17k Original Miles: 1978 Pontiac Trans Am

For Trans Am enthusiasts, this 1978 model would tick many of the “must-have” boxes on their own personal wish list. It is a completely original and unmolested survivor, it comes loaded with a heap of optional extras, it has 17,000 genuine miles on the clock, and it comes with an enormous catalog of documentation that dates right back to the original Order Form. It might not be a once-in-a-lifetime vehicle, but when all of these factors are combined, it does make it a relative rarity. The Trans Am is located in Jackson, New Jersey, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. The vehicle has been listed with a BIN price, and this has been set at $57,777, with the option available to make an offer. I’ll bet that got your attention!

It is hard to know where to start with the Solar Gold Trans Am because it really does present exceptionally well. The paint is said to be original, and it still holds a strong and consistent shine across the entire vehicle. The owner supplies a good selection of photos, and there are no signs of any dings, dents, or blemishes. Rust also doesn’t appear to be a problem, with nothing visible externally. One of the more interesting aspects of this car is the fact that the original owner chose to delete the “Screaming Chicken” off the hood when he ordered the car. This isn’t the first time that I have seen this, but it is the exception rather than the rule with Trans Ams. The beautiful alloy wheels look to be about as close to perfect as the rest of the Pontiac, while the Soft Ray tinted glass appears to be flawless.

The interior of the Trans Am looks just as nice as the exterior, but I am sure that the choice of seat upholstery is going to divide some of our readers. Velour was definitely a cloth of the 1970s and 1980s, and while it generally tended to wear relatively well, it did have its weaknesses. I have seen upholstery of similar colors to this ruined by somebody sitting in the car whilst wearing wet blue jeans. In those cases, the dye from the jeans “bled” into the cloth, staining it permanently. I know plenty of people who have fitted aftermarket slip-on covers to their seats to prevent this from happening. The upholstery in this car hasn’t suffered that fate, and apart from some minor wrinkling on the outer edge of the driver’s seat, it looks like the Trans Am has just driven off the showroom floor. I always love the machine-turned dash, while the entire interior has that “as-new” appearance about it. The original owner didn’t mess about when he filled in the order sheet. This is a Pontiac that comes equipped with air conditioning, power windows, power locks, a rear defroster, a tilt wheel, cruise control, and an AM/FM radio/8-track player.

Under the hood of the Pontiac, you will find a 400ci V8, a 3-speed automatic transmission, power steering, and power front disc brakes. This is a numbers-matching classic, and the owner states that the engine has never been out of the vehicle. Personally, I don’t find that fact to be particularly surprising on a car with a genuine 17,000 miles on the clock, but the owner obviously felt that this was significant. The presentation of the engine bay is about as tidy as you could ever hope to find on a Trans Am of this age, and you get the impression that dust would actually be scared to venture in there. One thing that really surprises me and this isn’t the first time that I’ve seen this, is that the owner provides us with a really thorough description of the car, but then fails to tell us how well it runs or drives. I always find that to be a curious omission. I referred to documentation earlier, and this Trans Am has some of the best that I have seen. As well as complete service records, you get the Window Sticker, Build Sheet, all of the original Order Forms, the Dealer Invoice, the original Title, license plate, and even the check that was used to pay the dealer for the Trans Am back in 1978. That’s not a bad collection to have if you are viewing the Pontiac from an investment perspective.

This 1978 Pontiac Trans Am is something a bit special, but I would be willing to bet that more than a few of you drew a pretty deep breath when you saw the asking price. I’m not going to even begin to try to convince you that this is a cheap car, because that would be insulting your intelligence. The big question has to be whether that price is justified in this case. What I will say is that if you should choose to, then you can go out right now and buy plenty of nice 1978 Trans Ams for around half the asking price of this one. Of course, those cars aren’t going to come with the level of documentation that is included with this car, and none of them will have an odometer that reads as low as this one. Factor in the optional extras and the price begins to make some sense. Whether that will allow the owner to achieve his BIN price is something that I’m not sure of, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the owner finds himself fielding offers of around $50,000. It will then be interesting to see whether he would be willing to accept that sort of figure. Would you?

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  1. Nathan Kopsack

    No T-Tops? Where’s the Eagle on the hood? It’s in great shape but it’s not a “Bandit Car”like the eBay ad says. It’s just a Trans Am without many options, albeit a fine example. A true time capsule. Personally, I think the price is considerably optimistic. Good luck!

