1978 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am
(Featured on 23rd June 2013)
Sellers original description:
Few muscle cars survived the political games and corporate greed that killed cubic inches, high compression and loud options packages forever. In fact, only Pontiac's Trans Am soldiered on as a bright beacon of Detroit's storied past by continuing to offer big power, big attitude and ostentatious looks. Today, that dedication translates into a group of late second generation F-Bodies, cars which dominate a niche all their own, trending on an increasingly upward trajectory. And as a result, the folks that love these cars, enthusiasts who are moving into the collector market by the swathes, will continue to drive prices up for at least the next twenty years. This low mileage 1978 Trans Am is the exact car we get calls about on a regular basis here at RK Motors Charlotte. Not only does it have an interesting mix of options and an outstanding presence, it also features an aesthetically correct appearance and sells at a level that's perfect for the first time buyer. If you're looking for a fun classic that allows you to wade into collecting as opposed to diving off its deep end, opportunity knocks!
Included with the sale of this vintage Firebird is an original build sheet which highlights a substantial list of optional equipment:
AU3: Power door locks
A01: Tinted glass
A31: Power windows
B97: Rear wheel spoilers
C60: Air conditioning
D35: Dual sport mirrors
D55: Floor console
D80: Rear decklid spoiler
D92: Door handle tape stripes
GM8: 2.56 axle ratio
G80: Posi-traction rear end
JL2: Power disc brakes
K15: Fuel return
L78: 400 cubic inch V8 that's complete with a 4-barrel carburetor
M33: 3-speed automatic transmission
NK3: Formula steering wheel
N33: Tilt steering column
N65: Space Saver spare tire
N98: Rally wheels
QBX: GR70x15 black side wall tires
TGA: Completely tinted greenhouse glass
T93: lack tail lamp panel
UN9: Radio suppression package
U76: Windshield antenna
WS4: Trans Am
WS6: Trans Am IV
WW8: Rally gauges
WX3: Shaker hood
19R: Black standard interior
19X: Black interior trim
24L: Martinique Blue lower body
Manufactured at GM's Norwood, Ohio facility
Purchased from Tessier Pontiac-GMC in Southgate, Michigan on July 7th, 1978, this refreshing blue Trans Am sported a mere 39 miles when it fell into the hands of its 19 year old original owner. Ironically named Buyers, that owner had the car titled in his mother's name for the purpose of obtaining an auto loan, despite the dealership's documentation reporting him as the original customer. And apparently the car was bought more for fun than anything else as it racked up roughly 5K miles annually until 1985, when it almost stopped logging miles altogether. Today, a correct coat of Martinique Blue covers every one of the car's panels. And that bright pigment is set off by a traditional array of 'red bird' Trans Am ornamentation and a black and blue screaming chicken hood decal.
Fresh off a significant cosmetic update that was performed for the 1977 model year, the 1978 Trans Am was more about minor visual tweaks and major mechanical upgrades. At the front of the car, a glossy 'batmobile' nose hangs new-for-1978 cross hatch grilles behind a small "PONTIAC" script, a traditional red arrow head and multiple halogen lights that provide the brand's familiar dual grille, quad eye look. Behind those grilles, the car's great looking "6.6 LITRE" branded shaker hood sits in front of pristine Soft Ray tinted glass which is bordered by bright stainless trim, correct sport mirrors and vintage 'red bird' B-pillar emblems. At the sides of that hood, new-for-1978 "TRANS AM" call-outs hang between black-detailed fender vents, small chrome door handles and correct rear wheel spoilers. And at the back of the car, an option D80 decklid spoiler frames a third "TRANS AM" call-out above a correct black valence, clear tail lights and awesome stainless side-splitter exhaust tips.
Pop this Trans Am's bright blue hood and you'll find a stout 400 cubic inch Pontiac V8 that tops out at an even 180 horsepower. That's an impressive number given the high restrictions and low technology of this car's era. Thanks to government mandated emissions standards, performance had almost been legislated out of existence; and that left the Trans Am suffering a bit of an identity crisis. This bird's "YA" stamped L78 combined the largest muscle car engine you could buy with newfound handling prowess to create one of the fastest pony cars on the market. At the top of the smooth engine, a correct Rochester carburetor rides under a familiar shaker scoop. Below that carburetor, original GM corporate blue paint coats the entire block while correct cast iron manifolds send spent gases into a high performance factory exhaust system. All the hard parts around the motor, from the belt driven accessories to the brake booster and air conditioning hanging on the fire wall appear to be factory original. The car's authentic engine bay and hood are covered in a nice coat of GM satin black paint. There's pliable belts, clean hoses and a strong battery. And as expected tags, markings and stamps can be found everywhere the factory left them.
At the bottom of this vintage tin indian you'll find an amalgamation of super solid hardware that's been virtually untouched for almost 35 years. In the middle of the car's solid floors, a correct GM Turbo-Hydramatic 350 3-speed sends power to a familiar GM 10 bolt rear end that's fitted with mild 2.56 gears. Below that stellar powertrain a correct WS4 Trans Am suspension, which includes factory power steering, thicker sway bars, better shocks and stiffer springs, combines with standard issue power front disc and rear drum brakes to provide quick stops and great handling. At the center of that suspension, a correct cross flow dual exhaust system barks out a deep, vintage roar from a transversely mounted muffler. At the corners of that exhaust system, restored aluminum snow flake wheels spin classic gold paint between 'red bird' center caps and modern 225/70 BF Goodrich Radial T/As. And all the car's hardware and bushings, from its leak-free fuel tank to its correctly installed emergency brake cable, appear to be fully sorted and ready to roll.
Open this bird's massive doors and you'll find a standard black interior that feels like the perfect place to see miles of country blacktop. The car's bucket seats are comfortably firm and have probably been re-covered at some point. Below those seats jet black carpet, which is being carefully protected by thick rubber floor mats, displays no tears or unraveling. On top of that carpet, a minimalist console props a large storage bin behind a simple automatic shifter and small chrome buttons for optional power windows. Above those windows, a stain-free headliner is stretched tight from door to door and pillar to pillar. In front of the driver, a correct tilt steering column spins a Formula steering wheel around an engine turned dash, clear Rally Gauges and a retrofitted radio delete. At the sides of the cockpit, scuff-free door panels feature pristine stainless trim, bright chrome handles and small chrome buttons for optional power locks. And behind the passengers, a factory fresh trunk sandwiches a correct Space Saver tire between a thick mat and a correct decklid decal.
Documentation for this cool old cruiser includes the original build sheet outlined above, the car's original manuals and warranty pamphlets, a replica window sticker, and a full Pontiac Historic Services packet.
1977-81 Trans Ams are on a real rocket ride of value right now, and the race is on for correct, documented, low mileage cars. This Martinique Blue example represents a bit of both worlds. Take it to shows or drive it to work when the weather is nice. Either way, you'll get to watch its value climb consistently!