Pontiac Project: 1979 Pontiac Trans Am

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The owner of this 1979 Pontiac Trans Am says that it is a solid car that runs and drives well. We only get a few limited pictures, and the car is now sitting in storage, so there are no further photos available. The car does look solid, but there is one aspect of the car, which I will get to, and it has me confused. The Trans Am is located in Fairmont, West Virginia, and is listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set a BIN price of $4,000 for the Trans Am, but the option is also available to make an offer.

The owner refers to the vehicle as solid, with good floors, and a solid, straight frame. The photos certainly do look promising, with no obvious signs of any major rust issues. The paint and decals do look tired, but that is a problem that could be addressed fairly easily. Where the whole thing collapses in a heap for me is when he talks about the engine, which we don’t get any photos of. He says that the car runs, drives, shifts, and stops as it should, and that the engine is a 301ci V8. Now, I’ve always been pretty sure that the ’79 Trans Am was never fitted with a 301, and an exhaustive search hasn’t turned up a single Trans Am with that engine. That means that either this is a Trans Am that’s had an engine transplant, or this is a Firebird wearing some stickers. I’ll be interested to see what our readers think.

The interior doesn’t look too bad, and while there are some tired trim items inside the car, I think that a good clean would make the world of difference in there. The dash pad is said to be new, while the original radio has made way for an aftermarket CD player. The carpet looks a bit faded, but it is all the little detail items, none of which will cost a huge amount of money, that let the interior down. Clean the seats, replace the discolored plastic on the floor console, replace the damaged window winder on the passenger door, those are the detail items that I’m referring to. These are the ” 20 cent items”  that can make the world of difference with any car.

I’ve never hidden the fact that I have a soft spot for these cars, and I do like this one. If it’s as solid as claimed, then it could be made into something really nice for a reasonable price. I really hesitate because of the information that the owner provides about the engine. What do you think?

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  1. Capriest

    The N/A 301 with 150hp was available for the 79 trans am, but it’s pretty rare. Mostly 403’s. Pretty sure they even made more 400 cars than the 301. This one looks pretty stripper for a T/A with crank windows,no t-tops, and the steel rallyes. Probably someone on a real tight budget ordered this.

    Like 8
  2. Capriest

    I really like this car aside from the 301 though myself. T-tops can be a PITA, and offer less structural rigidity. I prefer the rallyes to the snowflakes as well. The rarity of the 301 doesn’t add value either. If I was in the market for one of these this would be my huckleberry as I wouldn’t feel bad about doing an LS/t-56 swap, and it’s also my favorite color combo.

    Like 10
  3. Jeff

    Back when these were new I had a manager with one, 301, that we teased him aboot mercilessly.

    Like 9
  4. Rock On

    Even Google is so embarrassed that the 301 came in Trans Ams that it doesn’t provide any search results!

    Like 5
  5. 71_LT1

    RPO L37 was the option for the 301 engine. (Off limits to California residents) It was an economy engine and you received a $195.00 credit for ordering it. A “W ” will be found in the vin number and a “TA 4.9 decal on the hood scoop.(Hemmings) This Trans Am has alot of potential, and plenty of room for a bigger engine. I like this one, I don’t believe it will last long. Good luck to the new owner !

    Like 1
  6. Geoff Augenstein

    I had a T/A 301 in the early 90’s, it was fully loaded with power everything, WS6 and Hurst t-tops. I don’t know why they didn’t get the 400 since it wasn’t that much more cost but the car was fun to drive with decent gas mileage.

    Like 2
  7. Jerry Shryer

    8,605 1979 trans Am’s were produced with the 301 V8.

    Like 0
  8. bull

    One of the few times in the collector car world where you can remove and THROW AWAY the matching number original engine and install a none matching number’s Pontiac 400 or Pontiac 455 engine in the car all the while making the car instantly much more desirable and worth a lot “Mo Money”!

    Great base for a builder IF you like schidt brown!

    Like 6
  9. 86_Vette_Convertible

    Ad is down, but at $4K including a 403 it would be hard to go bad at that price. You should have that much in parts along though $4K seems ridiculously low to me.

    Like 1
  10. S

    This is probably an 80 Trans Am that was built in the fall of 1979. I am guessing the seller just got the year wrong. 1980 and 1981 Trans Ams DID come with the 301 V8, and visually it is very difficult to tell the difference between a 79, an 80, and an 81. That is my guess as to what is going on here.

    Like 1
    • Julie

      1980/81 were turbocharged and had a turbo hood scoop yielding 3 indicator lights facing the driver marked low,medium,high it was a
      4.9 ltr 301 V8 these would be the last of the 301 engines. Starting in 1982 GM dropped the Pontiac 301 and carried on with the Chevrolet small block V8.The 80 and 81 Turbo TA offered many new options the years previous did not which the owner is apparently not revealing these options either if there are any.. Still a steal in my opinion.
      Before bashing this car everyone needs to dig a little deeper…
      Try searching LU8 with a GarrettTB305 turbo.Stock it ran the quarter mile in 16.3 seconds at around 200 horsepower. Camaro Z28 5.7 liter was at 190 horse and the the best Ford Mustang had to offer was a 2.3 liter Turbo 4 banger at around 132 horse. Basically Pontiac did the best it could with what was available at the time given the technology. The LU8 managed to make the TA one of the fastest American cars available during its time while also creating reliability and excellent fuel economy

      Like 2
  11. TAGS

    So this is what my car would have looked like…lol This article really brings back memories. I live in central PA and ordered a ’79 301 Trans Am in this exact color less T tops also. The vehicle never did get built to my knowledge. I waited 14 weeks for even a build date and it never happened. I was looking for a good looking car that would be easy on the wallet. Instead, I caved and bought a loaded 403 ’79 midnight blue TA and kept it 11 months…couldn’t afford it. I was 24 years old at the time and the insurance and gas costs were prohibitive.

    Like 2
  12. Doug

    I owned a ’79 T/A with the 301 and decal delete for 7 years in the early ’80’s.
    It was certainly not an asphalt melter but then again I was never really a leadfoot. But I always got a kick out of people saying “hey, man…cool car” at traffic lights and it was always fun to cruise around in.

    Like 7
  13. Larry Boise

    I own a 79 with a 403. Black and gold, get compliments all the time. T tops do not leak. Best I’ve done is 95 in a 35 mph corner. Best handling car that year with the ws6 package.

    Like 0

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