Faded Glory: 1979 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

If you haven’t been watching the Trans Am market lately, it’s gone crazy! I still remember when you could pickup a decent late ’70s Trans Am for nearly nothing, but that’s no longer the case. It would seem they are finally getting the respect that they deserve. This ’79 Firebird Trans Am is a 4.9 liter V8 car, but it does have the shaker hood and a 4-speed, and the seller is asking over $16k for it! That might seem crazy considering what you use to be able to buy one of these for, but it’s no longer the ’90s. You can make an offer on this faded Pontiac here on eBay though, so perhaps you could get it cheaper!

Once the seller got it out of the garage and out in the light, you can see how faded the worn the paint really is. I don’t see any serious rust issues though, so it might be a good starting point for a restoration or even a fun driver. The seller states that it the engine runs great and that it drives, so it might not take much to make it a daily driver.

If it were mine, my primary focus would be the interior, at least initially. The clothe seats are extremely dirty, but they might clean up. Personally, I would just order all new upholstery and seats foams. They aren’t that expensive and it would make the car much more enjoyable to drive!

The 4.9 liter (301) V8 isn’t exactly a powerhouse, but paired with the 4-speed it should be fun to drive. Pontiac rated the engine at just 150 horsepower for ’79, so don’t expect it to perform like a pre-emissions Trans Am, but there are some performance upgrade options for it.

The paint might be faded and the interior probably smells, but this could be a decent project for the right price. I would leave the paint as is for right now and just make it a good driver. Enjoy it for a couple of years as is and then invest in a quality paint job and new graphics.

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Comments

  1. Steve R

    At that asking price, or close to it, I’d wait for a better car. Sure, it’s a 4 speed, but it’s the least desirable engine that came in that years Trans Am. It’s been subjective to some hack work, especially in the engine compartment. The drivers side door jamb and rocker show signs or rust, there is probably more lurking. Half of the asking price would be a more realistic starting point.

    Steve R

    20
  2. LAB3

    When you go down to one of those Newage (pronounced like sewage) shops there’s always some hippie looking weirdo trying to sell the idea of a cataclysmic event such as the poles of the earth reversing. Asking $16k for this car leads me to believe that this event has indeed happened, too bad the part where everything made of plastic is worth it’s weight in gold hasn’t panned out… YET!

    19
  3. Miguel

    What does a really nice 4 speed ’79 go for?

    I would think it is not much more than this.

    The collector guide I have puts this number 4 car at $4500 plus 10% for the 4 speed.

    I think the price is way off.

    31
  4. Vin_in_NJ

    No shots of the right side of the car, or lower rear quarter panels, where these cars tend to rust due to poor trunk drainage.
    I’d have to see more photos before bidding. And not a photo of the car under a cover!

    4
  5. Dovi65

    Another seller thinking they have a Barrett-Jackson car.
    This one has a mediocre engine, needs new paint, new interior, and undoubtedly a slew of other unseen work. You’ll need several thousand dollars just for paint, & interior. This one is priced about $10k too high.

    17
    • Tim S. Member

      Amen. They saw one on TV in decent driver shape with a 400, the WS6 package & everything working, and thought this project car was exactly the same.

      10
  6. Classic Steel

    Over priced but maybe if all sellers get together they can double the ask👀

    Firebird TA union lol….,

    This is rough for the price and I would shop Around !

    Maybe owner drug it out for man cave in basement or kids college tuition 💰💰💰

    1
  7. Dan

    Perhaps Deputy Ferguson’s Blue TA on Longmeir has something to do with renewed interest.

    8
  8. joeinthousandoaks

    1 year too new

    3
  9. Mountainwoodie

    Its a little late for the cover……Only folks named Vito are allowed to drive these…jess sayin…

    3
  10. rustylink

    the only performance upgrades I can think of for a 301 is to yank and replace it with 400/455. It’s got some nice upgrades – t tops 4spd etc. but for $16K that is Narcan pricing.

    10
  11. olddavidp

    I didn’t think a 1979 four speed car could be had with a 301? I was at GMAC at the time and cannot recall a T/A having ANY optional engine. Can you Pontiac guys clue me in? I’ve sure never seen one. 1980, sure. ’79? All 6.6, at least the invoices across my desk. Olds engine came about for some, but the early shift cars still had the 400. That’s my memory.

    1
    • Steve R

      I Googled “1979 Pontiac engine VIN”. The seller included the VIN in their ad, it was easy to confirm which engine originally came in the car, the fifth digit is W, which corresponds to a 301 in 1979.

      Steve R

      3
    • T Mel

      You sure could get a ’79 T/A with the Poncho 301 and a 4spd, here’s the one I had back in the day:
      Fun fact, the 301 option did not include any shaker decal.

      5
      • olddavidp

        What would it have said? 5.0 was taken. I’m amazed by this fact, as I had operated under a delusion all these years. This must explain the $6999 ads I recall from early ’79.

