Jim Wangers’ Glory Days! 1974 Pontiac Trans Am

Jim Wangers, the Godfather of the Pontiac GTO, is known for his innovative marketing strategies that spawned the muscle car era. However, many people don’t realize that he was an accomplished racer both on the track and on the street.  This 1974 Trans Am was owned and raced by Wanger and is listed here on eBay.

In 1974, three engine options were offered in the Pontiac Trans Am. These included the standard 400, a “Y code” 455 or the famous “Super Duty” 455 engine.  As reflected below, this car was ordered with the Y code 455 which produced 250 horsepower and 380 ft-lbs of torque. This engine was only offered with an automatic transmission in 1974.

Currently, the car is being sold without an engine or transmission hence the high ride height in the front. The car is equipped with chrome Centerline wheels and rear slicks. The hood and scoop appear to be a molded fiberglass unit.

The car was delivered to the Pontiac Motor Division Retail Store early in the production run. Even though the car was used for racing, there were a number of convenience options ordered including tilt wheel, power windows, deluxe interior and rear defrost.

Wangers used the Trans Am as his daily driver for several years which probably included street racing on Woodward Avenue. It was subsequently modified to run in the NHRA Sportsman Class and purportedly ran quarter-mile times in the mid 9’s back by Wangers.

The car does have a roll cage and provisions for nitrous oxide. The following 1994 title shows Wangers as the owner.

So, the million-dollar question is: “what is a clean 1974 Trans Am roller worth that has the provenance of being owned by Jim Wangers?” I’m sure if this car could talk, it would have some stories to tell!

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Comments

  1. 86_Vette_Convertible

    Now that’s some credentials! Too bad an ordinary guy won’t have it and race it again.

    Like 1
  2. Frank

    Unless Mr. Wanger purchased car in 1994, per Michigan title date, be vigilant

    • Eddie Dufrene

      I can tell you for certain Mr. Wangers Owned this car! My father Ed “DIRTY ED” Dufrene raced the car for him at all the events! I was around this car my entire childhood! 100% the car was owned and drove by Jim Wangers!

      Like 1
  3. Frank Fitz

    Curious Mr, Wangers 1974 Pontiac is accompanied by history with a 1994 Michigan title issue date. Not “duplicate title” which Michigan Secretary of State issues if title lost or misplaced. GTLWTA

  4. JD

    Did Michigan issue titles in ’74? Good catch on the title date, but I wonder if he bought it as a race only vehicle and never registered it, he could have applied for a title when he went to sell it in 94 perhaps to make it easier….

    Like 2
  5. Frank Fitz

    100% certain Michigan issued titles in 1974. Perhaps there is a good back story GLWTA

    Like 1
  6. JoeNYWF64

    Odd the front & rear chrome moldings were painted black – they always peeled off on later models.
    Guess that’s a fiberglass hood.
    I wonder if it’s fitted with an identical-to-factory-look black 7lb fiberglass front bumper. Takes a lot of weight off the front end – where u want it off. On a ’74-75, the upper section(where headlites & grills mount to), & lower factory lightwt valences are retained, as are the wheel flares & lower spoiler.
    EZ mod.

    Like 1
  7. JRH

    Is that the only proof-just the title?

  8. NovaTom

    Only offered with an automatic? Bet Jim Wangers could have gotten a 4-speed if he wanted one!

    Like 2
  9. Fred foreman

    I drove this car for Jim for about 10 years. It was slowly converted to what you now see during those years. When Jim moved to California, further modifications were performed. I will answer any questions that I can.

    Like 4
    • Mike mullins

      What years did you drive it ? I was around for years before it got the cage I was the set up person for nick Todd who drove the ta and tommy nebil that drove the monty

  10. Troy s

    Kind of surprised leadfoot Jim didn’t order the 455 Super Duty. After all, why not get the best Pontiac had to offer? Just seems odd.
    Basically the value of this street/strip machine hangs on Jim Wangers’ previous ownership, otherwise it’s just a modified Trans Am with no driveline. Potential here……all kinds of directions it could be taken.

    Like 3
  11. L80

    New owner, alert: Do you homework, be smart. The only proof, is a miss-dated title.

    Like 1
  12. Frank A.

    Interesting enough. The starting line photo is at the now closed Los Angeles County Raceway in California and the numbers on the window depict West Coast registration with the NHRA. Is there more to the history of where this car has been?

  13. Gary D. Oliver

    Too bad Mr. Wangers, 91, is in assisted care with dementia or we could ask him.

    Like 4
  14. Big Injun Dave

    As Jim’s PR/Handler and driver of the “new” GeeTO Tiger, I can assure all that Jim Wangers owned the car from the beginning. I was the individual who sold the car to the prior who sold it to today’s owner.

    It was first a Press Car that Jim then acquired. Jim owned several companies over the years in Detroit and would title the cars in those company names. Like his ’79 10th Anniversary Trans Am, he sometimes never titled them. His company, Automotive Marketing Consulting Inc (now known as AMCI Global) had its Detroit offices in Warren.

    A SD 455 was installed back in the day…and was even tuned by Milt Schornack when he had a shop in the Detroit area in the mid-70s. There is quite the story about the car and Milt’s deceptive use of the car…but that has no point to this post.

    When the car came West, Ed Dufrene became the driver and set the car up to go as fast as a stock suspension T/A could run in the day. The car had custom made rear leaf springs, a custom set of 2-inch headers (which are still with the car) and a 4-inch Flowmaster Exhaust. Duncan Michael was Wangers’ engine builder and ultimately built a destroked 455 with Edelbrock heads. A dual stage NOS system helped propel the car into the mid-9s at 150 mph.

    In addition to it’s street racing history, Wangers would bring the car to Pontiac Drag Days at LACR (the pic is attached) as well as other events in the West. When acquired Pontiac Enthusiast Magazine we traveled the car around the U.S. with the GeeTO Tiger and sometimes the Ponte Carlo.

    The car is the real deal…a Wangers race car!

    Like 7
    • Brian Massey

      Thanks Dave; I thought you might know something about the car.

    • Troy s

      @Big engine Dave, Funny, a few days ago I made a comment about this not having the SD 455, at least at some point, came back here and there’s the decal right on the hood scoop!
      I almost thought the first picture up there was from Carlsbad raceway, probably way off again.
      Very interesting history, thanks.

    • 455RAIV

      Saw it run at Bremerton – Awesome – got furious on NOS > Pontiac power Rules :)

      Like 2

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