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1979 Pontiac Trans Am For $1,800

1979 Pontiac Trans Am Project

There was a time when you could find late ’70s Trans Ams and their F-body siblings at just about any used car lot in the country for cheap. Well it seems those days are long gone, as even these end of the line muscle cars can now fetch good money. This ’79 Trans Am is in rough shape, yet the seller is asking $1,800 for it! That seems like a pretty good price until you start looking at the condition.

1979 Pontiac Trans Am

At first glance, you might say “Josh it just has some surface rust and a nice patina to it”. And while I actually find the current look to be pretty striking, I see some spots that are well past just being surface rust. The moment you start seeing daylight in places you really shouldn’t, you have a problem. With any luck the rust issues are limited to just a few exterior spots and haven’t migrated to the chassis. If, and this is a big if, the chassis is solid and rust free you might be able to get away with leaving it rough looking.

1979 Pontiac Trans Am Interior

Normally with a car like this, I’d say fix the rust and repaint it, but in the case of this car, I’d say leave it looking ugly until you’ve sorted some other problem areas. Why you might ask! Well you see, besides having rust issues, this car has a title issue. Unlike the usual barn find that is lacking a title, this one has a title, but it has a lien on it. Now the seller claims the lien was paid off by the previous owner, but they lost the lien release paper. This makes me wonder a couple things. First, is the seller dumping it because they couldn’t get the title cleared without the release paper or is this seller trying to flip it quick and doesn’t want to go through the headache and expense of transferring the title? Secondly, what will it take to get the title cleared? I would think there is some type of paper trail out there that could be followed to prove the lien was paid off. Any thoughts?

1979 Pontiac Trans Am Engine

Incredibly, the seller claims the car runs and drives, although I think that flat rear tire would make it a bit difficult to do any burnouts. I guess if you are going to ruin the rear tires, you might as well do it to an old set that needs to be changed out anyways! This 6.6 liter doesn’t have the kind of power you would expect from a big V8, but if you remove the catalytic converter and the block out plate in the hood scope, you might be able to give it a few additional ponies. Just note, I’m not saying anyone should ever tamper with emission control devices on a vehicle intended for street use. To be honest though, I think a missing catalytic converter will be the least of this car’s issues when it comes time for a DMV inspection.

1979 Pontiac Trans Am Hood

I’ve always had mixed feelings about this generation of Trans Ams. I like the looks, although I prefer earlier styles a little more. And while having a big V8 paired to a 4 speed would be fun, these engines were fairly well strangled by ’79. There is definitely a lot of potential locked in this project, but I’m just not sure it’s worth the expense when you can still find so many solid examples out there. If you’d like to take a closer look and decide for yourself, you can find it here on eBay in Clinton Corners, New York. Perhaps you could find a nicer shell that is in need of an engine and combine the two? What do you think? Is this one worth the risk or is the title lien a deal breaker? If you did take the risk, would you fully restore it or leave it looking rough?


  1. p

    Da Crusha

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  2. JW

    Sad to say the least.

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  3. Bobsmyuncle

    So I’m curious what about this car made it worthy of a feature?

    Price? Nope

    Rarity? Nope

    Condition? Nope

    Options? Nope

    Not hating on it, just genuinely curious.

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    • grego

      It Looks like barn finds is trying to update and improve the entire site and branch out in new directions, a little change here a little change there and before you know it like so many cars on here its a shell of its former self!
      I’m 45 and my dad like many of yours I’m sure told me a very common saying when I was little ” if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” and ” if it works leave it alone” and the ever popular ” don’t mess with success ” Perhaps some Barn Finds creators need a life lesson.

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    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Staff

      @Bobsmyuncle – Just take a look at what these have been going for and you will know why Josh featured this one: https://www.hagerty.com/apps/valuationtools/1979-Pontiac-Firebird-Trans_Am?id=82629

      @grego – We welcome your feedback, but please remember that this site is free to read by all.

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      • Bobsmyuncle

        Mmmm you might be misunderstanding me. I understand the car CAN be worth a few bucks. But why feature THIS ONE.

        It’s got no title, a lien, and an uncertain engine, not to mention the general state of it.

        Is it simply the low cost of entry? If so that’s cool I guess. But I don’t see any VALUE in this one.

        For example do you think you think $6700 would get you this;


        Not a chance, and this is the first alternative I found.

        Like I say I’m not trying to be a jerk. I’m starting to develop an interest in these, but my knowledge of Pontiacs and theTrans Am itself is limited. There could be something I’m missing. But from a general value/condition set point, this isn’t by any means a deal.

