Pair Of Projects: Two Pontiac Trans Ams

If any car from the mid to late 1970’s resembled a muscle car it was most likely the Pontiac Trans Am. Since it didn’t have the muscle compared to its predecessors it at least looked the part. No one can deny what these cars are when they see the screaming chicken sprawled out over the hood. That’s why these two found here on Craigslist in Tama, Iowa are easy to spot.

Right off the bat, you’ll notice that these are both definite projects, but interesting projects nonetheless. The seller states that the 1979 has a 305 under the hood. It’s more likely, though, to be a 301 if still the factory engine. The seller states that this car is from Arizona which would explain most of the missing paint on the top of the car, but it’s still hard to believe the claimed 36,000 miles is correct. The factory four-speed does make this car a little bit more intriguing.

The 1978 is also said to have spent time in Arizona and is powered by a 403 Oldsmobile. This one, unfortunately, looks to have some rust issues and would make an interested party question what it looks like underneath. I find the “bird beak” front end to look better than the 1979 front end which for some would make this one more desirable.

Either of these projects would need extensive restoration, but they could be purchased separately or purchased together for a cheaper price. Asking $3,000 for the 1978 seems somewhat fair while asking $8,000 for the 1979 is a different story. Even $10,000 for the pair together is pretty steep. I do believe that the value of the later second generation Trans Am will continue to rise, especially ones that are worth saving. Does it look like either of these fit that mold?

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  1. RoughDiamond Member

    My wife’s Y84 ’79 T/A 6.6 with the W72 Poncho 400 had that hobnail upholstery in black and it was so comfortable. Dang, she could shift those gears! That is the one car that at age 53 she still talks about and regrets selling.

    That red ’79 Trans Am has obviously been baking on “High” temp in the AZ heat for many years. The Pontiac purists would say that without the W72 engine, the real value is gone. Except for the seats, and I wonder how well the 39-year-old cloth stitching would hold up with much use, you can bet the plastic interior pieces are as rough an Iowa corn cob. This is a perfect example where saving your money and buying the absolute best car you can afford really applies.

  2. Alan Kenyon

    I’m restoring a 78. My first project and I can’t believe how expensive it is. I started at $6,500 and am almost done at $20,000. It was way nicer than the shown 78. $3,000 seems cheap but it’s not.

    • Chuck

      See above comment

      However, what you learn from doing the project has a value that should be considered too. Maybe not calculable in absolute terms, but likely a lot more than any bottom line deficit you end up with on your first project.

      Stay the course!!

  3. Chris Kennedy

    Isn’t there a lot of restoration parts available for these? I, personally, am a fan of the 71-73 cars and lean towards the Formula models. With that said, ANY of this gen Trans-Am or Formula with a manual, would be hard to pass up!

    I by no means am an expert on these and am more of a Ford / Mercury guy ( even though I own a 2009 G-8, LS-2) and find butterflies in my stomach picturing, in my mind, what the Red on Red, 403 manual car would look like finished to perfection!

    Thanks Men!
    Chris Kennedy

    • 68custom

      I have always thought the 403 was only used with the auto tranny. Pretty sure thats accurate! These cars are heat rotting badly those interiors are quickly turning into dust. The manual transmission car is the one to get even though its powered by a wimpy 305!

  4. JamestownMike

    If you click on the Craiglist link BF provided, it says “This posting has expired”.

  5. Robert Sabatini

    Year One and Ames Performance have a large selection of parts for these cars. Never hurts to check with a dealership to see if they have any parts collecting dust!

    • Jett

      Yup, just walk into your nearest local Pontiac dealer… oh, wait.

  6. BigDan

    The Firebird (trans Am) 1961- 81 is generally now considered to be one of fastest growing investment – grade muscle cars to be had ….but these two are a stretch to restore…

    • Alexander

      1961? Had to adjust my glasses and screen resolution to make sure I wasn’t seeing a “7” Firebirds were released to the public in 1967.

  7. Skippy

    Aaaaaaaand, they’re gone!

  8. Robert Sabatini

    The pre-production Trans Am, if I remember correctly; was the ’68 PFST (Pontiac Firebird Sprint Turismo). Now that would be a Trans Am worth hunting-down!

  9. Robert Sabatini

    That would be a 1967 Pontiac Firebird Sprint Turismo!

  10. Maynard Reed Jr

    It may have a 305 chevy engine as it was offered from about 77 or 78 up through 81.

  11. T Mel

    The cars are worth saving, but the write up by Chris is too offensive to save.

    • Little Cars

      Huh? How was it offensive?

  12. BMW4RunninTundra Member

    Late to the game, but after rereading the intro, I’m with “Little Cars”………..what is so offensive?! I thought it followed in the BF vein. Factual, informative, and entertaining. PLEASE explain your side so all, can have a more complete picture.


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