The NFTAC is North America's oldest and largest club for all Firebirds and Trans Ams including the Formula, GTA and Firehawk. The Club was founded in 1984 and offers color magazines, emagazines, technical advice, member recommendations on service, body and parts sources, registration of your Firebird or Trans Am, a tradition of service and FREE member classified ads that appear in the Eagle magazine AND on the NFTAC website at www.firebirdtaclub.com.
We have been informed that many members are having problems accessing our website at https://firebirdtaclub.com . If so, try www.firebirdtransamclub.com . It has less features but should be accessible on all internet providers. You can also try accessing the main site on your cell phone.
Welcome to the latest edition of the eEagle. We suggest you print this out for ease of reading and for reference. Be sure to send us any comments and/or suggestions. Please note: classified ads now appear to the end of the eEagle which is more like the printed Eagle.
Join over 22,000 members on our Facebook group page for lively discussions and photos of members' cars at www.facebook.com/groups/firebirdclub . We are now on Instagram at www.instagram.com/firebirdandtransamclub.
This issue contains photos and story of the ‘87 Trans Am GTA of Josh Weaver is at the top of this issue and on the front cover of the printed Eagle. It is also on front cover of the printed issue. Nice car and nice background. Story and more photos inside this issue.
The Firebird and Trans Am Calendar for this is staring to fill in as the 2023 shows are starting to announced their dates. Send in your show details so that we can list it in the Eagle and on our website.
Mark Neumann’s ‘Birds in Flight column for this issue is regarding George Barris’ customized Firebirds. I had never heard of this version so thanks to Mark for bringing it to my attention.
The Firebird and Trans Am Gallery contains photos of the ‘78 solar gold Trans Am of Cy Valanejad. Also pictured is the ‘67 Firebird 400 of Lark Barker. Great cars and photos!
Thanks for another great story with photos from Ben Schwandt and his recently acquired ‘99 Trans Am. This replaces his 2000 T-top WS-6 Trans Am and appeared in a previous issue of the Eagle.
Our featured vehicle for this issue is the ‘81 Bandit Trans Am of Santiago Class. Thanks for the photos and story. This car was on the cover of the November 2022 issue of the Eagle.
The Technical Section contains many good questions and answers including a bad oil leak Thanks to our Facebook group for most of these items.
The Swap Meet Classifieds contain many good items including a stunning red ‘94 Firebird Formula.
Our back cover of the printed magazine contains a photo of the ‘79 Trans Am of Tim Turner (TC). Very nice car.
Note: The next regular printed version of the Eagle (February) will be mailed in January to our members that receive the printed version.
great start to the new year!
(top photo and front cover of the printed February 2023 Eagle: 1989 Trans Am GTA of Josh Weaver from Strasburg, Pennsylvania)
This issue contains:
(Above photo and back cover of the printed February 2023 Eagle: 1979 Trans Am of Timothy J Turner (TJ) of Bull Valley, Illinois)
'Birds in Flight
Editor’s Note: this is the tenth in a series of columns about interesting stories connected with Firebirds and Trans Ams.
First-Gen Firebirds and George Barris: A dynamic duo
We all know the custom car builder George Barris for his crazy movie and TV show cars – the Munster Coach, the Batmobile, the Green Hornet, and lots of other eye-opening projects.
But Barris, who passed away in November 2015, also had a penchant for Pontiac power. He designed a motorized stagecoach for the rock band Paul Revere and the Raiders, known for their hit songs "Cherokee Nation" and "Kicks." Called the Raiders Coach, the two 428 ci Pontiac V8s delivered 800 horsepower to the car. The band, which also did commercials for Pontiac when the GTO Judge debuted in 1969, took the Coach with them while touring (see pictures at the Raiders Coach Facebook page).
Barris also did custom paint work and body mods on several first-generation Firebirds for TV shows in the 1960s and 1970s, including "Groovy," a teenager situation TV series.. He customized a ’67 Firebird and made a guess appearance on one of the episodes. He also produced a customized ‘Bird for "A Boy, A Girl" – a movie starring Dino Martin (son of Dean). The convertible was basically stock except for a wild, flamed paint job.
Another Barris-customized Firebird crossed over the auction block recently at Mecum’s Chattanooga, Tennessee auction. It was a 1968 Firebird convertible customized by Barris for the "Sounds of ‘68" variety show on ABC-TV. Barris built three copies of the car as giveaways at the end of the show’s season to the best "Super Teen" musical talent.
The one that went on the auction block is believed to be the last remaining example; it was authenticated by George Barris and Barris Kustom Industries in 2006.
The styling cues that Barris developed for the car may have inspired some of the design work by Pontiac for the 1969 Firebird Trans Am, according to the car’s information sheet.
The car has a matching number 400 c.i. motor and factory teal interior. PHS Services documentation and a build sheet indicate the car was assembled at a GM plant in Los Angeles and originally sold by a Sherman Oaks, California Pontiac dealership. It has an automatic transmission with Posi traction, air conditioning, tilt wheel, and it was priced at $5,072.16.
