A National Firebird and Trans Am Club featured car is the 2000 Pontiac Firebird Formula WS-6 of Andy Cain from Biloxi, Mississippi. Here is the story:
This is our 2000 Pontiac Firebird Formula WS-6. The build date was January of 2000 and my wife and I are the original owners. From the numbers I can find it was 1 of 233 Formula WS-6’s built in 2000, 1 of 151 with the 6-speed manual transmission and 1 of 23 in bright red. The car was a daily driver until 2010 and currently has about 91K miles on the odometer. It was ordered from the factory pretty much loaded with leather 6-way power driver’s seat, 6-speed manual with Hurst shifter, traction control, t-tops and the Monsoon Sound System with the cassette player. The car has since been upgraded to the Monsoon Sound System with CD player and trunk 12-disc CD-changer. The engine mods are modest, I’ve swapped out the LS1 intake manifold for a LS6, installed a ported and polished throttle body, coolant by-pass mod, oil catch can and SLP Cold Air Intake with a K&N filter. To stiffen up the frame I installed the strut tower brace, sub frame connectors and Detroit Speed Fender Flange kit. I had to replace the t-top sail panel band due to an issue with the glue bleeding through and bubbling the paint and leaving black streaks on the band. I had the MAGG Performance replacement sail panel installed and it fits and looks great. As far as suspension goes I upgraded to Bilstein shocks and slotted and dimpled rotors when the time came to replace them. I purchased the car to replace my 1994 Firebird Formula because I was concerned Pontiac was going to close down the Firebird line soon. Of course they didn’t do that until 2002, but they did stop producing the Formula WS6 after 2000.
I’ve been a Pontiac guy since my high school days and as you can probably tell, I really enjoy this car. One of the strange things about the car that I’ve never been able to figure out is the paint in the engine bay is clear coated. I thought initially it was due to the car being a WS6 with a different hood so they clear coated the engine bay as it went down the line and then installed the WS6 hood. But after seeing many Trans Am and Formula WS-6’s without clear coated engine bays. I am not so sure. If you know the answer please let me know.
Editor’s Note: this is the ninth in a series of columns about interesting stories connected with Firebirds and Trans Ams.
If you had $440,000 in the bank right now, you could build that six-car garage you always wanted to store your Pontiac collection – and have enough left over to pay for a nice ’69 Firebird. Convertible, even.
Or, you could have been sitting in the bidder’s box at Mecum’s Harrisburg, Pennsylvania classic car auction in July and bought a nicely equipped 1977 Trans-Am. For $440,000.
Right, those zeros are correct.
At the auction, held July 27-30, Lot #S132.1, a 1977 Pontiac Trans Am SE with the 6.6L/Y82 option and the black and gold “Bandit” edition – and only 14 miles on the odometer – was the third highest price car sold. It was beaten out by a 2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GT Black Series with 46 miles (1 of 1,700 produced) and a 1985 Lamborghini Countach LP5000S that sold for $467,500. Two exotic, rare, high-performance cars – and a 1977 Pontiac Trans Am.
The Trans Am had the automatic transmission, T-tops, factory Uniroyal tires, air conditioning, rear defroster, cruise control, AM/FM (but no 8-track). And do not forget that 14 miles on the odometer.
Trans Ams Bring Big Bucks
Is the Trans Am sold at Mecum’s Harrisburg auction the most expensive ever sold? If you do not include the influence of stardom, the answer is probably yes.
A list of the 10 most expensive Pontiacs sold at auction, published by Hagerty in 2018 (https://www.hagerty.com/media/market-trends/most-expensive-pontiacs-sold-at-auction/) , shows that a 1977 Firebird Trans Am used as a promotional vehicle during the filming of “Smokey and the Bandit” sold at the 2016 Barrett-Jackson Scottsdale auction for $550,000 (this car was originally a ’76 T/A that had been modified to look like a ’77 model).