    • JoeNYWF64

      Without many options?! lol
      My friend’s ’74 t/a has no factory radio(let alone 8 track), no a/c, no p/w, no chrome side window roof gutters, no cruise control, no RWL tires, no aluminum wheels, no pedal dressup, no delux interior, no power door locks, & no HEI – all of which the above gold t/a has.

      • John Oliveri

        Bare bones is not for me, I like luxury,

      • JoeNYWF64

        John(below), extra options do not imply luxury – they are for CONVENIENCE & to make driving easier. I do not even consider the Firebird Esprit a luxury car, nor even most vehicles today – with rock hard seats & ridiculous wheels & low profile tires. I consider a luxury car one that is BIG & rides very very comfortable over rough roads. Like Grand Prix, ’74 thunderbird, ’76 Caprice, Caddys, Lincolns, etc. If you take a 70’s(especiailly early 70’s t/a) on roads like the cross bronx xpressway, u will need a kidney belt & will never go down that road again with the car. No car rides rougher from the 70’s. lol
        On some older cars, due to monstrous engine size, or high revving capabilites you could not even get a/c or even power assist on steering/brakes. No power windows avail on ’60s mustangs. etc – & early ’70s camaros, oddly.
        Or automatic on 1st gen z28.

  2. Moparman Member

    If one is looking for a trophy to add to a collection, or as an investment, the documentation would perhaps be an asset worthy of an ultra premium asking price. For the person looking for a car to drive and enjoy, the pricing and condition would be a deterrent to that enjoyment. As Adam stated, a nice driver could be had for less. This is ABSOLUTELY the most well preserved Trans Am that I’ve ever seen, and a real beauty! Weirdly, though, the deletion of the “screaming chicken” makes it look somewhat naked! GLWTA! :-)

    • JoeMac JoeMac Member

      Moparman you are right on with the “screamin’ chicken” comment. I picked up a sweet deal on a ’78 W72 / 4-Speed in Mayan Red with Hurst T-Tops at Barrett-Jackson in 2018. It too was a hood decal delete car which I think kept some people from bidding on the car believe it or not. The car is gorgeous too, if I don’t say so myself, and now, for a few hundred dollars, proudly sports that screamin’ chicken.

  3. Ike Onick

    Let’s talk about the “wet blue jeans”

    • bowmade

      Boogie Nights reference?

  4. Arthell64 Member

    A lot of money for a trans am but man is it nice.

  5. JoeNYWF64

    The hood decal was not deleted! It was not ordered! It was NEVER std equipment, except on ’76 & ’79 anniversary editions.
    Even the radio was not std equipment! Same with the console! – the std auto shifter is on the column!
    Replacement tires like those are around $380 – each! – tho this car is too nice to drive. Mite as well leave on the originals.
    Could be some armor-all under the hood, etc.
    Through at least ’78, pontiac never charged extra for the auto trans – on the t/a.
    I notice the fender vents are body colored. On ’74s at least, they are black.
    Should they be body colored here?

  6. Tom Member

    The movie “While you were sleeping”……
    Italian Neighbor “Hey, I seen that look on your face”.
    Sandra Bullock “What look is that?”
    Italian Neighbor “Like you just seen your 1st Trans Am!”

    If you were going to put one away from 77 a TA is a good choice BUT you should have bought a Black one (as much as I hate gloss black) and a 4 SPEED for sure.

  7. Jack M.

    I enjoy reading your write ups Adam. They are always very informative. I have never been to Australia, but I do have a few relatives down there. I have been reading car for sale ads for close to 50 years now. In North America you would very rarely see a seller state in an ad “runs or drive great”. As a buyer you would only believe that if you physically saw the car and drove it in person. For $57,000 you know most people will want to see this car before they hand over the cash.

  8. Kincer Dave Member

    My uncle has a garage kept 78, Martinique blue, black velour, no bird on hood, am/fm 8 track, W72, auto, WS6 suspension. Ordered it brand new, still has it, it has had a repaint and not sure what miles are on it but it is beautiful. I want to buy it but can’t swing 25k at the moment. I think the ask is slightly high on this, my uncle had his appraised for 30k, he has a lot of documentation as well, my opinion with the miles and original paint I’d say 40k or so. Very nice car!

