1-Of-2: 1979 Pontiac Macho T/A

Various individuals and companies have formed an alliance with a vehicle manufacturer to produce some successful classic cars throughout automotive history. However, far fewer companies undertake the exercise independently and manage to produce something memorable and desirable. One such company was DKM Design and Performance. They breathed new life into late 1970s Pontiac Trans Ams, giving them the performance credentials they deserved and the model name of the Macho T/A. These cars were built in limited numbers with no official support from Pontiac, and unlike many such ventures, the vehicles that rolled out of their workshop continue to increase in value with each passing year. This 1979 Macho is an incredible survivor that is finished in a rare color. It is searching for a new home, so the owner has listed it for sale here on eBay. It is located in La Mesa, California, and the owner has set a BIN of $64,900. There is the option to make an offer if that price is a bit rich for your taste.

The Macho T/A first saw the light of day in 1977, and the company responsible for it continued production until 1980. The 1979 model year saw a mere 96 cars rolling out of the factory. Color choices were vast, and in addition to the 24 combinations of color and trim that were on offer, buyers could choose to hand over an additional $150 to have the combination of their choice. That meant that it was possible to tailor a unique classic without spending a fortune. This car is not a restoration but is a survivor that wears all of its original paint. It is finished in Atlantis Blue, and it is 1-of-2 Macho T/As to wear that shade. The paint shines beautifully, while the stripes and graphics remain clear and crisp. These decals were unique to the Macho T/A and included ones that signified the vehicle’s build number on the front fenders and rear spoiler. The car has managed to remain rust-free, and there is no evidence of any dings or dents. The trim and wheels look as flawless as the rest of the exterior, and the tinted glass shows no evidence of problems.

By the late 1980s, American performance car enthusiasts longed for the days when they could walk into a showroom and drive away in a muscle car with more than 300hp on tap. It would take many years before those figures were reached once again, but some enthusiasts wanted to recapture some of the magic. Enter Dennis and Kyle Mecham from Glendale, Arizona. Their family owned a Pontiac dealership, and the brothers were disenchanted with the asthmatic offerings available at the time. They chose to take matters into their own hands, and as we will see, they used some basic techniques to squeeze lively performance from the Trans Am. None of the work was ground-breaking, but it was carefully and skillfully considered and executed. The factory exhaust manifolds were consigned to the bin, and a set of Hooker headers and a full dual exhaust with a pair of catalytic converters was installed. The advance curve on the standard distributor was altered, the original carburetor was re-jetted and blueprinted, and the largely decorative hood scoop was opened to allow the engine to ingest plenty of fresh, cold air. As I said, none of this was rocket science, but it did awaken the V8 under the Pontiac’s hood. The standard 400ci motor would produce 220hp and send the Trans Am through the ¼ mile in 15.9 seconds. There have never been any official figures released on the Macho, but it could slam-dunk the ¼ in 14.3 seconds. The Mechams sought to create a total package with these cars, so they received shorter front springs, Koni shocks on all corners, and the wheel alignment was set to their specifications, rather than to Pontiac’s. Of course, performing all of this work on a new car brought with it some headaches. For example, they couldn’t be dropped back onto the showroom floor as new cars because they no longer complied with the relevant emission regulations. The answer to this problem was surprisingly simple. The brothers formed a company called DKM Performance and Design. This company purchased the cars from the family dealership, completed the upgrades, and then sold them back to the dealership. Because they were now considered to be used cars, they bypassed those pesky emission laws. This car is an original survivor that features the 400ci V8 and 4-speed manual transmission. It has been meticulously maintained since new, and virtually none of the DKM modifications have been touched. The catalytic converters have made way for sports mufflers, but the original items are included in the sale. Also included is a vast collection of paperwork, including the Build Sheets, Window Sticker, DKM paperwork, and PHS documentation.

The T/A’s interior presents just as impressively as the rest of the car, and apart from the replacement carpet, it remains original and unmolested. For those who desire 100% originality, the factory carpet has been retained and is included in the sale. The rest of the upholstery and trim is faultless, with no evidence of wear, rips, or stains. The plastic hasn’t suffered from UV deterioration, while the dash and pad look factory fresh. The interior also features some rather nice factory optional extras. These include freshly serviced and ice-cold air conditioning, power windows, a tilt wheel, and a clock. One further option that was ordered on this car was the AM/FM/CB stereo. This remains in situ and is in excellent condition. Further enhancing the interior are DKM options that include a Hooker roll bar and a Hurst shifter.