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    • Josh Staff

      I don’t want to beat a dead horse here, but thought I’d chime in. Sorry I didn’t do it last night, but I had a massive test for one of my online management courses (can’t wait to be done with this class!). So here is why I featured this Trans Am. While it isn’t a “barn find”, it definitely isn’t an already restored car. It also speaks to me from a “wow that is really cool looking” standpoint. I also find that these cars are starting to grow on me, and while there are plenty of really nice examples out there, I’m curious to see if you guys think it’s worth saving this one. You see certain cars get saved simply because of what they are, not what they worth – think Mustangs and Camaros – and I wonder if these cars will eventually head that direction as well. Part of what I love about this site is that we get to see where the hobby is headed and what under-appreciated cars will eventually be sought after.
      Thanks for asking this question Bob! It actually gave me something to think about in terms of criteria and making sure to get my reasoning for picking it across in my posts. After close to 5 years of doing this everyday, I’m still learning new things and trying to improve!

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      • Bobsmyuncle

        I’m really glad you and Jamie chimed in actually.

        It often IS an interesting conundrum, to save a car or not.

        And while I fully understand that few of us are buying cars to make money, most us us have limited funds so we have to at least keep our losses at a minimum.

        That’s where my head was when I started wondering ‘why this car’?

        Even if the money wasn’t an immediate concern, dealing with a restoration is an arduous task.

        All that said, I am aware that some budgets don’t allow the outright purchase of a 15 thousand dollar car but might be able to carry a 17 thousand dollar restoration over a few years. Sadly these’ restos’ often never materialize but that’s another story altogether.

        In my opinion unless one is talented enough to do the work, a project like this would be a loss. An exception might be if they are really committed to long term ownership in order to realize the increase in value and inflation, or perhaps if they have a focussed build in mind ie. racecar, restomod etc.

        But if everything shared that belief it would leave many cars like this one languishing indefinitely.

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    • kenzo

      totally agree “Bobsmyuncle” Nothing nothing nothing worth anything…..
      I see at least half a dozen worn out daily drivers most days in my work rounds and maybe one “Bandit” every other weekend. Just another GM

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  4. Bobsmyuncle

    I’ve since found a bunch of great deals, and was going to share them. Then I thought well hold on, these examples are all too nice for Barnfinds.

    At that point I realized, that I guess I REALLY don’t know what criteria you guys use to decide what to feature.

    It’s not TRUE barnfinds (if it was you’d have six features a year LOL).

    It’s not strictly classic cars as we’ve seen all kinds of stuff here (not a complaint).

    It’s not strictly survivors, as you’ve featured restored and repainted cars.

    It’s not strictly cars requiring restoration either.

    Despite not really being sure what you would and wouldn’t consider to feature here is another example;


    Clearly it is 13 grand away, but there is no way the $1800 could be this nice with 13 grand invested.

    But somehow I think this isn’t a car you would be interested in featuring.

    Again, I hope you don’t read any negativity in my comments, that is entirely not my intention, just genuine curiosity.

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    • grant

      I think what they’re going for is “cool gas powered old machinery.” Despite the occasional Chevette I find it fun and a good time waster. This old Bird is bitchin’, but I think it needs to be a about half this cost, depending on the size of the lien. The paperwork should absolutely be able to be tracked down, which makes me think any buyer better be prepared to pay it off.

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    • Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

      Bob, I’m NOT speaking for Jesse and Josh as the site owners or in any official capacity, but as a writer for the site, if I had come across that one, I would have written it up and submitted it. Jesse stresses that the cars should “speak” to us, and that we focus on what’s unique about the particular vehicle. This particular car speaks to me due to some history I have with a TA in the same color and when I grew up. Obviously, real barn finds and original survivors get precedence, and we love cars that are original, but you are correct in that there would be little content if that’s all we kept to. We also try to feature cars that are submitted by readers–so that in itself means we’d pay attention to this one. :-) Also, Trans Am posts are generally pretty popular. I’ll write and submit this one today, thanks for contributing!

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      • Bobsmyuncle

        Jesse stresses that the cars should “speak” to us, and that we focus on what’s unique about the particular vehicle. This particular car speaks to me due to some history I have with a TA in the same color and when I grew up.

        Ah ha! Cool, I can appreciate that!

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      • kenzo

        Am I missing something….”Trans Am posts are generally pretty popular?” I believe GM cranked out a gazillion of them from 6 cylinder to massive big block 8’s. Go to any “for sale” web site and take your pick…… these are GM cannon fodder…….

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      • Bobsmyuncle

        Kenzo what is the confusion? If they were popular enough to sell a “gazillion” of them then it would make sense that there a lot of people left that want to discuss them, making these features popular.

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  5. Mike

    To Jesse, Josh, & Jamie:
    I think you are doing a great job with this site, and if I were ever to get to where I did not like what you are doing, I would “OH YEAH” leave the site. But I am not leaving, your site brings back a lot of memories for this old 53 year old car nut!!!!!! If I weren’t a car nut I would not own a bunch of Parts stores, and grew up in a Auto Body shop in SE Missouri, let alone own about 15 cars and trucks!!!!
    Folks if you don’t like what they are doing or showing on this site go find another site or start your own!!!!!
    Keep up the good job Guys!!!!