        1
      • Marauder

        t/a 4.9

  12. JAMES M HORNER

    No way, I would pay any where near that. A 301, and the car though solid is rough. I’d pass for that kinda green you can get a much nicer more desirable T/A. That you won’t have to put another 20 Grand in to make nice.

    3
  13. Sanity Factor

    I dont recall the 301 in a TA besides the turbo but i might be mistaken

  14. Evan shealy

    Can’t tell for sure, but if memory serves correctly the only way to get a 4 speed was with a 305…which was an option along with the turbo 301 but the turbo was auto only.

    • Superdessucke

      That was only true in 1981, for both the Z28 and T/A. In 1979 you could get the 4-speed with the very desirable L78 220 horsepower 400 or with this meek L37 150 horsepower 301. 1979 automatic cars could be either the L80 185 horsepower Olds 403 or the L37 301.

      301s were extremely rare in 1979.Out of 117,000 T/As built that year, only about 14,000 had the 301.

      2
      • olddavidp

        I had a BoB T/A demo with the gold striping in 1979 and thought I was the coolest guy “in the world” (said like Clarkson). 220 hp? I guess it shows how far our expectations had fallen in the decade ’69-’79. It was still a damn fun driver that always understeered predictably and allowed you to alter the dynamics with the use of throttle and tires.

        1
      • Superdessucke

        Yup, 220 was a huge number then. It was tied with the L82 ‘Vette, second only to Mopar’s 225 horsepower E-58 360 in the Lil Red Express and 300.

        Now that seems almost comical for a performance car but I can’t imagine what a stone this hefty vehicle would be with the 301. Of course, you have to remember this was post-gas crunch, so we were all about fuel economy as a nation.

        2
  15. Trent

    LOL I laughed so hard I think i Pee’d a lil $16K… ? Ummmmmm

    5
  16. Steve

    This is an interesting car. There was a comparison test in Car and Driver for the best handling car and Pontiac provided a WS6 T/A with a 301 4speed because it was the lightest combo. I believe the T/A won the comparison test. These are definitely slow and there isn’t too much you can do to improve performance. I think this would be a fun car to have but at 25% of the asking price.

    2
  17. deak stevens

    4,000 dollars more than its worth.

    • lonnie93041

      A lot more than that. Man what a turkey tank.

      3
  18. lonnie93041

    $16k plus for that pile????

    Lawrd

    3
  19. BRAKTRCR

    Let’s say I have to buy a car tomorrow. I can choose this 79 Trans Am, at 16k, or the 78 Lincoln Mark V in the next posting at less than 3k. Hmmm 301 4 speed, or 460 auto. I’m a GM guy, and I would pay double for the Lincoln, before I would pay half for the Poncho.

    2
  20. Butchb

    About 1991 I had a tenant bail on me with about $1600 in back rent owed, but he left almost the exact same car in much better shape the garage 301(blown)(auto trans). I ended up taking the car for the back rent. It had a disc brake re and the snowflake rims. I don’t remember what I sold it for, but probably about what he owed me…. Couldn’t stand that plastic nose….

    1
  21. Derek

    I don’t understand the obsession with power. I’d rather have better gas mileage. And after restoring this I’d drive it like the 40 year old car it is which means gently. a 400 or 455 is a gas hog. This car should be babied once finished.

    4
    • Doug

      There is no replacement for displacement, drive it like you stole it!!!

      3
    • David Kelly

      It is a Trans Am, not an economy car! Not supposed to be anything else but a thrill ride. If economy is your bag, a Toyota prius should get you going…just saying.

      1
  22. Bing

    If one just has to have a T/A why not search for a better conditioned one of an earlier vintage? Yes, values have gone up, but with the web, e bay, Hemings, and a handful of other resources, one can do a “National” search without leaving the house.
    Better options than this are at your fingertips.

    1
  23. Erik

    As a previous 1978 WS6/W72 owner, I still do follow the TA market, especially looking at 79s, which I actually wanted when I got my 78. Anyhow, this guy is totally nuts. $16k would have bought some beautiful Trans Ams all winter long. eBay was full of them. This guy is likely asking four times more then that turd is worth.

    3
  24. Ken Member

    James Garner refused to update his ’78 Firebird to the ’79 model for the final two seasons of The Rockford Files because he thought the front end was ugly. I’m inclined to agree with him. This car does nothing for me. My brother had a red ’77 Formula he bought new. Nice looking, but it didn’t exactly tear up the pavement.

    1
  25. RoughDiamond Member

    Based on the price and amount of work this T/A needs that is visible, I would keep looking for a Poncho 400 equipped one with the Borg Warner Super T-10 transmission.

    Barn Find Readers and Members never fail to educate me. I had no idea the 301equipped T/A could be equipped with a 4-speed and when it was, the scoop decal was deleted.

    When the 301/4-speed combo was ordered, was the transmission a Borg Warner Super T-10 or a Saginaw?

  26. Rolf Poncho

    So then my 73 Firebird Formula 455 400th is worth 100K?

    3
    • Winnipeg Car Nut

      I have always liked Formula hood over T/A hood.

      1
      • David Kelly

        Me, too!! This is my ’78.

        1

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