Estate Sale Survivor: 1978 Pontiac Trans Am WS6

Sometimes classic cars are far more than mere steel and glass. Take this 1978 Pontiac Trans Am as an example. The lady owner has cherished this car and the memories it has created for her with her late husband. It represents a tangible link between her and the man that she loved. That must have made her decision to part with this beautiful car one that was fraught with emotions. Thankfully, potential buyers seem to recognize all of this, and the bidding has been pretty spirited since the Trans Am was listed for sale here on eBay. It is located in Galion, Ohio, and the bidding has already sailed beyond the low reserve to sit at $20,100. With time left on this listing, the opportunity remains available for one of our readers to stake their claim on this stunning survivor.

For enthusiasts, this Pontiac will undoubtedly tick a lot of the right boxes. For me, it stands out for a simple reason. Pontiac offered a host of attractive paint shades in 1978, but Martinique Blue is the pick of the bunch for me. That is the color that graces this car’s panels, and the seller indicates that most of it is original. That suggests that the Trans Am may have received some touch-up work in the past, but there are no details on what this may have entailed. It holds an impressive depth of shine, while the iconic graphics look crisp and clean. It is a classic that has led a sheltered existence because it only ventured outdoors when its owners took it to car shows. The seller states that the car has never seen wet weather, which has helped it remain completely rust-free. The panels look clean, and the floors and trunk pan are rock solid. There are no visible dings and dents, and the doors show no signs of sagging that can develop with age. The Snowflake wheels are as clean as you are ever likely to find, while the T-Top is crystal clear and free from leaks. The original pouches for the glass panels are in the trunk, as is the original spare and jack.

Apart from rust issues, one of the recognized weak points of Trans Ams from this era is interior trim. Plastic pieces could deteriorate when exposed to UV rays, while cloth and carpet didn’t age gracefully. The next owner of this Pontiac won’t need to spend much inside this car because it is one of the nicest preserved examples that I’ve seen. The carpet may be slightly faded, but that’s one of the few flaws worth noting. However, the deterioration is so minor that I would struggle to justify spending $200 on a replacement carpet set if I were to find this survivor parked in my garage. The black cloth on the seats has some slight wrinkling, but its condition is excellent for a driver-grade classic. The plastic looks spotless, the same is true of the dash and pad, and the engine-turned gauge cluster looks crisp and clean. It’s worth noting that this interior isn’t loaded with optional extras. There’s an AM/FM stereo radio and a tilt wheel. There are no power windows, and who needs air conditioning when you can pop out the roof panels on a warmer day?

While the original owner may not have splashed the cash on interior appointments, they did their best to extract the best performance available from its drivetrain. The engine bay houses the 400ci Pontiac V8 that should be churning out 220hp. Those horses find their way to the rear wheels via a three-speed automatic transmission, with power steering and power front disc brakes rounding out what we can see. As you will learn shortly, there is a worthwhile option ordered by the original owner that should make this gem easier to live with when the going becomes twisting. This drivetrain combination can fire the Trans Am through the ¼ mile in a neat 16 seconds, which wasn’t far off the best that a buyer could hope for in 1978. Swapping the automatic for a four-speed would’ve improved that ¼-mile ET, but only by around a tenth of a second. For collectors, it’s worth noting that this car is a fully numbers-matching vehicle. The owner indicates that the motor has never been pulled for any reason, and the listing shows an odometer reading of 76,000 miles. There is no mention of whether this figure is genuine, but it seems plausible when you consider the overall condition. One of the boxes that the original owner ticked on this car was for the WS6 Performance Package. In addition to those 15″ snowflake wheels, it brought larger sway bars and more direct steering to the table. Those changes helped make the Trans Am more sure-footed on winding roads. Not only is this vehicle numbers-matching, but it is a turn-key proposition for its next owner. The seller says that it runs and drives perfectly and that the transmission shifts smoothly.