Barris’s custom additions include simulated side air scoops, adjustable trunk mounted spoiler, unique hood, sequential taillights and unique bumpers front and rear, along with a side pipe exhaust.
In an interview with High Performance Pontiac in March 2008, Barris said he picked the Firebird for the "Sounds of ‘68" show because the car was "very youth oriented. I thought that car was the cat’s meow for that show, and I could make the car even more appealing to the 15-35 age group through design and styling upgrades," he told HPP writer Christopher Phillip." I loved the car. It was really great."
Bidders took the car to $60,000 once it hit the auction block at Mecum, but it did not hit the reserve..
Clearly not a Raider’s Coach, but a nice one-of-kind collector car with the George Barris touch.
Barris G. and Featherston D. "Barris TV and Movie Cars." MBI Publishing, 1996.
Mark enjoys taking rides in his 1974 Buccaneer Red Trans Am and serves on the copyediting team for The Eagle. He lives in Chandler, Arizona and belongs to the Valley of the Sun Pontiac Club. ( www.valleysunpontiacs.com ).
'Birds in Flight
Editor’s Note: this is the eighth in a series of columns about interesting stories connected with Firebirds and Trans Ams.
In my last column, we reviewed prices of Firebirds and Trans Ams at auctions held early in the year. The two auctions we featured – Mecum’s extremely large Kissimmee (Fla.) auction and Barrett-Jackson’s in Scottsdale (Ariz.) – are both held in January at opposite ends of the country. Those are followed by more B-J and Mecum auctions in Las Vegas, Glendale (Ariz.), Palm Beach and Amelia Island (Fla.), and Indianapolis (Mecum’s second largest). The summer brings on an auction in Monterey, plus the MAG auction at Hot August Nights in Reno.
If you want to track the value of your ‘Bird, auctions are a reliable source. Websites like ClassicCars.com and Hemmings, the Bible for classic car collectors, will give you asking prices; auctions will give you "sold" prices. What is my car worth today? Head to an auction site. Of note: Hemmings has also gone into the auction business, holding them online.
January sets the stage
We saw some competitive prices for F-bodies at the Mecum and Barrett-Jackson auctions in January, including a 1973 Firebird Formula (400 ci, 4-speed) for $66,000 (Ed. note: I had one of these in the mid-1990s in Navajo Orange and rare ram air induction. I sold it for about $3,500.) A 1979 Trans Am 10th Anniversary car with the coveted 400 ci and 4-speed sold for $62,700.
And, of course, the penultimate: a 1979 Pontiac Trans Am, unrestored with 38 miles (maybe the ride home from the dealership?), sold for $118,250.
In my last column, we also highlighted a second, low-mileage 1979 Trans Am going up on the block at Mecum’s Glendale, Arizona auction on March 18. I was up front and close to this car, and watched it go through bidding on the Mecum stage. This car, a SE Black and Gold edition, had 145 miles and the desirable 400 ci, four speed combination.
The price? The bidding started at $50,000 and went up quickly, eventually settling at $145,000.
Checking in at mid-year
Did we see any similar prices for F-Birds during the remainder of the year? Here are some prices for cars sold at Mecum’s just ended Indianapolis auction in May.
This auction had $126.5 million in total overall sales—an 18% increase over the past Indy auction record of $107 million achieved at last year’s event.
Mecum – Indiana State Fairgrounds
1999 Trans Am 30th Ann. Convertible 2,820 miles (1/535 made) $51,700
1981 Trans Am Turbo SE 3,830 miles $159,500
1969 Trans Am 1/520 Ram Air III cars/4 speed) $165,000
1978 Trans Am (only year for Martinique Blue) $44,000
1977 Trans Am (T-tops) $187,000
2002 Trans Am Collectors Edition 6,200 miles/6 speed/T-tops $50,600
1997 Trans Am 9,881 miles (red) $28,600
The message from collectors and auction houses is that prices are doing well for Pontiacs, particularly the low-mileage copies. Keep those T/As in good condition!
East Bound and Down: Smokey and the Bandit hits 45th anniversary
It is hard to believe that 45 years have passed since Burt Reynolds, Jerry Reed, Sally Field and Jackie Gleason banded together to give us "Smokey and the Bandit." When it was released in 1977 (I was 18 years old), no one expected it to do much in the box office. But it grossed $126.7 million, right behind Star Wars that year.
Smokey and the Bandit II proved successful as well, but the third reprisal was not. Reynolds and Field sat out while Jerry Reed became the new Bandit.
Reynolds had a knack for cashing in on props used in his previous movies (like selling the canoe used in the movie "Deliverance," in which he starred). He took advantage of the Smokey and Bandit movie’s success by selling off Trans Ams he received through the movie and promoted Black and Gold Trans Ams built by Trans Am Depot. The company, which uses Camaros as a base for their modern Trans Am editions, sold 77 Bandit cars to match the year the movie was released. Reynolds appeared in advertisements for the car and signed the glove boxes of each model produced.
