Parked For 15 Years: 1978 Pontiac Trans Am

With a claimed 80,000 genuine miles on the clock, this 1978 Pontiac Trans Am has been parked and out of action for 15-years. The owner has decided that the time has come for it to be dragged out of the garage, and to head off to a new home. If you fancy the idea of a Trans Am project, then you will find the Pontiac located in Saint Paul, Minnesota, and listed for sale here on Craigslist. All you need to do is be prepared to hand over $5,500, and this will be yours.

It is said that is better to give than to receive, and if I was going to give some of the people who list cars for sale a gift, it would be photography lessons. It is hard to get a good look at the Trans Am, but the owner does say that it is complete. He also states that the car has some rust, but that it’s not too bad. Given the quality of the photos, I just wish that he’d been more specific on that particular point. The Mayan Red paint is looking very tired, and it looks like a repaint will be on the cards for this Trans Am.

The interior of the Trans Am has a few issues, and I never like to see random wires hanging out from under the dash. That does start to make you wonder what nasty little electrical gremlins might be awaiting the next owner. There is also a piece missing out of the dash, while the pad is cracked, the armrest is missing off the console, and the wheel has plenty of wear on it. It could be worse though, and a good clean would at least make the interior serviceable.

With no engine photos to work with, what we know is that hiding under the hood is a 403ci V8 engine and a 3-speed automatic transmission. The owner says that the engine will run with starting fluid, but this suggests that the fuel system may require a clean before it will run from any other source. He does float the idea of potentially driving the car home, but given the fact that the Trans Am has been parked for 15-years, you can have that on your own! Apart from the fact that the car does run, one other positive aspect is that it has recently been fitted with new tires.

When it comes to values, the late 1970s Trans Ams have remained pretty flat, although there was a slight “blip” in the final ¼ of 2018, which coincided with the passing of Burt Reynolds. You can find a reasonable one in the market today for around the $18,000 mark, but a really nice one will command a price at least into the high $20,000 range. If the rust issues in this one are as minor as the owner indicates, then at $5,500, it might not be a bad project car.


  1. Moparman Member

    If the car does run, would it have been that hard to back it out of the garage for some better pictures?! People just don’t seem to get it, good pictures & staging help to sell your car!!

    Like 8
    • Steve R

      Even if it doesn’t run, how hard would it have been to push it outside. Then again, that involves effort which seems to be in short supply when it came to opening the hood and trunk lid for pictures.

      Steve R

      Like 2
    • Steven Ligac

      In these situations I always wonder (of course!), what is the seller hiding?!

      Like 2
  2. CJinSD

    At least one source I’ve seen says that in 1978 the T/A-6.6 marking on the hood scoop indicates that this is one of 4,139 automatic Trans-Ams that was equipped with the X7 code 220 HP Pontiac 400 ci engine. I think the badge on the hood scoop would have said 6.6 litre(sic) if it was one of the L80 Oldsmobile engine cars or possibly one of the low output Pontiac 400s that most cars had that year. There were less than nine thousand Transmobiles that year and over sixty thousand Trans Ams with Pontiac 400s for 1978, mostly 180 hp L78s. !979 was when the Pontiac 400s were scarce.

    Like 5
    • r s

      Back in the day my older brother got the idea that we might each buy a new Trans Am. He’d get the 4 speed which came with a Pontiac engine, and I’d get the automatic which came with the Olds 403. I remember him telling me that distinction from four decades ago.

      Not sure if all automatics were 403’s but that’s the definite way it was told me at the time.

      • r s

        I just found a brochure for the ’78 Firebirds and it indicated that California got the 403 V8 instead of the 400. So I’m not sure where my brother got that info about the 403 being the engine w/ the automatic transmission, but we didn’t live in CA…

      • Steve R

        The VIN number will tell you which engine any particular car came with. On a 40 year old car, I’m not sure I’d go by the decal in the hood scoop.

        Steve R

        Like 3
      • Steven Ligac

        Imagine That: The older brother got the 4-speed…

    • OhU8one2

      You are correct. T/A 6.6 was the designation for the Pontiac 400. The Olds 403 was 6.6 Litre. Good eye.

      Like 3
  3. Rosco

    Really can’t identify the W72 400 engine by just the hood scoop. Would need to actually inspect the engine and hopefully see a build sheet. Dash and gauges a mess and it also looks like the wrong steering wheel.

    Like 3
  4. TimM

    By the looks of the rear quarter behind the mud flap it looks like someone shot it with primer after doing a repair!! They tapped the primer!! I get the feeling from seeing that it might be loaded with bondo!!

    Like 3
  5. steve

    Took the restrictor plate off the red dragon, but keep that on the down low…

    Like 2

    BTW the Olds 403 cars were all automatics. Shaker decal would say “6.6 LITRE”.
    Pontiac 400 cars(both the L78 and W72) were available for 1978 with either auto or stick. Shaker decal would say “T/A 6.6”. It is all too common to see folks with 403 cars slap “T/A 6.6” shaker decals on them. Not sure what the featured car has under the hood.

    Like 3
    • Robbie R.

      Mostly correct Steven. Yes, Olds 403’s were auto trans. Yes, the W72’s shakers had the T/A 6.6 decal. However, the L78s did not. They had the same shaker decal as the 403 Olds (6.6 Litre).

      Like 1
  7. J Day

    Pontiac’s have the oil fill through the valve cover only. Olds have a filller neck on the front top of the engine. Pontiac T/A 6.6 had chrome valve covers, Pontiac 6.6 were painted valve covers from the factory. I might be wrong but weren’t the 403’s engine painted gold. I know the boat anchor Olds 260 were blue, my Mom had one in a 1976 LeMans Sport and a good running and fully loaded school bus could take it.

    • Rosco

      Maybe I missed them, but I didn’t see any engine photos to verify anything.

      Like 2
  8. T Mel

    I’ve talked with the seller. He was very short with me and hung up quickly. He said it ‘was’ his son’s car. We know from the ad it’s been sitting for 15 years. Based on those two details and the clear indication that the seller is only interested in someone coming to buy the car solely on the information in the ad, and he apparently has no interest whatsoever in discussing details; I would say his son probably passed. I find it common that when a child passes, the parent(s) have a hard time letting go of his/her things, especially a car that was probably loved. Of course, I’m just guessing on the story here, but why else would the seller say (very shortly) it was his son’s car, “come here and buy it if you want but I’m not going to discuss anything about the car?”

    I wish him luck and I’m sure it’s very painful. But I’m not driving over 1,000 miles with my trailer just to see if I want the car. I would need more info/more pics at the very least. If I was within a few hours sure, no brainer, hook up the trailer with money in pocket and head his way and if it didn’t look right just pass, but I’m not spending 4 days and $800 on a chance it might be what I’m looking for.

    I believe he does want to sell it, but only to someone who will buy it without opening their mouth (other than to ask the address where the car can be picked up).

    He may be healed enough to sell it, but not enough to talk about it in any detail.

  9. Rosco

    Unless the seller told you the son had passed, which it sounds like he didn’t, you are wrong in assuming that.

    Like 1
  10. Robert Palmer

    I bought this car in August 2019 sold it last fall. Bought another one that was restored last May

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