Live Auctions

21,000 Mile Survivor: 1979 Pontiac Trans Am

Some survivor-grade classics can look rough around the edges, while others will leave you astounded by their preservation. This 1979 Pontiac Trans Am fits into the second category, and its condition is a testament to an original owner who treated the vehicle with total respect. It is about as unmolested as you are likely to find, and it has a genuine 21,000 miles showing on its odometer. The time has come for it to find a new home, but could that home be yours? It is listed here on eBay in West Bloomfield, Michigan. Bidding has crawled to $1,000, but it’s no surprise it hasn’t hit the reserve. For those viewing this Trans Am as a “must-have” and wishing to bypass the auction process, there is a BIN option of $34,999.

The seller only recently purchased this Trans Am from its ninety-three-year-old first owner, and they took possession of a remarkably well-preserved classic. Most of its Code 15 Platinum Silver Metallic paint is original, only receiving the occasional touch-up to eliminate chips accumulated while the vehicle spent its downtime in the first owner’s garage. It continues to shine beautifully, exhibiting no patchiness that can be a hallmark of this shade. The first owner ordered this car with a nod to subtlety, meaning it didn’t score the “Screaming Chicken” hood decal. The panels are straight, and while the vehicles from this era often had wide panel gaps, these are consistent. The best news is that this beauty remains completely rust-free. The original owner specified a rust-preventative treatment when it was new and, combined with a life where it never saw snow or salt, it is as clean and sound as you could hope to find. The plastic components show no physical damage or UV deterioration, and the glass looks flawless. You will notice that the Trans Am wears different wheels in the supplied photos. It currently rolls on a set of 17″ Year One Snowflakes, although the seller includes the factory Rally II wheels and original tires for those seeking a “factory” appearance.

The spotless originality of this Pontiac continues when we examine its interior. The first owner didn’t load it with optional extras, but the buyer will welcome ice-cold air conditioning, a rear defroster, a leather-wrapped tilt wheel, and a factory AM/FM radio/cassette player. The seats feature Code 19B1 Black “Hobnail” cloth trim, with matching vinyl on the remaining upholstered surfaces. There is no sign of wear or abuse, with the dash and console looking excellent. There are no aftermarket additions beyond a professionally-fitted replacement headliner in the correct material. Although I hesitate to use the word “perfect” for a vehicle of this vintage, there’s not much of which to be critical. The buyer won’t need to spend a dime because everything inside this Trans Am works as it should.

Pontiac felt the pinch by 1979 but continued fitting large-capacity V8s to its performance models when others had thrown them in the “too hard” basket. The engine bay of our feature Trans Am houses the 403ci Oldsmobile V8 producing 185hp. Buyers had no choice but to back that motor with a three-speed Hydramatic transmission, with power steering and power brakes standard issue for this model. Modest power output and a curb weight of 3,662lbs makes the ¼-mile ET of 16.6 seconds no surprise. However, that was about as good as buyers expected at the height of The Malaise Era. The seller indicates the original owner drove this beauty sparingly, with it spending most of its life hidden away in his garage. That approach makes the odometer reading of 21,451 genuine miles no surprise, although they don’t mention the presence of verifying evidence. Although the original owner didn’t spend much time behind the wheel, he maintained the car meticulously. It runs and drives as well as it did the day he took delivery from Porterfield Wilson Pontiac in Detroit, Michigan. If you seek a turnkey classic, this could be a hot candidate.

I’ve always been a fan of the Second Generation Trans Am, and I believe it holds a difficult-to-define slight styling edge over its Camaro cousin. It is common to find these classics developing rust problems, but a history of careful ownership leaves this one rust-free and remarkably well-preserved. If I were to buy it, I would probably refit the original wheels because that is what a survivor of this caliber deserves. The bidding has been subdued, but the ongoing popularity of the ’79 Trans Am means the situation could change at any time. If it spirals and soars beyond $30,000, do you think someone will throw caution to the wind and hit the BIN button? If that happens, I won’t be surprised.


  1. john

    Bidding at $19,700 (9-21-2022 11:18 Eastern) reserve still not met

  2. Mikefromthehammer

    Now up to $20,100 and reserve not met.

  3. Mike

    That steering wheel is -not- covered in leather.

