455 Equipped: 1977 Pontiac Trans Am

By 1977, tightening emission laws were strangling the power of the mighty V8. However, the owner of this 1977 Pontiac Trans Am has taken matters into his own hands. An engine upgrade will have transformed this car and should return some of that lost performance. Now it needs a new owner to tidy a few of this classic’s rough edges. The Trans Am is located in Natrona Heights, Pennsylvania, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. The BIN has been set at $12,000, but there is the option to make an offer.

At first glance, this Buccaneer Red Pontiac presents well. On closer inspection, it is evident that the paint is starting to peel away. The owner states that this is happening more with each wash. However, it seems to be mainly affecting the plastic components, which makes me wonder whether the wrong primer was used when the vehicle underwent a previous repaint. This is something that could be determined by personal inspection. Looking past this issue, the body looks good. There are no rust problems, and the owner describes the entire vehicle as being solid and clean. He also says that there is no Bondo anywhere, and the consistent panel gaps are a reassuring sign. The panels themselves are straight, and the graphics look tidy. The Trans Am rolls on a set of aftermarket wheels, but as you are about to see, these are the tip of the iceberg.

The Trans Am originally came equipped with the 403ci Olds V8, which would have produced a reasonable 185hp. The original cylinder block is included in the sale, but what occupies the engine bay now is something distinctly more potent. This is a 1974-vintage 455, which is backed by a Turbo 350 transmission. The Pontiac also features power steering, power brakes, with cooling duties performed by an aluminum radiator. The engine upgrade doesn’t end with merely bolting the 455 into the engine bay. The engine has been treated to a set of 6x cylinder heads. There is also an Edelbrock Performer intake and an Edelbrock 750cfm 4-barrel carburetor. The spent gases exit via a set of headers and a custom Flowmaster dual exhaust. This engine would have been producing 250hp in its original home, but I suspect that there are a few more ponies on the loose now. This is a classic that would originally have covered the ¼ mile in 16.6 seconds. I believe that a low 15-second pass is now a possibility. The transmission has recently been serviced and has received new seals. The suspension has been fitted with new bushes, and the Trans Am rolls on a new set of tires. All of this hard work has produced results because the owner states that the Pontiac drives well.

The interior of the Trans Am is quite tidy, but I have to admit that this photo has me confused. It is hard to tell whether there is an issue with the quality of the image or whether the dash bezel is suffering from significant deterioration. If it has deteriorated, there are a couple of options open to the buyer. There is a decal kit that mimics the original finish, and these sell for under $50. The other option is to replace the bezel entirely. New items can be hard to find, but pristine secondhand ones can be sourced for around $200. The only other issue is a tear in the top of the rear seat. This might be able to be blind patched, but if this is due to UV damage, then a new cover might be required. Beyond that, the interior presents quite nicely. From a functional perspective, there is no heater core, and it seems that some of the original air conditioning components have been removed. The owner also says that the tach and fuel gauge are inoperative. Otherwise, everything works as it should. Comfort features include power windows and a CD player.

It is possible to find some tidy examples of the 1977 Pontiac Trans Am on the market for under $20,000, although prices can rise steeply from there. This one is neither original nor is it pristine. However, it does hold the promise of some entertaining motoring. The fact that it is rust-free is a strong selling point because that is one problem that can significantly impact these classics. All of its needs could potentially be addressed in a home workshop, making it a strong candidate for a DIY project. Is it one that you would tackle?


  1. Mitchell Gildea Member

    Set of Snowflakes or Rally IIs and this car will be perfect

    Like 5
    • Oddimotive Cason Oddimotive Cason Member

      Absolutely, but the Centerline Champ 500s (or replicas?) on it now are exactly what we wanted on a car like this in the 80s and early 90s. It would be cool to keep both on hand.

      Like 5
      • DarrylB

        Those Champ 500s scream 80s build. I had a similar set on a Camaro back in the day and still have a soft spot in my heart for them.

  2. JohnfromSC

    Well the price isn’t that far off the top end when you consider what it will take to put HVAC including modern AC unit, plus paint – if the paint is for the elastomeric pieces only. If it needs more than that, then it is no bargain for sure.

    I’m more concerned with the TH350 tranny taking all the torque from that 455 CI. Stock 350s weren’t the stoutest, so unless it were purposely rebuilt you might find some gears on the street if you got on this one too hard.

    Like 5
  3. Marko

    They painted a Pontiac engine orange…………………..Oh the sacrilege.

    Other than that, fix up the minor things that need doing, maybe put on a set of Rallye II wheels, or even a set of the restomod 17 inch Rallye II inspired wheels, and just have fun with this Trans Am.

    Buddy of mine had a brand new Trans Am, identical to this. In 1979 he decided it needed more oomph, and had our local Pontiac dealer order and install a 1970 or 71 455cid short block, Ram Air heads, and Hooker long tube headers. Around Christmas 1980, a 14 year old kid got drunk, stole his mothers 1974 Ford LTD, and crashed it into my buddies car, in front of his apartment building. Car written off, he bought back the wreck for $500 bucks. Planned on putting the motor in a 1970 Firebird Esprit he bought to replace it, and never did. He sold the motor to a mechanic buddy of ours, who rebuilt it after sitting for a decade, and it now resides in his 1969 Firebird, that he has owned since 1976, that his dad gave him for a high school grad present. The ‘Bird has risen from the ashes, and is a 500hp firebreathing monster.

    Like 2
    • JoeNYWF64

      Surprised the dealer would do that, with emission laws & such back then.
      I would be quite sure that the mods were not done at a California dealer. CARB would have a fit!

      Even the HVAC CONTROLS have been removed here – might as well go with Vintage air. Or leave it alone if in a yearround warm non humid climate. Or will not drive it in cold weather.

      Like 1
      • Marko

        It was in Western Canada. No regulatory emissions testing, either back in the 1970’s or nowadays. We do try and be environmentally responsible though, save for the “Rolling Coal” diesel pickup crowd.

  4. 455RAIV

    A 6X 455 if done right should be at least a 13 sec. car . NHRA Rates a Stock 6X 400 at 285 hp – can make 570 hp in Super Stock :)

    Like 2

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