Solid Gold Bandit: 1979 Pontiac Trans Am

I’ll admit it: if there is one car that I am completely obsessed with, it is a second-generation Pontiac Trans Am. When I was in kindergarten, my mom used to drop me off in the afternoon in a 1975 Trans Am (with a built 1972 455) and wait for me afterwards, shaker hood vibrating and all. My brother Kurt would later drive it as his first car when he was a junior in high school (after discovering that the car’s gas mileage was abysmal, he switched to a Caprice 9C1 painted to look like an Impala SS). My dad also bought a 1979 model with manual windows, no air conditioning, and T-tops, for $300 outside of Philadelphia in 2005. After my family builds a garage with a lift, our plan is to swap the motor out of the 1975 into the 1979 (the 1975’s body is shot, and the motor is not original, so don’t panic). This particular Trans Am is a 1979 model, and is a Y84 Special Edition Bandit with T-top delete. Find it here on eBay in Portage, Michigan with no bids and a Buy-It-Now price of $15,900.

After facing near-death in 1973, the Trans Am soldiered on through the 1970s as the sole survivor of the muscle car era (keep in mind the Camaro Z28 was on hiatus from 1974 to 1977, and the Mustang became the Mustang II, which is not a muscle car. Ever. Even if there’s a fire.) and set sales records. In 1979 alone, Pontiac sold 116,535 Trans Am, the highest sales total in its 35-year production span. For 1979, the Trans Am and the Firebird it was based off of received new front-end styling. This particular 1979 model is a Y84 Special Edition Bandit in gold, and is 1 of less than 20 T-top delete hardtops known to exist ( the Special Edition option came automatically with T-tops, but the option could be factory-deleted, which is why very few cars optioned as such exist today). According to the seller, this particular car “was verified to be one of the few existing Y84 t-top delete cars by Pontiac Historical Society” (the documentation comes with the car, along with a clean vehicle history report from NMVTIS). Though it was recently purchased by the seller (he was going to fix a few things and “drive the hell out of it” (his words, not mine)), after learning of its rarity the seller decided to sell it as-is. Overall, the exterior of the car is in fantastic, with only a cracked windshield as its only flaw. The sellers also mentions the addition of new parts on the car, which include hood hinges, some window trim pieces, the gas cap taillight door, passenger door handle, and the trim pieces in front under the front bumper. Though I wish it had the T-tops, the car does look cool even without them. The car was originally painted black, but I would leave it gold; I would even leave the paint as-is. I would swap the tires for a set of BF Goodrich Radial T/As, as the tires currently on the car are 13 years old.

Though originally powered by an Oldsmobile 403 V8, the car is currently powered by a 301 V8 (the seller thinks it’s a turbo 301, but I think it’s a regular 301). If it is a turbo 301 (the seller includes the engine codes in the description of the car), it would be rated at either 200 or 210 horsepower and 340 or 345 lb-ft of torque (the former ratings are for a 1980 engine, and the latter ratings are for a 1981 engine). The shaker scoop appears to be missing its rubber surround, and there’s a pair of Edelbrock aftermarket valve covers currently on the engine. The transmission is an automatic (I’m guessing a TH-350) and has a small leak. I would remove the 301 and source either a 400 or 455 to build up, a four speed automatic with overdrive, and build up a drivetrain that is speedy and reliable.

Resplendent in gold and tan, this Trans Am features the less-common cloth interior and looks really cool. Interior options include rear window defrost, custom air conditioning, acoustical insulation, vanity mirror, tilt steering, and an AM/FM radio. Overall, the interior is in amazing shape, but does need some finishing. According to the seller, the car needs a headliner and the door panel armrests, and the carpet needs to be “glued down or adjusted in spots”.  I do like the gold Formula steering wheel, and once finished properly, the interior would be a nice conversation piece. Overall, this car is in nice shape, and with the necessary swaps and finishing touches should make for a nice cruiser at any car show and Cars and Coffee event. What would you do with this rare Trans Am?

Fast Finds


  1. Jeff Kiers

    Is this a “muscle car”? If so what does that make my 88 Supra Turbo with 230 HP??

  2. James Spagnoli

    15k. You can buy one done for 25. This one needs Paint/body and interior and that’s just at looking at the pictures

  3. Show73 Ron Jellum Member

    There were ’74 Z-28’s, very few.

  4. Rock On Member

    First thing that you would have to do is clean the grunge off the front seats. Probably will require a complete recovering.

  5. Bandit79jun

    The car was originally black, as color 19 on trim tag indicates. Anyway, all y84 code S/Es were black. Pontiac offered a gold S/E only in 1978 (code y88 if I remember correctly).

    If I’m reading correctly the partial VIN on the build sheet, this particular car came with the 403 engine, and not the 301 it has right now.

    • Bandit79jun

      My bad, now I saw the mention of the color change. Oops!

  6. Rickey Woods

    Needs the 403 back in it, nice car tho

  7. ccrvtt

    This write up is indicative of the new blood recruited by the BF crew and it is EXCELLENT! Well-informed and fun to read. Not to mention it’s about one of my favorite cars as well.

    As for the oft-repeated lament about the power level of these cars surely someone has a fairly direct solution. Is the LS swap and a Tremec the best idea? Has anyone done this?

    • Mitchell Gildea Member

      People do it a lot, but I prefer to keep it Pontiac-powered (even though it was originally an Olds 403)

  8. Superdessucke

    Rear taillights are wrong. They were smoked on the T/A and Formula. These are replacements from a standard Firebird. Hood scoop is angled wrong. Interior is filthy and missing the door handles. Appears to be an OE A.C. car but no sign of a compressor.

    Price seems very high for this, IMHO that doesn’t seem to matter judging from the bidding. Wow.

    • Tommy D

      Zero bids as of today…?

      • Superdessucke

        I saw 8.75k and thought that was thru bidding. My bad. You’d need your head examined to pay that for this imo. Frankenbird!

      • Tommy D


  9. Steve

    blah blah blah about leaking………Why would ANYONE factory delete T-tops unless it is going to be a drag car. I have owned tons of them with no leaks, most notably several Z28s and a couple 280ZXs……..T-tops rule!

  10. sparkster

    It shows a/c on the window sticker

    • Superdessucke

      And it has an air conditioning HVAC panel, as well as the vents under the dashboard. A non-AC car would have the pull knobs and vents on the kick panels.

      Yet, I don’t see the AC system under the hood. It could be because his pictures are at a bad angle? I don’t know. I would still pass on this one. Color change, no WS6 package, 301 swap (WTH?), and the other issues I mentioned.

  11. Phil

    I’m confused is this article saying that 1979 Y-84s without t-tops is rare? If so then I’ve must have won the lotto every time I purchased a 79 Trans Am. And it just so happens I have a 1979 Y-84 in my garage now.

  12. Stu

    55K miles with an engine & color change?. I’m thinking the odometer works more like a rolodex.

  13. C Carl

    I remember these new on the lot in Colorado Springs. Air Force cadets were buying these like hot cakes.

  14. Mark Wehde

    I just picked a barn find 79 ta for 900.
    Mildly built 76 400ci pontiac motor with 73 4x heads. Intake manifold is an issue. Its a edelbrock torquer2 for pontiac but its design will not allow shaker hood. Sadness.
    Runs drives definately Not stock.
    Needs fenders front and rear. Rockers trunk and floorpan all solid. For 900 I’m happy.

  15. don

    sorry! JUNK!

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