21k Original Miles: 1979 Pontiac Trans Am

For the enthusiast who is searching for a classic car that can be driven and enjoyed immediately, this 1979 Pontiac Trans Am might be just the ticket. With 1979 marking the final year that the Trans Am would find itself equipped with the bigger V8s, this is a car that really marked the end of an era in American motoring history. If all of this is ticking a lot of the right boxes for you, then you will find the Pontiac located in Nassau, New York, and listed for sale here on Craigslist. The owner is asking $22,500 for this immaculate classic. I have to give a big shout out to Barn Finder Pat L for referring the Trans Am through to us.

For a Trans Am of this era, this car is actually quite subdued and understated. The Dark Blue Metallic paint is said to be largely original, and while it isn’t perfect, it still presents quite well for a vehicle of this age. Decals and graphics are virtually non-existent with this car, with no pinstripes or “Screaming Chicken” to be seen anywhere. The wheels appear to be in good condition, as does the Soft Ray glass. The seller is only the vehicle’s second owner, and it appears as though both owners have lavished care and attention on the car.

By the time this Trans Am rolled off the line, the horsepower battles that were such a hallmark of the late 1960s and early 1970s were also a pretty distant memory. That isn’t to say that Pontiac abandoned its loyal buyers completely. While the most that you could hope to find under the hood of a Camaro Z28 was a 350ci V8 producing 175hp, Pontiac stuffed a 400ci V8 into the engine bay of the Trans am, giving the lucky owner 220hp at their disposal. Fuel consumption between the two vehicles was line-ball, but the Pontiac could trump the Camaro by more than a second from both 0-60mph, and over the ¼ mile. This Trans Am features the mighty 400, backed by a 4-speed manual transmission, power steering, and power brakes. The owner states that the Pontiac has a genuine 21,000 miles on its odometer. He doesn’t indicate whether he holds any documentation to verify this claim, but considering the fact that he holds a significant amount of other documentation dating back to when the car was new, it is definitely a possibility.

As with the rest of the car, the presentation of the Trans Am’s interior is extremely good, but it isn’t perfect. The Blue velour upholstery looks really nice, and while there are a couple of dirty marks, I believe that a competent car detailer should be able to remove these. The plastic trim pieces all look to have avoided the sorts of fading, splitting, and general deterioration that can afflict plastic from this era. I find the option combination for this Trans Am to be quite interesting. The original owner was obviously seeking a comfortable motoring experience, and this explains the tinted glass, power windows, and the AM/FM radio. But with this in mind, I’m surprised that he didn’t specify air conditioning.

Ready and raring to go. That’s probably the best way to describe this Trans Am. It really needs nothing, and the lack of graphics on the car gives it a subtle and more sophisticated look. If it is as good as the photos and listing tends to indicate, then I actually think that it represents a bit of a bargain at the asking price.

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Comments

  1. Classic Steel

    A Very nice write up Adam. This is such a sweet car with motor and manual transmission that it should sell quickly.
    When one factors its features and body conditions including paint, then the price is very fair in my book.

    3
  2. Robert May

    The interior looks to support the mileage claim, especially the driver’s door. It’s not sagging on it’s hinges, all GM 2 doors of the era we’re heavy and it took no time before the hinges needed the bushings replaced. The wheels are super clean and they support the low mileage claim, too. The only thing to do on this car is to detail the engine compartment. And maybe look into an A/C system. I live n the Deep South and it is unbelievably unbearable in the summer months!🙂

    1
    • JoeNYWF64

      You might be able to get away with this car down south if you drive it only at night in the summer & have an aux fan & ice water & damp rags in the car for the face & neck. lol
      I know of a ’74 t/a with 250k miles that has no sagging in any of the door hinges! But the car has always been garaged & white lithium grease was always sprayed on the hinges periodically.
      Not sure if that is mud or dirt under the hood.
      I would replace those hoses & belts immediately if they are indeed original!! lol
      The radiator hose CLAMPS at least have been replaced & i see a small section of rad hose that is black & not “brown”.
      P/W add a bit of weight & can be troublesome – just leave the windows down all the time.
      Not sure if trunk floor should be black like that – in ’79.
      I can’t believe they offered carpeting that light in color.
      Could you get a darker blue?

  3. Vin_in_NJ

    This car comes from the days when you went to the dealership and picked your options on the order sheet. Although the hood bird is common on Trans Ams, it was an option. Car was ordered with the comfort of velour and power windows, but items like air conditioning, and rear window defroster were not…surprising for a car purchased in New Jersey.