With only 96 cars produced during that model year, the 1979 Macho T/A is a rare bird. These types of vehicles that are modified by outside concerns that receive no manufacturer support generally cost a pretty penny when new, but their values plummet as the years pass. That nearly happened to the Macho, but enthusiasts rediscovered them during the 1990s. By then, many had succumbed to lives lived hard and fast, and the majority of those that remained had been treated to some form of restoration work. To find an example that is not only original but is finished in a rare color is a treat. I’m not about to try to convince you that this is a cheap classic because it is far from it. However, the BIN price is not unprecedented. It is possible to find examples out in the market for around $32,000, but it isn’t uncommon for pristine examples to sell for nearly twice that figure. This one falls into that territory, and I think that when you look at its condition and originality, it does seem to be justified. There are currently 68 people watching the listing. You have to wonder whether one of them will make the first move by making an offer or hitting the BIN button. Of course, you could always beat them to the punch.

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  1. Jcs

    Fantastic job on the research Adam.

    Like 21
  2. T

    Same price as a C8.

    Like 6
  3. Jim

    65K!?!?! The world has gone insane.

    Like 17
  4. Lady Likes It

    I just want to be a macho macho man. Hey hey.. then hang at the YMCA.

    Its nice and light blue paint plus clean with a stick 👍

  5. Danno

    Very nice. Did it come with a Village People cassette?
    Mach-o, macho man…. you’ve got to be, a macho-oh man.

    Like 18
    • Sherminator

      The graphic is the very reason I could never buy the car as that song would get stuck in my head every time I got in.

      Like 6
      • SirRaoulDuke

        It made me think of THE MACHO MAN RANDY SAVAGE. Which I have to type in all caps, to signify saying it loud and gruff as he did lol.

        Like 3
  6. markp

    The snowflake wheels look fantastic with the color of the car.

    Like 14
  7. Barry Johnson

    Excellent article.

    One change is there were 98 Machos made in 1979. I own number #97 and #98 resides in a Utah collection.

    http://www.machoregistry.com tracks the existing Macho cars.

    Like 21
  8. David Bailey

    Cool cars that I only learned about several years ago despite having been in the hobby since early 1970s. A niceoriginal “tuner” car, yet not to the degree of Shelby, SALEEN, , even STEEDA. Still, a great car that seems about $35000 over valued. But that’s just me. If the market supports that price-tremendous. A nice car.

    Like 6
  9. Rob LAW Norman

    Truly drop dead gorgeous , if I were super rich 65 wouldn’t make me blink

    Like 10
  10. Ken Harlan

    I remember installing the Fosgate systems in these. I worked for Honest Johns Car stereo on Camelback in the 70’s.

  11. Todd Zuercher

    The price seems more than a little optimistic but I’ve always had a soft spot for these cars due to their AZ roots. We long-time Arizonans will always associate them, unfortunately, with Dennis and Kyle’s infamous dad.

    Like 4
    • AZVanMan

      I prefer to remember ol’ Evan for what I consider his crowning achievement: Hanging that 65mph speed limit sign up in the land of 55.

      Like 3
      • Todd Zuercher

        And God bless him for that!

        Like 2
  12. Steve

    Rare, and a true piece of Pontiac performance history. As for the price … well, 1979 was a long time ago – 42 years to be exact. Factory paint & unrestored? Ultra, ultra rare. And a stunning color combo to boot. How would one even price it?
    It will bring what the market will bear … but I don’t feel that the price is that much off. Just an amazing timepiece.

    Like 8
    • Steve R

      You are right. The price isn’t far off considering what some people are asking for their factory gold or black 400 4spd special edition Trans Ams. The people complaining the loudest about this cars asking price do so on every other expensive car featured on this site.

      Steve R

      Like 7
      • Ralph

        Hi Steve.
        Some of us comment on cars that are or look to be overpriced.
        That does not mean that we feel every expensive offering is overpriced.
        Why complain about the thoughts of others?
        To some of us the asking prices are just more than we feel the car is worth.
        Not wanting to start something here, just wondering…
        You could not give me this car, but that is just my take. We all are different, thank God.

        Like 5
      • David Bailey

        Steve R, I agree–Kind of. For $65000 one can buy a true performance rarity- A 1974 SD-455 Trans Am-near mint. One of 2? Well, I’m more of numbers guy when a car is -I don’t know- One of 70 Hemi ‘cudas/..Or, One of 500 or so, 1970 Pontiac Judge, RA !V? I’m not disparaging the One of Two, based on color, as I know all collector cars are doing it now. A very fine car for the year, and it IS rare (Under 100 converted)…

        Like 2
  13. JoeNYWF64

    A friend of mine must be very lucky because his ’74 bird with 400 motor & approx 225k miles(speedo was broken for several years) still has the original heater core! No leaks & heater works perfectly.
    Funny i never noticed that mini power brake booster before.
    Not the best place to store the CB mic.
    I wonder if Mecham put a ’78 nose(by request) on any of the ’79s they converted, & if they converted any stripper t/a’s w/o a/c, etc.?
    I guess side roof drip rails are not an option with those roof decals.
    At least it don’t have the oversized bird on the hood.
    Power radio antenna & a backup 1 in the windshield!
    Could Mecham have left off the “Macho” decals if you asked them to?
    I wonder if the Karate Kid had 1 of these – is that really his real last name?

