cars Subscribe to our communication.