Category: Pontiac

Love Is A Battlefield — Andrew Miles @Driven To Write (Reblog)

Love Is A Battlefield — Andrew Miles @Driven To Write (Reblog)


A (power) ballad to Pontiac. Image: veikl We are young, heartache to heartache we stand… Idly perusing a non-car related website recently, the Pat Benatar tune in question popped into my head and refused to leave. The song was inspiration enough to look back at a time when power dressing, Miami Vice, blocky computer graphics […]

Love Is A Battlefield — Driven To Write

Buyer’s Guide to the 1964 Pontiac GTO @Hemmings


The Pontiac Synonymous with ’60s Performance is Still a Perennial Favourite

For some Baby Boomers, Pontiac’s GTO is the automotive equivalent of Jimi Hendrix’s Star Spangled Banner guitar shred at Woodstock: powerful, iconic and emblematic of an extraordinary era in American history. Pontiac offered a GTO until 1974, then dusted off the badge again for its last hoorah 30 years later on the 2004- ’06 edition. A few versions of the model were significant, at least one was legendary (we’re looking at you, The Judge), but it was the pure-and-simple ’64 that lit the fire. The GTO’s origin story is almost as legendary as the car’s performance reputation. In the late 1950s, Pontiac General Manager Semon E. “Bunkie” Knudsen resuscitated the brand with an infusion of electrifying styling and performance. The division also firmly established itself in motorsports and became America’s third best-selling automaker. All of this attention neatly coincided with many Baby Boomers reaching driving age. When Knudsen left for Chevrolet in the early 1960s, Pontiac was flush with talent, and the young engineers he’d hired to aid in the division’s turnaround were promoted. E.M. “Pete” Estes became Pontiac’s general manager and John DeLorean became its chief engineer.

These young execs recognized the need for a fast, agile, affordable car that could further expand Pontiac’s performance image. The perfect candidate arrived in ’64: the mid-size A-body that replaced the compact Y-body. The new car eschewed the earlier model’s advanced unit-body platform, swing-axle rear suspension and transaxle, in favor of more traditional architecture: a full-frame, a solid axle with four-link rear suspension and a conventional drivetrain layout. As a result, the 389 V-8 engine from the full-size line, and three- or four-speed manual transmissions could easily fit in the A-body. Paired with heavy-duty suspension, the car’s handling qualities could be elevated to equal the big engine’s performance.

As the story goes, during tests of a ’64 Tempest at the Milford Proving Grounds, Pontiac chassis engineer Bill Collins noted that the 389 would fit in the new chassis, engineer and engine specialist Russ Gee proposed the swap and DeLorean agreed. Soon after, a running prototype was completed.

The name “GTO” was chosen for this performance edition; it’s an acronym for “Gran Turismo Omologato.” When used on a Ferrari, it meant it was homologated by the Fédération Internationale D’Automobile for racing. Pontiac’s GTO wasn’t, but the name implied exotic performance, and that was good enough.

At the time, GM had limited its intermediate cars to a V-8 ceiling, so to get around that, the GTO was offered as an option instead of a model. Thus, for $295.90, code 382 turned a Le Mans into a GTO with all of the performance bona fides, plus emblems, blacked-out grilles, and hood scoops to make it stand out. Just $2,776 ($27,000 in 2022) bought you the base pillared GTO sports coupe.

Many road testers were enthusiastic about the GTO’s style and acceleration. Others panned it for its name and other short-comings, like its brakes. Nevertheless, the overall impression was positive. A masterful marketing campaign for the GTO by Jim Wangers and his team at Pontiac’s ad agency MacManus, John & Adams, did more than a little to create that same impression among buyers. With 32,450 GTOs sold that first year, the formula for success was established.

What is a First Generation GTO Worth?

First generation GTOs have been a mainstay of the collector car hobby for decades due to their popularity among Boomers. According to multiple value guides, 1964-’67 GTO prices have remained fairly steady over the last five years averaging in the $50,000- $60,000 range, overall. The ’64—which we’re singling out for analysis here—has followed a similar trend. One of the more notable, recent sales of a ’64 GTO occurred back in July 2022, at a GAA Classic Cars auction in Greensboro, North Carolina. The car was a nicely restored black coupe and it changed hands for $88,000. At Mecum’s Chicago auction in October, a good-looking black ’64 convertible sold for $64,000; at the company’s Kissimmee sale in January, a stunning black convertible sold for an impressive $107,250. Meanwhile, on the more affordable end of the market, a very presentable, driver-quality ’64 coupe was sold by its second owner on Hemmings Auctions in September for $24,460.