  9. Bmac777 Member

    I’ve always liked these, but definitely the Black with the bird
    I saw The Bandit in 77 and with the sound of that engine still in my ears I left that theater a changed man, well boy actually lol
    My dream was to own one but as time went on I fell for the 69’s and the GTO’s as well as Olds and Buicks but still always a Pontiac guy cause of this car

    • John Oliveri

      Grew up a Pontiac guy, I’m 59 now, seen the real deals when I was young, Pontiac 428 motor was my favorite, when I went to see Smoky and the Bandit in 77 with my girlfriend, another friend was in the opposite side of the theater, he was a Chevy man, now being 16, I let him have it thru the entire movie, I definitely gave my date a headache

  10. Frank Sumatra

    If my wife mentioned tomorrow that she found $57K in checking she had overlooked, and then mentioned “I don’t have any need for it, it’s yours” I’m pretty sure I would be handing it to my local Chevy store towards a 2020 Corvette. If this car had negative miles on it and was still on a Pontiac assembly line it MIGHT be worth 1/2 the asking price. I admire the chutzpah of the seller. I hope there is a follow-up story if and when it sells.

  11. Jcs

    This is an L78 car (180 HP) of which they made over 57,000 with the automatic transmission. He’s got it priced as if it were a W72 automatic car (220 HP) of which they only made just over 4,100.

    I am a fan of Solar Gold. I am also a fan of the Dark Camel interior color but for some reason they don’t seem to work well together on this one. Maybe it is just the obvious orange tint in all of these awful pics but I don’t know, just doesn’t do it for me. Still a cool car, just priced as if it were the year 2030 already. Hopefully the seller can sit on it a bit.

    • TAGuy

      It is a W72 car according to the snorkel on the air cleaner, valve covers, and most importantly — the order sheet that can bee seen in the listing.

  12. GP Member

    This is a really nice trans am, A little steep for most people on the price. I know a guy who also bought one brand new. Same color, the last I heard was he had 12,000 miles on it. I don’t think that car has ever seen a rain drop. 1977 and 78 are my favorite years.

    • Ike Onick

      Who is he saving it for? It will be posted here in a few years and we can all repeat the same comments about how foolish it is to have a car and not use it. Especially a car that was a dime-a-dozen.

      • GP Member

        Ike Onick, That’s just it. This couple has been together for ever.(30 to40 years). They have no kids and a lot of very nice cars, trucks, tractors. A nice house and a giant pole shed that’s to die for.

  13. Johnny R

    If he gets 57K for this then my 1978 Y88 WS6 W72 with 24K miles should get over 100K. This is a very nice Trans Am however it’s worth about half that. I watched a 4 speed Y88 go for 43K late last year. I think I am being realistic since mine is an automatic if I offered to sell it would be about 33-35K taking the hit for automatic. GLWTS.

  14. John Oliveri

    I’ll rephrase what I said, I like options, nothing hotter to me than a 69 GTO w power windows and a/c tilt wheel and floor mounted factory 6 track, especially if it’s a convertible, I’ve never owned a car w/o options, I learned something a long time ago as a kid, for 2 or 3 seconds I’m not gonna sweat or do without, I grew up in the 60s and 70s in the Bronx, girl on my blocks boyfriend had a 69 428 Bonneville, gorgeous car, every option in the book, all the other guys had goats and Camaros and Chevelles, but that big Bonneville had it all, enough torque to pull a tree stump, and all the luxury of a Cadillac, even w it’s dual exhaust and howl of that Rochester sucking air, I think that car was 2 tons, but had like 370 hp, it was amazing how some guys couldn’t drive or missed a gear and that Bonneville would smoke them, I’ve never owned a muscle car, I’ve always owned Luxurious vehicles w the biggest motor available, even the foreign cars I’ve owned, all factory BMW 540 Mercedes E550, ClS 550, and currently my E43 AMG, which ironically will blow the doors off my 73 455 Grand Prix

  15. John Oliveri

    Typo, factory 8 track

  16. Steve Bush Member

    John Oliveri, have to agree with your comments about options. Some cars with little or no options and a big engine are nice for short drive on a nice day, but over time aren’t much fun. My first car was a 1969 Pontiac GP with the 428-370 hp engine. It had auto, pw/seat but no AC. Wish I could have bid on the1969 (with AC) for sale here a couple days ago.

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