Numbers Matching: 1978 Pontiac Trans Am

The Burt Reynolds movie Smokey and the Bandit debuted in May 1977 (the same month as Star Wars). One of two things happened that summer: either the hot black Pontiac Trans Am helped sell movie tickets (and popcorn) or the big screen car chase sent buyers in droves to Pontiac dealers. This 1978 edition of the Trans Am is finished in blue rather than Bandit black, and it appears to be original and needs a “minor restoration” although I don’t consider any restoration to be minor. Located on the proverbial West Side of Chicago, this running project is available here on craigslist for $8,800. Kudos to T.J. for this tip!

Pontiac’s Trans Am had been around since the late 1960s, so it was nothing new by the mid-1970s. And second-generation versions began in 1970. But the advent of two Smokey movies in three years rekindled interest in the Trans Am and muscle cars in general. The truth lies in the numbers: 46,701 Trans Am’s built in 1976, followed by 68,745 more the year the first flick was out, then 93,341 in 1978, another 117,108 in 1979, but “just” 50,896 in 1980, the year the sequel came out. So Smokey fever had begun to peak. In the year of the seller’s car, 1978, 75% were equipped with a 400 cubic inch V8 with an automatic transmission, including this one.

This ’78 Trans Am has nearly 48,000 miles and is wearing its original paint and interior fabrics. But both are showing their age and there is some heavy surface rust around the rear glass. Below the carpeting, we’re told more rust can be found in the floorboards. But no Bondo was ever applied to any of the sheet metal. It would be a drivable car except that the windshield is broken and needs replacing. And sense there is no belt on the A/C compressor, you may to fix that while the weather is warm.

The engine/tranny are numbers matching, which is a plus in the car’s favor along with the lower mileage. And it has factory-installed T-tops, which we hope don’t leak. Put in a new windshield and drive it while you work on the cosmetic issues. And (this is the first time I’ve seen this offer) the seller is willing to meet the buyer at a local police station to ensure the cash transaction goes smoothly. But let’s hope Sheriff Buford T. Justice is nowhere in sight!


  1. sparkster

    ” minor restoration” is whats written in the ad. Seriously ? ? ?

    Like 2
  2. Arthell64 Member

    Looks like a decent car for the money. 1978 is my favorite T/A and in a great color.

    Like 3
  3. Michael Freeman Michael T. Freeman Member

    No such thing as “factory” t-tops in the 2nd gen cars until possibly the last one in ’81. I’m hunting one(T/A) that doesn’t have a cut roof as it kills the body stiffness in a car with a unibody shell and a front sub-frame. I never should have got rid of the one I bought new. The t-top cars were cool looking with the tops out and all that but IMO messed up the car and they all leaked. Only way they don’t leak is if they’re never in the rain. These cars are bringing decent money now so someone will jump on it if the bottom pans are good…or probably even if they aren’t.

    Like 4
    • RL

      GM Fisher Body started producing their own ttops in March of 1978. Hurst ttops were phased out starting from March 1978. The demand was so high for the ttops some were still made at Hurst through the end of May. My family owed Derrick Motor Company in Union SC we sold Buick Oldsmobile and Pontiac sold in 1989.

      Like 3
      • Purple sky

        Exactly! Some people (Freeman) think they know, Fisher Body started in 1978 with engineered t-tops, much better. I’ve had a couple 77’s with Hurst, pretty much hacked into by high school auto shop students in Livonia Michigan. 1 hour away from me. LOL I plan on stalling 1st. design Hurst tops I have into my 76 Trans Am L.E. clone someday. Hope they don’t make me wish I didn’t Been in the body/paint biz since 1978.. I can handle it much better than some high school kid. LOL

        Like 1
  4. Howie

    Looks like a good deal, and the Camino a even better deal.

  5. JoeNYWF64

    Raised white letter tires are almost a must for these cars – too bad today there are so few choices & even non brand ones can cost double or even triple what a blackwall costs!(unlike back in the day).

    Like 2
    • $ where mouth is

      The irony is the raised whites letters are free advertising, on most cars, nice ones anyway.
      Its such a disappointment GoodYear doesnt offer a 15″ RWL.
      So ive been buying Coopers for years, and a couple years ago the Cobra isnt made in USA anymore ?! =(
      BFGs are inferior to Cobras, yet cost significantly more, and the Mickey Tompsons were imported junk from the moment they came back.
      The efforts we make just to look like a sponcered race car (eyes roll)

      Like 1
  6. B Wallace

    If it is on the West Side of Chicago meeting at the Police Station to exchange the Cash is probably a very good idea.

    Like 1
  7. Rich

    You mean a 148,000 miles right

    Like 1
  8. JoeNYWF64

    Anybody know why there are no t-tops on 21st century camaros & mustangs?
    – or any other car for that matter. Maybe just a fad back in the late ’70s-’90s?
    Or maybe a safety issue today?

    • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

      I can’t answer your question, but I really liked them in my ’99 Z/28. They even had spots in the trunk where they locked into place, making it easy to take them off and store them.

    • RL

      Just as Hurst did in the 70’s and 80’s Drop Top Customs is now installing T-Tops in the new Camaro. GM has inspected the conversion and found it very stable and safe and it will not void the warranty on the new Camaro if done by DTC.

  9. Michael Berkemeier


  10. Jay Bree

    It’s not $8,800 and it’s not rust free.

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.