As Hagerty wrote at the time, “The premium for a Bandit car actually associated with the movie amounted to roughly 14 times what an ordinary Trans Am in this condition would expect to bring.”
Back in 1977, you could have ordered a new Trans Am from your Pontiac dealership and paid about $8,500 for the car, according to PHS Automotive Services Inc. (http://www.phs-online.com) who can get you detailed information on your favorite vintage Pontiac.
That is quite far from $440,000. Like from Texarkana to Atlanta.
You read in my August “Birds of Flight” column that prices were climbing for low-mileage Trans Ams at auctions, particularly the special edition Trans Ams.
A 1979 Pontiac Trans Am, 10th Anniversary edition, unrestored with 38 miles, sold for $118,250.
We also highlighted a second, low-mileage 1979 Trans Am going up on the block at Mecum’s Glendale, Arizona auction on March 18. This car 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.
PHS Automotive Services said 12,489 Trans Am with the Pontiac 400 block and the Y82 edition with T-tops were built in 1977. Pontiac sold another 1,217 Trans Ams with the 403 Olds engine.
But the $440,000 price for that Trans Am may not be the ceiling, according to John Kraman. He knows a few things about classic cars: he is part of the broadcast team for television coverage of the Mecum auctions held around the country. He is also a Pontiac fan, owning a ’64 GTO that he bought when he was 19.
“This (Trans Am) is likely one of the most valuable ones,” said Kraman, who was in the broadcast booth when the car went up for bid. “We have seen some nice ones that are restored, and we have seen some original cars, but this one was unique.”
Kraman said portions of the car, including the chassis and the engine compartment, were freshened up. The car had several previous owners, he said.
Despite that high end price for the Trans Am, “I don’t think they have topped out yet,” Kraman said. “When we look at cars from the 1970s, this is the car. This is the signature car. It’s very similar to the (Buick) GNXs of the 1980s.
“As time marches on…I think the price will continue to go up and up. As expensive as that car was, I think that was a decent buy,” Kraman said. 1977 Pontiac Trans Am SE which sold for $440K at the Mecum Auctions in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania John Kraman at the Mecum Auctions Photos Courtesy of Mecum Auctions, Inc.
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. Mark also owns a 1970 Pontiac GTO convertible and a 1973 Grand Am.
The 37th Annual Trans Am Nationals was held in Fairborn Ohio form August 26 to the 28th, 2022. Each year funds are raised through silent and live auctions and 50/50 drawing “A Special Foundation” helping to make a dream come true for children with life threatening illnesses. This year nearly $20,000 was raised.
This is a show where the best of the best Firebirds and Trans Am gather. This year was the 3rd largest show of all time with 516 cars from 32 states and Canada attending. Nightly cruises are held along with seminars featuring former Pontiac Motor Division executives sharing their knowledge, expertise, experiences, and memories. This year Jim Mattison, Herb Adams, John Schinella, and Bill Davis shared priceless information with us. This all culminated by meeting and renewing friendships … even known to last all night as the fellowship under the entrance of the hotel continues on and on and on all day and all night.
The swap meet for all Pontiac parts, memorabilia, apparel, etc. lasted all 3 days.
Truly one of MUST DO / BUCKET LIST SHOWS for Pontiackers to attend with or without a car. Next year show dates are August 25 – 27, 2023.
Editor’s Note: Paul Albinger lives in Gilbert, Arizona and owns a 1979 10th Anniversary Trans Am and a 1969 Firebird 400 convertible. Also thanks to Mark Neumann for his help in getting us this story and photos while on the road.
The weatherman was threatening horrendous rain, nuclear bombing by Putin, who knows, maybe even snow, but the morning of July 9, 2022, was nothing but clear skies, bright, and very warm sunshine, and a heaping helping of humidity.
Our troop gathered by the Edison New Jersey, Rt. 1 South McDonalds in the Crossroads Plaza Shopping Center starting around 1:00 p.m., and close to on time, departed around 2:00 p.m. The NJ Trans Am/All Pontiac Run took Rt 287 to Rt. 22 East, and followed Terrell Rd into Fanwood, New Jersey, turning on to South Ave, and shortly thereafter, arriving at Fabios Bistro. Once at our destination, everyone found themselves a place to park, and the waiters and waitresses brought out menus, took the food orders.
