16k Original Miles: 1979 Pontiac Trans Am

It is very easy to take a classic car with high-mileage and tidy it up and make it look like an original survivor. However, it is when you begin to delve below the surface that the real story becomes apparent. If you look closely at this 1979 Pontiac Trans Am, its condition would seem to support the owner’s claim that it has a genuine 16,000 miles on its odometer. The owner describes it as a mint survivor, and as you will see, this is a description that seems to be appropriate. Located in Defiance, Ohio, you will find the Pontiac listed for sale here on eBay. The BIN has been set at $28,750, but there is the option to make an offer.

I have long admitted a soft spot for the 2nd Generation Trans Am. It is not something that I can easily define, but I simply find the styling seems to have the edge over the equivalent Camaro. This one is finished in Code 50 Gold, and it looks stunning. The paint shines beautifully, with no visible flaws, chips, or scratches. The panels are dead straight, and there is no evidence of any of the rust issues that can plague these classics. The graphics show no signs of cracking or fading, and the trim is in excellent condition. The tinted glass is as flawless as the rest of the exterior, while the original Rally wheels show no signs of discoloring or damage.

Making the outside of an older classic car present perfectly is an easy task, but the underside will generally tell a more accurate story about the vehicle’s life. In this case, the floors, frame, and suspension all look incredible. There isn’t a spot of corrosion to be seen anywhere, and there are no signs of any fluid leaks. If you are looking for somewhere to eat your lunch, off these floors would not be a bad option. The lack of any chipping or road rash makes the owner’s claim that the Trans Am has covered a genuine 16,000 miles seem to be plausible. Either that or this is one of the nicest restorations that you are ever likely to see. I would be leaning towards the first option with this car, especially given that the Pontiac has spent its life in climate-controlled storage when it isn’t on the road.

If there is a single aspect of this Trans Am that disappoints me, it is the fact that it comes equipped with the 403ci Oldsmobile V8. Where the venerable Pontiac 400 will produce 220hp, the 403 is pegged at 185hp. I mean, can’t we all use a little more power? With this engine onboard, it means that the car comes equipped with a TH-350 automatic transmission. Also included in this package are a 2.73 Posi rear end, power steering, and power brakes. This combination should be sufficient to propel the vehicle through the ¼ mile in 16.6 seconds. I’m a bit surprised by the amount of dust accumulated in the engine bay, but detailing this area will give the buyer something to do when they take it home. The claim of 16,000 genuine miles is conceivable, although there is no indication of whether there is evidence to back this. The owner says that the Trans Am starts and runs as well as it did when it was new.

Finding anything about the interior to fault is as tricky as every other aspect of the car. It is upholstered in Black vinyl, and apart from some minor wrinkling on the outer edges of the front seats, the upholstery is perfect. The door on the glove compartment looks slightly discolored, although this could also be a trick of the light. The machine-turned dash is spotlessly clean, and there is no evidence of fading or wear on the carpet. Apart from the regular Trans Am appointments, this classic comes equipped with air conditioning and its original AM/FM radio/cassette player.

Words can’t express how much I would love to park this 1979 Pontiac Trans Am in my driveway. Its overall condition is impressive and would seem to support the mileage claims. It isn’t the cheapest example on the market today, but it is a long way short of being the most expensive. However, if its claims can be supported, then the price would seem to be extremely competitive. If you would like to own one of the nicest 2nd Generation Trans Ams on the market today, this is one that is worth serious consideration.


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  1. Moparman Member

    Very nice, well kept!! GLWTA!! :-)

    Like 5
  2. jwzg

    It actually appears to be a 2.41 axle, which may give abysmal standing-start performance but interstellar top speed (not with a measly 185 hp, though). Not even sure why you’d need the G80 option, as this thing probably couldn’t spin the tires on greased ice even with 320 lb-ft.