The GTO’s traditional fanbase is still a driving force in the collector car hobby, but it’s gradually turning the market over to Generation X and Millennials, who may be less interested in cars of the early 1960s. Still, the original GTO isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It’s probably safe to say that expertly restored examples and cars with professional-grade restomod treatments will continue to command lofty prices, but the overall value trend will remain steady into the foreseeable future. If you’re in the market for one of these pioneering American performance machines, here are some points to keep in mind.

First Generation GTO Engine Options

The GTO’s standard-issue 389 was topped with a Carter four-barrel carburetor and rated at 325 hp at 4,800 rpm/428 lb-ft of torque at 3,200 rpm. The Tri-Power option swapped the four barrel for three Rochester two-barrel carburetors. The center carburetor acted as the primary and, when the throttle was two-thirds open, the outer carbs kicked in via a vacuum-diaphragm-controlled linkage.
Pontiac advertised the Tri-Power 389’s output as 358 hp at 4,900 rpm/428 lb-ft at 3,600 rpm. Both engines came standard with a cast-iron, dual-plane intake manifold; 421 H.O.-spec cylinder heads with larger ports; 1.92-inch intake/1.66-inch exhaust valves and HD valve springs; cast-aluminum pistons helping to deliver 10.75:1 compression; a cast crank and rods spinning in a block with five main bearings and two-bolt main caps; and iron exhaust manifolds feeding dual exhaust. The single four barrel and Tri-Power 389s used a hydraulic flat-tappet cam with 273/289-degrees advertised duration and .410/413 lift activating 1.50:1 ratio rocker arms. To help keep the package cool, a seven-blade 18-inch declutching fan was also included. The 389 is a generally reliable engine but be sure to check for any odd noises, smoke, and leaks that would indicate mechanical issues due to age or neglect. Many owners added Tri-Power to their ’64 GTOs years after purchase, so be diligent in checking engine codes and date codes to ensure that a purported factory Tri-Power GTO is accurately represented.
There are no new stock-replacement engine blocks or iron heads being reproduced, and though cores are getting scarce, they are still available. If you’d like to modify your GTO, large-bore aftermarket Pontiac-style blocks, various aluminum cylinder heads and intake manifolds, and carburetor and EFI options are offered. There are also solid and hydraulic flat-tappet and solid and hydraulic roller camshafts, forged rods and pistons, cast and forged cranks, and stroker kits on the market.

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This ’78 Pontiac Firebird Esprit Clocked 250k original Miles and Counting! – Jeff Koch @Hemmings


Then and now, Pontiac’s second-generation Firebird occupied a strange spot in the car world. Mind you, we’re not talking about the spatted, stickered, and spoilered Trans Am; its place known and secure. After the summer of 1977 and Hal Needham’s good-ol’-boy Smokey and the Bandit saga, America suddenly remembered that the Trans Am was the closest thing this country still had to a muscle car, and in between the fuel crises, that shot T/A sales up 35 percent year-to-year.

No, we mean the non-T/A chunk of Pontiac’s F-body lineup, consisting of Firebird, Esprit, and Formula. An Esprit (pronounced uh-SPREE, not EE-sprit—French for “spirit”) may have been pretty, and may have shared DNA with the beefier Trans Am, but it wasn’t a showy peacock of a car, a corner-carving terror, or tire-smoking recalcitrant. There was no secret life beneath that long nose or behind that new-for-1977 split-grille beak. Nor did it have the bones of something with greater potential, or the raw material for a hot-rodder to mess around with. (Why would Jim Rockford, arguably the world’s most famous Esprit pilot, drive a car that drew attention to itself?) A Firebird Esprit was simply, in the parlance of the day, “a nice car.” Looked a little sporty, felt a little plush. But in a division that had the Ventura, Grands Prix, Le Mans, Grands Am, Bonneville, and Catalina, all of which offered two-door versions and any of which could fill the division’s personal-luxury-car quota… what sense did the Firebird Esprit make?

