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Solar Gold 400 HO: 1979 Pontiac Trans Am

I think this may be a case of optimism or the the misuse of the words “beautifully restored.” This 1979 Pontiac Trans Am is located in Oberlin, Ohio. It is listed here on eBay and after 34 bids has reached $9,900. So clearly, there is some interest in this car. There are 6 days remaining in the auction. The reserve has not been met. While the car is said to have 59,000 miles, it states that it has been restored. However, the ad states it has leather seats when they are clearly the base vinyl interior. The hood bird is wrong and is an aftermarket cheap version and the car does not have its original engine. The interior plastic panels are scratched, the dash is cracked and the front end is a different shade of gold. Most people would expect these issues to be resolved before calling it beautifully restored.

The interior looks serviceable and is all there. However, the cracked dash is covered by a warped dash cover. The car was originally equipped with air conditioning but it is no longer and the seller states that the compressor is included with the sale. There are not many creature comforts like power windows, power locks or tilt steering either. But who needs those things in a fun car anyway. What is nice is the original wimpy 301 cubic inch V8 engine has been replaced with an late 1960’s 400 cubic inch V8 (if the ad is to be believed). The camel interior has some sun fading and the plastic panels in the back are scratched up.

The VIN for this car shows a “W” in the engine code spot which would indicate that the car left the factory with a 301 cubic inch V8 engine. The L37 301 cid engine could be optioned in 1979 and the buyer would receive a $50 credit. The base engine for the Trans Am in 1979 was the L80 403 cubic inch V8 (K code in the VIN) that came only with an automatic transmission. The 301 cubic inch V8 rated at 150 horsepower and was available with an automatic or manual transmission. The high performance engine option in 1979 was the L78 W72 400 cubic inch V8 engine and was designated as a “Z” code in the VIN and only came with a 4 speed manual transmission. This car is advertised as a recently rebuilt HO 400 cubic inch V8 that would indicated that it was an engine used in late 1960’s Firebirds.

Many of the pictures in the ad are taken in the shade and the shadows from the trees make it hard to see the condition of this car. This Trans Am is equipped with 15×8 snowflake aluminum snowflake wheels which indicates that the car was equipped with the WS6 or WS7 suspension which came with bigger sway bars, tuned shocks, quicker steering ratio and wider tires. The paint looks shiny but the nose looks to be a different color. Hopefully, the bids will increase and the seller will get market value for this Trans Am which should be in the high teens based on its condition.


  1. Avatar photo Fahrvergnugen Member

    Beautiful restoration…to the average Pinball Wizard.

    Like 20
    • Avatar photo Fahrvergnugen Member

      I shoulda added (an edit option would help) that snowflake wheels alone don’t connote a special package; like a replacement engine or hood, wheels are available on the interweb.

      Like 6
  2. Avatar photo Steve R

    Lots of red flags. Needs a copy of window sticker from PHS and a thorough inspection. It’s a low option car that seems like it was “restored” with an eye towards resale.

    Steve R

    Like 15
  3. Avatar photo PG

    Two words… Hot Mess

    Like 8
    • Avatar photo Neil R Norris

      Four words, hot mess must miss. Take a hard pass on this one.

      Like 3
  4. Avatar photo Nelson C

    Complete mish mash. This is everything you see in the ad but less.

    Like 3
  5. Avatar photo Nick P

    I currently have a silver over light blue, blue bird 79 TA. 4 speed, t-tops. Off the road in a garage for 25 years. All numbers matching, Pontiac 400 and zero, zero, zero rust. Never seen a car as original and rust free. If he’s at over $9k for this, God knows what mine is worth.

    Like 13
    • Avatar photo Ed

      Probably not. God is more of an Escalade man.

      Like 0
  6. Avatar photo Terry J

    “The base engine for the Trans Am in 1979 was the L80 403 cubic inch V8”, which as we know was actually an Oldsmobile engine. :-) Terry J

    Like 1
  7. Avatar photo sw smith

    ” just walk on by
    Wait on the corner
    You’ll fall apart before we ever meet

    Like 1
  8. Avatar photo C Force

    If you closely look at the engine photo,at the cylinder heads they are of an older casting,looking at the center exhaust ports where the cylinder head numbers are,that is three digits which is a 6 and a 7 then a zero down lower,which would be 1967 heads,72cc giving it 10:5.1cr.The correct heads if it were a 79′ 400 would be 6x heads which these are clearly not.should be good for at least 360hp if built to specs.The engine itself makes this car worth building,i wouldn’t put the correct motor back in it if someone gave me a new one for free!!

    Like 1
  9. Avatar photo Mike Akers

    “Optimism or misuse of words” is a very kind way to put it.

    Like 1
  10. Avatar photo Scott McConnell

    Car is junk. Engine is not worth 9k

    Like 0
  11. Avatar photo TRUTH

    Not much to say. Needs a good bit of love and $$$. If it goes for 10-12k, it’ll be worth the 5-7k needed to get it really nice.

    Like 0

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