    Like 1
    • Houseofhotrods

      Not sure about the Olds motors, but my ‘75 T/A with its transplanted ‘78 400 had the same gear ratio and posi. With BFG Radial T/A 295/50-15’s on 10” wheels out back it would smoke ‘em for half a block if you wanted, and on the freeway would bury the speedo – not once or twice or just in the rain but all day long. I railed on that car for 3 years – over that time killing the OG 400, two transmissions, and a few sets of tires and brakes. It also auto crossed very well! Trading it off was likely one of the dumbest things I’ve done.

      Like 5
    • DVSCapri

      Back in ’85 at the ripe old age of 21, I bought a very similar ’79 T/A – mine was Silver w/Black cloth interior… 403/T350/2:41/posi. Car was a real snail off the line!! Decent gas mileage though… As someone else has attested to, it would spin the tires pretty easily!! Mine was referred to by more than a few people as “Cookie Monster” – I had the undisputed record at the time for consecutive “Cookies” or “Doughnuts” changing rotational direction every third revolution (if I recall – it was somewhere in the 30’s)… others may have had nice long smoky ribbons to lay down, but mine would do them endlessly! It also was known to fly at times… 185′ distance @ approx. 8′ off the ground – nobody else we hung out with had the balls to try that one (my co-pilot never did it again either!).

      Like 1
    • Blake Green

      Yep. Good restoration. B pillar decals too small and too high. I have original brosures and ads to prove this observation. Regardless, wouldn’t kick it out of my garage. Just one of my Jr high school dream cars out of many. Good colors

      Like 6
  3. Robbie M.

    Reminds me of my 79 except the colors were reversed. Miss that car. :(

  4. David Miraglia

    Back in the 1970’s I was never a fan of the Screaming Chicken, always put my Mustangs ahead of Camaros and Fire birds of this time period. Too flashy and loud for my tastes. But to each his or her own and preferences.

    Like 1
    • Ted M

      A high school classmate had one just like this one! Drove it to & from law school, 100 miles a day! Good looking. blonde, wonder how many speeding tickets she talked herself out of!😃

  5. Vin_in_NJ

    Small bird decal behind the windows look to be placed too high.
    It’s little details like that which raise suspicion of originality

    Like 5
    • Kiley

      You’re right that it looks a bit sus. But a quick Google search shows others with the bird that high, the bid both larger, and lower, and the bird absent; even with the hood bird.

      I don’t think every one of them had the bird on the sail panel. I had a 79 and an 84. Both had the hood bird, but not the sail panel bird. I added it on my 84… and I’m sure I probably placed it wrong. So the owner may have put it on himself, or, based on Google, some seem to just be that high.

      Like 1
    • Jcs

      Agreed Vin_in_NJ

      Significant oversight.

      Like 2
    • Patrick Farmer

      You are correct. Also, the air cleaner looks to glossy, the paint to thick. The Rally II wheels are painted to dark for standard Rally II and shouldn’t they be body color in 1979?

      This car is really super clean. The decals could have been a factory error. The little decal on the nose looks it’s age. The rear spoiler has a fitment error, which is normal for these cars. The car looks complete. factory complete. Most of these cars that are for sale these days have T/A 6.6 on the shaker scoop and the engine is a Blowsmobile 403, so this one is not trying to lie about this or the WS4 suspension which gets you the Rally II wheels. The fact that they are black instead of battleship puke gray, well the car is 41 years old. Somebody couldn’t live with the body color coded wheel paint.

      • John Oliveri

        I gotta remember that Blowsmobile , that’s good, real good

      • John Oliveri

        If you were a woman I’d tell you I love you, that was so well said, you hit it on the nose, the funny thing here with these Johnny Racers is, they don’t know any better, it’s what they had, and they swore it was great, take him for a ride in a nice 421, or 428 Pontiac then let him go home and burn his Oldsmobile Trans Am,or Piss on his memories, I have a 73 Grand Prix w a 455, and it’s not fast, but a lot more power than that horrible 403, so that’s it

  6. Steve

    Not buying the story as presented … sorry. Wrong catalytic converter … etc.
    Just several things on the undercarriage don’t make sense. There’s a story here I’m sure … but something is just not right as presented. My opinion, of course.

