Possible WS6: 1978 Pontiac Trans Am

1978-trans-am-driver

Admittedly, I don’t know much about the second generation Firebird. They just have never really excited me that much. I knew they were considered the last of the true muscle cars by many enthusiasts and that one starred in Smokey and the Bandit, but other than that I couldn’t really understand why they were starting to gain traction in the collector car world. Well, Jeff wrote up one the other day that was equipped with a WS6 package and that caught my attention. So, I started to hunt around to see what was currently on the market and I found this 1978 Trans Am here on eBay. The car is located in Waynesboro, Georgia and the reserve has already been met.

pontiac-trans-am-interior

As mentioned, I’m no Firebird expert, but from what I can see, this looks like a good one. The seller mentions that the paint is all original except for on the bumpers. They have been resprayed and the interior has been refreshed up with new carpets and upholstery. That means this isn’t exactly a survivor, but those items are consumables as far as I’m concerned. Sure, we all love 100% original cars, but they can be less than pleasant if you actually plan on spending any time behind the wheel. Other the span of three decades any car is bound to acquire some interesting smells and stains. So, this seems like a nice compromise between originality and usability.

400-v8

This Firebird is fitted with a 400 cubic inch V8 and although power was down because of emissions equipment, I have heard rumors that with a few modifications power can be returned to pre-1970 levels! Correct me if I am wrong there. Having that big V8 out front with the flaming chicken on the hood had to be exciting, but it seems like the automatic transmission would have been a bit of a let down. I mean, with the engine already feeling choked, wouldn’t it make more sense to have a manual to help extract every precious pony out of that thing?

trans-am-rims

Obviously, I’m not your typical Trans Am buyer, but I can now appreciate this muscle car for what it is. As for that WS6 suspension package… Well, the snowflake rims are there, but I can’t tell if they are the wider (8″) ones specific to the package. I suppose those would be an easy swap off another car though, so you will want to check and see if it has the thicker sway bar, and tighter gear box ratio as well. The seller does mention a build sheet, so you could just ask. It’s always fun to do a little detective work though. There is more information about how to identify a WS6 car here on Hitman’s Trans Am page. There is also a page covering rims over there. So, are there any Firebird fans here who can share their expert opinion with us?

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Comments

  1. jim s

    and what is that blue car in the garage? seller also has a 1977 442 for sale. very nice car that would be better with a manual, i think. this car is at $11000 with a lot of bids. great find

  2. Charles

    Looking at the pics, this car probably does have the WS6 option, however the seller does not give enough information to verify that it does or does not have the option. Most of the highly optioned TA’s built in the 70’s did have the WS6 package. WS6 is an RPO code for the high performance handling package, that includes 4 wheel disc brakes, HD sway bars, wider and sometimes larger diameter wheels, and HD springs.

    My 82 has the WS7 package which means all parts equal to a WS6 except that the WS7 had rear drum brakes. There was a shortage of disc brakes that year, so the WS7 was created. The standard wheel size was 14 inches, however WS6 and WS7 cars got 15 inch wheels. In 1978 the difference was a 15×6 wheel for standard and a 15×8 wheel for WS7.

    My 86 has the WS6 package, which in that year included 16 inch wheels. If the TA were still in production today, it would probably be a 22 inch wheel.

  3. Dan h

    Such a cool car but does anyone else get that “let-down” feeling once you look under the hood? It’s like you see this awesome shiny hood scoop and get all excited to see what’s underneath, only to get disappointed by smog equipment and hoses robbing that huge engine of all it’s potential.

    • kman

      I had the ’75 Formula 400 and was very disappointed with the performance. It was also very unpredictable power. Didn’t know if I would merge into traffic or crash into it. So I took off the stock single exhaust and cat, replaced them with headers and full dual exhaust then had the carb rebuilt to run on regular gas and lost some of those tubes. Finally, I cut open the glass hood scoops to get more air to the carb. After that she went pretty well. They handled fairly well too. I could sit behind a 240, (260?) and then when the first straight came up,,,, bye bye.
      Best highway car I ever owned. Cruise in comfort all day at 100+, ‘cept my wife didn’t like it. That would be my first wife.

