455/5-Speed: 1976 Pontiac Trans Am

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The owner of this 1976 Pontiac Trans Am performed many mechanical upgrades creating a total performance package. They wrapped the upgraded drivetrain in a rust-free body with paint that takes your breath away. With the work complete, they feel it needs to go to a new home and a person who will appreciate this classic. It is listed here on eBay in North Hills, California. Frantic bidding has pushed the price to $50,100, although it is yet to reach the reserve.

If I had to pick a favorite version of the Trans Am from a styling perspective, that honor would fall to the ’76 model. The wrap-around rear window appeared in the previous year, but I think the nose treatment and grille design looks classy but suitably aggressive for a vehicle of this genre. I am not alone in this thinking because 1976 also marked a sales record for the Trans Am. While overall Firebird sales were an impressive 110,775 vehicles, it was a year when 46,704 buyers paid the extra for the Trans Am version. That improved by a significant margin on the previous year’s total of 27,274. This Pontiac looks stunning in Firethorn Red. The paint holds an incredible depth of color and shine, and when combined with the traditional graphics and Screaming Chicken, it is guaranteed to turn heads. There are no visible flaws, with the panels also close to perfect. That brings us to the point where we must consider the possible presence of rust. Potential buyers need not worry on that front. The panels look clean, and the underside shows the factory undercoat is intact. Some readers may not like the 17″ Ridler wheels, but they could prove an acquired taste. The buyer should experience no problems sourcing a set of factory wheels if a more conventional appearance is desired.

Lifting the hood reveals the numbers-matching 455ci V8 that would have packed 200hp in its prime. Pontiac only offered a four-speed manual with this motor in that model year, allowing the Trans Am to cover the ¼ mile in 16.4 seconds. For buyers in 1976, the days of 14-second ETs must have seemed a world away. The seller has gone to great lengths to recapture that era by rebuilding the engine with significant upgrades. It has been overbored and fitted with ROSS flat-top pistons on polished and shot-peened 1962 Super Duty conrods. The crankshaft received the same treatment, the engine is balanced, and an upgraded camshaft should help this engine’s cause. The original cylinder heads are ported and polished, and this TLC results in a power output of 404hp and a torque figure of 530 ft/lbs. There’s no point in having a million horsepower if the car cannot apply it to the road. The original four-speed transmission sits in the shed, and a five-speed Tremec unit feeds the raging ponies to a 30-spline 3.73 Posi rear end. The suspension features many QA1 components to improve the handling while stopping power comes courtesy of four-wheel power disc brakes. The seller provides a selection of YouTube videos that allow us to see and hear the car running and driving. That beautiful 455 sounds fantastic, with no smoke or odd noises. Once again, most of the changes made are reversible, with the seller including the original parts for those wishing to pursue that path.

The impressive presentation levels continue when we open the doors and inspect this Trans Am’s interior. Apart from an upgraded stereo, it looks remarkably unmolested. The Red vinyl trim shows no evidence of wear, the dash and pad are excellent, while the beautiful machine-turned gauge fascia has avoided the common wear problems. There is no crumbling plastic or signs of UV damage. It isn’t loaded with factory options, but the inclusion of ice-cold air conditioning and a tilt wheel are welcome.

While it may not appeal to those seeking an original survivor, this 1976 Trans Am has struck a chord with a significant group of enthusiasts. This becomes apparent when we realize that in the five days since the auction went live, it has attracted an incredible 133 bids. If it were 100% original, I would expect the bidding to top $55,000 before it came close to the reserve. However, the mechanical upgrades make it challenging to determine where the price may go before the hammer falls. One thing seems inevitable; whoever buys this Trans Am will become the owner of a classic with performance that matches its stunning good looks. I can’t think of a negative in that scenario. Can you?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. PRA4SNW

    Lots of custom work on this upper echelon T/A. Only 8 hours left and Reserve Not Met with 133 bids. It will be interesting to see if there is a bidding frenzy at the end.

    Like 5
  2. Chris

    Being a child in the 70s I guess I’m too stuck on Smokey and the Bandit and prefer the front end of the ‘77 better. But this is one awesome looking car! Performance wise it’d leave Bandit in the dust.

    Like 8
  3. Connecticut mark

    Beautiful car, just dump the rims.

    Like 16
  4. bobhess bobhessMember

    Good looking car!

    Like 4
  5. Michelle RandStaff

    The Trans Am that Pontiac should have built. Still, if the price goes up too much more, we are verging on Super Duty territory, and that’s what my pocketbook would prefer.

    Like 3
    • Paul

      have you look at the price of SD T/A that are as nice is this? over 100,000.

      Like 1
  6. Ike Onick

    Listing ended.

    Like 1
  7. Mitch

    50k for this? I’d leave that with a 944S2 Porsche in the dust.
    The standard TA 6.6 is a gas guzzler with avg 16L/100 KM
    then a bored with 7.6L and 400 (SAE probably?) between
    20 and 30L/100 KM. Some ppl must have deep pockets just
    for the fuel bill.

    Like 2
  8. BrianT BrianTMember

    This is a tastefully done car with the right upgrades.

    When you buy a car like this you aren’t looking for fuel mileage. The 5 speed will help a bit though.

    Like 7
  9. JoeNYWF64

    “Favorite version of the Trans Am from a styling perspective?”
    I’d rather see a ’70-’73 nose on this.

    Like 1
  10. Paul Wustrack

    I like everything he did to this beautiful Firebird Trans Am, everything done to the car is all the upgrades everybody wants to do all on one car and kept it looking stock except for the rims. The rims kind of remind me of SS craigers

    Like 1
    • JoeNYWF64

      These cars especially (& many other classic muscle cars ’68 & later) IMO look much better with RWL(or outline RWL) tires than with blackwalls. Would have been better to spend the money on a much better looking ’70-’73 nose – stock or fiberglass, instead of on those wheels. & go from stock skinny 225-70-15(still can corner with .815g’s with those!) to wider shorter lighter 235-60-15(or similar) tires. Not a fan of the shovel nose birds, especially ’76 whose front bumper looks just too big, IMO – the black bumpers of the ’74-75 look a lot slimmer & actually provide a lot better protection & can take a hit! My ’74 bird was hit in the back by a ’70s vette & there was thousands of dollars damage to it, while my bird’s black rear rubber bumper just had to be touched up with black paint & slightly straightened out – cost $49! – back in the late ’70s. Those wheels on there now are heavier & will numerically decrease the rear axle ratio – both will slow the car down, & make this very rough riding car on bad roads ride even worse. Not to mention will make it much easier to bend a wheel or blow out a tire on bad roads. lol If you have no such roads in your area, God bless you. Not here – there are several county(the worse) roads that have never been repaved since i started driving in ’72!(& probably a lot earlier than that) – just patched terribly every so often.
      Not sure if this ’76 still has to pass emissions & even if not, CAFE might not like inspecting & seeing an aftermkt cat converter on there. I assume if this car winds up in any other state, no cat & true duals are coming.
      Even the 4 wheel disc brakes may be unnec, because i remember reading that stock front discs/rear drums on a ’70s t/a actually stopped shorter than a lighter 4WD brake ’70s vette!

      Like 1

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