    Like 3
  7. Bill McCoskey

    My best friend bought a new ’79 Trans-am, and I did some specialty exhaust changes to it when fairly new. I don’t remember any Firebird body underside painted gloss black. His was most certainly not glossy.

    Based on these photos, I’m thinking this is a very nice restoration, with 16k miles since it’s finished.

    Like 1
    • Blake Green

      Yep. Good restoration. B pillar decals too small and too high. I have original brosures and ads to prove this observation. Regardless, wouldn’t kick it out of my garage. Just one of my Jr high school dream cars out of many. Good colors

      Like 1
      • Johnny

        someone posted a link to google images and there are quite a few gold ’79’s with small birds on the b pillar and up high too.

  8. JoeNYWF64

    Note sure about Ohio emissions testing, if any, but why would someone spend money on a new aftermkt single exhaust & aftermkt cat converter?
    & clean the underside to the point that it might look dirty underneath after several long drives on dry days.
    The hood bird(flash) was always optional on these cars.

  9. 370zpp 370zpp Member

    I am not even a fan of these, but here, I don’t give a damn if the stripes are not exactly where they should be.
    Just slide a motor with some real horsepower into this beauty and enjoy it for the next 20 years.

    Like 3
    • Stan Marks

      Absolutely, 370.

      Like 1
  10. John Oliveri

    Well it’s an Oldsmobile powered Trans Am w no power and no power windows, or doors, that cassette deck you mentioned is an 8 track, and really nothing special here, 79 was a tough year, if you wanted automatic you got that anchor 403, I looked at them when new, wouldn’t go for the Oldsmobile motor, would’ve been the laughing stock, bought the 2 tone blue Grand Prix next to the bandit car, at least it had a Pontiac 301 anchor, it weighed less, only kidding about the weight, it was a nice cruiser, nothing was fast in 79

    • Josh

      I think you could get the 301 in ’79 as a no-cost option, so that was a choice besides the 403. And the 301 was the only way to get a 4-speed in ’79 unless you were lucky enough to score one of the limited 400s made.

    • Steve

      And most importantly … the car was not equipped with the WS6 suspension package …. and it says it was a “customer ordered” car … not a dealer spec’d car.
      It’s nice … but definitely a restoration.
      Another observation … I ordered and bought one of these cars new in 1979. Mine had the 403 Olds motor as well … and from the factory, the engine oil pan was NOT PAINTED. Never understood that … and I did see others back in the day that came the same way. Mine had “L” as the 7th digit of the VIN … meaning Van Nuys, CA manufactured, vs. a Norwood Ohio built car (N as the 7th digit). No idea if that was a difference in oil pan painted or not. Just an observation.

  11. Dex

    Always enjoy the whining from so many when there’s a TA equipped with the 403 Olds. For some, myself included, not every vehicle I own needs to be a high HP tire-torching quarter mile beast. I have some vehicles that are fantastic highway cruisers, even with the “boat anchor” under the hood! I have an idea for those 403 haters….don’t buy one and you’ll have nothing to complain about! See, no more tears!

    Like 13
    • John Oliveri

      Trust me, the 400 was no tire scorcher in 79, granted it was faster than that boat anchor 403, but the reason why people hate that motor, and prefer the Pontiac 400 is, it’s a Pontiac, pure and simple, there was a lot of pride in individual GM products, and fierce brand competition, I did buy a 83 Riviera brand new, with the 307 Oldsmobile anchor in that vehicle, horrible, it there was no competition in an 80s Riviera, just another miserable underpowered reason why there’s Toyota’s everywhere today

      Like 4
      • Stan Marks

        John, re:Toyota, it’s not as simple as that.