Smokey and the Bandit have been in their last high-speed pursuit; Gleason, who played Texas sheriff Buford T. Justice, died in 1987 of colon cancer. Reed died in 2008 at age 71 due to complications from emphysema and the "Bandit" Burt Reynolds died in 2018 of a heart attack at the age of 82. Sally Field is now 75.
The re-release of the movie in May and June at select theaters across the country coincided with the dates this year for the Bandit Run, a tour put on for Trans Am owners and their cars by Restore a Muscle Car. This year the Bandit Run’s route followed that from the movie – Texarkana, Texas to Helen, Georgia. Over 160 Trans Am participated in the run.
Some of the key lyrics from the movie’s theme song, written and sung by Jerry Reed:
East bound and down, loaded up and truckin’,
We’re gonna do what they say can’t be done.
We’ve got a long way to go and a short time to get there.
I’m east bound, just watch ol’ "Bandit" run.
We certainly did.
About the author: Mark is the second owner of a Buccaneer Red 1974 Pontiac Trans-Am and serves on the copyediting team for the Eagle.
'Birds in Flight
Editor’s Note: this is the seventh in a series of columns about interesting stories connected with Firebirds and Trans Ams.
Most of you who read this column bought your Firebird or Trans Am to drive and enjoy. We’re not big fans of trailer queens. These pony cars were known for their good looks and great handling and beg for a twisty road. So, we oblige.
Nonetheless, we also like to know how the value of our cars are holding up in the classic car market. We all have heard the saying that "once you drive your (new) car off the dealership lot, it starts losing money." There are exceptions, of course, and that’s what this month’s column is about. With the stock market showing a lot of volatility lately, more people are investing in vintage sheet metal.
So I thought I would look at sales from car auctions on how our Firebirds and Trans Ams have fared since the start of the new year. Of course, there other ways to track car value, such as going on websites like eBay, Bring A Trailer, ClassicCars.com, Hemmings, etc. But auction sales have some advantages.
1. You can see and touch the car, look under the
hood, start it up
Certainly, there are challenges to BUYING a car at auction, but that’s material for another column.
Good pricing so far
The year always starts with the country’s two largest auctions: Mecum’s 10-day, 1,500+ vehicle auction in Kissimmee, Florida, and the Barrett-Jackson Classic Car Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona. In my home state, in fact, Barrett headlined four classic car auctions that took place in January, all during the week.
Here are some sample sale prices from both auctions:
Mecum (Kissimmee, Fla.)
Car Details Price
1973 Firebird Formula, 400 ci, 4-speed, $66,000
1968 Firebird Convertible, 400 ci, auto, $60,500
1976 Firebird Formula, 400 ci, 4-speed, $25,300
1969 Firebird Convertible, 461 ci, auto, $62,700
1987 Pontiac Firebird 2.8L, 5-speed, $11,550
1979 Trans Am 10th Ann., 400 ci, 4-speed, $62,700
2002 Trans Am Convertible 5.7L, 6-Speed, $36,300
1981 Turbo Trans Am SE 4.9L, auto (only 3,830 miles), $104,500
1979 Pontiac Trans Am, Unrestored with 38 miles, $118,250
Those last two Trans Ams, of course, got high dollars based on very low mileage (more on that later).
Barrett-Jackson (Scottsdale, AZ)
1976 Trans Am, 400 (stroked) auto, $42,900
1967 Firebird Convt., 326 ci, 4 speed ,$47,300
1977 Trans Am, 6.6L auto, T-tops, $110,000
1989 Trans Am 20th Anniv. Pace Car, 3.8l turbo, auto., $82,500
1969 Firebird, Ram Air III, $71,500
1977 Firebird Trans Am SE, (owned by Burt Reynolds), $495,000
Of course, celebrity status can increase the price quickly, as the ’77 Trans Am from the Bandit demonstrated (the car was only a show vehicle, and not used in the movie).
But ultimately, low mileage is a major price mover. Here is one that went on sale at Mecum’s auction in Glendale, Arizona on March 18. We’ll share the final price in our next ‘Birds of Flight column, but here are the details:
1979 Trans Am, 110 miles, 400 ci, 4 spd., We’ll see!
Mecum says "this exquisite example must rank as one of the lowest-mileage and most original of the 1,107 units produced" in 1979.
"Finished in its factory-applied Starlight Black with a Camel Tan Custom interior, this particular Y84 Trans Am SE came with the 400 T/A 6.6 V-8 and floor-shifted, close-ratio 4-speed, as well as power steering and power 4-wheel disc brakes, a tilt steering column, AM/FM stereo with dual rear speakers, power windows and door locks, Special Performance Package and a limited-slip differential."
And there are more auctions to come in 2022.
Photos Courtesy of Mecum Auctions, Inc.
About the author: Mark is the second owner of a Buccaneer Red 1974 Pontiac Trans-Am and serves on the copyediting team for the Eagle.
