Live Auctions

Bandit Hit The Lotto: 1988 Pontiac Trans Am GTA Convertible

Everyone knows that the Bandit was a little flamboyant.  Well, a lot flamboyant.  He would go to a minister’s funeral dressed in feathers.  Or so I have heard.  Anyway, we also remembered that the Bandit has a love for Trans Ams.  If we had been treated to a Smokey and the Bandit 4 in 1988 (we deserved something after Smokey 3), and the plot centered around the Bandit winning the lottery, this might have been the car he bought.  Unfortunately, that was a lot of years and a lot of miles ago.  However, older Trans Ams, like the Bandit, still have their charms.  Found on Craigslist in Nashville, Tennessee, this 1988 Pontiac Trans Am GTA convertible is being sold for $6500.  It has a lot of miles on it, but it still looks good.  Is this beauty Bandit approved?

The first thing you need to know about this convertible is that it is very rare.  Pontiac contracted with ASC to cobble up these chop top Trans Ams, and only 104 of these beasts were built.  That number includes every model from Firebirds to Trans Am GTAs.  Given that this one has the 5.7 liter engine, which was only available in an automatic, this one is an exceptionally rare and well optioned car.  If you were picking up a Trans Am to sock away for future appreciation, you’d probably have a hard time finding a better candidate.  For us speed freaks, the next year would offer the 3.8 liter Buick V-6 from the Buick Regal Grand National in a special GTA for the 20th anniversary of the Trans Am.  Still, 1988 model with a Corvette 350 is no slouch.  I don’t know about you folks, but I would need a Goodyear credit card to keep me in rear tires.

When looking at this car, you need to wrestle with the idea that it has 166,000 miles on it.  Given that high mileage cars are usually rough internally and externally, this one looks to have been kept in good condition.  The owner doesn’t give us any description of the car’s mechanical condition, but it has been kept in original condition and it has no rust.  Most likely it was a garaged play toy for the owner.  Being essentially a factory sanctioned custom convertible, it is no surprise that some of the custom parts are a little worse for wear.  Take a look at the deck lid under the spoiler.  If this is metal, then I would guess that someone packed the trunk a little too tight and forced the issue with their gorilla strength.  If it is fiberglass, it wasn’t built with the proper reinforcement and has warped.  Either way, this is no Bueno for travel in wet weather.

The front end looks a little wonky as well.  The noses on these were plastic, and it is not outside the realm of possibility for them to be warped.  However, either the hood is not shut all the way, or there are some alignment issues here.  It could be from a wreck, or it may be Pontiac’s stellar build quality at the time.  I’d look underneath this one very carefully.

Inside, the condition is amazing for a car of this age and mileage.  On most any car with this many miles on it, the seat bolsters would be ripped to shreds, especially with ones that protrude like these.  The only flaw I see is that the seat belt protector has begun to crumble, but you’d likely not miss it if it were surgically removed.  Everything else on this car is top of the line.  The options include power windows and locks, cruise control, air conditioning, power mirrors, and a premium stereo system with steering wheel controls.  It looks like a nice place to spend some time in.

Under the hood is the 5.7 liter, 350 cubic inch small block V-8 lifted from the Corvette that year.  Everything looks in place, factory stock, and filthy.  An engine detail would do wonders here, but we are lucky that the owner hasn’t done it yet.  Look at the dirt on the white sheet metal at the front of the engine compartment.  It looks to match the rest of the dirt, lessening the chances that this car was hit in the front end.  That is, unless it happened a long time ago.  Hopefully the gaps are just from the hood not being closed all the way.

So, what we have here is a flashy, rare, and beautiful Trans Am convertible with a few flaws and a lot of miles on the clock.  The owner is asking $6500, and while that might not be the right price now, it will be the right price soon.  Cars like this one are on the short list of eighties collectibles, and there are a lot of buyers out there for unmodified cars in good condition.  Third generation Camaros, Firebirds, and Trans Ams with 350 cubic inch engines are especially prized.  If an inspection reveals that the car has been well taken care of, then the miles probably won’t matter as much.   This one seems to be pretty nice, and the options are oh so right.  The Bandit would approve.

The question is whether or not you readers think it would be worth $6500.  Let me know why or why not.


  1. T Mel

    If everything checks out to be as good as you could hope given what we know already, I’d say the price might be close to a good number, maybe just a bit high.

    • BWax11

      High priced? $6500.00!!! It’s mint and 1 of 104.

  2. nessy

    That convertible top set up does not look like a conversion done by ASC. It would have a folding hard boot to start with. Just like the Camaro ASC convertibles built at this time.

  3. irocrob

    I have a 1988 Iroc convert made by ASC and the top does not look like that. Mine folds up manually and is covered by a hard plastic almost level boot. It is slick to operate. Also I question a 5.7 as the Irocs only had a tpi 305 like mine as the top engine.Cloth seats in a GTA are rare as well. A strange car but not much money.

    Like 1
    • nessy

      Yes, I have an 88 Iroc-Z convertible too and this top set up was not done by ASC for sure. The 350 was not offered in the convertibles, not that it mattered when you had the convertible..

  4. Scot Douglas

    Area code “165”?

  5. Vin in NJ

    That bend in the trunk and the missing reflector strip under the right tail light would cause me concern. I suspect there was a tap in the rear

  6. dirtyharry

    Certainly seems fair like a fair price. 5.7 TPI is pretty robust and based on the old small block design (pre-LT1), parts are cheap and plentiful. I recently installed a water pump, stat, radiator, hose set and heater core on a similar car, my ROCK auto parts bill was under $300. I personally like the look of these cars. They handled well and had great torque. They pull very hard until 4,500 rpm. In reality, TPI can’t flow enough for any serious high rpm power. They offered a notchback as well, as a dealer option. I still love the Pontiac era, they built something I could afford and wanted.

  7. Jay M

    If only this was an 89 TTA…i would already be at the airport.

  8. Tommy D

    Looks like a Fiero on steroids!

  9. Duane Boda

    Looks like someone miniaturized the original model….

    and this is the end result. No way…..not for me. 🤦‍♂️

  10. Andres Rodriguez

    The looks good also own one of 104 made that year it has138000 and looks little bit better then that one but it’s still nice car get compliments on my car all the time.i believe in about 10 years people going to talk about passing this rare bird up…….

  11. Archer H

    Everyone thinks that is the wrong motor but back then you could get the 5.7 motor but you had to order it. Friend of mine had one with t-tops. He had to special order it with that motor. The top is not ASC though.

  12. slimwhitman

    This is not an ASC converted car. Probably a Straman since they were the only other outfit converting them as late as 1988. Nothing wrong with a Straman!

  13. Andres Rodriguez

    Not an asc for sure….

    Like 1
    • Andres Rodriguez

      Pretty sure the cover is not of a asc

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