1970 Pontiac Trans Am Ram Air III Project

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It looks pretty rough and ready, but this 1970 Pontiac Trans Am has a few positive attributes that make it an exciting proposition for restoration. The first is that it is a complete vehicle. It is also 1-of-1,769 examples of the 1970 Trans Am to come equipped with a Ram Air III engine and a 4-speed manual transmission. These components remain intact, meaning that this car could be restored to a full numbers-matching classic. The Pontiac is located in Lincoln, Nebraska, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has made it to $10,500. The reserve hasn’t been met, but the spirited bidding to this point suggests that this will almost certainly happen.

It should be no surprise to learn that the Polar White Trans Am has spent an extended period exposed to the elements. This has taken a toll on the paint and panels, and there are going to be some rust repairs required before this baby sees the road once again. This has impacted all of the usual lower extremities of the body, including the rear valance, rear quarter panels, front fenders, rockers, and floor pans. There is surprisingly little around the back window, which is one positive. It isn’t clear what state the rails are in, but I believe that the person who tackles this restoration will probably dismantle the car entirely. That will offer the opportunity to ensure that any repair work is completed to the highest standard. There have been no external modifications to the Pontiac, and it rolls on its original Rally II wheels.

Now we get to the moment when things take a considerable turn for the better. The Trans Am is a numbers-matching classic. Not only that, but it is 1-of-1,769 vehicles built with the 400ci Ram Air III engine, backed by a 4-speed manual transmission. This is a pretty potent package, and in its prime, it would have allowed the Trans Am to roar through the ¼ mile in 13.9 seconds. The owner states that the entire drivetrain is original, from the carburetor to the rear end. The 400 has recently been rebuilt and hasn’t been kicked into life since the work was completed. Even the original carburetor has been rebuilt, and all of these components are just sitting and waiting for the moment that they will be slotted back into this beast.

The Trans Am interior is trimmed in Blue, but it will require a power of work if it is to be returned to its former glory. The seats are present but aren’t bolted into the car. The owner states that their condition is good, and the same would appear to be true of the dash fascia. However, the shopping list for this one looks like it will extend to new door trims, a dash pad, headliner, carpets, and sundry other items. A trim kit could be the most viable option in this case, with basic kits selling for around $1,100. In this price bracket, kits don’t include rear trims or a dash pad, so they need to be found elsewhere. I have had no trouble locating a pad in the correct color, but it is an eye-watering $900. My strong advice to anyone considering tackling this car would be to shop around carefully before outlaying money on parts. With those sorts of prices, an owner will want to ensure that they get it right the first time. Mistakes in this area could cost a pretty penny.

I’m not going to sit here and try to convince you that restoring this 1970 Trans Am will be quick and easy because that would be a long way from reality. Taking this on will be a significant undertaking, and it will require a deep level of commitment if the vehicle is to be done justice. This raises the question of whether it is worth the time and effort. If the buyer of this car chooses to go for a high-end restoration, then there is the potential for this numbers-matching classic to be worth somewhere around $65,000 when completed. However, I found a spotless example in the same color combination as this one that sold for $80,000 in the last few months. That leaves a fair amount of room to move before it is no longer financially viable. The icing on the cake is the engine. With the work on that completed, that will save a handy few thousand in the restoration process. To me, that makes this 1970 Trans Am worthy of more in-depth investigation.

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  1. sir_mike

    Best of luck to whomever buys her.

    Like 8
  2. JoeNYWF64

    I don’t think the ram air III was a 13 sec car. More likely the ram air IV.

    Like 6
  3. Geoff

    This would be a project to take one’s time on, and not try to rush anything. The end result would be owning a rare, fun car. Two of my friends had early Trans Ams, back when they where new. They were fast and handled surprisingly well.

    Like 2
  4. Little_Cars

    “Surprisingly well?” Their entire underpinnings and weight ratios were tweaked to the n’th degree over a standard Firebird or Esprit in 1970. And we had to wait for them to appear in the showrooms. By 1976, the suspension, steering, spring ratios and shocks were “radial tuned” which allowed Burt to glide and power shift with aplomb! Judging by all the other F-birds in these photos the seller most likely got the mechanicals taken care of then assessed the bodywork needed and decided it was over his head.

    Like 2
  5. Karl

    All new body panels and at best the could be cleaned up and reused. The drive train is a big question mark the engine is supposed to be done, that is a good mark but everything around the engine needs lots of attention whoever the buyer is will have a whole lot of hours into getting this car even on the road. Could be a tough one to come out in the positive in looking at what it needs!

    Like 2
    • Phlathead Phil

      Did you notice the engine gaskets have paint on them? Also, the water pump shows indications that the motor was pulled out and spray painted.

      I’d wanna see a receipt for the rebuild.

      Like 2
  6. John Oliveri

    When I was 9, in 1970, this was my dream car, always a Pontiac man, I got the dealer brochures from the NY auto show, and used to play car dealer, on a yellow pad, I built these cars in every combination, but funny thing, I’ve never owned one, by the time I was 17, horsepower was in the toilet, and I wanted new cars, so a bought new Grand Prixs, where slow too, but didn’t have stickers making believe they were fast, and I definitely didn’t, or wouldn’t want an Oldsmobile powered bird, maybe Someday

    Like 0
  7. V12MECH

    You get a title and supposed matching numbers parts with a parts car, all you need is a car to hang the the good stuff on.

    Like 2
  8. Phlathead Phil

    Look at the block number, then look at the vin. Shows an ‘N’ not a ‘V’ as claimed.

    Hmmmn, just hmmmn.

    Like 0

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