EXCLUSIVE: Dusty 1979 Pontiac Trans Am

UPDATE 11/25/2019 – Ralph had some interest in his Trans Am when we originally listed it for him, but no one pulled the trigger. So, he’s decided to give it another go. So take another look at this T/A and be sure to send him your best offer!

FROM 2/2/2017 – Few things are as exciting as pulling a dust-covered muscle car out of a barn, shed or garage! If you’re in the market for a dusty Trans Am, reader Ralph P happens to have one parked in his carport that needs a good home! He’s owned it for a number of years and has done lots of work to it over the years, but sadly he was in an accident and can no longer care for this T/A. Rather than see her go to waste, he hopes one of you can give her a new life. He’s asking $10k and you can take a closer look at it in San Antonio, Texas. If you are interested, be sure to make Ralph an offer!

From Ralph – I use to work for Andy Granatelli in one of his Auto Service Shops as a Fine Tune Specialist and spent a lot of time working on this Pontiac. The existing power train has approximately 18,000 miles, as stated. Was daily driven then used as a weekend driver to the lake and back, round of about trip 70 miles. To the best of my knowledge, I am the 2nd owner of this T/A. I purchased it in October of 1981. Over the years these systems were upgraded or rebuilt: front to rear power train overhaul, ignition distributor is new along with an Accel Super Coil with cap & rotor, an electronic ignition module is available that is in the trunk. The overhauled took place approximately in 1990. It consists of a 403 engine that was a new purchase from the factory. It was then modified with an Edlebrock aluminum intake, brand new OEM Rochester Carburetor (with heat tube to electric choke which made a world of difference). The cooling system was upgraded from OEM 3 core to a 4 core radiator. A/C converted over to 134A. Plus 2 pull electric fans were installed with on/off switch on console (fan switch on the dashboard only works on low & medium. High does not but have New Fan Switch in the Box to Solve this). I use a 12v socket plug-in fan that takes the place of high setting, but again I have the new fan switch that I will place in the glove box. Also, the alternator was replaced from a 65 amp to a 140 amp, which brought the vehicle’s electrical system & engine to life.

During the overhaul, the cooling system was flushed and switched to 100% pure coolant, this eliminates water pump/heater core & Block rust issues. I also did an oil/filter change with no miles before storing in hopes of reducing corrosion and other issues. Brakes have been bled but may need to be again to due sitting. Rear Posi-Trac has new bearings & axles and filled with synthetic gear fluid. Brakes were overhauled with the power train. I have a set of coil-over springs and shock absorbers that are new in the box for both front & rear. Existing front shocks are OK, but rear air shocks are deflated. I began to prepare to install the new ones but decided to store it instead. Free flow headers connect into a galvanized true dual exhaust system which flows into Flowmasters with single tips on each side out back. After numerous chrome tip replacements, galvanized Tips were the way to go, altogether makes for a deep throaty sound that turns heads.

All these upgrades accomplished reaching the peak volumetric efficiency ratio for a balance of intake to exhaust proficiency. Catalytic converters were next on the list of upgrades but again decided to store the vehicle instead. The goal of the upgrades was to take quirks of an older muscle car, eliminating them while enabling this T/A to meet & endure today’s extreme situations, while staying as close as possible to stock for longevity, dependability, reliability, and efficiency. Since this car was already a beast stock, this seemed like the way to go and is why it is still around and will be for years to come. Even with it being faded, due to time, it attracts attention like you would not believe. PS headlights are the Halogens as OEM were not plus has low profile highway lights under the front nose, one is out replacements available at parts store on/off switch under the dash. Top air filter lid replaced with K&N Mesh Filter for the top of carburetor intake of air & round air filter is Fram. Tires at the time of storing were fairly new and only had lake trip miles, but due to age must check for reliability. Wheels are Centerlines and were upgraded to fit 8-inch width at tire bead. Honey Combs only had a 7-inch width, made a difference and enhanced handling. It does have a set of wheel locks with a key. T/A has window etching and is equipped with an anti-theft alarm set to full sensitivity. Remotes may need new batteries. The car will also need a new battery and some fresh premium gas but will run and was safe & dependable when Stored. Clear title is in my possession.

