Great First Project: 1978 Pontiac Trans Am

The owner of this 1978 Pontiac Trans Am admits that it is no show car, but that it is a solid example that can be driven and enjoyed immediately. There will be some work to do if the next owner is seeking to return the car to close to perfect condition, but none of this work would appear to be urgent. The Trans Am is located in Harrington Park, New Jersey, and is listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has now reached $9,100 but the reserve hasn’t been met. There is also a BIN option available, and this has been set at $12,999.

The owner states that the Trans Am underwent a clear-over-base repaint in its original Gold around 10-years-ago, and this seems to have survived quite nicely. It is by no means show quality, but it does appear to be very clean and tidy. There are no obvious signs of rust issues, and the trim and glass also look to be quite good. The owner provides a few shots of the underside of the car, and while there is certainly surface corrosion visible (which isn’t uncommon), the floors do appear to be nice and solid. I’m the first to admit that I’m not a huge fan of gold cars, but this vehicle does provide an interesting change to the black-and-gold cars that dominated the Trans Am model at this time.

The interior of the Trans Am is generally pretty tidy, and won’t need much to bring it back to its best. The aftermarket seat covers hide original upholstery that is beginning to show its age. It doesn’t appear to be shredded, just dirtied and discolored. The carpet, both on the floors and lower door trims, is looking a bit tired and would benefit from replacement. The same is true for the lid on the console, but the rest of the interior looks good. One obvious flaw is the fact that the dash has been cut to fit an aftermarket stereo, and this has then been removed, leaving an unsightly hole. The aftermarket stereo must have had some power because someone has fitted enough speakers to cope with a Pink Floyd concert into the rear parcel tray. I’d be inclined to get rid of these and find a replacement tray because it looks pretty ugly.

Popping the hood of the Trans Am reveals the 400ci V8 and 3-speed automatic transmission. With only 180hp on tap, the performance of a Trans Am from this era could be considered to be reasonable, but not outstanding. Certainly, if you compare the performance figures of the Trans Am directly against those of a Camaro Z28, the Trans Am does out-perform the Z28 in most areas, but still manages to return better fuel consumption figures. This car is said to be original, and apart from an exhaust leak, is said to run and drive well. It doesn’t appear as though the car currently sees much use, but the owner gives us the impression that it wouldn’t take much to get it back on the road again on a regular basis.

Looking at this 1978 Trans Am reveals a car that really only needs some interior trim work to return it to its best. The rest of the car appears to be solid and clean, and it looks like it could be a decent buy, even at the owner’s BIN price. For the person who might be looking at taking on their first project car, and is focused on finding something that isn’t too complex, this looks like it could be a good candidate.


  1. poseur Member

    gotta agree with the write-up, this seems pretty reasonably priced & presented.

    sorry to say the obvious….wish it were WS6 4-speed W72 400-equipped.

    regardless i dig the gold everywhere; looks SO seventies!

    Like 5
    • Gnrdude

      Yup very 70’s Your just waiting for DISCO STU or Elvis to pop out of it & say Hey what’s Happening Groovy chicks..

      • Dave

        If you’re going to go with a theme here, you have to have a Jeep Golden Eagle to park next to this Trans Am. Then, you need a Browning Golden Eagle CB base station with an Astatic Golden Eagle microphone to top it off. I knew people who had all of the above back in the day.

  2. Mike

    OK I am tired of the Trans Am Z/28 lie on horse power. I owned a White, and Blue 1978 Z/28. The 78 came with 225 horses to the rear wheels, and the performance was just as good. I worked with a dick that had a 78 T/A and he’d constantly want to race. Which I’d obliged him. Best him time, and time again. The T/A wasn’t even a match. It wasn’t until the 1979 Z/28 that the power dropped to 145 horse, and in 1980 Chevy once again increased the power back to 225 horses. I’m 1981 all the Z/28 was was a Camaro with stripes on it. Look up review’s in Motor Trend, Car an Driver of 1978. The Z/28 has 225 horse and stomped the T/A of that year. I owned a 1974 Super Duty T/A and when I went to buy the 1978 T/A I was very disapointed in the power. Even with the 400. That is why I bought the Z/28. At the time I did my research on the two.

    Like 3
    • JoeMac Joe Mac

      Mike…185hp in ’78 / 175hp in Cali for the Z28. Not sure where you get your figures from but if your friend had a W72 400 in that T/A, even an auto version, you weren’t beating him. 225hp to the rear wheels on a ’78 Z is a pipe dream. That would be about 280 flywheel hp from the factory….NOT.

    • JoeNYWF64

      Maybe, if your z28 was a “lightweight” stripper car with a 4 speed & no radio. & the t/a was loaded with heavy options, automatic, & had the 7.7 !!! to one compression 400 with 180hp that only came with a 2.56 rear!

  3. Rosco

    The rust on the dash corner under the window is a scary site and probably a good indication of what may be hiding under that average paint.

    Like 1
  4. Bob C.

    At least it’s a 400 and not a 301, yippee.

    Like 1
    • JoeMac Joe Mac

      301 was junk for sure. Don’t think it was an option in ’78 though (thank goodness).

  5. Robert Sabatini

    Car and Driver did a comparison of the 1978 Z28, Trans Am and L82 Corvette and stated at the end of the test that the Trans Am ran both Chevy’s into the ground. So, with the results of that article; I ordered a ’79 TA with the Poncho 400 and WS6 and later, raced my brothers ’80 Z28 and also put that Chevy in my rear view mirror.

    Like 3
  6. Superdessucke

    Maybe my income (or consumer confidence?) did not keep up with the times as well as some others but I personally have great difficulty considering a $13,000 late 1970s vehicle as a “first project car!” Must be nice to be in a position to say that though.

  7. Neil

    Forget the screaming chicken car, is the 1973 LeMans for sale?
    I had one light metallic blue with fender skirts and a white bucket seat interior, i never should have sold it.

    Like 1
  8. Geebee

    A friend got a gold one like this when we graduated from high school in ’78. It had throw up in it before the paper tags expired, lol.

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Keep me in the conversation via email. Or subscribe without commenting.