What’s It Worth? 1978 Pontiac Trans Am

Update 2/4/20 – This Trans Am has been relisted here on eBay with a $3k price cut. Do you think that’s enough to sell it this time around?

From 12/20/19 – Any item, whether it be a car, a house, a computer, a painting, whatever, is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. I could advertise my daily driver for a million dollars, and maybe I’d get my price. It’s more likely that I wouldn’t. That is the case with this 1978 Pontiac Trans Am Y88 Special Edition. There is no disputing the fact that this car, which is located in Springtown, Texas, is a survivor. The big question is what a classic Trans Am in this condition is actually worth. It is listed for sale here on eBay with a BIN of $22,500 or offer, so let’s take a look and see if the price that is being asked is a fair one.

As with all examples of the Y88 Special Edition, the Trans Am is finished in a color called Solar Gold. I guess that this is where we strike our first issue because that paint is certainly showing its age. It has faded and worn, and nothing but a complete repaint will return the vehicle to anything approaching its former glory. There are also a number of dings and dents around the vehicle, with the most obvious of these being a pretty sizeable dent in the passenger side front fender. However, this does look like it could be repaired. The graphics and striping have also borne the brunt of the Texas sun, and all will require replacement. The distinctive snowflake wheels are showing some oxidization, and if the car is to be returned to a pristine state, then I suspect that these will need to be professionally restored. So, that’s the bad news. The good news comes in the form of a lack of rust throughout the Pontiac. There is certainly some surface corrosion visible in a number of areas throughout the vehicle, but there is no actual rot. The prone areas such as the trunk pan, lower rear quarter panels, and the area around the rear bumper, all look to be rock solid. In addition, there appear to be no items or major trim pieces missing.

The news under the hood is also not bad, with the car being a numbers-matching vehicle. That means that we get the 400ci Pontiac V8, producing 220hp. In this case, the original owner also chose to equip the car with a 4-speed manual transmission, a Safe-T-Track rear end, power steering, and power brakes. As a combination, this was as good as it got for a Trans Am back in 1978, delivering a 0-60 time of 7.6 seconds, and a ¼ mile ET of 15.9 seconds. The car was taken out of service by its original owner back in 2003, but the current owner undertook all of the work required to return the car to active duty. This includes the replacement of the fuel tank, a rebuild for the carburetor, the fuel system was flushed, the radiator was re-cored, all of the brake lines and the master cylinder have been replaced, all hoses and belts received the same treatment, all fluids have been flushed and replaced, and the car was given a full tune-up. The end result of all of this work is a car that is said to run and drive very nicely. Included with the car is the PHS verifying documentation, along with the original Window Sticker, Owner’s Manual, Warranty Book, and Dealer’s Receiving Report.

Consistency is the key with this Trans Am, and the interior condition is of a similar standard to the rest of the vehicle. Some of the plastic interior trim items such as the seatbacks and console armrest have deteriorated quite markedly due to UV exposure. The carpet is looking tired, while the Camel Tan cloth covers on the front seats are also showing some pretty obvious deterioration. The dash itself looks quite reasonable, while it would be tempting to see how items such as the door trims would respond to a professional clean. Once again, the original owner ticked a lot of good boxes when they ordered the car. You get air conditioning, power windows, power locks, a tilt wheel, AM/FM/8-track player, and Soft Ray glass.

So, that’s it. There is no doubt that this Pontiac Trans Am Y88 Special Edition is about as loaded as you could get back in 1978. Looking the car over, it is extremely original, it’s rust-free, and it comes with all of the documentation that you could possibly want for a classic like this. It also needs some work to return it to its best. What do you think?

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Comments

  1. LARRY

    Definitely worth what someone will pay for it..looks like a nice car..probably drive it and work on it as you go. Actually looks good for a 78 TA Texas car asking price probably a little bit high..but there again someone wanting a nice project TA this is a very good start

    3
  2. Jack M.

    That ET is pretty slow Adam. My research shows anywhere from 15.0 – 15.54 seconds in the quarter mile.

    4
    • JoeNYWF64

      I wondered if they ever tested a stripper t/a in ’78, because ’70’s GM a/c & p/w are heavy. Those silly too tall & narrow tires weren’t helping either. Here’s a case where today’s notorious browning-even-when-new raised “white” letters match the lite brown color of the car.
      A disgrace, considering 20 yr old Grand Prix Radial GTs STILL easily stay super white! & belts still have not separated! $43 back in 1998.
      Someone is laffing all the way to the bank TODAY charging at least double what these old tech S!!! rated tires are worth.
      Not to mention premature cracking, etc.