Birds in Flight
Editor’s Note: this is the sixth in a series of columns about interesting stories connected with Firebirds and Trans Ams.
Winter Greetings from the American Southwest, where the timing of our car show events runs counter to our East Coast and Mid-Western ‘Bird fans. Whether it’s my home state of Arizona, or California or Nevada, the Sun Belt offers fabulous winter weather – great for beautiful sunsets and weekly car shows, cruising-in’s, classic car auctions, vintage car rallies, or just riding down the road in your Firebird or Trans-Am.
It’s always interesting to follow Facebook pages this time of year as Ponti-ackers get their cars ready for winter storage and we start enjoying our 70-degree days following a furnace-like summer. While the hardy ones with good A/C and cooling systems can head north to Flagstaff during the hot months, most of us wait it out until the fall.
With three main Pontiac clubs in Arizona – two chapters of Pontiac Oakland Club International and a chapter of the GTO Association of America – along with a separately-organized club for the last-gen GTOs and a Firebird/Trans Am group – we like to keep our ‘Birds at the front of the pack.
• In late October, Trans Ams, Firebirds, GTOs, and G8s took off for a three-day trip to San Diego from the Phoenix area and Tucson. The weather was perfect. We joined over 200 other Pontiacs along the bay front for a beautiful show.
• On November 18, we had a Pontiac club meeting in Mesa, AZ – outside on the patio. Great attendance as we planned activities for the winter months. Such as …
• For Dec. 4 and 5, we have had two car shows – including a Toyz for Totz run to Wickenburg, Arizona. A club after-Christmas party is in the planning stages for late January – also outside.
And just for kicks, activities director Paul Albinger, owner of a 1979 10h Anniversary Trans-Am, which he drives to car shows and took part in that 600-mile round-trip to San Diego, is organizing our first annual New Year’s Day Cruise.
Other plans call for working as drivers for the MAG auction in Scottsdale in March and our annual Buick-Olds-Pontiac-Cadillac Show in March.
When you put the parka hoods up, we’ll be putting the tops down. Stay warm!
To learn more about car shows in Arizona, check out CruisinArizona (https://sites.google.com/view/cruisinaz/home) Roddin’ and Racin (https://roddinaz.com/); and Arizona Car Shows (www.arizonacarshows.com/carshows.htm).
About the author: Mark is the second owner of a Buccaneer Red 1974 Pontiac Trans-Am and serves on the copyediting team for the Eagle.
'Birds in Flight
Editor’s Note: this is the fifth in a series of columns about interesting stories connected with Firebirds and Trans Ams.See previous issues of the printed Eagle for the other columns.
When he was a teen, Tod Warmack and his brother Scott watched their dad pull up to the house one day in Tallahassee, Florida with a just-bought 1978 Gold Edition Pontiac Trans Am. "Of course, we knew we had to have one, too." Warmack recalled in an interview with The Eagle.
Tod had seen a 1978 Martinque Blue edition pull into his high school parking lot one day and knew that was the one he wanted. He found one with T-tops and a four speed, and the W72/WS-6 handling package. Scott also found a Trans Am for himself. It was Trans Am fever, family style.
"My dad had Corvettes, Chevelles, Impalas, and then we got into GTOs," Warmack said. "We were always around muscle cars."
The last Trans-Am was built in 2002, and Pontiac disappeared eight years later. But that love for the pony car never left the family.
Today, the brothers are owners of Trans Am Worldwide, which builds Trans Am conversions using the Chevy Camaro as the base model, and Trans Am Depot, which does restorations work on vintage Firebirds and other muscle cars.
"We started Trans Am Depot first as just a place to restore our own cars. But them we started getting customers and the business grew," Warmack said. Later, after seeing renderings from designer Kevin Morgan in Hot Rod magazine showing how a Trans Am would look as a conversion at the debut of the fifth generation Camaro, Womack developed the idea of building a new Trans Am using the Camaro as a donor car. The look of the ’77-’78 Trans Am models were considered a base for the redesign.
"We get the CAD data of the Camaro from GM, and then we design the new body panels for the Trans Am from there," Warmack said. Most of the body panels are carbon fiber now, and the company builds them in-house, along with most of the motor work.
The company’s 20 employees have churned out close to 200 of the Trans Am conversions, including the Super Duty, which offers up to 1,100 horsepower and a 9.3 second ET on the drag strip. The 50th Anniversary model and the Outlaw edition are also available.
One of the company’s signature cars was the Bandit edition – a tribute to the "Smokey and the Bandit" movie with a limited run of 77 cars to honor the year the movie came out. Burt Reynolds, who starred in the movie, was involved in promoting the car.
Where it started
Trans Am Worldwide debuted in 2010 at the Trans Am Nationals. "It was a crude prototype," Warmack recalls.
Pricing for the cars vary by customer-requested options. "When we first started the company, our entry level was $70,000" which included the donor car, Warmack said. "But we didn’t sell any of those. Most people ask for fully optioned cars, and that brings prices up to around $140,000." That include added performance, paint, and custom interiors. "Prices of materials have gone up, as well as the cost for the donor cars, "Warmack said.
