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Easy Project? 1978 Pontiac Trans Am

This 1978 Pontiac Trans Am is said to be an unmolested survivor that runs and drives. It will need a cosmetic restoration, but it looks as though the next owner is not going to be facing a mountain of rust repairs with this car. If that sounds like a winning combination to you, then you will find the Pontiac located in Miami, Florida, and listed for sale here on eBay. The BIN price for the Trans Am has been set at $19,900, but there is the option available to make an offer.

When considering American cars of the latter half of the 1970s, there is probably no car that is more iconic than a Starlight Black Trans Am with gold graphics. That is precisely what we have with this car, and on first inspection, it shows a lot of promise. The panels appear to be nice and straight, and the photos of the vehicle’s underside show some surface corrosion, but no rot. The paint is looking tired, but it would be interesting to see how it would respond to a wet sand and a polish. However, I am concerned about some imperfections visible in the rear quarter panel on the driver’s side. I can’t work out whether this is purely a paint issue, or if what we are seeing is some rust developing. Even if it is rust, it doesn’t appear to be too extensive. I am seriously hoping that it is merely a paint imperfection, because even if a full repaint becomes the only viable option to revive the vehicle’s exterior, then that is something that could conceivably be tackled in a home workshop. Regardless of what the final outcome is on that front, the gold graphics and decals have deteriorated markedly, and all of these will require replacement.

The interior of the Trans Am is definitely a highlight because it does appear to be in very nice condition. There is an aftermarket radio/cassette player fitted to the dash, and a pair of speakers have been mounted in the rear parcel tray. Otherwise, it all appears to be stock and unmolested. All of the upholstered surfaces seem to be in good condition, with no signs of any tears, splits, or stains. The dash and pad are close to faultless, and the same is true of the headliner. The dome lamp is missing but finding a replacement should be an easy task. The interior of the Trans Am isn’t loaded down with optional extras, but it does come with factory air conditioning. The reality is that the interior isn’t completely perfect, because it does show some very minor wear in a couple of places. But, for a car that is to be used for a bit of relaxed weekend cruising, it is definitely acceptable.

Lifting the hood gives us a chance to undertake some minor rejoicing. We could have found ourselves facing the Oldsmobile engine, but what we get is Pontiac’s own 400ci V8. This produces 220hp, which is sent to the rear wheels via a 3-speed automatic transmission. It really goes without saying that the vehicle is also equipped with power steering and power brakes. The Pontiac is said to be a full, numbers-matching car, and this is never a bad thing. One interesting aspect of the listing is the fact that the owner provides a close-up photo of the odometer. I am not sure whether he is attempting to indicate that the Trans Am has a genuine 43,000 miles on the odometer, because he makes no mention of this in the text of the listing. The owner states that the Pontiac runs and drives, but he really doesn’t elaborate on how well it does either of these things. I initially found it interesting to note that the car was sitting on “go jacks,” because this often isn’t a great sign with cars. These tend to be used to move a car around when it can’t achieve this feat on its own. However, it looks like these are being used to move the Trans Am around within the confines of the workshop in this case, which would be a pretty smart move. As I said, we don’t get a lot of information on how the vehicle runs and drives, but a look underneath reveals the fact that the majority of the exhaust system appears to be fairly new, along with the shocks. Maybe that’s an indication that the car really is in a solid, roadworthy state.

On face value, this 1978 Pontiac Trans Am looks like the sort of project car where the majority of the restoration work could be undertaken in a home workshop. Those question marks that hang over the imperfections in the quarter panel, along with the question over mileage, are sure to have some impact on the vehicle’s potential value. If the mileage is accurate and can be confirmed, then the BIN price is probably close to the mark.  However, if you are interested in this one, then it might be worth the effort to make a realistic offer. You never know your luck.


  1. flmikey

    Nice car, decent price…funny story about go-jacks…I had my Buick on a set of these, and my boys decided to play “let’s spin dads car around and around”…the fun stopped when they dented the rear quarter…still got the car…and the boys…

    Like 10
  2. Rosco

    Over priced for the condition, and other than A/C it’s a pretty basic low option car.

    Like 8
  3. David G

    Love it. I am one who actually prefers them without the optional T-tops. The vinyl upholstery sure holds up better over the long run than the cloth houndstooth pattern seen on so many of these cars. If I could afford this I would immediately hit the buy it now box.

    Like 6
    • RTS

      It was called hobnail, not houndstooth, and much more comfortable than the vinyl. I agree with the price, over priced, as these are already on their way down.

      Like 8
      • Paul

        RTS? Actually t thought that these are on the way up in value not down according to documented sale prices.
        Am I missing something?

  4. Ryan Hilkemann

    I’ll get Burt Reynolds.

    Like 4
    • Don H

      That might be a little hard to do he’s dead.🇺🇸

      Like 7
    • Jeffro

      Guess I grab the shovel and help you

      Like 7
  5. Gastegall

    Shaker hood decals say “6.6 Litre” indicating that it has an Olds 403 motor. “T/A 6.6” would be the Pontiac 400 motor. It is possible that the decals were changed at some point though.

    Like 3
  6. Donald Sanders

    T/A 6.6 with 220 hp would have chrome valve covers and 6x 4 heads

    Like 2
  7. S

    No, this car has the Pontiac 400 – it is just the 180 hp version.
    The Olds engine was not available until 1979. The “T/A 6.6” was the 220 version and was only available with a 4 speed. In 1978, when you got an automatic, you got the 180 hp Pontiac 400 V8 – which is the same engine as what was offered in a Catalina or a Bonneville. The 180 hp Pontiac V8 said “6.6 Litre” and not “T/A 6.6”.

    Like 4
    • Robbie R.

      Mostly right S. Yep, the hood scoop callout was 6.6 litre for both the 180hp Pontiac 400 and also the 403 used for high altitude areas and CA. However, in 1978 they did equip some of the 220hp TA 6.6 cars with auto trans. Those “TA” engines were only available w 4spd manual trans for 79 model year (actually leftover engines from 78).

      Like 3
  8. Mark Lindstrom

    My mother bought a new 1978 Firebird Formula, yellow, soft velour interior, automatic, great looking car. She let me drive it on dates and to prom my senior year 1980 (what great memories). I was more interested in the performance of my date than the car(both were very satisfactory). Like several readers have stated, these newer Sports cars are too much for the 1978 Formula, but alas, these younger faster, beautiful women are to fast for me( I yearn for the days of my youth) but now I enjoy, worldly, mellow, more mature women and the many memories of the1978 Formula. I noticed the numbers on the odometer are all off center? I don’t remember my mothers odometer being off. I looked at it frequently(didn’t want to put to many miles on it). One date I had wanted to drive to Wisconsin(drinking age was 18). It had 11754 miles. Didn’t dare go over 18000. I think I brought it back with 11795. The next day I herd her question my dad about driving her car too much. I kept quiet.

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