        During the modern era of cars(’50s-today), when we were little tykes, the American car manufacturers produced one big boat after another, sporting big V8s. We loved our comfort & styling. Of course, gas prices were super cheap. Face it, we were spoiled. Or our parents were.I was paying around 32 cents/gal. to run my ’65 GTO.

        Honda made its debut in the U.S. market in 1969 with the Honda 600, a small hatchback that doesn’t look anything like the Honda Civic of today.

        In 1957,Toyota Motor Sales was established in a former Rambler dealership in Hollywood. It was the “Toyopet Crown”. Long story short, it didn’t go over very well. It wasn’t suited to the U.S. market. But this was the beginning of Toyota’s entry to the U.S. There was a stigma to the Toyota name. Toy & Pet. Not exactly considered macho.

        Admit it. Back in the day, we looked down, or should I say, we snubbed our collective noses, at Japanese imports.

        Jump to the mid 70s. Oil prices went through the roof & so did gas prices. Diesel was still less expensive. But how many were on the road? Living in L.A., at the time, gas stations were rationing their fuel. Cars were lining up like there was no tomorrow. Then, we had odd/even days, depending what the last number was on your license plate.
        Who wanted to drive a gas guzzler & spend huge amounts of money, to fill your 15-20 gal. tank?
        As years went by, Japanese cars became a better quality machine. While U.S. cars lasted a short period, by comparison.The stigma of owning a Japanese vehicle, is long gone. Last Dec., I traded in my 2000 Honda Accord EX 6cyl. cpe with 136K miles. It still looked & drove like new.
        Why did I sell it? After 20 years, I simply wanted a newer car. It’s like being with your wife, for years & deciding to trade her in for a newer model. LOL!!!!

        Like 1
    • Patrick Farmer

      I did not buy one, thank you, and I never will. This doesn’t change the fact that the 403 is an abomination. It is this fragile, open web, glass block, that you cannot make over 325 HP. It is absolute crap. Pontiac built what America wanted to buy when the Trans Am was introduced. It was not a quarter mile design. That job went to the GTO, the Chevelle. Pontiac paid the SCCA royalties for each Trans Am sold. It is true that they wanted it to be aggressive not passive at a stoplight. It is still a road race car that did great in the quarter mile. The GM acceleration hierarchy back then was this. 1. Corvette, 2. Firebird Trans Am, GTO 3. Chevrolet Camaro Z28. Chevrolet was pissed off at this, because it eventually led to the removal of the big block from the Camaro after 1972 model year. The Pontiac 400 and the 455 are very strong running engines, that did not need more than the standard intake, cam, headers, carb tuning or replacement aftermarket carb and true dual exhaust to turn them into real screamers. The Corvette, Trans Am and Z28 are high performance vehicles that require the use of an high performance engine. The Olds 403 engine is not in anyway shape or form a high performance anything. The use of it in a Trans Am turned it into a Cutlass. A Cutlass, not a 442. The Trans Am was still a road race design with this limp lump in it, a scam. In fact they went on scam more with the Pontiac 301 4V and the Turbo 301. Pontiac should have installed a big block Chevy or a Cadillac 472/500 into the Trans Am for this model year when they ran out of 400’s. An engine they had to stop producing the previous year due to the expense of certifying it for the EPA. The GM bean counters did not want the added expense of what they saw as a redundant engine design. Since they saw fit to sell cars with Chevrolet engines in a Buick or Oldsmobile and charged the same amount as if it had a name brand in it. The public had a right to complain and still does. If you want a highway cruiser then you buy one. Don’t you dare stand there telling the rest of us that know and FULLY understand what a muscle car or in this instance a pony car is. The 403 was a blatant ripoff. There are no tears for the CRAPPY 403, only disgust and anger that lingers to this day. You apparently bought one, so go make lemonade and don’t try to pee on us true Pontiac people. I am laughing at you.

