Car: Pontiac Firebird Trans-Am
What makes it special: Firebird grew more European in nature with their second-generation redesign, but the scooped and spoilered 1970 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am was pure American muscle car, and more immodest than ever. The 1970 Pontiac Trans Am wore the same impact-absorbing snout as other Firebirds, but Pontiac said its unique front air dam and fender air extractors created 50 pounds of downforce on the nose at expressway speeds. It claimed equal downforce to the tail from a big decklid lip and small spoilers in front of the rear wheels. Inside, complete instrumentation was standard and included a tachometer turned on its side to redline at 12 o’clock, just like in a real race car. The padded Formula steering wheel directed quick 12.1:1 variable-ratio power steering. Stiffer springs and heavy-duty front and rear sway bars teamed with Polyglas F60X15 tires on Kelsey Hayes Rally II wheels. Standard 10.9-inch power front disc brakes and 9.5-inch rear drums did the stopping.
What made it famous: The 1970 Pontiac Trans Am’s standard engine, the 345-horsepower Ram Air 400 cid V8, provided low-14-second elapsed times at the dragstrip. 88 of the 3,196 Pontiac Trans Am’s built that year got the optional Ram Air IV. That one added bigger ports, better heads, swirl-polished valves, and an aluminum intake manifold for 370 horsepower, 25 more than in ’69. Rarer still was the Ram Air V, an over-the-counter, special-order piece that counted among its tricks solid lifters and tunnel-port heads for as much as 500 horsepower. All these engines breathed through a new rear-facing shaker scoop designed to capture cool ambient air flowing over the hood. A 4-speed transmission with Hurst shifter was standard; the Turbo Hydra-matic automatic was optional. Both came with 3.55:1 gears, and a 3.73:1 was available with the 4-speed.
Why I would want one: If you were to ask me what my favorite Trans-Am year and color is, this would be my answer. To me, this is the most beautiful and badass Trans-Am ever built.
Fun fact: Car and Driver called the 1970 Pontiac Trans Am “a hard muscled, lightning-flexed commando of a car, the likes of which doesn’t exist anywhere in the world, even for twice the price.”