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Highly Optioned: 1978 Pontiac Trans Am W72

The right combination of letters and numbers can lift almost any classic a rung above its peers. That is the case with this 1978 Pontiac Trans Am, with its Build Sheet containing the codes W72 and WS6. That indicates it features the most desirable mechanical configuration offered that year, guaranteeing it should drive and handle superbly. Those are the tip of the iceberg because its original owner loaded it with factory options to ensure that every journey is a special occasion. This stunning survivor needs a new home, with the seller listing it here on Craigslist in Bellingham, Washington. They set their price at $38,500 but may consider a partial trade for the right vehicle. I must say a big thank you to Barn Finder T.J. for spotting this fantastic classic.

Pontiac offered 1978 Trans Am buyers a broad selection of paint shades to grace their new toy’s panels, with many people opting for iconic Starlight Black. However, I have always felt that Martinique Blue is a better color, which is what this classic’s original owner selected. Its presentation is hard to fault, which is even more impressive when considering the seller’s claim that this Pontiac is original and unrestored. The paint looks deep enough to walk into, with no signs of significant flaws or deterioration. It coats panels as straight as an arrow and plastic trim that hasn’t succumbed to the sun. That point is important because this Trans Am spent much of its life in Arizona. It hasn’t paid the presentation penalty that many experience, but it has benefited from that climate’s ability to preserve steel. This beauty is not only currently rust-free but has remained that way for its entire life. The decals and glass look flawless, and the condition of the 15 x 8 Snowflake wheels is consistent with the rest of the exterior.

W72 and WS6. Those two codes may mean little to the uninitiated, but they are vital to this Trans Am’s story. They signify that this beauty received factory upgrades to its suspension and steering to improve handling, while its engine bay houses the most potent version of the company’s beautiful 400ci V8 available in 1978. This powerhouse pumps out 220hp, which feeds to the 3.23 Posi rear end via a three-speed Hydramatic transmission. Although the glory days seemed behind the American performance models, this one’s ability to cover the ¼-mile in 16 seconds proved class-leading. Placing that figure into perspective, the best a buyer could expect from an auto-equipped Camaro Z28 was 16.8 seconds, while the poor old Mustang II King Cobra languished at 17.3 seconds. This Pontiac is a numbers-matching classic that is in excellent mechanical health. It recently received new brakes, tires, shocks, sway bar bushes, and a fluid change. Its originality extends to components like the exhaust, spare tire, and jack. It runs and drives perfectly, and interested parties should consider it a turnkey proposition.

I am disappointed with the interior shots supplied by the seller because those that provide a decent overview are pretty blurred. However, we can piece it together enough to determine that it is in excellent condition. The Deluxe Blue cloth seatcovers are free from wear and damage, as are the remaining upholstered surfaces. The dash and plastic haven’t succumbed to the harsh Arizona sun, and there are no aftermarket additions. The Build Sheet confirms the original owner loaded this interior, and the buyer is set to benefit. It features air conditioning, power windows, power locks, a console, a leather-wrapped Formula tilt wheel, and an AM/FM radio/8-track player with an optional rear speaker. The seller includes a box of 8-track tapes sitting in the trunk, and considering the era in which this classic emerged, I’d be disappointed if there wasn’t any Fleetwood Mac in the collection!

This 1978 Trans Am must tick many of the right boxes for Pontiac purists. Its originality appears beyond question, and its condition is above average for an unrestored survivor. Trans Am values have softened recently, but the seller’s asking price looks highly competitive in the current market. It is said that what goes up must come down, and sometimes the opposite is true with classic cars. It is possible that the recent downward trend is reaching an end, and values could potentially climb in the coming months and years. If that proves the case, this car’s new owner could be buying into a solid long-term investment. It would provide significantly more enjoyment than a boring Share Certificate, which could be the perfect reason to park it in your garage.


  1. Bamapoppy

    I’ll take two, please. Seriously, back in the day one of the guys where I worked bought a new TA and I would admire it every day in the parking lot. He kept it pristine clean. Whoever buys this one will definitely not be disappointed.

    Like 11
    • Stan

      Excellent gear ⚙️ choice w 3spd Turbo Hydra-matic automatic box.

      Like 5
  2. BA

    She’s a beauty always loved that electric light blue color & the W72 doesn’t hurt!

    Like 12
  3. CCFisher

    1978? There better be a copy of the Grease album and the two-tape Saturday Night Fever album in that box!