      Like 1
      • SteveTheD

        Are these the “tears” Dex was referring to? Maybe as Smokey Robinson sings “Tears of a Clown”? Can’t make over 325 hp?? Dick Miller built 403 – 599hp, 484 tq at 6500 rpm. Care to see the dyno sheet?

        Like 3
  12. John Alm

    Yah, Gm Got Into Trouble Putting Corporate Motors In Different Divisions Of Gm , I Was A Teenager Getting Into General Automotive Repairs

  13. Josh

    I didn’t realize that their chassis was actually all black like that: I thought they’d be grey primer over red oxide. HPP did an article on a completely original, super-low-mileage ’78 (I think) years ago that showed this, I thought?

    Like 1
  14. John Alm

    Stan , You Said Newer Model , I,d Perfer A Newer Grill , Cuz Man Has To Eat , LOL

    Like 1
  15. John Alm

    New Cars Will Come Off Assy Line With Greyish – Black Paint , Dont Think I,ve Ever Seen A Reddish Oxide Primer

  16. Stan Marks

    Patrick, thanks for sharing your excellent post. I learned a lot.

    • Patrick Farmer

      You are welcome Stan Marks.

  17. Patrick Farmer

    You know I have a weakness. I am not passive/aggressive. I am plain old aggressive. Passive/aggressive is cowardly. It is like arrogance, both stem from some sort of insecurity. I looked up Dick Miller and his 403 build. I searched Google with this header “Dick Miller built 403”. It was a great achievement. It did not win or place high in the Engine Masters Competition, but it was recognized by HOT ROD for what it was, amazing. It produces the numbers stated above, bravo. The engine, the 403, is a hand grenade with a broken pin. If you want to race this engine in front of a crowd and you are insecure, my advice is not to do so. You will be zipping along and BAM, pan dump of the century. There has been a pan dump of the century before. It was in HOT ROD or one of the other similar magazines, a photo of a guy on a drag strip and beneath his car you can clearly see the, oil pan, crankshaft and main bearings falling out, hence the name, pan dump of the century. I am a Pontiac lover and a Ford lover. Jon Kaase built a Ford 400 for EMC that produced far more torque and horsepower, on pump gas, than this lowly 403. He won so many times with a 400 Ford that EMC banned him from running it again. A Ford 400. I have a Pontiac 455 in my car, it is in the 500 hp range with torque that is higher than 500. I would not hesitate at all racing a 403 built in this manner. I am secure in knowing that my engine will be running at the end of the race. Instead of the compromised 403, why don’t you guys get a Olds 350 diesel block and build a Mondello 440 out of it. If I ever by a 1979 Trans Am with an Olds 403 in it, I would replace it with either the Mondello 440 or a Olds 455 to keep it as it came from the factory. By this I mean it came with an Olds engine and I kept an Olds engine in it. I have personally seen a 1979 Trans Am owner pull the 403 and replace it with a 1970 W-30 455. That car was super fast. I have rebuilt a couple of Olds 350’s it’s a good engine. What I find of funny about it is that when you place a Olds 350 bare block next to a 351 Cleveland bare block, you have a hard time telling them apart. The Ford 400 is an enlarged 351 C. I suspect that the engine designer at Olds switched to Ford during his career and was allowed to build an Olds engine with canted valves. Something Chevrolet would not have allowed at GM. They are too similar to ignore. So, did I make you 403 guys more insecure or more secure with this knowledge.

    Like 1
    • SteveTheD

      Wow, way too much nonsense to even begin to read! The only important thing…did the Dick Miller Olds 403 make more than your 325 hp number? Thought so. Mike drop!!