    Like 1
  6. Rando

    Trans Ams were possibly the last bastion of muscle cardom. Pontiac hung tough after every other maker went soft. Camaros of the era? Nah – the Z/28 was MIA. Mustang II? Not muscular really. It served the original Mustang vision. Olds? Buick? Mercury? Nothing. So yeah this is a popular car of the time.

    I love this site. When a car doesn’t interest me (most of the Euro stuff), I skip it on occasion. But most of the time I look becasue I am a car nut. Something to see or learn or just shake my head at. I submit cars on occasion – some make it, some don’t. If you want to participate in the process, submit cars for the guys to write about.

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    • Josh Staff

      Well said Rando! It amazes me some of the emails we get. Some days we get some pretty ugly comments because of something we featured, it gets a bit discouraging at times. I have to remind myself that we aren’t forcing anyone to read the site, although some people act like we are. I’m a car nut, I don’t have anyone brand I like more or any particular genre that I prefer, I like it all. Yes, I can appreciate certain cars more than others, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to learn about everything. We try our hardest to make sure that we feature a little bit of everything and if you look back at any one days posts, you’ll see it is pretty evenly split between domestic and foreign cars. We do that because, well, we love them all for what they are!
      Thanks for all your submissions and great comments, please keep them coming!

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      • Bobsmyuncle

        You should know by now that MANY so called ‘cars guys’ are among the most close minded people around. I’d hazard to say most are.

        So many will only consider, European cars, or North American cars, or Asian, some of them can’t look outside a certain country.

        Others are so brain washed sorry I mean brand loyal they can’t enjoy anything else. And even then the cars must have a certain trim level or engine or (a biggie) three pedals to be worthy of discussion.

        While it’s obvious that favorites would develop often it turns into passion and exclusion. I think it’s sad for them but don’t let it affect you!

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  7. edh

    Title problem? B-bye.

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  8. Joe Nose

    Screaming (B)eagle.

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  9. Kenny

    In Maine I think after 15 years you no
    Longer need a title not a bad buy for this state

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  10. Julles

    Folks, after the demise of BAT, I am so happy to have Barnfinds. Although, I do miss some of the more esoteric european models you could find there. What I love about Barnfinds are the posts. It is really nice to hear from real car people not people who made you feel inferior if you didn’t have a supercar, race in the mille-mille, or invitations to Pebble Beach or Amelia Island..

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  11. Nic Brown

    I’m fairly new to the site, a few months in now. I look forward to my daily emails. Maybe since I view it at work I come to work with a bit of interest, but really I can’t wait to open the daily email and start looking.
    Sure not all the cars are for me, we all have different tastes in cars and such. If we all liked the exact same car it would be boring to look at, for example 69 orange camaro’s every day. But this variety is great!
    Keep up the good work!


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  12. rufus

    I just purchased a car with a lien on the title, and it was from a bank that no longer existed. It took a few minutes on the computer to track down which bank purchased the no longer existing bank, a couple of phone calls and a lien release came in the mail….no problem.

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  13. Chris A.

    Rando nailed it from my point of view. Having gone through the “I’ll restore it some day” after restoring a car, I know my limits as a car hobby guy. I enjoy the variety: good, bad, ugly, who’d be interested in that POS, and the itch on cars I’d bid on. The addition of motor cycles really caught my interest as a lot of them are interesting machines. Here in the salt belt rust has killed a lot of neat cars that I only see again on this site. Sure, there are cars that will be scrapped, but I see that as defining just how deep I’m willing to go for the right car. But the right car is out there for me again, it just hasn’t found me yet.

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  14. Van

    I love 2nd Gen firebirds, but they have to have options that are uncommon on these, tilt steering, door locks, deluxe interior etc.

    There are many cars hear that don’t tend to like a grimlin, pacer, pinto, the cars that took boring people to work. But if one of those was my first car I would feal differently.

    Where else will you see a lunar rover or a 1916 fire truck.

    And that’s why I like to inject humor, we take ourselves to serious.

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  15. Derik Lattig

    I can tell you a lein is a pain in the ass. I bought a 55 T-bird from original owner, took him with me to DMV for title work, and turns out he ‘forgot’ about a bank loan he got using it back in the 80’s and while he paid off the loan, the bank went out of biz before reporting title was clear. Luckily, he dug through his paperwork at home and was able to show loan was paid in full and begrudgingly the DMV woman transferred title. If that hadn’t worked I would have had to probably hire an attorney.

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  16. Dalton Kennedy

    Is this car still available????

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