    Like 6
  4. Trans Am Beautiful Car

    How about in trade
    400 cases of Coors beer from Texarkana fir the car?
    My buddies have a truck but need to switch out their blocker car. I’ve heard the TA is a better car. 😉

    I like the blue color of these beautiful Pontiac creations…

    Like 5
  5. Brian

    Would need to see the build sheet. The hood scoop stickers are correct for a W72 but this is the first one I’ve seen with an auto slush box.

    Like 6
    • C Force

      I guess you never drove a car with a reverse manual valvebody automatic,better than a standard anyday….

      Like 5
      • 455RAIV

        Reverse manual valvebody automatic – good stuff Had one in my 74 SD-455 T/A done to HO Racing specs 450 hp – Start in 1st also had a 3400 high stall that helped too – original owner street raced it would beat his friends Done up 70 LS6 Chevelle 4 series rear gearing by a average of 2 car lengths :)

        Like 2
    • Robbie R.

      Brian, 1977 and 78 automatics were available with the W72 TA 6.6 package. The 77 version was 200hp, 78 was 220hp. They held over 1100 or so of those engines for 1979 cars, but those were only mated to 4-speed manual trans.

      Like 7
      • steve

        Mid 1978 the auto trans was dropped and only the 4 speed was available with the W72 package.

        Like 1
      • Robbie R.

        Steve, you are correct. No more of the 400cid, 220hp engines were being built, so the decision was made in mid-78 by Pontiac to shelve the rest of the 220hp engines left in stock (about 1,100) to be used for 79 only in 4-speed manual trans. The 78’s with 220hp engines mated to auto trans are relatively rare “unicorns” because of this.

        Like 2
    • Chris

      Brian I agree. It was my understanding that the HO 400 in the W72 package was 4-speed only.

      Like 2
    • JB

      77-78 you could get Auto/W72. most were actually. 79 was 4 speed only

      Like 0
  6. C Force

    This one was just like my 78′,but in white with white interior and black carpet.i even had cruise control.I had recurved the distributor,added a msd box and wires,headers with 2in exhaust and flowmaster mufflers,a working scoop with k&n filter,people thought i had a vacuum leak,but it was the scoop sucking in air.was good for over 130mph top speed and plenty of speeding tickets.only paid $7900 for it in 2005.

    Like 4
  7. Vair Nut

    Had one from new. Mine was ordered without the screaming chicken on the hood and Hurst 4 speed. Sold it in NC circa 1988. Wish I hadn’t but I had too many cars and too many bills. Wonder where it is now.

    Like 4
  8. Steve

    I bought one just like this back in 78. It had a 4speed, WS-6 and the T.A 6.6 LTR.
    It had a black interior and T-tops. I paid $7100 for it. My payments were $225.00 a month. I wish I still had it.
    I agree with some one who said I thought the T.A 6.6 and WS-6 was only available with the 4 speed. I know the old 403 came with the automatic transmission.

    Like 6
    • Harry 1

      And yet today a used one in excellent condition goes for 38g+. Never saw these cars sore so high in value in the future back then. Wish I kept my 1979 z-28 I bought new back then.

      Like 1
  9. DW

    “everything works as it should except air conditioner needs recharged..” basically saying the air conditioner needs serviced, as in new accumulator, new o rings, a complete flush, the compressor might need to be gone through, oh and you might as well convert to R-134a since R-12 is nearly impossible to get and requires a license and special hoses and such to dispense. Otherwise, nice looking car.

    Like 3

      It looks like an aftermarket compressor on the engine so maybe all of the other items have been taken care of. It might just need to be charged.

      Like 4
  10. Materialman

    I had a black Bandit 78 W72 WS6, automatic I bought new off the showroom floor. I wish I had it back

    Like 3

      I had a 77 bandit. Wish I still had it as well.

      Like 0

    If memory serves me correctly the Pontiac T/A 6.6 chrome valve covers came standard. It looks like this one has those.

    Like 1
  12. Materialman

    They did come standard. I saw in the story this T/A has 323 gears. I believe mine had 342’s

    Like 0
    • James Biasella

      My first car at 15 in 1985 was a black 77 TA. The motor had been swapped to a 71 400 with a 2 barrel rochester rated at 285 hp. 350 auto trans and a 2.41 posi. What a fun first car. I still have the motor.

      Like 0
  13. John M.Stecz

    Great car with all the right options but most of all its refreshing to see one that’s not black or gold.

    Like 0
  14. sparkster

    Wrong hood decal, it appears to be a 79′ decal. I worked across the street in 1978 from a Pontiac dealer. Every day after work I would walk across the street and dream about owning one of these

    Like 0
  15. Grape Ape

    Agreed, the color is better than black. Have a black muscle car, a love/hate relationship.

    Like 0

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