The customer base is generally older, but also is made up of folks who are big Pontiac fans. And the cars are appreciating in value. "We have seen Bandit edition models that sold for $130,000 to $165,000 now selling for $230,000 on some occasions in the secondary markets; Super Duty’s are selling in the mid-$200,000," Warmack said.
One of the special cars that Tod and Scott worked on together was a gold Trans Am conversion in memory of their dad. Ted, who passed away in 2018. Tod’s son also helped with the development of the car. Then Tod had an Indian motorcycle customized with Trans Am paint and logos to match the car. "It’s a special car," Warmack said. A YouTube video called "Gold Rush" that details the building of the special gold Trans Am and the motorcycle. It includes Warmack talking about the founding of Trans Am Worldwide and the cars they have built. See it on the company’s website at https://transamworldwide.com/gold-rush-a-trans-am-documentary/
About the author: Mark is the second owner of a Buccaneer Red 1974 Trans-Am and serves on the copyediting team for the Eagle.
Final Rick McLaughlin Update
This is the final Rick McLaughlin update. On a publicly broadcast court hearing, Rick McLaughlin was remanded to federal prison in handcuffs for the next 7.3 years. No probation no exceptions! He was sentenced for scamming 1.2 million over the past 3 years.
Bringing this criminal to justice was only made possible through the efforts and contributions of the online Trans Am community. Due to your efforts, enough people where able to come together and as a group make their concerns known to law enforcement.
The effort is not over, we will now refocus our efforts to bring his conspirators to justice and to try to recoup some of the money for the victims ….. but for now the Mission is complete.
The Definitive Firebird & Trans Am Guide: 1970 1/2 - 1981
Take an in-depth look into the second-generation Firebird and Trans Am with the ultimate guidebook that includes production figures, option codes, running changes, model-year changes and variances, rarity, collectability, interviews with engineers, and more.
Pontiac expert and historian Rocky Rotella examines each production year of the second generation of Firebirds. Complementing the data and year-by-year analysis is a combination of archival photography from the development of these cars as well as beautiful color photos of original and restored examples today.
After the extremely successful debut of the first-generation Firebirds and Camaros, General Motors had a tall task ahead: create an equally popular yet radically different version of the ground breaking pony car it was replacing. Enthusiasts picked up on the radically different part as soon as they saw these cars. Over time, we have come to appreciate how successful these second-generation cars were. They include the early models that had an emphasis on performance along with the continued development of the Trans Am, the 455 Super Duty cars of 1973 and 1974, and the lightning-in-a-bottle popularity of the Smokey and the Bandit editions. During their production run, these Firebirds and Trans Ams were truly the only real performance cars out of Detroit, and for many of the model years, they eclipsed even the mighty Corvette.
This book tells the entire story of these immensely popular cars, whether you are into the second generation of F-Body regular models, Formula 400 performance models, the Super Duty Trans Ams, or the cars of Smokey and the Bandit fame. It is an excellent addition to any pony car, muscle car, or any enthusiast’s library.
Available on Amazon.com
Rick McLaughlin / McLaughlin Trans Am Museum / McLaughlin Motor Cars Update
Yes we all thought it was over but not yet. There are still a few details that have come to light and we need some assistance in putting Rick and his band of merry accomplices behind bars.
Updates to the story. Rick was charged and found guilty of wire fraud in January. His sentencing will be in the last week of April. Charges carry up to 20 years. Part of the agreement was that Rick would try to make restitution until he reports to jail through liquidation of assets and any "legal" work
Well as it turns out good old Rick has not been living up to the agreement. Rick was just ordered by the Federal court to turn over a beautiful chocolate brown Trans Am that he had stolen 3 years ago! It is now safely back in the hands of Mike Fresca in Georgia!
Today there are still 4 high end older Trans Ams in the chop shop that have not found their owners. Please if you know anyone who has been taken advantage of by Rick McLaughlin, even if years ago contact Detective James Hart at 304- 580-1078 and/or Michele Wentz, West Virginia prosecutor at 304-347-3319. Also, if you have ever been told that your case is a civil case, contact them as well.
In other news, Rick has changed his business model and now goes by McLaughlin Museum where he is specializing in older trucks. Yes that is right older trucks please see the info below. I ask everyone to share this with any classic truck site or friends.
Finally … Rick has been selling "authentic" Burt Reynolds autographs! However, these have been only signed by Rick’s partner in crime, his ex-wife! If you have any of these let me know the Burt Reynolds foundation would like to know.
Recap for those joining the conversation late: 1 year ago, I purchased a 1989 Trans Am Turbo from Rick McLaughlin, after a lengthy battle my car arrived minus ownership papers and keys. I waited and begged Rick McLaughlin for the items and finally an envelop arrived with a forged MSO and other documents… During that time the West Virginia police and owner had contacted me, informing me Rick McLaughlin had stolen the car and my 50K dollars! Since then thanks to the online community we have located many other victims of Ricks scams including suspected insurance fraud, title fraud and grand theft auto and a host of other federal crimes.