Consider: Pontiac painted itself as the “excitement” division of GM, and while the Trans Am (and even the Formula) may have bullseyed the target, the Esprit… well, how do you define excitement? Esprit was “The Firebird with luxury,” according to the 1978 brochure, although with a shape like that you could be easily convinced that any Firebird was infused with sporting moves. Esprit’s luxury touches included (mostly) bright and body-colored trim: all-vinyl buckets; added interior grab handles on the doors and dash; added sound deadening; rear ash trays; color-keyed “luxury cushion steering wheel” and outer door-handle inserts; brightwork on the pedals; body-colored sport mirrors with left-hand remote; bright moldings on the roof, windowsills, hood, rocker panels and wheel openings; and deluxe wheel covers. That’s $304 more than a base Firebird cost. Do rear ash trays, chrome trim, and grab handles excite you?

It’s unclear whether the buying public at large was convinced either. In 1978, a year when Pontiac sold 187,000 Firebirds (a solid 20-percent gain year-to-year across the whole Firebird line, with base, Esprit, Formula and Trans Am models all benefitting from a sales boost), nearly half were Trans Ams. Had Pontiac convinced another 300 buyers out of Esprits and Formulas and into a T/A, the numbers would have been half Trans Am, and half everything else combined.

Today, four-and-a-half decades on, Trans Ams are getting all of the attention. The chasm between Esprit and Trans Am seems even greater, both on the secondary market and at auctions nationwide. Trans Ams are seemingly everywhere. Where are you going to find an Esprit (besides, perhaps, in pieces under a restored T/A)? The Esprit is considerably more rare than the performance variant, but certainly not price-guide valued up there with the far more common Trans Ams. Yet consider: For every five Trans Ams in ’78, Pontiac built just two Esprits.

Trans Ams got Shaker scoops and 400 cubes, but the Firebird Esprit’s top engine was this Canada-built 350-cube small-block Chevy. With the four-barrel carburetor on board, it was rated at 170 horsepower. Air conditioning was an option.

Bob Lane of Yorba Linda, California, didn’t have to go searching for his ’78 Firebird Esprit because it found him —all the way back in 1979. Bob was commuting round-trip more than 40 miles to USC and home again in the late 1970s, en route to his law degree, and discovered that his econo-car ride had a terrible habit of melting its engine at regular intervals.

“My dad was a directional driller in the oil fields around Los Angeles, and a co-worker on the rig in Culver City, California, had purchased this Firebird Esprit new in Ohio in June of ’78. After he brought it to California, he decided to sell it,” Bob says. His dad knew young Bob needed a better ride, and this Esprit was it. Visions of banzai missions for cases of Coors Light danced in Bob’s young head, and when presented with the very Esprit you see here, he was elated. “My previous car was manual, with no air conditioning and plenty of mechanical issues. This Firebird was perfect for me — 6,500 miles on the odometer and only a small dent on the B-pillar from when it was hit with a baseball.”

As with any American car of the era, Firebirds could be optioned to the hilt, and this one was loaded to its wingtips. A Van Nuys-built car that was sold new in Ohio (something of a mystery, since the Lordstown plant that also built F-bodies was right there in the state), it was built with air conditioning, automatic transmission, and the top Esprit engine, a 170-net-horsepower, four-barrel Chevy 350 — an engine that was called out as a Chevy engine on the Monroney, and a considerable step-up from the standard two-barrel 3.8-liter Buick V-6. Those three options alone added $1,111 to the bottom line

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Does a car’s popularity in stock car racing naturally precede its popularity as a collectible – Matt Litwin @Hemmings


A good friend recently told me of a 1978 Pontiac Phoenix he spotted for sale near our Bennington, Vermont, office with an asking price of just $2,200. It was a four-door sedan that boasted just 40,000 miles managed by a then-optional V-8 and automatic transmission power team. Inside was a standard interior fitted with a vinyl bench seat, along with what was reported to be factory air conditioning. While the cabin looked surprisingly clean, the exterior exhibited “nice patina,” which was to say faded blue paint complemented by ample surface rust on horizontal panels. The Pontiac had not run in some time, either, as it had just been pulled from storage.

Not that its mechanical health would have been a great concern to fellow Hemmings editor Dave Conwill or me. The 305 was a veteran V-8 in GM’s lineup by the time this late-decade replacement was introduced to take over for the Ventura as Pontiac’s X-body. Even up here in northern New England, any parts that would have been required to revive all eight cylinders wouldn’t have been difficult to locate or costly to source.