    Like 2
  4. Terry Shanahan

    Saving a car is the worst finantial investment you could ever make. At a conservitive rate of 5% compounded the 8k would be worth at least double of what this guy is asking. Not to mention the insurance, licence, and upkeep. He paid a lot for the enjoyment of owning this car.

    Like 4
    • FireAxeGXP

      First cars are NOT investments. They provide transportation at a minimum and class, style, and pleasure. Cars are not about Scrooge type losers who pinch pennies and take calculators to the grocery either.
      Second have a clue wtf you’re talking about. There is NO %5 ROR anywhere today and after broker’s fees and commisions, 5% has been nearly impossible to achieve for the past 20 years.
      That 93 year old original owner knee how to live. A lesson he clearly could teach to some ASININE commenters here on BF.

      Like 10
      • Terry Shanahan

        Disagreeing with me is fine but to be ignorant about it is not. First off the 93 year old was around 50 back in the day, hardly an old geezer. If he seldom drove it it makes me wonder why he bought it.FYI I am into the hobby and always buy the nicest I can find for a fair price. No garage queens, I drive them all…If you couldn’t at least average a 5% return on an investment annually over the past 43 years you do need a finantial advisor.

        Like 2
      • Tbone

        Wrong. I am self educated on investing and have done way better than 5%. Not sure why you are hating on TS so hard, but I’m guessing you didn’t do your homework and got burned on some investments. Probably same issue for the spelling nazi below.

        Like 1
    • B Wallace

      Yes but he got to look at it. drive it and enjoy it far more exciting than opening an envelope and looking at a number on a piece of paper at least he saved the right kind of car instead of a 4 Door sedan with a 6 cylinder. I knew back in the 80’s old Muscle Cars would be valuable one day there are about 10 that I could have bought back then if I had an old barn for about 25K for all of them today collectively in the same condition they would be worth about 700K way more than 5%

      Like 4
    • Michael Berkemeier

      Terry, I feel the need to tell you that an investment in an education may have been a better bet for you…the word is “financial”, the root word being “finance”.

      Like 2
  5. Bob Mck Member

    The engine compartment doesn’t look like a 20K mile car. But perhaps things deteriorate and rust in the Michigan air.
    Beautiful car! I would love to own it no matter what the mileage is.

    Like 2
  6. Clint atkinson

    Very nice survivor car, 400 Pontiac engine over the 403 Olds would have been been nice option to see under the hood, the owner should make out fine on selling it, those T/A cars have climbed up in price in the last few years.

    Like 4
    • 455RAIV

      Yes W72 400 4 spd top option for 79 rated at a Conservative 220 hp but NHRA Stock Rated @ 285 hp – uncorked they could fly – Back in the Day Hot Rod Magazine tested a Stock 79 W72 400 4 spd T/A low option no AC etc. And it ran a 14.6 @ 96 mph – They actually called it The Last Musclecar of that era . Jay Leno took a 79 400 4 spd T/A for a Test drive and was really surprised how fast they are for a 1979 car Says it felt more like 300 hp than the rated 220 hp :)

      Like 6
  7. Michael Berkemeier

    Only way I would own one of these is if it were a W72 400/4-speed car. The Olds 403 is an embarrassment to any T/A. They should’ve put this motor in the H/O. At least it would be appropriate.

    Like 4
  8. Bob Weinzierl

    Nice looking car but 185hp and an engine that’s gets about 2 gallons per mile?
    Hard to justify the price.

    Like 2
  9. Reed Kline

    I would like to know what this guy paid the 91 year old original owner.

  10. Idiot Boy

    The Rally IIs and Uniroyals need to go back on stat. The garish oversized restomod snowflakes pretty much kill the first owner’s “nod to subtlety” and muck up the survivor presentation.

  11. Idiot Boy

    Hey inoffensive, peace-loving hippie Barn Finds dudes! When they stop renewing the registrations on the old cars that are YOUR bread and butter and start dismantling gas stations and shutting down auto parts channels – you know it’s only a matter of time – you WILL acknowledge that automobiles and politics are inexorably linked. Meanwhile, just ignore the flaming elephant in the room that’s pooping all over the “global community’s” floor. But you can only bury your head in the sand for so long before you choke to death.

    Like 2

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Keep me in the conversation via email. Or subscribe without commenting.