      Like 3
  18. Patrick Farmer

    I just thought of another point about the 403. James Garner bought only Formula 400’s or 455’s to be the Gold Esprit in the series “The Rockford Files.” The car was an actor as well. A Formula is a Trans Am without makeup. True, it is not as fast, but with a little tomfoolery it could be just as fast as a T/A equipped with a 400 or 455. He had it in his budget to remove the scooped hood for a flat one, apply Esprit badging and change the steering wheel, if needed. Later, after 1974, he has to paint the cars to match the gold color of the original. This was all clicking along with Pontiac 400’s or 455’s with Turbo 400 transmissions until 1976(end of the 455) or 1977, when Pontiac started backing their Firebird Formula/Trans Am with Turbo 350’s. He could live with that. Along came the 1979 model that not only had a radically different look but the Pontiac 400 was from a limited run in 1978 and now came as a limited run, 4-speed manual transmission and at a premium price. He stopped buying new Firebirds. Graner stated that he did not like the appearance of the new nose and tail lights as the reason for dropping the car orders. He always used automatic transmissions in the show and he would perform a lot of J-turns or pulling a Rockford. Yes this could be done with a manual trans, but not as easily as an automatic. Mr. Garner might not have thought that the 403 and the 301 was not up to the task at hand. If you watch show you can see him driving the poo out of the cars. You can see the difference between the Firebird and a Corvette that he spanked in one episode. There is know faking acceleration back then unless you speed up the film which you can tell on screen. It looks fake sped up. Either way he and new Firebird Formulas were done. He was in a unique position to see the Formula get slower and slower every year. The changes of the 1979 model was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Instead of saying that they were bullcrap, he said that he didn’t like the look. Lets face it we went from the first Firebird show . “The Rockford Files” to the second Firebird show “Knight Rider”

    • John Oliveri

      I’m all in w you brother, 79 they were done, it was no longer viable to run that car, no performance left, short story, sometimes memories cloud reality, dear friend of mine, quite well off now,but when we were kids we were kids we had similar cars, anyway he had a 87 Monte Carlo SS, I had a Riviera, anyway he had such memories of that Monte Carlo, so fast forward 30 yrs, a couple of S550s later, he says to me, he wants another Monte Carlo, so we find one, 305 same Burgandy color, t tops, anyway he drives the car after the transport guy dropped it off, and calls me, sez What was I thinking? This car is slow, it’s got no power, rides like garbage, I told him it cost him 20 grand to find out his memories were fogged, maybe this 403 guy is protecting his memories

      • Patrick Farmer

        They are protecting their bruised ego. It was injured when they found out that the ultimate was the ultimate in 1971, which is why George Carlin bought a brand new 1971 455 H.O. Trans Am and again in 1973 when John Wayne’s son made a deal PMD to have his father drive the last ultimate hoorah a 1973 Brewster Green Super Duty Trans Am in the movie “McQ”

    • Stan Marks

      In other BF posts, I mentioned I worked at the studios, during the 70’s. Mostly at Universal, on all of the cop shows.I also worked on “Starsky & Hutch”, driving the red/white Ford Torino’s. during their first season. I drove stunts as well as driver captain, in charge of picture cars.

      Rockford drove what appeared to be a stock looking Pontiac Firebird Esprit, finished in Solar Gold, along with whitewall tires. Garner once explained that “Rockford would have probably rather had a Trans Am, but realistically couldn’t afford it.” The more humble Esprit was a bit stealthier than the rumbling big-block Trans Am with its flashy mag wheels and phoenix hood decal graphic. But would a 350-cubic-inch, two-barrel carbed, single-exhaust Esprit been able to burn miles of rubber or pull off the occasional chase scene stunt? Not so much.
      The Firebird Esprit just wasn’t up to that job, but the Formula 400 sure was. So Garner’s Cherokee Productions and Pontiac’s PR team, a company called Vista Group, spec’d up Formula 400s for the show, with the tan vinyl interior and automatic transmission, and then “backspec’d” or “downdated” them to look like Esprits; in other words, with no hood scoops, rear spoilers or “Formula” badging. The effect was amazing. The car looked more subtle but still packed the 400-cu-in engine and more robust suspension.