Sure, it may not have looked as stunning as it once did, but at just $2,200, the thought was, “How could you go wrong?” Both of us have teens who will be license-eligible very soon, so we’re on the lookout for cheap wheels that can pass state inspection; up here, cars that meet that criteria have become quite scarce. Heck, the Phoenix itself has become a rarity, a comment I made in passing as we looked this example over. During my days on a local stock car team, I witnessed a fair share of this Pontiac’s X-body brethren get unmercifully thrashed past the point of existence.

That was during the mid-’80s to early ’90s, when local circle track racing at the entry level was still relatively inexpensive. Anyone with enough raw talent, or, at least, a preconceived notion they were going to be the next Darrell Waltrip, could have sauntered into their local junkyard and found a high number of base X- and G-body cars from General Motors that had complete, rust-free foundations to work with. Any corrosion on the body panels was a moot point—most of that would be cut away during the transformation to race car. The junker’s engine would be swapped out, so its condition didn’t matter much, either.

These once-commonly-discarded commuter cars became highly coveted after a few brilliant wheelmen figured out that the 1968-’72 GM A-bodies, which had been a circle-track stock car staple since the late Seventies, were as much as a few hundred pounds heavier than the competition. On top of that, growing interest from vintage muscle car enthusiasts was driving up the values of those models. The A-body racers were priced out seemingly overnight.

This Civilized-looking 1972 Pontiac Firebird Formula Packs a 455 Punch – David Conwill @Hemmings


The glorious blaze of the muscle car started to fade pretty quickly in the early Seventies. One of the remaining flames in the gathering darkness was the Pontiac Firebird. The senior F-body raged against the dying of the light for as long as it could, using Pontiac’s formidable V-8. When it debuted in 1970, the 455 was perhaps the ultimate refinement of Pontiac’s original Strato-Streak design of the mid-’50s.

The 455 hung on through 1976, although it was steadily detuned from its debut at 370 (gross, but probably understated) horsepower at 4,600 rpm and 10.25:1 compression. Of course, 1970 is generally recognized as the pinnacle of power output in the muscle era, but while most automakers simply began to detune their performance engines with lower compression and milder camshaft profiles, Pontiac wasn’t willing to throw in the towel just yet.

The result was 1971’s 455 H.O. engine, a package engineered to maintain respectable horsepower output paired with substantial torque, while also utilizing a low compression ratio—8.4:1 to be precise. The ’71 455 H.O. featured Pontiac’s “round-port” cylinder heads, a term that refers to the shape of the exhaust ports. This design had previously been featured on some of Pontiac’s highest-performing engines, including the Ram Air II and Ram Air IV 400s. The performance-tuned 455 for 1970 was also referred to as an “H.O.” but it had used Pontiac’s standard D-port heads. The new-for-’71 round-port 455 H.O. also featured Pontiac’s high-flow exhaust manifolds and an aluminum intake

The 455 H.O. was the top dog 455 in the 1971 Firebird lineup. For ’72, it was the only output. Despite a reduced 8.4:1 compression ratio, the ’72 H.O. still managed to pump out 300 hp and 415 lb-ft, net.

Firebird buyers could have also selected a lower-output 455 D-port engine during the 1971 season, but when the ’72 models came out, the only 455 offered in the Firebird was the H.O., which carried a new net rating of 300 horsepower at 4,000 rpm. Torque was down only slightly, however, from the 500 lb-ft at 3,100 rpm of the high-compression era to a still-respectable 415-lb-ft at 3,200 rpm.

The flip side of lowered compression ratios (and other de-smogging and fuel-efficiency efforts) was that in order to sell performance cars with increasingly less sheer power, the manufacturers that wanted to stay in the game had to focus on two things: style and handling. A certain subset of period cars took the stylistic excesses to a questionable extreme, but once again Pontiac excelled, pushing out its Firebird pony car in various degrees of economy, luxury, and performance—all very easy on the eyes.

The second prong of the period performance strategy was competent manners in more than just a straight line. The 1964 GTO has been justly criticized for its handling and undersized drum brakes. By 1972, thanks to several years of research in the SCCA’s competition laboratories (i.e., Trans-Am racing), the Wide Track gene had reasserted itself in time to save the excitement in the Firebird line

At the top of the performance heap was the appropriately named Trans Am, with its shaker hood scoop, spoilers, and race-car vibe. For those with a more buttoned-down taste, the Trans Am’s capabilities could be had in Formula trim.