  4. Charles

    The 400 Pontiac engine still had plenty of torque even with the smog equipment. The engines are extremely durable. Pontiac was notorious for under rating engine HP to outsmart GM corporate, insurance companies, and the government. A few well executed mods can really wake up one of these engines.

  5. Derek F

    Yep, the wider step on the wheel indicates the 8″ WS6 snowflake. ( Unclear in the car is so equipped, but ’78 was the first year available- notice Bandit didn’t benefit from the handling package ) The 7″ wheels had the same snowflake graphic pattern but lacked the step and look far less muscular. The lack of T-tops is also considered a plus here in my book- no leaks and more rigidity.

    • Tirefriar

      The t-tops were cool but did have a propensity to leak and t-top cars had a great degree of body flex. I can live without the t-tops but not with the auto.

  6. stanleystalvey

    This one I like and I’d give about 18k for it.. Right now I have a 75 Formula 400 in Green with only 18,000 original miles on it.

  7. redavanti

    This looks to be a better deal than the package of 2 that need everything.

  8. Dan

    Looks like an SS Monte Carlo in the garage….

  9. Charles

    I think that I may have seen this 78 in person. If it is the car that I think it is, it is a nice straight example.

  10. Dave

    I always liked these second gen Camaros and TA’s. I owned a ’79 Z28, 350ci 4 spd with t-tops, and yes they did leak when it rained. I put a set of traction bars, a Hayes street/strip clutch( burnt up the stock one!!) and with the smog crap still on the car would turn 14.1 in the quarter ! I also had a ’69 firebird 400 with a 4 spd, it was a beast !! Looking at the offset on these wheels on the TA they look might be the wider rims, can’t see from the pics if the car has the rear disc brakes, Price is still in the ball park, I’d like to own this car!! wonder if it comes with a cowboy hat?!! Georgia… isn’t that where they started the run from ? Georgia to Texas and back? !!

  11. Cameron Bater UK

    This is the exact car that I’d use my theoretical bank balance to add to my theoretical car collection. I have never seen my favourite combination on anything other than a cartown car before.

  12. The Chucker

    No T-tops is a definite plus in my book. I’ve owned several GM F-bodies from the 2nd generation, including a ’73 Z28 currently. This appears to be a decent driver and will be interesting to see where the bidding goes as I do believe these are moving upward in the market. Indeed, it does have the WS6 wheels, but other than that, one can only wonder if it has the accompanying suspension bits and posi-traction rear. I would have to agree with others that it could use some love in the engine compartment, and I’ve never been a fan of the camel tan interior color as there always seems to be about 4 or 5 variations of the color going on. Photos of the undercarriage and the trunk floor with the mat removed would be a confidence builder for bidders if they’re as clean as the rest of the car.

  13. cliffyc

    Had to move a dead Pontiac Firebird years ago when helping out in a garage. It was a ’74/5 as it had the smaller rear window,like the one Jim Rockford drove. Guy with me and myself not so thrilled when we discovered it had a flat battery so we could not drop the power windows!. So he winched it on the truck and I got to be the Bandit,er I mean steer it!!. Think it had the 400 motor . Good times!

    • kman

      It was a ’74. Bigger rear window added for 75 as well as better handling.

  14. cliffyc

    Had to move a dead Pontiac Firebird years ago when helping out in a garage. It was a ’74/5 as it had the smaller rear window,like the one Jim Rockford drove. Guy with me and myself not so thrilled when we discovered it had a flat battery so we could not drop the power windows!. So he winched it on the truck and I got to be the Bandit,er I mean steer it!!. Think it had the 400 motor . Good times!

  15. cliffyc

    Had to move a dead Pontiac Firebird years ago when helping out in a garage. It was a ’74/5 as it had the smaller rear window,like the one Jim Rockford drove. Guy with me and myself not so thrilled when we discovered it had a flat battery so we could not drop the power windows!. So he winched it on the truck and I got to be the Bandit,er I mean steer it!!. Think it had the 400 motor . Good times!

  16. kman

    And oh yeah, those BF Goodrich life threatening radials. Blew out the sidewalls on all 4 in the first 6 months or less!! Never looked at em since. Compared with the Pirellis I had on my Fiat Spyder which survived an icy slide into a curb that bent a steel wheel. Put a set of those on the bird.

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