      Rockford got a “new car” each season from 1974 through 1978. Typically two to three cars were used for each season’s filming. Yet the ’78 models did extended duty from the 1978 season until the show wrapped in early 1980? Why no 1979 or ’80 Rockbirds? The story goes that James Garner didn’t like the “boxed headlight” redesign of 1979–80, electing to stick with the earlier look that had served so well from 1977–78.

      After the show finally rapped, in ’80, Garner kept the principle car, he drove, for about a year before selling it.It changed owners several times after he let it go, before ending up in the hands of movie car collector Steve Reich, who gave it a full restoration and is the one offering it, along with co-owner, Barrett-Jackson. The car sold at auction for $115,500
      One of the other three cars was sold at a Mecum Auctions event in 2015 for $40,000.
      Jim was the greatest guy.


  19. Patrick Farmer

    Yes I was wrong about the horsepower capability of the 403. I can admit when I am wrong and I did so. Can you? You were right. Happy? It is not nonsense comparing other 400’s to the CRAPPY 403. I hate to tell you Steve The D, it’s not all about you here on this site. Other people read this as well. I other words I did not write the NONSENSE for you, this however is to you.

    The only important thing is….by your response I can tell a great deal about you. Let’s end here Mr. Mike Drop. I can pee further than you.

  20. Dex

    While some spent their Saturday with Google, tears in their little eyes, continuing to search for negative information about the Olds 403, I was enjoying the day cruising my ’77 403 Olds powered Pontiac Can Am! Guess what? Didn’t blow up! Not even once!

    Like 2
    • Patrick Farmer

      I do not have any tears. I have owned my 1977 Pontiac Can Am for 40 years. It came with a Pontiac 400 that was replaced with an S.O.B. of a Pontiac 455. I didn’t search Google for negative info of an engine that know to be inferior. I did read about Dick Miller and his 403 and as I stated, I was wrong about the 403 and now this is the third time I have mentioned I was wrong. So drop it.

  21. John Oliveri

    But just think how much better it would be if it was a 400 Pontiac in it, even when you open the hood at a show,I don’t want anyone to hurt your feelings, when they see that oil fill pipe in the front of that Delta 88 motor and walk away from your beautiful car, cause the Can Am was a good looking car

  22. Patrick Farmer

    It was only two years old when I bought it. Nobody knew what a Can Am was. People were always stopping me to ask about it. Even,cops would pull me over to look at it. More than once. The 400 would push the dipstick out. Headers, my God, headers were a pain to install. It takes 3 hours on the air conditioning side just to change header gaskets. I am always looking for wiped out Pontiac Grand Prix’s so I can get dash parts. My car came with bucket seats and a column shift. Black interior. It now has a center console. I say now, that was 35 years ago. The catalytic converter was clogged so the first thing I did to it was to replace it with what was then called a converter test pipe. I have fought the 1977 malleable steel used by GM at the time. Rust is a big problem around the rear glass.

    • John Oliveri

      Used many a test pipe in my day, luckily my 73 Grand Prix has true duals and no catalytic converters, rust, well I bought it 16 yrs ago, had a little under the vinyl top around the bottom edge of the 1/4 glass, quarter panels were new, what saved my car was it got hit in the ass in the early 80s, guy put new quarters then blew the original 455, when I bought it, it had a 75 400 in it, I bought a date correct parts car, that had the 455 in it, had it rebuilt along w the 400 transmission but I’m 25,000 into a 18,000 car maybe, it’s the rite colors and it’s a factory sunroof car it’s got eyes

  23. Patrick Farmer

    Dex, what color is the interior?

    • Dex

      Black with buckets, console.

      • Patrick Farmer

        It’s triple rare. Not that many black interior ones and the 403 car is rarer than the 400. The Can Am is rare to begin with. Do you have a Tach?

  24. Patrick Farmer

    Mr. Oliveri,

    Youth is wasted on the young.

