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Dry Climate Find: 1978 Pontiac Trans Am

When I recently compiled a list of cars from each decade of the 20th Century that I would gladly park in my garage, the 1970s contribution was a 1978 Pontiac Trans Am in Martinique Blue. I have always liked the styling of the Trans Am, and the color emphasizes its good looks. This Trans Am ticks those boxes, and while I cannot pursue it further, perhaps you would like to live my dream. It has spent most of its life in a dry climate, leaving it as solid as the day it was born. That should make restoration straightforward, a prospect that some might find irresistible. The Pontiac is listed here on Craigslist in Saranac Lake, New York. The seller set their price at $15,000, and with no rust repairs to push the budget through the roof, that figure could be pretty competitive.

This Trans Am’s current location is not what many would consider one of the drier regions of the United States, but it has spent the past twenty years sitting in this barn after finding its way from Texas. The seller states it is rust-free, and nothing visible in the supplied photos contradicts that claim. In such cases, I would always encourage an in-person inspection, but the prone lower body extremities look clean and sound. The state of the paint is unknown, and step one will be to wash this classic to ascertain whether buffing and polishing will leave it presenting acceptably as a survivor-grade vehicle. I would brace for a repaint, but sometimes dust has a knack for preserving the paint it cloaks. The plastic and trim look good for their age, and the original owner’s decision to order this Trans Am with a T-Top adds to its appeal. The Snowflake wheels look like they would respond to careful polishing, and the seller includes a set of Honeycombs for those who prefer that look.

The biggest mystery with this Trans Am revolves around what might or might not hide under its hood. My instinct tells me that there is a lot of fresh air. The lack of visible components through the hole where the scoop should be, and the car’s “nose-up” stance suggest there is nothing but empty space. It is unclear what V8 originally called the engine bay home, but buyers had a few options at their disposal. The 403ci “Olds” V8 delivered 185hp and 320 ft/lbs of torque. However, those opting for the company’s 400ci powerplant received 180hp and 325 ft/lbs for the L78 version and 220hp and 320 ft/lbs for the W72. Locating a date-correct engine shouldn’t pose a challenge if the original has gone, although pursuing the restomod path with something newer and more potent might prove irresistible. It will depend on how important originality is to the new owner.

The seller supplies a single interior shot that tells us little about its condition. However, the dash and pad look good, and other items might present acceptably following cleaning and detailing. The factory radio has made way for a CD player with USB and auxiliary inputs, but I’m unsure what the device mounted above it is. The wheel appears free from wear, and the machine-turned dash fascia is spotless. The new owner won’t receive features like power windows or cruise control, but I believe they will score air conditioning and a tilt wheel.

I will rarely look at a classic with no rust and reasonable presentation and describe it as a blank canvas, but that term is appropriate with this 1978 Pontiac Trans Am. It might not be complicated or expensive to whip its panels, paint, and interior into an acceptable shape. However, the major cost involved in this build could be sourcing something appropriate to slide into the engine bay. The possibilities are endless, from a correct V8 to something more modern and powerful. What would be your choice if you gave this Pontiac a new home?


  1. BlisterEm Member

    It’s dueling write up day! Russ v Adam. Let’s Goooo!

    Like 1
  2. Big Bear 🇺🇸

    Since it doesn’t have engine and the front end is very light in weight. If so a nice 455 putting out over 500HP and 4 or 5 speed automatic would do the job. Just hope the TA need a good detail work. To bring to paint to a nice shine.😄 Leave the outside stock and have a fun sleeper. Yeah it’s a stock TA . But under the hood would surprise many. It’s worth looking at. Check it out before the season snow comes! 🐻🇺🇸

    Like 7
  3. Danny G

    It’s definitely a great candidate for a resto mod, but I’d rather have a 70 Trans Am instead, just on power and looks alone. But heh, each to their own….

    Like 4
  4. George Mattar

    If that car has been on that dirt for 20 years in upstate NY, a potential buyer had best take a look underneath. There are thousands of these late 70s TAs around in far better shape for between $5,000 and $10,000 more that you could get in and drive.

    Like 0
  5. John

    I wish I lived closer! I noticed that the car is actually an automatic. He has it listed as standard.\, but the pedals tell me differently. Eather, he forgot what transmission this has OR this is a scam?

    Like 0
  6. JoeNYWF64

    I don’t think the SE Gothic decal letters were available on blue T/A’s from the factory.

    Like 0

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