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6.6 Liters Of Fun: 1979 Trans AM

1979 Pontiac Trans Am

We all know V8s were highly strangled by the time this Trans Am was built, but the 6.6 liter V8 that powers this still has to be fun! This one has, according to the seller, been sitting in a barn for about 10 years and is listed here on craigslist in Carbondale, Illinois and is priced at $4K.

'79 Trans Am engine

This Trans AM’s V8 is coupled to an automatic transmission, unlike the last one of these we featured which had a 4-speed. The owner says this car runs and drives good. With the catalytic convert and the hood scoop intake block out plate installed, power was down to just 220 horsepower. While we are not encouraging or condoning the removal of either devices, we will say their removal should bring power back up to near pre-1970 levels.

'79 Trans Am int

This package comes with new carpets still in box and another set of doors. The seats will likely also need to be recovered, but maybe you could get by with just a good cleaning!

'79 Trans Am seats

It appears the right door is damaged. The sell doesn’t offer any information about what happened, but at lease the car comes with a new set of doors.

'79 Trans AM right door

Other then the right door, the body looks to be in pretty good shape. The owner does not want any trades, but hopefully they are willing to take less than their asking for this project. So, is a Trans AM in your near future?



  1. OhU8one2

    The engine decal on the hood shaker should say 6.6 LITRE ,seeing that the car has an automatic transmission. So the car has to have the Old’s 403 ci engine. T/A 6.6 was used on only the 4-speed cars,and they had the true Pontiac 400 ci motor. Now the hot performance tip: install a advanced curve kit,true dual exhaust with X-pipe,add a H/O Racing turbo kit and the car will blast down the road. I’m smiling just cause of the memories. Life was good.

    Like 1
  2. randy

    My least favorite of all Firebirds and T/A’s.
    I do like the Pontiac 400 though, my mom had a ’73 Grand Prix that would run! Big fat car would bark 2nd gear with the big radials on it.

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  3. Greg

    Removing a “block out plate” (whatever that is) and cat will restore to pre 1970 level? Really? Stop writing such flowery over generalized crap

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    • Josh Staff

      Greg, the “block out plate” is the plate they installed in the hood scoop so that it wasn’t functional. Simply removing it will turn the scoop into a functional cold air intake (Ram Air), which will increase horsepower. Removing the catalytic converter will also improve power, as it allows the engine to breath easier. Also remember, all those huge horsepower numbers you read in advertising and on the web for pre-1972 cars is gross power, or at the flywheel, and rarely did the cars really put down as much power as stated. So getting this 220 hp V8 up to pre-1970 wheel horsepower probably isn’t as difficult as you think!

      Like 2
  4. JW

    While I prefer the first generation Firebirds if you wanted to get in to a classic for cheap this one wouldn’t be such a bad deal. I would have the original door fixed by a competent bodyshop , install carpet recover seats and drive it.

    Like 2
  5. Art M.

    Price seems fair by today’s standards. As for the T/A 6.6 designation, the Pontiac 400 could be purchased with either The turbo hydromatic or the 4 speed manual. The 403 was only offered with the automatic. I would check closely for rust, since it’s in southern Illinois.

    Like 0
    • Martin B.

      Art, you are correct that the 1977-78 the Pontiac (T/A 6.6) 400 was available with auto or manual trans but required the W72 option. This engine had 200hp in 1977 and 220hp in 1978-79, and these should have the T/A 6.6 decal on the scoop. The base 400 (180hp) and all Olds 403 (automatic only) should be marked 6.6 LITRE but I’ve seen so many rebranded with the improper decals. However, in 1979 the Pontiac 400 (T/A 6.6) W72 engine was available only with the 4 speed. For those who don’t know it’s easy to tell the difference between 1977 to 1979’s, the Olds engines have the oil filler neck at the front of the engine as this one does as seen in the 2nd photo, right next to the alternator. Hope this helps anybody looking into buying one of these.

      Like 0
  6. Hans

    The 403 olds was a good reliable engine but it really needed another 100 hp. to move these 4,000 lb. cars.

    Like 0
  7. randy

    Wow, someone else actually calls it an “engine”!

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    • Tundra/BMW Guy

      I know!!!!!!!!! I thought I was the only one who always thinks engine = internal combustion (of some type) motor = externally sourced power. Seems like almost everyone call an engine a motor?!?!?!?! Never have understood it.
      Electric cars have motors
      Standard cars have engines
      Hybrid cars have a combination of the two
      (I am sure someone will bust my chops about my commoner break down)

      Like 0
    • St.Ramone de V8

      Great! I explained to my kids years ago that engines use fuel, and motors use energy (electricity, vacuum, etc). So, calling a car’s engine a “motor” was kind of wrong. I never should have done this. Like everyone else, I sometimes say “motor” , and when I do my kids are all over me.

      Like 0
  8. Paul R

    The 403 olds engine made decent torque, and with 3.73 gears they were reasonably quick for the era of smog cars.
    I worked in a speed shop in the early 80’s and you would not believe how many T/A owners had no clue that some had an Olds engine under the hood, until they wanted performance parts.

    Like 0
  9. piper62j

    Nice car and IMHO and well worth the price.. Dive in and go..

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  10. Darren

    Olds motor was down on power compared to the Poncho motor. This car looks pretty solid and would still make a fun cruiser .

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  11. piper62j

    From what I remember in aviation and mechanics school, a motor is electric powered and an engine is a reciprocating power producer that uses heat generated by steam or carbon based fuel..

    That said, as a kid growing up around cars and airplanes, we called engines – motors, and motors engines.. Within our gear head community, I think we all know what we mean.. LOL

    Like 0
  12. james burton

    it’s a 403 olds. eng. look were you put oil in it. 400 ponchos were in the valve cover. i’ll bet you the price of the car that the whole rear frame and rear bumper mounts a rotted plum away. everyone of these i’ve looked at(and that’s alot) the rear section would be gone and the exterier would be perfect. could have bought a many for $800 or less at auct.

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  13. Rob

    I had a 79 T/A. Black and gold with the 403 Olds. Cut out the scoop, aftermarket air cleaner and dual exhaust and that puppy was fun! My wife (future wife at the time) was pissed when I sold it. But she got over it when I bought the 87 with T-tops.

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  14. Bob

    I have an original 79 403 (6.6Liter) that’s loaded with a fairly rare color combo and have maintained it and still drive in summers in IL. The underside could use restoration and performance changes as mentioned previously (dual exhaust, induction & gears possibly) but this car when new, would automatically downshift to first at 40 mph when hammered chirp the tires in second. Fine with me. I was a family man with a 5 yr. daughter. I had just sold my 68 Vette a couple years before and still wanted something sporty. Glad I kept it up and garaged for the last 30 years.

    Like 1
  15. Conrad Testamark

    Hi Josh! I would like to ask you a question! Can you put a 7-8 speedtransmission into a trans am.(automatic transmission)

    Like 0

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