I’ve had the privilege of writing about several thousand vehicles here at Barn Finds, and while many of them have been stunning, none has left quite the impression of this 1978 Trans Am. This is one of those rare moments where we have a chance to peel away the steel and glass to expose the story that hides beneath. It is hard to doubt that the owner loves this car, and its overall condition is indicative of a classic that has been treated with care and respect. I can only hope that its next owner continues this trend, and if that person happens to be one of our readers, I can see no reason to doubt that. Do you feel tempted to become the next custodian of this beautiful survivor?


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  1. A.G.

    The seller tells a nice story but the passenger door tells a much different story. I would expect the lower body panels to have similar corrosion. Previous panel repair could be the reason for the ‘mostly original’ paint.

    Like 2
    • Daren J Salvato

      The screaming eagle decal on the rear quarter panel is a dead give away the it is aftermarket. I’ve never seen it before and when I looked at lots of 78’s it is not present. It sticks out like a sore thumb to me. Yuck! Also crank windows in that car is a bummer.

      Like 4
    • Amanda k wilburn

      The seller tells a story because hes a fraud, begged my grandma for the car, said hed keep it in the shop he displays cars and sells it within two weeks and gave her a crap amount. But sells it for double? Jim Hedges is definitely a crap person and will forever be. Karma will come around.

  2. S

    One comment – when an automatic transmission was ordered on a 1978 Trans Am, you got the regular 180 hp Pontiac 400 engine, the same as what you’d get in a Bonneville or Catalina (compression of 7.8:1 I believe). If you got the 4 speed, you got the slightly higher compression “T/A 6.6” Pontiac 400 engine, which gave you 220 hp (8.2:1 compression I believe). It is not a huge difference, but you did not get the same engine with an automatic as with a manual transmission. That aside, I agree that the Martinique Blue paint on this is very attractive. And the WS6 suspension package is a great option. In 79 I believe they also added rear disc brakes when the WS6 option was ordered – unfortunately 78 didn’t have them. It appears to have the cloth interior – which is nice, since the interior is black. If it were vinyl, I don’t think many people like sitting on black vinyl on a hot day, especially with no a/c.

    Like 3
    • Robbie R.

      Nope, not in 1978. The 220hp TA 6.6 Pontiac engine was available in both auto and manual transmissions. It was limited to manual trans only in 1979.

      Like 13
    • Mike Freeman

      Can’t speak specifically to the 78 but I bought a brand new 77 with the T/A 6.6 and a TH350. It was a whopping $50 option and the only visual difference under the hood was those cheap chrome valve covers that this one seems to have come with too. I think the drivetrain is probably legit.

      Like 1
    • Dalesws6

      Not true, early 78’s could be had with either transmission. Midway thru 78 the mandatory 4 speed was imposed. I know because I ordered one with automatic & TA 6.6 and Pontiac sent a letter stating that the automatic was no longer available With the 220hp engine. This was in April 1978.

  3. S

    Another comment – I don’t think the bird decals above the rear parking light lenses are original. The bird decals on either side of “Trans Am” on the rear spoiler I definitely do not think are original – I have never seen that. Also, the air cleaner says “T/A 6.6” but it should say “6.6 Litre”, since it would have the 180 hp Pontiac 400 engine since it has an automatic transmission.

    Like 8
    • Robbie R.

      You are correct on the bird decals on rear quarters. They were not original. Scoop decals are correct since this is the real deal 220hp version, not the 180.

      Like 9
      • W72WW3

        No inflator bottle thatcI can see for the space saver tire.

        Like 1
  4. Jon

    Had a friend that had one, never saw a gas station it didn’t want to stop at.

    Like 2
  5. Jeff Inwood

    This is a good car the only difference I would of made if ordering would of been a 4 speed manual and no T-tops.

    Like 1
  6. Stan

    Whats the rear gear on this autobox firechicken 🐔 ?

  7. jwaltb

    Quite the puff piece, Adam. Did the owner pay you by the number of superlatives?

    Like 1

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