The Formula sat just below the Trans Am in the Firebird hierarchy. At the bottom was the basic Firebird, a no-frills car that came standard with a six-cylinder and a column-shifted three-speed manual transmission. The step up from that was the Esprit, which offered essentially the same car with some upgrades, like extra sound deadening, deluxe interior appointments, and V-8 power: a two-barrel, single-exhaust, V-8 with 8.0:1 compression. To that, the Formula added a 1-1/8-inch front anti-sway bar, firmer shock absorbers, fatter tires (still on 14-inch wheels) and some distinctive visual features.

A Formula didn’t come standard with all the Trans Am goodies, for sure, but most were on the option list. The X-code 455 itself, for example, was the standard engine in the $4,300-ish T/A, but despite the Formula’s exotic, fiberglass, dual-snorkel hood, a dual-exhaust, 175-hp version of the Esprit’s standard engine was the Formula’s base mill. A four-barrel,, 300-hp engine was a Formula-specific option as well, for those who perhaps didn’t have the financial wherewithal to purchase and insure a 455

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1979 Pontiac Trans Am 10th Anniversary Limited Edition Buyer’s Guide – Mike McNessor @Hemmings


The late Roger Ebert wasn’t pulling punches when he called Smokey and the Bandit II, “a mess.” “There is no need for this movie,” the Pulitzer-winning Chicago Sun-Times film critic wrote in his 1980 review. “That’s true of most sequels, but it’s especially true of Smokey and the Bandit II, which is basically just the original movie, done again, not as well.

“Something similar could be said about one of the stars of that film: the turbo-charged 1980 Trans Am. It was basically the original 1977 Special Edition Trans Am, done again, but from a raw performance standpoint, not as well. Pontiac’s back was against the wall in ’80 as it faced new government fuel mileage standards that the T/A’s thumping V-8 couldn’t comply with (any more than the Bandit could comply with Sheriff Justice).

So, the Excitement Division’s solution was to add a turbocharger to a carbureted V-8 that was topped with some of the most restrictive cylinder heads ever bolted to a Trans Am engine. With a manual transmission and a low axle ratio, the little engine might have had a fighting chance, but the turbo’d 301 was paired only with an automatic and a 3.08:1 gear set. This was not a recipe for world-beating (or an Oscar-winning) performance. In California, the news was worse for Pontiac purists: Trans Ams in the Golden State were powered by a Chevrolet engine—the 305. Adding insult to injury, none of the V-8s could be paired with a manual transmission in ’80.

But just before the party ended, Pontiac served up one last round of the top-shelf stuff and called it “The 10th Anniversary Limited Edition” Trans Am. Along with its special paint treatment, graphics, wheels, and more, this ’79 Trans Am would be among the last offered with the “T/A 6.6” 400 engine. As a collectible car from the 1970s, the anniversary Trans Am stands out in terms of desirability and value. The 400 version, sold exclusively with a Borg-Warner Super T-10 four-speed manual, is the scarcest, and typically commands the most money.

Of the 7,500 anniversary cars built, a scant 1,817 had the 400/T-10 combo, while the remaining 5,683 were built with the “6.6 Litre” Oldsmobile 403 and a Turbo Hydra-Matic 350 automatic. Popular price guides tack on a premium for the 400 and four-speed powertrain pairing and currently value a 400, four-speed anniversary edition T/A at $30,000 on the low side, $96,000 on the high end, with an average of $57,000. All of the anniversary Trans Ams were loaded with virtually every option and stickered north of $10,000 when new. That was big money in 1979, but adjusted for inflation, amounts to about $38,000 today—right around the price of a new Chevrolet Camaro 1SS.

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A 15-Year Project Culminates in a 1967 Pontiac GTO Equipped Just How Its Owner Would Have Ordered It – Thomas A. DeMauro @Hemmings


“I think the 1967 GTO is one of the most iconic muscle cars of the ’60s,” Jake Stossel of Ebensburg, Pennsylvania, asserts. Shortly after purchasing this example in August 2005, the then-28-year-old electrician began planning out his project, but he soon arrived at that fork in the road where it was time to choose between “Factory-Equipped” and “How I Really Want It.”

