A Bird Of My Youth: 1978 Pontiac Trans Am

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This 1978 Pontiac Trans Am just screams the late 1970’s to me, which happens to be when I took driver’s education classroom training while I was looking forward to the day I got my license for the first time. One of the “shock pictures” they showed us to try to temper our young enthusiasm was the result of a Trans Am in this color that had been collected by a train. It’s an image that stuck, because to a 14 year old, this was as cool and as fast a car as there could be (not really, but what did I know) and it didn’t even “beat the train.” This car seems to have managed to survive the decades not only intact, but in beautiful condition, and is now for sale in Huntington Beach, California. Thanks to regular commenter BobsMyUncle for calling this car to our attention!

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In my adrenaline-filled, youthful mind, this was the view most other drivers would see of Trans Ams, and the bold decal on the back was so that the vanquished would know what had just passed them (it had to be big because the passing speed was such that they wouldn’t have long to read it). In reality, many Trans Ams were, like this one, fitted with the Oldsmobile 403 V8 instead of the possibly more desirable Pontiac 400, and weren’t as fast as they looked.

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In an ideal world this beautiful blue would be the original paint, but the seller does tell us that it’s been repainted once. Based on the shine alone the job looks very nice, but a closer examination would be helpful. To be honest, I’m not a fan of the Cragar Super Sport wheels, but they were certainly common in the day and they wouldn’t stop me from being interested in the car. I’m a huge fan of the “snowflake” factory wheels (although they are a pain to keep clean!) I also like the fact that the paint scheme is something other than the iconic Bandit black and gold.

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The interior looks truly outstanding, with what I’m pretty sure are the original velour seats and uncracked dash top reflecting the 34,726 miles and preservation care taken during the car’s life so far. While the seller tells us that the car drives, handles, shifts and stops perfectly, they also state that the air conditioning doesn’t include the compressor. They also don’t show us any pictures under the hood–a major faux pas as far as I’m concerned. There’s no way I’d be paying the buy-it-now price here on eBay without seeing the engine, but as BobsMyUncle pointed out in the submission, it would be almost impossible to refurbish the inexpensive 1979 Trans Am we recently featured to this level without paying considerably more money, especially if you had any of the work done professionally. Ultimately, I have two questions for you: 1) Does this Trans Am bring up any memories for you? and 2) what are the iconic cars of your youth, and do you still feel the same way about them that you did at the time?

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Comments

  1. Blueprint

    I was 10 when this one was new, and in my blue-collar ‘burb these birds were everywhere! I remember seeing only a single one without the optional screaming chicken. Bucket list car, if only for the memories!

    Original exhaust tips don’t seem to be there. That and a set of oem wheels and I’d call it done!

  2. AMC STEVE

    Yes I got my drivers license in 79. They were a dime a dozen disco boy cars then and still a lot of them out there.

  3. rmward194

    Definitely needs the factory honeycomb wheels and a lower price

  4. Bobsmyuncle

    I mentioned in that earlier thread that these were on my radar as of late.

    Well that is quite a momentous turn of events as my memories of these are tainted by mustaches, gold chains, polyester and chest hair. Even as a young boy I didn’t gravitate to the Bandit car like most of my peers. Same effect tainted Corvettes and Fox Bodies.

    I’m not even sure how it happened to be honest. But a white T/A with the snowflake wheels would be right up my alley these days.

    I wonder what else might start enticing me.

    For the most part my taste in cars hasn’t changed since those formative years, aside from perhaps becoming slightly refined.

  5. OhU8one2

    I myself would only take the 400ci,with 4spd. Disc all the way around. HELL it would have to be a Macho T/A!