Body Condition: I’d call it fair. The right front fender is questionable, an old man backed into me at the grocery store. The body shop was supposed to replace it, but instead, Bondo’d it, as it eventually began to show cracks. The spoiler underneath is loose. Small rust spot at the right rear trunk lid lip where rubber seal runs along. Paint is intact but faded, decals purposely not reapplied on the last repaint due to multiple attempts by people trying to steal it. The front nose has acrylic covers attached over headlights, one is cracked. Did make a difference in aerodynamics though. It seems to have minor cosmetic cracks under paint behind the door windows. The left rear bumper has a minor visible crack that is cosmetic that over time began to show. Air Ram facing driver was opened to help air intake (made a difference). The driver’s door handle is beginning to crack again, is a quirk and does have a replacement but needs to look for it, may not be available. Does come with Air Ram Air Snorkel and heat tube that goes to headers in order to be inspection sticker compliant, but when driving I do not keep installed.

Mechanical Condition: Due to extreme gasoline prices years back, the vehicle was prepped to store, oil & filter was changed. Also flushed entire cooling system including heater core and then refilled with 100% coolant. Originally used as a daily driver. It was a very dependable driver, but then switched to the weekend driver after power train was overhauled. The 403 Engine, OEM Turbo 350 Transmission, rear end, brakes, front end suspension parts (at the time) that needed replacement. Tires are fairly new, show deep tread but have not been driven in 9 years. Did have approximately an 8th of a tank of premium gas when stored. Only run on premium, my experience is that premium does not gum up nor coagulate like unleaded or mid-range unleaded does.

Interior Condition: Interior is as to be expected due to time, but the vehicle is inside an enclosed carport and has been shielded from the elements, but is covered in dust. Seals on the inside body window tracks are aged, doors open & close normally, as does trunk. Electric windows work but probably due to sitting for years will probably need tracks & hinges oiled/lubed. door locks have to be manually operated, wipers work, dash clock does not work, gauges do work, the interior is light blue cloth, carpet & headliner have been replaced before overhaul, has outer new rubber window seals on both sides (window sills). Cable remote drivers side mirror, manual set for pass side, inside door handles worn, rear-seat side panels worn, seats have not been abused by having age-related wear and do have seat covers on both front bucket seats, the dash is not cracked, drivers side door post is loose. The vehicle was not abused, as I wanted it to last, as again it is a head-turner. Brake light stays lit on the dash because the parking brake wire crossed the parking brake track, cutting it in half but is only a dummy light and did not affect the function or safety of brakes as they work fine with no problems. The center console at armrest is worn and loose and cracked, all seat belts work, equipped with a 100 watt AM/FM cassette with 4-way stereo speakers and does work.

To the best of my memory so far this is all I can think of. I was a stickler for care and upkeep but it has been sitting & just needs someone who can devote giving it some TLC. There is no sense in letting it sit when someone can enjoy it. I was stopped at a light in my beautiful ’95 Supercharged Luxury Riviera and had a cargo truck slam into me and can no longer take care of this last of the short-stroke big-bore V8’s. Please give it a good inside home! More photos can be viewed below.

Ralph’s Trans Am is definitely dusty, but it looks like a great find. He’s done a ton of work to it, so hopefully, with just a tune-up and a good cleaning, it will be back on the road in no time! Sadly, being in an accident has made where he just can’t care for it any longer, but I’m glad he’s moving it along to someone who can take care of and enjoy it. Demand for Trans AMs has really gone up in the past year, so this might be the right time to buy one! So will you give his T/A a good home?

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  1. 68 custom

    it looks pretty decent though I would prefer a 400 Pontiac. but with the stated modifications I am sure the 403 is a good running engine. plus no t-tops to worry about. looks like a good deal, good luck with the sale!

