Rare Y88 Special Edition: 1978 Pontiac Trans Am

This 1978 Pontiac Trans Am is one of the rarer Pontiacs made, as it’s just one of  8,666 Y88 Gold Special Editions ever produced. The color was everything on a Trans Am of this era thanks to Smokey and the Bandit, which made black and gold as significant in car culture as a Mustang with white paint and blue stripes. The model seen here was produced in response to the popularity of the so-called Bandit editions, but they pop up for sale far less frequently. This example has a bored-out 455 under the hood and an eight-track in the dash and is said to run out quite well. Find it here on eBay with one bid to $20,000 (!) and no reserve.

Now, I didn’t get a chance to see the listing before bidding opened, so it may be the case that the seller listed it with an opening bid of $20,000 and someone has already jumped in with their paddle waving. If you’re a Trans Am fanatic, it’s not hard to understand why – this is a rare bird, made all the harder to find by virtue of the fact that the unique paint specifications led to many cars being repainted. The special paint code was water-based and left the factory with issues ranging from an odd green tint to color mismatches on the lower body panels. The seller doesn’t mention if this is one of the cars that was re-painted under warranty. The Carmel Tan Interior and matching Formula steering wheel are both in great shape.

The 455 wouldn’t have been the first choice of collectors, as Pontiac did offer a W72 option with the 6.6L that bumped total horsepower up to 220. This was a solid number and one that was all the more impressive in the early days of the malaise era. The seller has gone a different way, noting that the stock 455 has been bored to 462, which makes this Y88 all the more special. Assuming it is numbers matching, this likely wakes the Trans Am up nicely, and it’d be even sweeter if it came with the WS6 suspension upgrades. That package isn’t mentioned in the listing, but finding the bigger sway bars shouldn’t be a problem; based on the photos, it at least has the larger 15×8 inch wheels.

The Pontiac has 148,000 miles and still appears to be in fantastic condition. The seller doesn’t provide any details from an authenticity standpoint, as most collectors would want to see paperwork verifying that this is indeed a genuine Y88. The paintwork looks practically new, and that includes the gold-tinted T-top roof panels. If it was repainted under factory warranty, I don’t see this being a problem given that so many of these special edition models underwent the same re-work by the factory. If it has matching numbers and the WS6 setup, the opening bid makes even more sense to me. Would you pay this much for a special edition paint job?

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Comments

  1. jwzg

    The rarity and consequently the value of this car seems a bit undone by the engine. I’m interested to hear what others think.

    Like 7
    • Steve R

      The engine swap will hurt its value among many enthusiasts. However, it’s the substandard workmanship and corner cutting that should hold it back. The removal of the AC, lack of engine detailing, wiring and air cleaner treatment look are evidence of a car quick flip or hack work. Special edition or not, for that price I’d keep looking.

      Steve R

      Like 7
      • 455RAIV

        Agree Should have had better workmanship but 455 Engine swap is good to me – its still Pontiac powered and that’s what counts to me – the Heart of a Real Pontiac :)

        Like 2
  2. Bob

    1976 was the final year for the 455 Trans Am (just 200 HP by then). The most powerful engine offered in the ’78 Trans Am was the 220 HP W72 “T/A 6.6,” though most Trans Am instead received the 185 HP “6.6 liter” (which was actually an Olds 403). Poor research on the author’s part.

    Like 12
    • ADM

      They said the W72 was about 260 net hp, based on it’s performance. 0-60 in 6.7 seconds, and the quarter mile in 14.7. Since this engine made it into the ’79 Formulas, and TAs, after the final batch was made in ’77, you could say the ’79s were the last “muscle cars”.

      Like 2
  3. Vin_in_NJ

    My brother ordered a new 1978 Trans Am. Checked off the color gold but didn’t opt for the gold special edition. When you stood at the front corner of the car, you could easily see a difference in color from the hood, to the fender to the nose cone.

    Like 2
  4. flmikey

    The ad says the engine is from 1973, so I doubt it’s matching numbers, and for that reason I totally agree with jwzg…

    Like 6
  5. Jolly Joe

    I understand the engine swap if the original went south. My issue is what happened to the AC? These cars, especially with t tops, are like driving a greenhouse of heat year around.
    No AC, no thanks. 6419100

    Like 7
  6. Jolly Joe

    I understand the engine swap if the original went south. My issue is what happened to the AC? These cars, especially with t tops, are like driving a greenhouse of heat year around.
    No AC, no thanks.

    Like 2
  7. 370zpp

    Water based paint?
    Sigh.

    Like 2
  8. Troy

    I thought 1976 was the last of the 455s for the T/A…

    Like 1
  9. Harry

    theres no way thats a ’73

    Like 1
  10. Jcs

    Yep, you dropped the ball on this one Jeff.

    Way too many references to matching numbers and stock engine, none of which are accurate, or even possible with a bored out 455.

    Probably not even a W72 car originally with the automatic, unsure if it is optioned with WS6 package either.

    Y88s were not even that rare, Pontiac built more than three times as many of these Solar Gold Y88s than the Black and Gold SE Bandit editions, which seemed to be everywhere at the time.

    One of the more unique items on the true Y88 is a gold Pontiac arrow front emblem. Hard to tell from the photos but this one sure looks red to me.

    All in all, I’d say that someone scored a really nice $15K Trans Am for $20K.

    Like 8
  11. D Palmer

    The shaker clearly says 6.6, this was a 400 car originally, not a 455.

    Like 2
  12. mainlymuscle

    4 speed T/A SE (or not ) in second best colors,with really good bodywork is worth 20-25k all day everyday .

    Like 1
  13. Don

    Bird on hood is 79 version

    Like 1
    • Johnny R

      Y88’s came with the newer bird design.

  14. Gerardo Sanz

    Nice restoration.
    The dash is silver, should be gold.
    The water base paint is for cars built in California Vans Nuys

    • Johnny R

      Y88’s came with silver engine turned dashes not gold. SE Y82’s came with the gold engine turned dashes.

  15. john hugh

    comes with a mullet and white high top sneakers

    Like 1
  16. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    SOLD for $21,000.

    • Jcs

      Craziness.

  17. george mattar

    $21,000 for this? People are car crazy for sure. These cars fell apart by 1981. I have a 75 Corvette I will sell you for $17,000 with EVERY OPTION, including big brake package.

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