    • Al8apex

      Very FEW people even KNOW about the DKM Mechan Macho cars

      Kudos

  6. kman

    Yeah, but I had the ’75 Formula 400. Better cuz it DIDN’T have the screaming chicken on the hood. And better because in California it is the cut off year for modifying some of the cursed smog equipment. I live in Canada and I took it too a friendly garage who knew about carbs and they dismembered all that crap. The exhaust became a single pipe right behind engine bay so the cast iron headers went and the beads were dropped as we said back then, (removed the catalytic converter), and installed a nice pair of dual exhausts all the way back. When I drove it south I had no problem filling it with leaded in WA but OR has a law that one cannot pump one’s own gas. The attendant has to do it. First place I stopped the guy told me he couldn’t put leaded gas in it cuz there was a label under the filler saying unleaded only. I’m thinking, damn what now? I’m hooped. Then he said I’ll fix it for you. He grabbed a roll of masking tape and stuck a piece over the offensive lettering. Then he filled the tank and I was off. What a car. Could cruise all day at a 100 mph or more and never run out of breath. The most comfortable highway cruiser I ever owned to this day. I don’t know about the Old’s engine but maybe something could be done with it. Anyone on here know what is possible?

  7. Charles

    This looks like a very nice example! Being a TA person from way back, this car deserves to have reproduction wheels and tires installed to replace the aftermarket ones.

  8. TBall

    Thanks for sharing, but I must be a bit older than Bobsmyuncle. Even though I love this car, it came about some 3 years after high school for me. (And yes, the color is standout – much better than the thousands of Bandit Black cars). For me there were are three – the first lime gold ’68 Shelby I saw peeking it’s nose out of it’s garage; the ’70 Boss 302 one of my older shop classmates drove; and the lime-gold ’68 Cougar XR7 that turned out to be my first.

  9. JW

    Had a friend who bought a new one of these but in Gold ( YUK ) and it was a fast car for it’s time. I like this blue one better and I’m sorry to say I dig the Cragar SS wheels as I came to drive in the late sixties (69) and those were all the rage just like Thrush mufflers.

  10. Kincer Dave Member

    I love these, my uncle has one in this color he bought brand new in 78, he ordered it without the bird on the hood, WS6 suspension pkg, deep dish honeycombs, and the Pontiac 400 and automatic, it is still like new and garage kept.

  11. The Chucker

    No T-tops is a bonus IMO. Personally, I wouldn’t want one from this era that has them.

    • Bobsmyuncle

      I agree!

  12. FiremanDan

    Had the privilege of taking my Uncle’s 76 silver Trans Am to prom in 80. With the advice “don’t do anything I wouldn’t do…..”

    • Van

      LOL. I was drifting a 1970 RA formula at the time. Drifting wasn’t a thing at the time. When you put an oversized sway bar on the back, and don’t stiffen the front, cornering is a challenge. I told my fiance I would behave the first time she went for a ride. I just couldn’t do it. Squeel, roar, shift, Squeel roar shift.

  13. James

    Yes, I understand completely.

  14. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    I feel the same as Bob’s Uncle on these. I never really liked them back in the day but find myself staring at them whenever I see one on the road.

    This one is priced right, according to Hagerty, for a #3 car, which this car is, if not better. Someone will probably hit the Buy button.

  15. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    And to answer Jamie’s question about iconic cars of my youth:
    As a 15 year old riding the school bus every day, we would drive by a white ’72 – ’74 ‘Cuda and I lusted after that car. When I saved up enough to buy one at 16, my Dad and I looked at a few and he nixed every one that we looked at, saying they were too powerful or that they were too modified and would have problems. He finally agreed that I could buy a bone-stock ’73 with 318 and automatic on the column.

    Yeah, it was a fun car and looked the part, but I recall it being a slow, ill-handling rattle trap. Definitely not what I had in mind. But, if they weren’t priced in the stratosphere, I wouldn’t mind once again owning another, more muscular one. Or any early 70’s Mopar for that matter.

  16. Darren

    I had a 77 with the poncho 400 as my second car it followed my 305 2 barrel 78 Monte Carlo and felt like a rocket ship in comparison. I took the 400 with me and put it into to my 81 turbo T/A after the 301 thru a rod gaining better heads and Edelbrocks intake and carb . Then put it into my next which was a 78 no power option light weight with a Ram air 3 cam.
    Hope to maybe have just one more late 70s model and do an LS engine someday.

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