After negotiating with a nearby seller for two weeks, who wanted to move a 1968 GTO out of his collection of restorables instead of the ’67, Jake was certainly grateful to have snared this Goat, yet there were a few lingering issues. The Pontiac was Signet Gold, but he didn’t really like gold. It didn’t have a Cordova top, but he wanted one for it. It was fitted with the standard 335-hp engine, but he preferred the 360-hp 400 H.O. It had the Turbo 400 automatic, but he wanted a Muncie four-speed. You get the picture

Nevertheless, like most of us, Jake didn’t possess unlimited funds, so he had to settle. Or did he? Rather than be forever haunted by what could have been, he instead decided to deviate from the original equipment path and build this Pontiac how he would have ordered it in 1967

.Based on input from his wife, Lindy, he decided to paint the Goat Linden Green, his friend Matt Lamer suggested changing the black Morrokide interior to Parchment, and Jake specified a black Cordova top. The resulting trinity of contrasting hues heighten the visual appeal of an already arresting body design. And, each of those choices were readily available for 1967. Regarding the mechanical aspects of the build, Jake used factory-issued or reproduction components for the majority of the upgrades. Thus, the GTO retains a primarily stock appearance.

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The Pontiac Grand Safari was a flagship station wagon hauling on in an era of downsizing – Matt Litwin @Hemmings


By 1974, 5,000-plus-pound family cars were suddenly as impractical as the ol’ muscle car had been to newlyweds holding a freshly printed mortgage and a newborn baby just a few years earlier. Detuned as they were, the large-displacement—still a prevalent means of motivation within the market segment-remained incredibly thirsty. As a result, Pontiac’s full-size output fell to just under 145,500 cars in 1975, and only 137,216 were sold a year later.

Suffice it to say, Detroit needed a diet, and the automakers knew it well in advance thanks in large part to looming federal mandates. At GM, the first to be first slimmed down were the 1977 model-year full-size cars. Among them was Pontiac’s flagship station wagon—the Grand Safari.

The downsized wagon’s chassis was reduced from 127 inches to a svelte 115.9 inches. Much of the basic architecture, however, carried over from the previous generation: independent coil spring front suspension, rear leaf-sprung suspension, power steering, and power front disc brakes. Also included as a standard were FR78-15 radial tires that provided sure-footed control in all driving conditions.

The redesigned chassis cradled an equally new 5.0-liter ( V-8 engine. It was more than the division’s new “economy” powerplant; rated for a rather capable 135 horsepower, the block, crankshaft, cylinder heads, and intake manifold—collectively—weighed 136 pounds less than the V-8. Factory literature touted the availability of a “new 6.6 litre (400/403 CID) V-8” on the Grand Safari’s option chart—technically a carryover engine revamped for ’77—that was rated for 180 or 200 hp. Californians could have opted for the 170-hp 350. A Turbo Hydra-Matic automatic was the only transmission available.

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The most valuable Firebirds from every generation – Greg Ingold @Hagerty


Almost everyone has an opinion about Pontiac Firebirds. Ours, for the record, is that they’re pretty great. Spanning 35 years, four generations, and myriad high-performance variations—not to mention three Smokey and the Bandit movies, Knight Rider, and countless other cultural touchstones—the Firebird transcends typical collecting considerations and cuts to the core reason most of us like old cars—they’re fun. Although most were relatively affordable when new and remain so today, a select few have appreciated into exotic-car territory. We looked at each generation, and here are the most expensive cars from each series.

First Generation (1967–1969): 1969 Firebird Trans Am Convertible

#2 (Excellent) condition average value: $1,000,000

1969 is when it all started, with Pontiac introducing the famous Trans Am to the Firebird lineup. Aside from the famous Cameo White body with Tyrol Blue stripes, the Trans Am included plenty of other upgrades. This included a standard Ram Air III 400-cubic-inch engine, with the optional Ram Air IV, heavy-duty suspension and quicker ratio steering. Trans Ams are very uncommon to start with.

