Reach Lift-Off Speed With This 1978 Pontiac Trans Am!

When enough is just right, too much is perfect! That’s what we have here with this 1978 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, located in Atascadero, California and for sale here on eBay, with a current bid of $9,900. Between the upgraded 455 V8 under the hood, the 4-speed transmission and that Screaming Chicken on the hood, you really could take off in this Trans Am!

As a result of 1977’s epic, comical car chase film, Smokey and The Bandit, starring a 1977 black Pontiac Trans Am, 1978 ended up being was a huge sales success for Pontiac’s Trans Am. The movie star was black with gold trim but the success spread across the entire Trans Am spectrum.

By 1978, the largest engine available in a Trans Am was an Oldsmobile sourced 403 CI. The preferable engine, however, was Pontiac’s 400 CI. And speaking of 1978, it was the last year of production for the 400. There were some ’79 Trans Am’s with 400 CI motors but they were leftover ‘78’s. What’s special about this bird is what’s under the hood, however, and in this case, it is a 455 CI motor that has a .030” over-bore (which by my calculation makes for about 462 CI’s of displacement). The last 455 CI equipped factory produced Trans Am was in 1976 but that engine had been reduced to boat anchor status by that point. What’s additionally enticing is the fact that this Trans Am has a four-speed manual transmission – many of this era were automatics. Not to be overlooked is the fact that this Trans Am will pass California smog check regulations. I’ll leave it to our informed reader base but I believe the smog check requirement is applicable to 1976 and newer vehicles. Of special note is the reference to this bird’s low restriction catalytic converter. The “bead” variety that GM used in the ’70s was overly restrictive so this improvement is a welcome addition.

The interior of this Trans Am, looks fantastic, just as Pontiac intended. I can tell you from experience, the seats used in the Trans Am were quite a bit better padded than those used in the corresponding Camaro. The seller does indicate that the front seat upholstery has been replaced. There are no visible interior problems noted in the included photos.

Nary a reference made regarding corrosion or body integrity but being a California car for most of its life, I have no reason to suspect an issue. The seller does indicate that the car is originally from Oregon but the body panels and fit/finish look spot on. Note the late model GTO in the background!

This vintage Trans Am is hot! And this example checks all the boxes with its bigger motor, four-speed tranny, AC, power windows, new upholstery – it even has T-tops! I have always been a skeptic of this generation of F-bodies. I owned a ’77 Z28 Camaro, bought new in ’77, and it was less than ideal – cheap materials, very poor workmanship and really underpowered for a supposed “muscle” car. Now I know, the 400 CI Trans Am’s had more go, just enough I’m sure, but what’s not to like about 455+ cubes? This beautiful example has just about everything going for it. Admittedly, I’d like to see a few more images with greater detail, I think it would help the seller’s case. There is no mention made of a bidding reserve but if I were in the late ‘70’s Trans Am market, I’d have to check this one out – if you want the right specimen, you have to be willing to travel. How about you, what do you think, worth further investigation? With this Trans Am, I could even get used to the Screaming Chicken…


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  1. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    Well if you are into T/A’s you have come to the right website. All pretty nice.

    Like 5
  2. Arthell64 Member

    Back around 82 I decided I wanted a gold edition 78 trans w72 4 speed but man they were hard to find even then. I did find 78 w72 automatics but I had to have a 4 speed. Ended up buying a black 79 4 speed. The way these cars were treated when new it’s easy to understand why the short block has been changed. Looks like a fun car.

    Like 5
  3. JoeNYWF64

    I guess the rule that you can’t put an older engine in an emissions car does not necessarily apply to 70’s cars in Calif these days, as long as it passes emissions, tho i heard aftmkt converters do not last that long or do as good a job.
    I thought maybe the inspectors were fooled into thinking the 455 was an identical looking 400(from the outside), but the Calif only air pump is not there either.
    Odd Pontiac changed the hood bird design to a less aggressive looking one, IMO.

    Like 1
  4. mainlymuscle

    Atascadero ?? would that be where Pinky and Leather came from ?
    Prices on Bandit era cars have crashed, after a bunch of hype drove them crazy when Ole Burt’s health was failing.I love these but had no temptation to pay $50k for one 2-3 years ago.I like this example a lot,someone talk me out of it Lol.I expect the price to increase at a rate of about 5 to 600 bucks an hour until closing.

    Like 1
  5. UK Paul 🇬🇧

    A nice thing!

  6. TimM

    Perfect!!! Well optioned too!! T-tops 4 speed great car!!! Just missing Sally Feild!!!!

  7. mainlymuscle

    Well , I bought it for $18,400 !
    First BaT sends a handful of cars to my garage,and now BF has joined the fray.This will be my rental car while I visit Palm Springs,from Canada.Last year,it was a 67 Eleanor.The year before an 87 911 cabriolet.Renting a Toyota or Impala is not my thing.When my wife and I dine at restaurants on El Paseo,driving vintage iron,we meet much more interesting people than we do in the dime a dozen (in Palm Springs) Bentley GT.Now ,where did I put that jean jacket ?

    Like 1

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