  2. grant

    Not my personal style (so much 80’s!!) but who doesn’t love a Trans Am? I’d plan on just replacing the tank, being nearly empty for a decade it probably has more water in there than gas due to condensation. I normally store my boats (on land) with full tanks to prevent that. I would think cars would have similar issues.

  3. Mark

    Just an FYI…..if you purchase this T/A and keep it in Texas, you can register it as an Antique Vehicle and it will no longer require a yearly State Inspection, or to have the emission controls in place. You will be limited as the amount of driving you can do annually however.

    • Mike F.

      Virginia has a similar Antique Vehicle license option.

  4. Rustytech Member

    Why do people insist on adversing their cars like this? It very well might be a very nice car, but whose to know? I do like the blue color, at least what I can see of it.

    Like 4
    • Mike

      There’s a car in the pictures? It’s so dark to see much of anything. Craig’s List quality photography

      Like 2
  5. Rod

    While I agree this is not a great way to advertise a car we need to give
    some leeway to the seller on this one. It sounds like he has serious complications from his accident and may not be able to do it. Perhaps he could have paid someone to do this but we don’t understand his financial situation. This should be a good car for someone even in present condition. It will probably sell at a lower price than if time and money were spent cleaning it up.

  6. T/AMan

    ’79 will be the end of the road — if you want horsepower overload!
    Sadly, you had to have the 4 speed if you wanted the real Pontiac engine in ’79…

  7. rc3po

    Now that the Manufacturer is Out of Business it also considered a Classic along with Antique Status.

  8. Ralph P

    Hi There Folks Ralph P, owner of this T/A. I will Entertain Best Offer/s.

    • Jeremy johnson

      How much?

      • Ralph Pulliam

        Hi Jeremy Johnson, Well—what do you feel would be a reasonable offer?, with the Manufacturer no longer in existence the value for you would make this vehicle a ” Classic “. Would you be able to give it a Protected or inside Home? Make me an Offer. I’m easy and willing to work with you. Thanks Ralph P.

  9. Robbie M.

    I loved my 79. Wish I had the moolah.

  10. TimM

    It would be a lot nicer if he could pull it out of there and take some pictures!! Wash the dirt off maybe!! You know they say a picture is worth a thousand words!! But a good picture is worth a million!!!

  11. Ralph Pulliam

    Hi TimM Yeah I know what you mean but I was involved in a Nasty Crash. I got hit by a Cargo Truck while I was Stopped at a Red Light and limited in Mobility or there wouldn’t be a spec of dust on it. If I were to clean it up there would still be tell tale signs of the dust in obvious places so to maintain the Integrity of Honesty and also to stay within the ” Barn Finds ” Uniqueness of Diamonds in the Rough Discovery’s this is why Pic’s are in actual condition. Whats good about My Baby is that its all in one piece and a new battery and fresh premium gas and a little effort in waking it back up it will run. Make an Offer or tell your Pals about it. Thanks again TimM.

    • TimM

      Ralph, I’m truly sorry for your situation!! It’s a really good reason not to pull your car out and clean it off!! We see so much of it here with no explanation!! Looks like a solid enough car and I hope it sells for you!! I have a friend that is immobile from the waist down from a snowmobile accident about ten years ago!! He has a 80’s vett not sure of the exact year but it’s an automatic and he has had all the controls gas, brake changed to hand controls to drive his car!!! I don’t know if it’s something you could look into or if it’s not possible for you!! All I know is when I see him in his car he always has a smile on his face!! It always makes me feel good!!!

  12. Ralph Pulliam

    Thanks TimM for your compassion, Here are perfect Examples of Barnfind’s. Its the Dust and there Existence that gives this Site its Impact on the Finders.
    Nostalgia of an Era Gone By that can be Brought back to Us Now from the Good Ol Day’s of the Muscle Car. Best Regards Ralph P.

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