      1
      • Stevieg

        After the Harley dealership I worked at closed, I started working at an auto repair shop. We also sell tires.
        Most tires made now actually last longer than the old ones. The warranties are longer than in the past, & most of the manufacturers do a good job taking care of the customers.
        White wall & white letter tires pretty much went out of style with the mullet, and generally don’t sell well except to those that still have mullets lol.
        If your “new” tires are prematurely cracking & the white letters or stripes are turning brown too early, check the date codes. They were probably on the shelf too long.
        That is often the case when you buy “discounted” tires off a website. They are old inventory that got wholesaled out to a distributor (the website) who won’t get into trouble for selling old inventory because the average consumer doesn’t know how to check the date codes. I am always willing to educate the consumers, even if they aren’t my customer.
        Don’t forget, rubber deteriorates from the inside out. Tires might look ok, but still be rotted.

        5
      • md

        There’s a well known exception, the current Goodyear radial T/A’s are notorious for yellow letters. Discount tire replaced 3 of mine due to yellowing one month after purchase.

      • JoeNYWF64

        Before you buy ANY new tire today, ck the lowest rated reviews on amazon,walmart,simpletire & tirerack websites.
        Unless reviewers are all lying or have a grudge against these companies, you 1st need to read all the mindboggling bad reviews ESPECIALLY on Goodyear’s exclusive Douglas tires sold at walmart – tires going flat on gravel or glass!!!, “walmart told me all new tires are now made thinner”!!!, bubbles/bulges forming in the sidewalls, etc. Never ever ever seen this in the 1990’s & earlier—>
        http://i5.walmartimages.com/dfw/6e29e393-1009/k2-_89157756-c229-4b34-9a6a-3edd7c420373.v1.jpg
        Indeed i also seen a car with 4 sears guardsman plus tires & they all have that problem too & the owner said it developed soon after he bought them!
        But that never happened on my 4/$99 pepboys tires i bought in the 80’s!
        http://www.walmart.com/reviews/product/46633830

        WalMart can ship up to 3 year old tires. Simpletire can send tires up to 4 yrs old, & many local tire dealers will logically sell you oldest inventory 1st. After 30 years!! i have YET to find a 225-55R16 tire for 1 of my cars that did not make annoying whirling noises! That size is not avail in a much quieter S rating. On that car, 1 Continental had premature tread separation, another brand developed a bulge in the sidewall & went flat, Gatorbacks all dry rotted/cracked all over after just 3 years – all while my great condition $43 20 yr old Grand Prix GT S rated radials on my other car have a good laff at all the above.
        My latest current 225 55r16 tires are 2 Firestone primewells & i requested the newest tires from the local dealer – tire stamp date confirmed that. After 5 years & just 5000 miles, both front tires now have DEEP WIDE(not hairline) cracks in the 2 outer(but not innner) tread grooves going all the way around!, but no cracks(not even hairline) anywhere else!!! I am religious about maintaining proper tire pressure. Firestone recalled OTHER primewells for premature cracking all over, but not the ones on my car. Those cracks could have been there a lot sooner – prior to that i never ck’d inside deep grooves – NOW i do!
        The dealer said the tires were dry rotted – i dont buy it. Ask for a reiona rep to look at tire – no luck – even offering to drive to meet him!
        I have no idea what tire to get next. lol
        Also, a LOT of reviews now are complaining about tread wearing down too early – for ex a 40k tire down to treadwear bads in less than 20k miles.

      • Stevieg

        MD, that very well could be. We sell Goodyear brand tires, but we have found them to be problematic in general. Being lazy by nature, we don’t like filling out paperwork for warranties, so we try to not sell them.
        I can’t wait to get outta Wisconsin. Once I do, I will be applying @ Harley dealerships again. I can’t stand selling tires lol.

        2
  3. David G

    Beautiful cars, and a lot of fun to drive. The Pontiac 400 and 4 speed alone adds a few thousand dollars of value. Professional body work, paint, and new decals will set a buyer back a good 7 grand on this car. Craigslist always has a good amount of outstanding to pristine examples here in California for 14 to 20k+, most being 403/automatic cars. I think this car would sell quickly at around 14 to 15k.

    6
  4. Ron Hentschel

    I’m the owner of the car. Amazing car and a great driver.

    5
    • FalcondriverF16

      I had a Y88 but was an automatic back in 82-83. Joined the airforce in 84 and went overseas. My father passed away and i had to sell mt Trans Am to pay for the funeral and to help my mom. My dad had got the car for me and I wish I had been able to keep it. some of my fondest memories are me and him in that car.Always wanted another but last few years I spend more time at the veterans hospital getting put back together than i do anything else. I love your car bro!! good luck with the sale!