    Like 3
    • Big_Fun Member

      Power antenna is factory issue, the ordering of the CB radio required it. It’s called a “tri-band” antenna. Mast has a special ‘pod’ just for the CB. Windshield antenna deleted.

      Like 3
      • JoeNYWF64

        I’m pretty sure the windshield antenna is there even if you got the separate power antenna. The antenna wires in the windshield are very thin & easy to miss. Also there should be a thick black wire under the dash that would plug into any radio’s antenna port – the wire should be just hanging there, not connected to anything, like on 2nd gen firebirds with NO optional radio at all. I find it hard to believe Pontiac would tool up another windshield withOUT an antenna in it, late in the 2nd gen’s lifespan, just because they added an exterior power antenna option.

        All this needs is the emerg brake pedal chrome dressup which the factory oddly always left off.

        BTW, would not the headers on the Macho reduce low end torque in a low compression non modified motor?

        Why was the 350 pontiac V8 made only thru ’77? Chevy pressure/influence?
        I could see Pontiac getting rid of the 400 due to poor mpg, but why their 350? – they should have turbocharged THAT motor in the ’80-’90s birds! Plus, oddly, all the 49 state 350s & even 400s & 455s Pontiacs were cleaner (& torquier with their longer stroke) motors than the small block Chevy because none needed an air pump even in ’74 w/o a cat converter, while most small blocks did – even earlier than that!
        I can understand how mad people were that wound up with the wrong division’s motor in their later ’70s & ’80s GM cars. But wait – has a NON Chevy V8 motor ever wound up in a CHEVY?

        You really can’t drive this Macho much without destroying its value – especially going over 19,999.9 miles lessens the rareness . This car should have been driven – a lot. & only in good weather. & kept out of the hot sun.

        I’m guessing the heater core was replaced on this Macho because of infrequent coolant changes. Back in ’79, i believe the coolant still had the phosphate in there & needed to be changed VERY often, unlike modern 5yr/150k mile coolant – regardless of mileage.

        The price here is even more insane on this stripper ’76 single exhaust 455 …

        Like 1
      • Big_Fun Member

        ..and I agree with you on the Pontiac 350. In fact, I believe it was a 355 , marketed as a 350! Had several, and they were terrific. Maybe *too* terrific.

    • Big_Fun Member

      Now you have me thinking about that windshield antenna. I friend ordered an ’80 Z28 with a power antenna an an AM radio. He added a Pioneer Supertuner (silver with digital readout) right after he got it. Years later , he upgraded to an Alpine and I had the chance to buy that Supertuner. I need to ask him if the lines were in the windshield. I know he did add a switch to make power antenna semi automatic.

  14. Doug

    I lived in an apartment in Glendale behind that dealership in 1979 while going to school at Arizona Automotive Institute. Used to walk by the Macho T/A’s going to school telling myself I was going to buy one when I graduated and started making the “big bucks”. That time was long gone by the time I was making enough to afford something like that… Brings back memories though!

    Like 4
  15. Don Eladio

    This is the ultimate Firebird, save for the ’72-’73 Formula with a 455 HO or SD, respectively, and a 4-speed…and I am not a Firebird guy. Well worth the money, if you can afford it.

    Like 1
  16. Mike Freeman

    Judging by the other posts this isn’t going to be a popular opinion but a 79 TA with two-tone paint, a/m stripes, a tune-up and headers just isn’t worth 65k. You also have to consider it doesn’t have the “better” engine they saved for the anniversary cars and has, at best, the more base 400 or the Olds 403. While I really like T/A’s & this one is obviously a nice car 30-35k would kill it on price.

    Like 2
    • Mr.BZ

      Way too logical there, Mike!

  17. Big_Fun Member

    This has the “better” Pontiac 400, the W72, as it was only paired with the 4 speed.

    Like 6
  18. sassak@comcast.net

    I that Macho T/A’s had whale tail rear spoilers. ?

  19. md

    Like Big Fun said, all / only 400 manual cars came with the W72, anniversary played no role.

    Like 3
  20. Popawfox

    Sure wish my 78 TA still looked as nice as this one!


    i have macho one…no numbers on the first three !

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