I GOT THE BUG
by Ben Deutschman
this is an excerpt from the articles appearing in the EAGLE
how does a long time Mopar nut wind up owning a Pontiac Trans Am? Well first you
have a friend by the name of Paul Neumann, (no not the actor). Then your friend
goes out and buys himself a 1974 Trans Am, but doesn't quite posses the know
how, and especially the proper tools to work on it. Of course, as you could
guess by now, yours truly wound up being the wrench man on that 1974 Trans Am my
friend Paul bought. I didn't mind though, as Paul was always willing to lend a
hand if I needed a spare set when I was working on my car. Well one thing led to
another, and another friend of mine, Steve, also bought himself a Trans Am, a
1975 model. Steve was a bit better able to handle work on his Trans Am, possessing
first of all the necessary complement of tools, and the ability to use them.
However, since Steve had also helped me out with my car projects. I often helped
him when he needed an extra pair of hands to complete projects on his Trans Am. All
this assisting did pay off. For one thing, I had the chance to probe a vehicle
other than my own, decide if I liked it, or not, and I wasn't stuck with the car
if I didn't like it.
I caught the bug, and decided I wanted my own Trans Am. After some time of searching,
and with the help of my friend Steve, I came across a carousel red 1976 Trans
Am, in October 1981, which was to become mine. The car had relatively low
mileage for its age, approximately 49,000 miles, and the body was in fair
condition. Upon finishing my inspection of the car, I sat down with its owner to
discuss price. At first the owner was asking a rather high price for the car,
considering it had rot in the bottoms of both quarters, needed all new hoses,
belts, the interior a thorough scrub job, and the front seats some upholstery
work. After some back and forth negotiations over what was, or wasn't in need of
repair/replacement, the owner of the Trans Am came down to a price I felt was
reasonable, $3,300.00. I gave the owner a deposit, and returned the next
evening, mischief night, to pick up my new toy.
I took care of the mechanical repairs immediately, (i.e. the hoses, belts, and a
new battery tray), and then pressed my Trans Am into daily service, so I could get
back to finishing a restoration project that was in the works for about six
years at that point in time.
Not content to leave things alone, and with just a little gentle persuasion from
my friend Steve, I decided to engage in some amateur bodywork on my Trans Am about 2
years alter purchasing it. What started out as a minor effort on just my Trans Am,
turned into just a wee bit more. Seems a few friends decided that while the
garage was open, and tools were available, heh, why not work on their cars too.
By the time all was said, and done, I had five other vehicles scattered about
the back driveway, street, and my car up along side the garage. We all took
turns helping each other out, and by around 10:00 p.m. we had finished all our
projects. Thank god I had understanding neighbors, and still do. The body work
was, as I said, amateur, but it was an improvement over what the car had looked
like before I started. The professional job would have to wait until much later
when I could scrape up the money.
My Trans Am served for ten years, in all kinds of weather, over just about every kind
of road, until I had saved the money for the body work. Of course ten years of
New Jersey winters, and gobs of road salt, had eroded major portions of my car's
structure. Some additional quick and dirty bodywork jobs kept things looking
good on the surface, but the bondo was beginning to become the major component
of the car. In addition to that, there was the growing problem of floor rot to
By 1987 I had begun to realize that I needed to get serious about saving my
money for bodywork, having blown a goodly sum souping up the engine. I also had
expended some of my funds on some suspension upgrades, in the form of urethane
bushings in the shock mounts, and front and rear sway bars. Finally, there was
that nice set of gas shocks to top things off. So, it wasn't until 1991 that the
real bodywork would finally get done on my car.
On August 11, 1991, my Trans Am went into V and F Autobody in Metuchen, New Jersey. I
visited my car periodically over the next 2 months, both to check on its
progress, and to authorize any additional work. It seems that each time a panel
was removed, more rot was found hiding. By the time the job was done, the only
body panels which were completely original, were the hood, roof, and decklid.
Every other major panel had either been completely been replaced, or some
portion of it had.
Looking better than it had after the numerous intermediate bondo jobs I had
done, I took my toy home. The body shop's work got rave reviews from all, even
Dad. About a year later I added a nice new set of wheels, which unfortunately
dad was no longer here to give his review on. I also upgraded the stereo.
Now my Trans Am leads a life of quiet semi-retirement, only coming out of its snug
garage on sunny days for shows, parades, and the occasional test blast after
whatever work has, shall we say, given rise to the need for a test blast.
There is one little extra detail though I
haven't quite figured out how to fix. In June 1993, my wife, and I became the
proud parents of a bouncing baby boy. This little boy, now four years old, has
decided, he will have my Trans Am when he grows up, his exact words. When the time
comes, I figure if I crazy glue the car to the garage floor, that will slow him
a little. If that doesn't work, I'll try praying.
Return to NFTAC Articles