      3
  5. FordGuy1972

    Not a fan of the Camaros and Firebirds of the ’70s, too common for my taste, it seems everybody had one. They were not performance cars but just dressed up to look fast; all show and no go. I wouldn’t think the seller will get his price, the car needs a good bit of money thrown at it. I’m pretty sure you could find a much better example for $22,500.

    4
    • Nick P

      Not necessarily true. This car is an SE. While it doesn’t look like much, this adds considerable value over the standard Trans Am. May turn out to be a fair deal after all. If anyone knows more about them, feel free to add your knowledge to the conversation.

      4
      • FordGuy1972

        Well, Nick P, you’re probably right; I did see a few for sale and while a couple were under $20k(both seemed to be in good shape) there were a few that were considerably more. It just seems like a lot of money to me for a car that looks like a muscle car, but isn’t. Like I said, I never cared for these cars but I knew a lot of guys that had them back in the day and liked them. I don’t mean to knock these cars or hurt anyone’s feelings, I’m sure they were the best available for the era but they were never a car I had any interest in. I had a ’70 Nova SS with an L78 396 during that time anyway. I was pretty happy with that.

        3
    • JoeNYWF64

      When was the last time you seen a ’70-74 t/a at a car show, let alone on the road, let alone a super duty? They don’t even show up at some of the Pontiac car shows!
      Check the production #s.

      3
  6. C Carl

    I remember seeing a row of T/A 6.6 brand new at the dealer.

    2
  7. CCFisher

    Hagerty lists a ’78 Special Edition 4-speed at just under $40K in #4 condition, $84K in #1 condition. This one doesn’t appear to be far off from their description of #4 condition, so maybe the price is actually a bargain to someone in the market for a complete, restorable example of a one-year-only car?

    4
  8. Bob C.

    At least it doesn’t have the Olds 403. Not that it was a bad engine, but it was meant for station wagons, not Trans Ams.

    4
  9. Stevieg

    I think the price, without looking at Hagerty, is a little stiff, but not unreasonably so. I feel, in the condition it is in, high teens would be fair.
    My uncle had one a lot like this. Same solar gold, the standard vinyl interior & solid roof. I don’t think his was an SE, but it had the gold wheel & gold tint on the dash board. That was a quick car!
    He hopped it up. He wasn’t really a gear head but he & my Dad participated in the occupation of street pharmacists at the time, & my uncle felt the need to be able to leave certain situations quickly. He actually authored a book about his adventures, titled “How To Be A Successful Criminal”. Serious!
    Anyhoooo, my Dad wrecked the car on a drunken binge one night, is the long story made short. Almost killed him. I was heartbroken. I loved that car!

    2
  10. Tony S
  11. 1fast2002

    My dad was really into T/A’s in the late 70’s early 80’s at on time we had 6 from a 1972 Trans Am 455 SD with a 4 speed that a few over 1200 were produced an a couple of 77 one 4 speed and one auto black and Gold special editions a Y88 78 that had been warmed up with a cam bored 30 over ported and polished heads alum intake and 750 dp Holley with a manual valve body and shift kit. My mom drove a white 77 non t-top and a 1976 black and gold special edition 4 speed car.. I was lucky enough to get to drive the 76 4 speed car to high school in 84 and 85, He let me drive all of them when ever I wanted except the 72 super duty He let me drive it a few times to school but not many.. but like most he eventually sold them.. except the white 77 and my older brother totaled it.. I’d love to have one of them just to have..

    • Nick P

      455 SD was only produced in 1973 and 1974, not 72. If it was a 72, it was the base 455.

      1
  12. Michael

    Bet those T Top’s leak like a sive. In the beginning they are fine if taken care of. Bet these weren’t.

  13. John Oliveri

    Let’s c, paint job, 7500, if no rust at all, 10,000 if little bit, 1000,00 interior, 1000,00 wheels, 700,00 tires, t top gaskets 300,00, open the hood, 400 a lil Smokey? Exhaust, suspension, brakes, etc, your gonna be at 40,000 in a flash, and it’s an iffy color, cause the black ones bring big money, I love the car, whoever buys it better love it a lot too

  14. George Mattar

    Seat covers wearing through. Console lid is junk. But nice Solar Gold and a 4 speed and real 400 Pontiac not Olds 403 boat anchor. It is only worth what someone is willing to pay. Prices dropping on late 70s Birds.

    1
  15. John Oliveri

    You know a boat anchor when u see one, the 403 is one

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