Live Auctions

Frustrated Seller: 1979 Pontiac Trans Am

There can’t be many things more frustrating than listing a car for sale and then having a prospective buyer decide not to pay for the car that they have been bidding on. Judging by the text of the listing for this 1979 Trans Am, this may have happened to the owner more than once, and he sounds none too pleased about it. The poor guy has listed it for sale again and is pretty frank about the fact that people should only bid if they have every intention of paying, which seems pretty fair to me. Located in Eldridge, Iowa, the Trans Am is listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set the opening bid at $9,500 but has seen no action to this point. There is also a BIN option, which is set at $10,500.

The owner does say that the Pontiac does have some rust, but doesn’t elaborate on where it is. He supplies two photos of the underside of the car, but they aren’t terribly clear. Looking at the outside of the car, there is certainly what looks like some heavy surface corrosion in a number of spots, but it doesn’t look like any of this has penetrated through the steel. The quarter panels, rockers, doors, and around the rear window all look to be solid, so maybe this Trans Am really isn’t too bad.

Powering the Trans Am is the 403ci Oldsmobile V8, which produces 185hp. The Trans Am is also fitted with a 3-speed automatic transmission, power steering, and power brakes. The owner says that the car runs, idles, and drives. There is also an interesting option available for someone if they choose to hit the BIN button. In this case, they will receive a second 403 block from a 1979 Cutlass. This has been bored, fitted with a crank and Keith Black pistons, along with an intake, and other miscellaneous parts. Maybe this is the answer to liberating a few additional horses to help the original 185 that the car came with.

The interior of the Pontiac is a bit of a mixed bag. Generally, it actually looks to be pretty good, with the seats and dash appearing to have survived the past 40-years quite well. What doesn’t look so great is the headliner, which seems to be torn and hanging down behind the driver’s head. The carpet is also dirty, but I can’t tell if this would clean okay, while there is noticeable wear on the wheel rim. None of these problems are insurmountable, and I don’t think that it would take a lot of money to whip it back into shape.

We see a few Trans Ams of this vintage come across the desks here at Barn Finds, and the vast majority of those seem to be black. A white example does make a nice change. There is some potential in this car, and if the right person comes along (especially if they are actually willing to hand over the money), then I think that they could wind up with a pretty decent project car.


  1. NotSure

    I remember the delight that I felt when first seeing the 1979 models with the modified front end! As a teenager at the time the 77 & 78 models were already “old”. More details on the second motor could pump up interest. Too bad about the deadbeat bidder…

    Like 4
    • DVSCapri

      I LOVED the 77 & 78 front end, tail lights were just a carry over from previous years – when the 79’s came out (I was 14 at the time) I loved the tail lamp treatment & cut out all kinds of ads with them & put up on my cork board… plan all written out to get a 79 & put a 77 or 78 nose on it. Dad told me I was crazy… 40 years later I still feel the same way! I’ve owned 4 T/A’s, 2 Formula’s & 3? lower model Firebirds… had a few that were 77-78’s, 2 79’s & some earlier ones (just counting the 2nd Gen cars). My 79 Formula I actually did the swap to… I bought it from a friend after the front end had been hit while it was parked, I happened at the time to work for a towing company & we happened to have a couple of Firebirds that were due to be scrapped… So, one weekend I pulled the Formula into the shop and removed the front clip(fender, bumper & core support were all damaged in the hit) & then pulled a Martinique Blue Esprit in next to it & removed the complete front clip as one piece! (I’ll never do that again by myself!! — in all defense, I was only 24ish at the time) Later (Sunday maybe??) I installed it with all new urethane mounts & drove it home later that night. I ended up keep that car & driving it daily for about 6 years!! (BTW, this had a 301 4BBl in it!! – never had a problem with it either!)

      Like 4
      • v

        what a great idea. you probably saved quite a few bucks in doing it that way. you must have a lot of patience.

        Like 3
    • Vin_in_NJ

      In 1979 Pontiac had a 4 page pull out ad for the new look of the Firebird line. Tag line was “A New Breed of Wow”. After I hung it on my wall, my Dad saw that you could order a full size poster of it, which he did, and hung on my wall.

      Like 16
      • TimM

        Nice car!!

        Like 3
  2. Takuro Spirit

    The underside pictures help a LITTLE bit. The first is of the tail panel that’s always rusted out on these, and it looks great. The backside where the frame rails attach isn’t shown, and that is another problem spot. The other picture shows that its been undercoated black (or just painted) and that could mean its been protected from new, recently repaired, or is hiding some ugly rust…. hard to say.
    The interior does look great for the age and besides the exterior blemishes it would make a good driver if all else checks out.

    Like 1
  3. rojo

    Think that’s a problem. Deal with the rocket scientist on Craigslist. I would rather give something away then deal with them.

    Like 1
  4. Jf85tr99

    These things rotted out so bad, this one was definitely garaged for a large portion of its life. GLWS.


    Like 4
  5. JoeNYWF64

    When these came out, the rear end design was very good, tho you had to be careful with the plastic gas filler cover – ez to break off!
    I, like many, dislike this front end(which i believe lengthened the front of this car even more!!!) & would like to see ALL of these with a ’70-3 nose, wheel flares, hood & shaker. But the super heavy/forever cracking ’70-3 endura nose is not(& will probably never be) reproduced, except in fiberglass, but requires a LOT of fabrication to fit headlites & grills on the latter.
    Factory painting the steering wheel same color as the interior, & window moldings flat black was not a good idea!
    1st t/a i ever seen with no a/c, but has cruise control!
    Odd that factory pedal dressup option did not include the emerg brake pedal.

