1978 Pontiac Trans Am in Mayan Red with White Interior
After years of looking for the right 2nd generation Trans Am, I came across this one in Northern California. A non T-Top car, as I refuse to own an F-body with T-tops. I was fortunate to own brand new 77-79 Trans Am’s back in the day, and several were T-top cars. When you pull up to a driveway that is uneven and the interior lights come on, you know right away that car is missing a very important structural support. F-bodies which were all unibodys, meaning the body is designed to act as the frame. It makes no sense to cut up the roof, which by design, is the main source of the structural integrity designed into the car, so no T-Tops for me. The car was mint, but the Mayan Red was a bit oxidized and faded, as cars in those days did not leave the factory with the clear coat, which current cars get, which allows the factory paint to survive. Red is one of those colors that benefits the most from a clear coat paint job. This Trans Am was just too mint to pass by, so I decided to purchase her and give her a nice paint job. No expense was spared and she now wears a new Mayan Red with clear coat. The factory undercarriage paint is all original, with not even a speck of rust anywhere. The interior looks as the day it left the factory, even the factory seat belt identification tags look perfect and matches the build sheet numbers, which came with the car.
The car was originally ordered with a Pontiac 400 ci, but in 1978, you could not order a Trans Am in California with the Pontiac 400, so the previous owner had to order the car in Florida, where his mother resided and had it shipped to California. I think that California still holds the record for silly regulations. After a few years of ownership, the previous owner decided to turn the 400ci into a 455 ci. and he did it the way I would have, which is another reason this Trans Am caught my attention.
The original 400 was sent to Rock n Roll Engineering, where it had the original factory numbers matching 400 transformed into the 455. Back in the day, Rock n Roll Engineering was breaking horsepower and torque records along with making their engines endure the stress of racing. Car magazines such as Car Craft and Hot Rod were constantly featuring their ability to build monster power houses. This 455 on the engine dyno put out over 600 horsepower with just over 620 ft.lbs. of torque. Rock n Roll engineering’s fame, came from their ability to transform the notorious Pontiac crank, rod bearing failure, into a bullet proof rotating assembly. The Heads are Edelbrock RPM aluminum, which were port polish and matched. The rebuild process allowed for the original 400 ci to retain the stock standard bore. The extra cubes come from the crank. The block still has the factory matching number identification. The transmission was beefed up to handle the extra power, as was a cooler added with professionally bent stainless lines. The factory 2.73 gears were replaced with 3.23. This car literally melts the tires from a 25 mph punch, and continues to spin them till you let off.
When I got the car, and while most of the car was apart for the paint job, I decided to add rear disc brakes. All the parts used were new, no rebuilt parts were used. Being in the aftermarket exhaust business, I decided to build a complete dual 3″ mandrel bent 304 stainless exhaust system for her. Back when G.M was still producing these cars, the wiring wasn’t the best, as things like power window suffered, thus up and down movement was rather slow. I corrected the problem, by re-wiring the power window circuit, and by adding multiple relays at the source, thus allowing the window motors to power up the way modern cars do.The 4 headlight system was also updated with Hella glass European lamps, with HID bulbs in the bright white range. The amount of attention to detail time put into this car is staggering, but it’s what I do with all my cars.