3 other people have been able to retrieve their cars from his chop shop in West Virginia. Jeff, Dennis and Jay are now reunited with their cars and one long term lawsuit was finally settled retuning a restored truck to Mark in Canada!
The federal case against Rick McLaughlin is coming to a close and with a plea bargain and or jail time likely. Hopefully all of the victims (including myself) will eventually be paid or Mr. McLaughlin will have a new address, some new friends and time to reflect on his crimes. We are still searching for some Trans Ams that Rick has sold illegally which are listed below.
If you know anyone who has been taken advantage of or owed money by Rick McLaughlin, please reach out and I will put you in touch with the authorities.
As always thanks and message me if you have any info. Without Facebook, Rick would be still on the street taking advantage of people!
Editor’s Note: Ben Kenion can be contacted on our Facebook group (www.facebook.com/groups/firebirdclub) by searching for his posts.
Member Won Bandit Dream Giveaway
In April of 2016 we found out we were the winners of the 2015 Bandit Dream Giveaway Sweepstakes. Ironically, one of the previous owners who had restored the car was actually from Chicago not far from where my wife who is a native of Norridge, IL was born and raised. Since receiving the car, we have joined the National and Southern California chapter of POCI and Karen is now serving as Chapter secretary and we regularly attend car shows. A side note is the impact the original Smokey and the Bandit movie had on me as well as the car as a kid who saw the movie in the theater when it first came out at the impressionable age of 16! Not to mention the texts I get from family and friends to give me a hard time every time that movie is on.
Editor’s Note: The Bandit Dream Giveaway Sweepstakes has been promoted by the Club.
‘79 Trans Am SE Bandit of Michael and Karen Bianchino from Anaheim Hills, California (winner of Bandit Dream Giveaway Sweepstakes)
Bandits Rumbled through
If you had been looking for your fix of classic cars, The Bandits brought it straight to you on June 28, 2019. Camdenton, Missouri was the host to a parade of Pontiac Trans Ams as they rumbled through town. The parade was in honor of Smokey and the Bandit.
The event began in Texas and went all the way to Kansas City, Missouri. With over 110 cars in attendance, it was hard to miss. John Kelsey, owner of Kelsey Tires in Camdenton, is one of the main reasons the group decided to make a stop in town. Kelsey’s museum is home to a number of rare and vintage automobiles.
The event is not only in honor of Smokey and the Bandit, but also to Burt Reynolds himself. Kelsey Tires supplied the tires on one of the vehicles Reynolds drove in the movie, and is one of the many claims to fame Kelsey enjoys.
The Bandits enjoyed this while in town, with buses shuttling drivers to and from Kelsey’s location on US-54. The drivers made their way to Camdenton Middle School and park at the building. Lunch was held for the group inside the building, with Kelsey and his wife hosting a number of memorabilia pieces inside the cafeteria. The public was welcomed to take pictures and see the cars as they came through, but it was not considered a public event.
Kelsey says that this group is important as they recognize a significant era in this vehicles history. He says that the era of Reynolds and Smokey and the Bandit was important to tire salesman and classic car lovers. Being a salesman at the time of its release, he says it’s a tribute to an era that is loved by many.
"For those of us who were active in that era and in the tire business, it set the tone for that car and was very important," Kelsey said.
The Real Story Behind Pontiac's Black and Gold Trans Am
by Jeffrey N Ross, Yahoo
This instantly recognizable package is more than just a movie car.
The 1977 film Smokey and the Bandit may have immortalized the black-and-gold Pontiac Trans Am, but this special edition model was actually created by GM design boss Bill Mitchell to celebrate Pontiac’s 50-year anniversary in 1976. These cars were designated with the Y82 RPO code, and they featured the iconic black paint job with gold accents including gold pin striping, gold grille, gold wheels and, of course, the gold Screaming Chicken decal on the hood. The Y82 Trans Ams were built in low volume from 1976 through 1978, but this "Bandit" paint job carried on (under various other RPO codes) through the second-gen Firebird’s final year in 1981.
In 1977, the Y82 code represented only the examples with t-tops, while the hardtops showed Y81 on the build sheet. Compared to the more than 15,000 Y82/Y81 Trans Ams built in ‘77, the 1978 model year saw this number drop down to just 3,643, and t-tops were also added as standard equipment with this package. With the Firebird’s 1979 redesign, the RPO code was changed to Y84 for the car’s final three years of production.
Here are two excellent examples of the Y82 Trans Am, and both are available through Carolina Muscle Cars for $75,000 each.
