AJ’s Car of the Day: 1979 Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am

AJ’s Car of the Day: 1979 Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am

Car: Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am

Year: 1979

What makes it special: Designed as a Pony Car to compete with the Ford Mustang, Pontiac’s Firebird model was introduced in February of 1967, the same model year as Chevrolet’s Camaro. This also coincided with the release of Mercury’s 1967 Cougar, Ford’s upscale, platform-sharing version of the Mustang. In  March of 1969, a $725 optional handling package called the “Trans Am performance and appearance package,” optioned UPC “WS4”, named after the famed Trans-Am series was introduced. A total of 689 hardtops and eight convertibles were made, but it spawned the beginning of a legendary Pontiac specialty muscle car.

What made it famous: The front end was restyled in 1979. It also marked the 10th anniversary of the Trans Am, and a special anniversary package was made available: silver paint with gray upper paint accents and a silver leather interior. The 10th anniversary cars also featured a special Firebird hood decal, which extended off of the hood and onto the front fenders. Pontiac produced 7,500 10th anniversary cars, of which 1,817 were equipped with the Pontiac 400 engine and coupled with the four-speed Borg Warner Super T-10 transmission. The only option on these cars was the engine, the 400 was not certified for California, nor was cruise control available with it, which dictated the transmission and the gear ratio: 3.23 on the 400 cars, 2.73 on the 403 cars. In 1979 Pontiac sold 116,535 Trans Ams, the highest sold in a year. Despite its name, the Trans Am was not initially used in the Trans Am Series, as its smallest engine exceeded the SCCA’s five liter displacement limit.

Why I would want one: I can’t think of any car or Burt Reynolds fan that hasn’t dreamed of owning a Trans-Am.

Fun fact: The second generation Firebird was available from 1970 to 1981 and was featured in the 1977 movie Smokey and the Bandit, the 1978 movie Hooper, the 1979 movie Rocky II, and the 1980 movie Smokey and the Bandit II. The Firebird Trans Am was also selected as the Official Pace Car for the 1980 Indianapolis 500

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