Only 697 total cars were produced, so any car in excellent condition brings six figures. Convertibles are a completely different story, though, with only eight being produced. While all are equipped with the less powerful Ram Air III engine, a pristine T/A Convertible is easily a seven-figure car. Being even rarer than a Hemi Cuda Convertible, these cars come up for sale just about as infrequently

Second Generation (1970–1981): 1970 Firebird Trans Am 400/370-hp Ram Air IV Coupe

#2 (Excellent) condition average value: $172,000

Although the second-gen Firebird achieved pop-culture fame in its later years—think T-Tops and screaming chicken—serious collectors prefer the high horsepower, tightly wound thoroughbreds of the early ’70s. It should thus come as no surprise that a the most expensive of this era would be an early Trans Am. For the first few years of Trans Am production, numbers were the lowest and the most sought after engine options were offered—one of the rarest  the Ram Air IV. Pontiac offered this engine (distinguished by round-port, high-compression cylinder heads) in the Trans Am for only two years, producing only 88 of the cars. The Ram Air IV T/A is closely followed in value by the 455 Super Duty equipped cars in 1973.

Third Generation (1982–1992): 1992 Firebird SLP Firehawk Coupe

GM discontinued production of Pontiac V-8 engines in 1981, forcing the third-gen Firebird to find other ways to distinguish itself from its Chevrolet twin, the Camaro.

The Firebird of this era that managed to do that well is the Firehawk, built by Street Legal Performance (SLP). While SLP was technically an outside tuning company, you could walk into your Pontiac dealer and order yourself a Firehawk using option code B4U. This got you a fire breathing Firebird making 350-hp out of it’s 350-Chevy engine and a number of additional braking and handling upgrades. With 25 cars produced in total, these represent the top end in terms of both performance and value, for F-Bodies. The very best of these cars can flirt with the $100,000 mark. Given how rarely they come up for sale, we wouldn’t be surprised to see these continue to climb.

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It really didn’t take much to turn this Super Duty-powered 1974 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am into a capable restomod – Daniel Strohl @Hemmings


Few cars fit the definition of restomod better than this 1974 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am for sale on (mostly) stock exterior and interior appearance, selected upgrades, better performance than the original. But scratch beneath the surface, and you’ll see that – aside from the modern automatic transmission, the flappy paddles, and the 17-inch wheels – all those upgrades are mostly tweaks to the car’s original specifications. There’s no electronic fuel injection, the brake components are all factory-available equipment, and nobody redesigned the suspension to incorporate cantilevers or coilovers or anything trick and expensive. Does that mean the mid-Seventies F-body was already a perfectly capable platform, in need of little to keep up with modern traffic? From the seller’s description:

This 1974 Trans Am started life as a Super Duty with the very rare Cordova top option. When I discovered the car efforts were made to find the original drive train and I determined it was destroyed by the original owner. At that point I decided to do a modern interpretation of a SD with it remaining as understated as possible. This car is custom in most ways except for the way it looks. Below is a partial list of modifications.

17 inch Year One Rally II wheels. Pro-Touring F-body springs all around. Pro-Touring F-body adjustable tie rods. Moog rubber bushings on flex points. Global West offset A-arm shafts. Global West Del-A-lum A-arm bushings. Competition Engineering subframe connectors. 10 bolt rear with 3.42 gears. 1LE front brakes/spindles with Porterfield street pads. WS6 rear disc brakes. Dual diaphragm WS6 master cylinder, metering block and booster. Tribal Tubes tri-y headers. 2.5 inch Pypes SGF70 exhaust system. Mallory 140 electric fuel pump. Custom fuel pickup. Ford impact kill switch for fuel pump. Blocker BHVIS drop base air cleaner. 1974 SD coded Quadrajet rebuilt by Cliff Ruggles. Performer RPM intake, water crossover separated. Edelbrock aluminum heads, port matched, flow sheet available. Harland Sharp 1.65 roller rockers, custome Butler pushrods. 1974 date coded 400 block with stroker kit. SRP pistons, 4.155 bore. Floating pins. File fit rings. Eagle 6.8 inch rods. Tomahawk cast crank. 3 inch mains. ARP 2 bolt main studs. Butler Pro-Series oil pump. Comp Cams 230/236 hydraulic roller cam. Comp Cams hydraulic lifters. Canton Road Race pan and windage tray. Northern aluminum radiator. Sanden AC compressor (R12). Custom AC brackets. 4L80e transmission. TCI transmission control unit. 3000 stall converter. Twist Machine paddle shifters. Custom Speed Hut GPS speedometer and tach gauges. Custom brushed aluminum trim rings on custom dash insert. Stock shifter with Shiftworks kit. Custome kick panels with speakers. Custom cd/usb head unit

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