1976 Pontiac Trans Am Y82 Limited Edition
Only 2,590 examples of the 1976 Pontiac Trans Am Y82 50th Anniversary Limited Edition were ever built, and only 319 were built with the 455 H.O. engine and without the available Hurst t-tops. The 1976 model year was the last year for the 455 CID V8, and it was paired to a four-speed manual. This particular ‘76 Y82 is a numbers-matching car with a factory-original interior and a restored exterior including new paint and graphics. This Y82 Limited Edition is spotless and ready to show, and it comes with documentation from Pontiac Historical Services, original build sheet, ownership history and more.
1977 Pontiac Trans Am Y82 Special Edition
The popularity of Smokey and the Bandit led Pontiac to increase production of the Trans Am Special Edition to more than 15,000 units offered with a 400 CID or Oldsmobile 403 CID V8, and this Y82 is just one of 3,760 equipped with the W72 high-performance 400 CID V8 engine and an automatic transmission. This, too, is a numbers-matching Trans Am that was fully restored including all-new body panels and an all-new interior, and it also comes with the factory build sheets.
Black and gold Trans Ams are everywhere these days, but if you want a true Y82 Trans Am, contact Carolina Muscle Cars for more information on either of these rare and immaculate Pontiacs.
Visit to Pontiac Museum
I had an opportunity to visit both the Pontiac Museum and the Route 66 Museum which are both in Pontiac, Illinois Here are the photos from the visit.
The history of the Pontiac-Oakland Museum & Resource Center in Pontiac, Illinois began August 1st, 2010 when Tim Dye was on his way back to his home in Oklahoma from a Pontiac show near Chicago. As he drove south on I-55, he noticed signs for the city of Pontiac. As Tim is curious about anything having to do with the Pontiac name, he pulled into town. As he explored the city, he visited the International Walldog Mural & Sign Art Museum which led to conversations with the mayor of Pontiac.
These conversations led to a long series of emails, phone calls, and personal visits to begin the process of creating a new museum were worked out.
The Pontiac City Council approved the museum’s creation on January 3, 2011, and work began immediately on the remodeling of the museum’s new space. The creation of the museum was aided by the hard work of many people. Special thanks to Tim and Penny Dye, Mayor Robert Russell, City of Pontiac Administrator, Bob Karls, Tourism Director, Ellie Alexander, Pontiac Building Supervisor, Milt Hanson, his crew and many more. Grand opening day took place on July 23, 2011, less than one year from the time Tim first visited Pontiac.
Johnson Press Visit
Also while in Pontiac, Illinois I visited out printer, Johnson Press.
This was my first opportunity to meet with the people I have been communicating by phone and email with and to see where our magazine has been printed since 2012.
Bruce Magers and I were led on an informative tour of the plant with our Customer Service Rep, Teresa Masching. It was interesting to see the care that they take in printing each magazine. It was amazing how technology has improved the printing process since the last time I took a tour of a printing plant. The reduced size of the machines is the first thing you notice.
The visit concluded with a light lunch with Teresa and plant manager, Steve "Buzz" Zeller.
Thanks again to everyone at Johnson Press of American for the welcome and the continued fine job done with our magazines!
THE ICONIC FIREBIRD ON THE HOODS OF TRANS AMS
The hood graphics that branded the Pontiac Trans Ams of the 1970s were almost predestined, with the link of Native American mythos with this General Motors division dating back to its 1926 inception as Oakland's lower- priced six-cylinder companion car. Named after the Michigan city and the legendary Native American chief, the first Pontiac cars would wear Chief Pontiac's likeness, and the arrowhead symbol that followed it was subtle in comparison to the intimidating power of the firebird to come.
Pontiac's quickly engineered version of the late-to-market Chevrolet Camaro adopted an appropriate name previously used on General Motors' three Motorama gas turbine experimental cars of the 1950s. The design of the red and black firebird badges fitted to the fenders and tail panels of first generation Firebird coupes and convertibles were traditional and featured tucked-in wings.
The firebird emblem would receive a restyling along with the cars it appeared on in 1970, most dramatically as an 8.5-inch decal on the top of the Trans Am's body color Endura front bumper. For the first time, the Firebird's firebird would spread its wings and spit flame from its beak, and the relatively subtle 1970-1972 Trans Am would get a shot of attitude in 1973 that would define it for the rest of its days.
David Newhardt's book, Firebird Trans Am, discusses how the soon-to-be-famous big firebird came to be:
Bill Porter remembers, 'Norm James, the designer of the 1957 Firebird III show car, had been in the airport at Phoenix and had seen this stylized firebird, with its wings spread and sort of feathered. He did a decal firebird on the hood of the Firebird III. It was much more stylized and much more angular than what ended up on the hood of the modern Trans Am. I remembered it, and it gave me an idea of a device to get the hood scoop to look like it belonged on the car, by wrapping these wings around it- it kind of sucked [the scoop] into the surface of the vehicle, integrated it. I laid one out, and a graphic designer named Norm Inouye helped refine it.'