    • DVSCapri

      I don’t really mind the front end (compared to the 76 anyway). I always want to build my own “morphodite” though… 70-73 front end, 74 rear clip (for the flat rear window but the larger tail lamp area), 79-81 tail lamps & put the full glass T-tops in…. it would definitely confuse people!
      As for “factory” painting the steering wheels – I don’t believe they did. At least the colored ones I’ve had were not painted, something tells me this one was replaced & unable to find a Red one – they painted a more common Black one.

  6. Bakyrdhero

    I wonder if the winning bidder(s) showed up to look at the car and saw the rust damage is more extensive than eluded to? I’m also not a fan of the endura nose. The tail section ON THE 79 is the nicest TA rear end IMO

    Like 4
    • Ike Onick

      Agree. It also wouldn’t hurt to price it correctly. Way over the top on the asking price.

      Like 4
    • Superdessucke

      I was going to say, more like the Budweiser wore off and the buyer realized what they’d done!

      Anyway this is pretty cool though. I might buy it. Just at a much lower price point. This is not the time for the frugal to be buying classic cars though. Unless it’s something from the 80s or a C4 Corvette.

      Like 1
      • Rosco

        ’80’s like the Buick Grand National or GNX?

      • Superdessucke

        I’m sure we could come up with a few exceptions. But largely they are dirt cheap as they never caught on with the collectors. How about that very nice low mileage ’85 Shelby Charger that couldn’t muster a single bid with a $2,500 starting? That’s what I mean.

      • rosco

        Don’t forget about the Corvette C4 1996 Grand Sport as well as the ZR-1.

  7. MoparDude

    I can imagine this car at bonneville with a hellephant.

    Like 1
  8. the chucker

    It has the WS6 wheels-wonder if it has the complete package? That rear tail pan looks solid, which was a common rust area-a good sign there, but I agree, more undercarriage photos would help. No T-Top (for me) is a bonus. I’ve never understand those who put a car up for bid with a 3 or 4 sentence description.

    Like 1
  9. Bob

    I can think of something more frustrating than deadbeat bidders: fake sellers with non-existent vehicles. 10 years ago I did the “buy-it-now” on a ’70 VW Westphalia for $7,000. Hired a truck to ship it from CA to Florida. Got a call from the driver telling me the address didn’t exist. After a few phone calls came to the realization that I’d been had.
    Fortunately, I’d paid via PayPal and got my money back.
    Then I found one locally and bought it in person.

    Like 11
  10. TimM

    That’s a really terrible story!! I’m glad it worked out for you but it sucks there’s a con man in every business

    Like 9
    • Superdessucke

      I wouldn’t be surprised with all the money being thrown around the hobby now if there are con men out there as we speak. Be careful buying people.

      Like 2
  11. Steve

    Back in 2007 I bought a one owner 79 TA 6.6 (Z code) for $3500 that was in better shape than this car. I cannot believe how much these things have gone up since then. I ended up selling it in 2009 for $5000 because my wife at the time was giving me a hard time. I wish I knew then that in 2012 I was going to be divorced…..

    Like 3
  12. Steve

    I looked over the pictures again. This car seems like it is original and unmolested. Too bad it’s a 403. Obviously, the 400 is the best but I would take the 301 over the 403. The 301 is lighter, you could get it with a 4 speed and a bigger gear.

    Like 1
    • Rosco

      Overpriced for what it is, and by the way, the 301 was a turd.

      • Steve

        Back in 1979 Car and Driver did a comparison test called the Best Handling Car In America. Pontiac sent a 301 4 speed no A/C Trans Am for that test because it was the best handling package available and if I remember correctly it won. The 301 T/A’s were the lightest ones. Not only that the HP difference between a 403 and a 301 was 10hp. The 4 speed is more efficient than an auto plus a 301/4speed came with a 3.08 gear vs the 2.40’s or 2.73’s with the 403. I am going to guess a 301 4speed is superior to the 403 in stock form. The only benefit a 403 has is you can hot rod it.

    • rosco

      301 rated at 150hp and 403 rated at 185hp.

      • Steve

        If I remember correctly a 4 bbl TA 4.9 is 170hp. I am not 100% positive but the TA 4.9 has the same cam as a TA 6.6 in it and the 4bbl instead of the 2bbl the 301’s came with. Check out 301 garage there are some quick 301’s out there. They aren’t all boat anchors lol.

  13. mjf

    Always like the TA … cool color but it feels like there are many issues on the underside of this car. Notice no photos of that…

  14. v

    it is a beautiful car and from the pic of the underside it looks alright. but you have to wonder how did that type rust come about. was some liquid thrown at the car. it just seems like an unusual rust pattern to me , especially the door. factory oem parts on ebay are reasonably priced for this year.

    Like 2
  15. Fossil

    This seller, like many others, has an inflated perspective of the value in the car they have for sale. For me, this is priced way over what it is worth, but some poor devil will part with their “hard earned” dollars only to learn that the return on investment didn’t stack up.
    Thieves and robbers abound!!

    • Ike Onick

      So you are a “thief” if someone willingly hands over money. Interesting take but slightly disconnected from reality.

      Like 1
  16. Rosco

    Have owned many of both, 400’s as well. All my sources show 4 barrel 301 rated at 150 hp. The Olds 403 also has a big torque advantage rated at 320 compared to the 301 4 barrel at 240.

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