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One-Owner Ltd Edition: 1978 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

The best thing that may have ever happened to the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am was the release of the Smokey & The Bandit movie in 1977. The year of the release, sales went up 47%, followed by another 36% in 1978 and yet another 25% in 1979. The Trans Am may well have been the hottest car out there in the last third of the seventh decade. This 1978 edition, a one-owner car, has fallen on hard times as the body, interior and drivetrain are all going to need serious work. The car can be found in McCalla, Alabama and is available here on eBay where the no reserve auction has reached $4,000.

The second generation of the Firebird had a tremendous run, from 1970-81 and included nearly 1.2 million cars. Following the release of the Burt Reynolds movie, Pontiac brought out the Gold Special Edition in 1978. On the order sheet, it was known as “Y88” and was a one year-only automobile. With the success of the black and gold Trans Am inspired by the movie, Pontiac reversed the paint scheme, giving the car Solar Gold paint with dark gold pin striping, gold headlight opening trim, gold Pontiac nose emblem, gold tinted T-tops, gold 15X7-inch snowflake wheels with gold emblem center caps. Of the 93,341 Trans Am’s built for 1978, just 8,666 copies were the Gold Special Edition model.

We’re told this Trans Am – which was purchased new in Alabama – was running when the original owner parked it about seven years ago. Water got into the car at some point and helped make a mess of the interior. It settled in the rear floorboards that ultimately led to things rotting from the inside out in that area. There is also some rust above the driver’s side door near the rear pillar. Apparently, the front floors were not damaged but the passenger’s side door won’t open, and we don’t know if that could be related. The frame and trunk are said to be good, but the rear quarter panels have also succumbed to some blight. The paint is not original and looks to have lost all its SE decals.

Regarding the interior, you’ll have to strip most everything out and start over. That even includes the ignition as the seller cannot get it to un-lock. Under the hood, a 400 cubic inch engine should be there which likely produced 220 hp (20 more than the basic 400) along with a 3-speed automatic transmission. The seller speculates that both will need to be pulled and rebuilt. Apparently, this was a well-used car as we’re told the mileage reading is 175,000. The seller has paperwork to go with the car that does back to the original sale in 1978.

The resale value of Trans Am’s are all over the place because plenty of them were made and are not in short supply today, so condition and special editions can run prices up.  This could be a valuable machine if restored, but it’s going to take a small fortune to cure the ills of a car that’s been sitting for much of the past decade.


  1. Avatar photo Danny

    What about that 1984 Hurst/Olds sitting there in the background?

    Like 3
    • Avatar photo Jcs

      Good call on the H/O. Cool cars, I owned one from 84 through 89 in South Florida and loved it. She was stolen three times!! The third time she never came home.

      She is easy to spot, I ordered her with the dark red Vinyl interior and no t-tops. I look at every one that comes up for sale, to this day I’ve not seen another with the vinyl, they all have the velour.

      Like 5
      • Avatar photo Danny

        Mine 84 got stolen from Chattanooga, Tn it never was seem again. it had the velour also,

        Like 3
  2. Avatar photo Jcs

    Own a body shop.

    Like 3
  3. Avatar photo Frank Sumatra

    It is amazing how many thousands of “Limited Edition” cars there are.

    Like 3
  4. Avatar photo Arby

    Looks like it got so bad that the chicken up and left…

    Like 8
  5. Avatar photo Tort Member

    I had no idea so many Pontiac Firebirds and Trans Am’s were produced until I subscribed to Barn Finds.

    Like 3
  6. Avatar photo PRA4SNW

    I would be embarrassed to say that I was the only owner responsible for this mess..

    Like 1
  7. Avatar photo PRA4SNW

    SOLD for $5,700.

    Like 0

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