Bill went on to explain that GM styling director Bill Mitchell was furious to find this design being applied to one of the prototype cars, and ordered it removed. John Schinella, head of the Pontiac Design studio and a fan of the concept, took the controversial hood emblem, and with help from 3M, made it more production friendly, creating three for three red, white and blue Trans Ams for presentation to management. Bill Mitchell was finally swayed by seeing a black Trans Am accented with a gold bird, done in the same mold as his black and gold cafe racer motorcycle; he relented to offer it as an option for 1973.
Regular Production Order WW7, costing $55, was available on Trans Ams in three colors: a blue-flamed bird on Cameo White cars, an orange-flamed bird on Buccaneer Red cars and a pale green-flamed bird on Brewster Green cars. These hood-hugging firebirds were a generous 45.5 inches wide and 44.5m inches tall, and were an instant success.
Helping to celebrate the Pontiac Motor Division's 50th anniversary in 1976 was a Trans Am Special Edition painted Starlite black with gold pinstripes, lettering and a striking gold firebird on its hood. This car would inspire the 1977 Special Edition Trans Ams that achieved huge fame with the Smokey and the Bandit movie. A similar black and gold livery and gothic-style script theme was available in 1978, and would continue in modified form from 1979 to 1981.
To mark the Trans Am's tenth anniversary in 1979, Pontiac released the biggest 'bird to date, one whose wing tips wrapped on to the fenders and separated the body's Platinum Silver paint from the roofs charcoal paint. The Turbo Trans Ams of 1980 and 1981 traded the shaker for an offset hood bulge, so the firebird was redesigned with a long flame that curled up from its beak onto the bulge.
When the aerodynamic third-generation Firebird and Trans Am debuted in 1982, the bird decal remained on the nose, albeit in smaller form; a larger hood firebird would be optional through 1987. Although the firebird would remain an integral part of the Firebird and Trans Am until the model's demise in 2002, it would never again have such a prominent size or placement.
Hood-spanning firebirds of all sizes and colors are reproduced today by Phoenix Graphix and Stencils and Stripes Unlimited, and can also be purchased from Classic Industries, Ames Performance Engineering and Year One.
PONTIAC OAKLAND AUTO MUSEUM
The Pontiac-Oakland Museum in Pontiac, Illinois opened July 23, 2011 and is home to 15 classic and antique Oakland and Pontiac cars, thousands of artifacts from dealer promotional items to signs, posters, and sales training aids, and an entire library filled with automotive-related print materials. The museum is located at 205 North Mill Street in Pontiac, Illinois.
Come see one of the world's greatest collections of Pontiac and Oakland automobile brand items. Antique and Classic cars, thousands of dealer artifacts, a comprehensive library of maps, brochures, original design drawings, service manuals.
For more information, 1-800-835-2055 or www.visitpontiac.org .
The Parts Place Inc.
630 Enterprise Ave.
POR-15. Available in engine enamels, high temperature and other formulas. See the complete list on the website. To order call by phone at 1-800-442-0411 or visit the website at www.thepartsplaceinc.com.
Ames Performance Engineering
P. O. Box 572
14 x 6" Rally I and II wheel trim ring - polished. For original wheels. New clip design. Appearances is very close to original. This part fits Rally I wheels perfectly. Also fit Rally II wheels.Part #: T111F. $49.95
3329 Colonel Rd.
1979 - 1981 Firebird and Trans Am Front Nose Bumper Cover Grille Insert Set, LH and RH
Brand new pair of black grilles for your 1979,1980, or 1981 Firebird. Exact fit for all 79, 80, and 81 Firebird including: Firebird, Trans Am, Formula, Esprit. These front nose bumper cover insert grilles are sold in a matched pair, one left hand and one right hand. Includes installation hardware set. Replaces original GM Part #’s 10010503 and 10010504 perfectly! Part #: GRI-2026. $159.95.
National Parts Depot
900 SW 38th Ave.
Starter: 1970-1979 for Firebird 400 engine. Manufacturer Reference #’s: 1109022. NPD Part #: C-2041-14A. $59.95 (+ $20 core charge).
Technical Sections Volume 2
A complete copy of all the Technical Sections, topics, questions and answers published in the EAGLE from 1998 to current. Available on CD-ROM for PC or Mac or in a printed version or emailed pdf. It is indexed by category such as electrical, suspension, etc. for easy reference and accessibility and contains over 150 pages and over 200 topics.
Available from the NFTAC by ordering on the website or by using the order form in each issue of the Eagle.
$15 plus $5 S & H for the CD and $20 plus $5 S & H in printed version.
It can be purchased as part of a 2 volume combo that contains Tech Sections Volume I and II (vol. II on CD) for $25 plus $5 S & H or Volume I and II both printed for $30 plus $10 S & H.
Eagle Issues on CD or emailed pdf
You can have the last years of the Eagle since 1998 easily accessible on your computer. Indexed by issue. These publications, which are no longer in print contain numerous and diverse articles and photos. Enjoy all the entertaining and informative stories that you can no longer get anywhere else and at a reasonable price.
Available from the NFTAC by ordering on the website at or by using the order form contained in each issue of the Eagle. $15 plus $5 S and H for the CD.