Bandit Barn Find: 1978 Pontiac Trans Am SE

The owner of this 1978 Trans Am (which he initially refers to as a ’77 model) calls it a Bandit Edition, but it actually appears to be a Y72 Special Edition. It has been in storage for quite some time and will need work to be revived. The Trans Am is located in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and is listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has currently reached $4,650, but the reserve hasn’t been met.

The owner says that the black paint on the Trans Am is original, and the car is in decent condition for its age. We can’t get much of a look at it, so it is difficult to assess how much rust may be present in the vehicle. The gold trim around the headlamps, along with a few other items indicate that this is actually a 1978 Trans Am Special Edition. It is fitted with a Hurst T-Top, which makes it 1-of-2,856 automatic SEs built with that top in 1978. That doesn’t mean that it is especially rare, but those numbers are low out of a total Trans Am build of 93,341 cars in 1978.

As we delve inside the Trans Am, we get a see more evidence that this is an SE. The gold, machine-turned dash fascia, gold spokes on the wheel, and gold door emblems all indicate this. The original radio is missing, as are the armrests on both doors. The rest of the interior is present, and I’d really like to see how it would look after a good clean because I suspect that it might just spring a surprise or two on that front. The Trans Am does come with some luxury appointments, including power windows and air conditioning.

There are two things to note about the engine fitted to the Trans Am. Firstly, it isn’t original, and secondly, it doesn’t run. The original V8 has made way for a 455 HO engine, but the owner does say that it doesn’t run and that it will need a lot of work. He isn’t terribly forthcoming on what that means, but I think that the next owner may have to plan on pulling the engine back out of the car. Still, every cloud has a silver lining. At least this will provide an opportunity to detail every square inch of both the engine and its surrounds, meaning that everything has the potential to be spotlessly clean once reassembled. One thing that might be worth considering would be to ask the current owner if he knows where the original engine actually is. If this could be located and could be rebuilt, then returning the Trans Am to numbers-matching status could be a significant benefit to the next owner.

If this Trans Am Special Edition is a solid car, then it might represent a pretty decent sort of project vehicle. Of course, with the original engine now nothing but a memory, it will never be able to command the sorts of prices that a numbers-matching car can. However, find that engine, and it’s a different ballgame. An immaculate 1978 Trans Am SE with the Hurst T-Top can easily pull prices north of $40,000, and these figures have remained pretty consistent for the last few years. If I was looking at buying this Trans Am, I’d definitely be asking that question.


  1. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    “…will need work to be revived..” Adam-you have a dry wit, and serious predisposition for understatement at times!
    And it’s much appreciated especially with a vehicle like this one.

    Like 5
    • Skippy

      Talk about put away wet….flood car maybe? That much moisture and mildew means nothing inside except chrome can be re-used, probably not even the instruments. Ka-Ching!

      Like 4
  2. Richard F

    Oh wow – what a ton of work! Considering the availability of these cars and the fact that you can find some very decent examples (all done) just about every other month or so – you would be many years and several dollars ahead to just buy one of those. Unless this carried some sentimental value and you had a habit of losing money regularly without much care – restoring this car would be completely cost prohibitive. What a shame that some knucklehead with big dreams and little brains let this car rot away…and of course, now wants to be paid for his (lack of) efforts. Not from me!

    Like 2
  3. JoeNYWF64

    Compared to the ’75 & earlier firebirds with massive front end air intakes, i always wondered if ’77-81’s ran hotter due to much smaller air intakes for the radiator.

  4. Rosco

    Looks like the reserve has been met, now at $5,100. Original engine of course, but also a 4 speed would make a difference in value.

    Like 2
  5. Robert L Lemmon

    With only 112 400 – 455 4 speed cars you don’t ever see these cars come up for sale this is the 2nd one I’ve seen right at 35 years,

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