  25. Popawfox

    I have a 78 TA. Owned it since July 2nd 1992. It HAD a Pontiac 400 in it. 2.56 posi rear. TH 350 tans. WOULD NOT SPIN THE TIRES. Couldn’t spin em power braking OR even backing it down and dropping into drive. Eventually the crank broke and destroyed that engine. (Started off from a stoplight EASY and GRRRRRR. Between the 1st to 2nd shift it sounded like the starter engaged. That was the engine grenading.) I installed a 1973 Olds 455 out of an Olds 98 with a 2.56 rear gear. (It wouldnt spin the tire either.) Once I had the 455 in the TA it would break loose ANYTIME I wanted. Not just break loose…I mean ROAST the tires! I have several sets of tires with “witches hair”. Never had it over 110mph. Not that it wouldn’t do it. I just never did it.
    My Dad had a 77 Delta 88 pace car with the 403. That car would run 120mph and could roast the tire at will. A few guys told me the Pontiacs were known for breaking cranks. I only know mine did. For me, I’ll take the Olds engines over the Pontiacs, durability and reliability, anytime. Olds engines may not be the crown jewel of performance engines, but Ive never blown an Olds engine. Ive had about a dozen of them and they never let ME down. I daily drive a 79 Cutlass Supreme with a Chivy wee-0-5. No power but still running with 207,000 miles. When it dies, I will drop an Olds 350 in it and drive it til…well, til I can’t drive anymore. For me…make mine an Olds.

    Like 1
    • Houseofhotrods

      Spoken well as a person who owned one. ROAST is the appropriate term for what these cars (when running well and strong) will do to the rear tires. I had buried my speedometer once on a straight stretch of I-5 and had recently replaced the chrome drip moldings. Not sure how fast I was actually going but when both moldings came loose and one parted company w the car, I backed off the gas. Always preferred the 400’s and 455’s in these cars.

    • John Oliveri

      Listen, you can’t compare a 73 455 to a 79 403, Oldsmobile built a great motor back in the day, Pontiac did too, the 403 Trans Am is a dog compared to a 400 Trans Am, and the 75 up 400 was no power house, I own a 73 Grand Prix SJ w a 455, rebuilt stock everything, except electronic ignition, 250 hp dry heavy car, over 2 tons loaded w options, can’t compare it to a 69 Bonneville w a 428, that had 370 hp on the light side, 390 If ordered correctly, just got worse and worse, but to younger people that didn’t drive or ride in something that fast, a 403 might seem fast, it’s just a fantasy,

      • RH

        Even the mention of a ’73 455 when the discussion is about a ’79 TA is irrelevant! By the way, not everyone is young and clueless as to what real horsepower is like. I’m 60+ and have owned 300+ vehicles in my time, many that would blow the doors off your ’73 Grand Prix boat. How about you bring up your 1973 Grand Prix when that is what the article is about. Maybe then your comments will mean something.

        Like 2
  26. md

    I own a w72 pontiac, and a 403 and around town the 403 is not so different from the pontiac…it will spin tires, gets rubbber hitting 2nd, and has a decent sound to it. Get above 3500 rpm and the pontiac takes over, but depending on driving habits, 403 is fine for many, and original Ta’s are worth more with their 403 than a swapped in 400. Just an observation.

  27. Stan Marks

    Gee, you guys are getting testy. LOL!!

  28. John Oliveri

    Dear RH, perhaps you should re examine what I wrote, never said my boat Grand Prix was fast, it’s not, it’s a cruiser, but if you wanna talk about fast, anything pre 72 is gonna be the target, and I’m the same age as I, actually I’m 59, nothing in my generation of new cars were fast, but I did grow up around a lot of fast cars, Chevy, Pontiac, Mopar, a 403 Trans Am is not fast, nor is a 77 Trans am, nor a 78, Trans Am or anything from then, I appreciate the bravado of your comments though,

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