    4
    • X11Fan

      My first new car was a 1979 Firebird that I ordered. The lowest price Firebird on Woodfin-Smith Pontiac’s lot were $8000 Esprits. A senior in high school working two part time jobs, I didn’t want ALL of my money going towards a car note. The salesman said, “We can order you whatever you can afford.” I was driving a 1971 Mercury Comet. It had an automatic and AM radio, nothing else. No A/C, power brakes, steering, nothing. So I sit down with the salesman with my girlfriend and we start. Base price $4995, included power steering. Base engine 231 V6 and 3 speed manual. Would have liked 4 speed manual, but it required V8 engine. (By the way, 3 speed manuals were only in .8% of Firebirds in 1979, around 1800 vehicles.) Nope, gotta keep it cheap as possible. V6 and 3 speed it is. I did want it to “look” fast, so I ordered the spoiler, Rally II body color wheels, white letter tires and chose Nocturne Blue with oyster interior as color choices. I had to have 8-Track tape player and chose light group with vanity mirrors for the girlfriend. These options bought the price to around $5800 with destination charge. My girlfriend then said you are missing one option you must select if you have any chance of keeping me, air conditioning. We discussed the almost $600 price which was over 10% of the purchase price we had already optioned up to. She was firm on her deal. So I selected A/C which required me selecting power brakes. So, the day before graduation, my Firebird arrived for somewhere around $6200. My girlfriend and I got married in 1981 and after our first son was born in 1983, had to sell it. Although I got rid of the Firebird, I still have my wife after almost 38 years. That $600 for A/C was the best deal of my life.

      23
      • JoeNYWF64

        Why did you have to sell it? On the TV show, “Bewitched”, when they had Tabitha, they still kept their 1st gen camaro.
        If you were short on money, you’re lucky the a/c did not break on the firebird, or is THAT the reason you had to sell it? Imagine where you might be today if power steering was NOT standard, the salesman did not tell you about that, & the car was delivered without it & you had to accept it. lol

        2
      • X11Fan

        It actually had a high pressure A/C line that ran through the core support fail due to rubbing. I had it repaired and was working fine when sold. My wife wanted to stop work and raise our kids at home, so money was going to be tight. At that moment, it seemed the best thing to do was sell both the Firebird and her Chevrolet Monza and purchase a family car.

        2
  4. Jack M.

    In the late ‘70’s, people still felt that a/c robbed horsepower. If you lived in the Northern States or Canada it was very common to see these cars without a/c.

    8
    • Vin_in_NJ

      You’ve never experienced a humid NJ summer day. That velour interior and no A/C must have made this car a sweat oven in the summer.

      4
  5. poseur Member

    appears to be a really solid car with desirable options & non-options for maximizing performance.
    i like the colors in and out and obviously it’s been well taken care of for its life.
    surprised to say it, but the asking price seems reasonable for all the Pontiac excitement T/A’s have been creating the past couple years.

    3
  6. jimmy the orphan

    Jack is right, in the 70’s up here in Puget Sound, no A/C cars were common and we said it robbed HP too. Later……………………………..JIMMY.

    1
  7. IkeyHeyman Member

    Besides “robbing power”, older guys (fathers and grandfathers) would warn us against getting A/C and other options because they would just be more things that could “go wrong” and cost an arm and a leg to fix.

    4
  8. Robert May

    They told us A/C used more gas in addition to the more things to wrong bit. To this day my best friend and I both drive around in summer not using our A/C’s as much as we could!

    1
  9. sparkster

    Nice Firebird, but I got to have my A/C. Anybody here know if your able to “trans” plant the front bumpers from earlier Trans Am’s ?

    • JoeNYWF64

      If you put on a ’77-8 front bumper, from the side, the front & rear bumpers wont match, & the starting-in-’79 less curved wheel flares won’t look right either.
      If you want a ’70-3 nose, you’ll have to change the hood & do a TON of fabrication to make a glass bumper fit.
      Used ’70-3 stock front endura bumpers are heavy as hell, forever cracking, & no one makes repro bumper brackets!(ridiculous!).
      I think the ’79 looks lot better with no bird on the hood.
      On a ’79 nose, you could try fitting 2 body colored headlite covers to simulate popup headlites that pontiac actually considered in the redesign.
      Surprised the headliner is not falling down, regardless of mileage!
      https://images.craigslist.org/00o0o_hUZn3qpOaNd_1200x900.jpg
      Did the ’79 get an improved design over earlier birds?
      What is the $434 special performance pkg? https://images.craigslist.org/00w0w_bIbo3CwqVXZ_1200x900.jpg
      I like the stance of this car.
      It could benefit from shorter wider tires in the future.

      1
      • poseur Member

        pretty sure that $434 is the cost of the mandatory WS6 package to get the 400/4-speed

  10. Jeffrey Brown

    Trunk paint is correct for 79. Yes you can change noses but why? Just buy the correct year to begin with. The 8 track in the Espirit probably cost as much or more than the AC back then. I know the AM/FM/CB was the highest cost option on one of the Firebirds I have owned. It is a nice car.

  11. 455RAIV

    Hot Rod Magazine did to Test on a stock 79 400 4 spd T/A Back in the day – ran a 14.6 @ 96 mph – fastest American car of the later 70’s – you’d have to go back to the 1974 SD-455 T/A For faster times :)

    2

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