Once everyone was done enjoying lunch, we assembled in the parking lot of Fabios Bistro, a free Raffle commenced, and a number of items donated by the National Firebird Trans Am Club were raffled off to some lucky winners.
The next and last item on the agenda, was the presentation of the Best Trans Am, and best Pontiac trophies sponsored by myself. The lucky winners were picked by the owners of Fabios Bistro (Greg Kowalczyk), and his partner.
And so, another NJ Trans Am/All Pontiac Run enters the history books.
This issue’s featured car is the ‘79 Trans Am Bandit of Ken and Darlene Szymczak from Dunkirk, New York. Here is their story:
From Featured Car in the August 2018 Eagle, Ken and Darlene Szymczak’s 1979 Trans Am is now featured in a movie.
Of all lows experienced in 2020, one high is from Ken and Darlene Szymczak of Dunkirk, New York. Their 1979 black S.E. Trans Am is starring in a short movie being made in Buffalo, New York.
The movie is a short musical comedy that takes place in a well known Canadian amusement park called Crystal Beach and its famous wooden roller coaster and our ‘79 Trans Am.
The small time Buffalo produce contacted me about using our car in the movie. After going over the details of how the shooting would be done inside a television studio that has a large area with a green screen for shooting scenes. This way the filming would not be done outside in traffic and nobody would be driving the car.
It was a fun day as I got to studio early in the morning. It was great to see how they switched out our special New York license plates for Ontario, Canada “TA Jane” license plates. They also placed the four car wheels on rollers so as to move the car around. I met the actors and saw the cameras and all others involved in making the movie and hearing a song that is in the movie. The story is about how Trans Am Jane gets caught in the rain, t-tops off. The car has Honeycomb wheels and twin tip dual exhausts. How exciting it all was and I got to take a few photos without interfering with filming. We are hoping the movie will be done in a year or two.
Little did we know that when we ordered our Trans Am in November of 1978 that we would have such fond memories. From both of our children learning how to drive in it to winning trophies at car shows, to being featured in the Eagle and now being featured in a movie. Wow, what a great time it has been and who knows what is next. Hollywood – we are waiting.
by Mark E. NeumannEditor’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.
My 1983 Trans Am is the car that got me started in my interest in Trans Ams. I grew up watching Knight Rider and ever since then I’ve wanted a Knight Rider style Trans Am. My dream came true in 2018 when I purchased mine sight unseen from a private seller in New York. It has 26,000 original miles and was the third gen Firebird forums November 2020 car of the month! I love the car and drive it as often as I can on the weekends and evenings when the weather is nice!
My 2000 Trans Am is the car I fell in love with in college but couldn’t buy new due to being in college. I found this car in 2003 in Rugby , North Dakota in a classifieds ad in the local newspaper and the rest is history! I have always loved the ram air look on these cars and think it is the most aggressive looking muscle car that GM has produced. The car currently has 18,000 miles on it and is seldom driven except to car shows where it has won many awards over the years.
My 2002 Trans Am CETA is a car I have wanted since 2002 when it came out. I have always wanted a special edition Firebird and I remember like yesterday when there was a 2002 CETA just like mine in the showroom of my local Pontiac dealer blocks away from where I lived. I’ve been hooked since. I bought my car in June of 2021 and received it in July. I bought it sight unseen from the second owner in Florida. The original owner owned the Pontiac dealership in Indiana and ordered it new. The car currently has 3,900 miles on it and is rarely driven. I love the convertible and is so much fun to drive with the top down!
I first learned about your club on the Internet just randomly searching about Trans Ams. Happy to be a part of this awesome group! I’ll send a picture of each one of my cars described above in a second email. Thanks again !
A National Firebird and Trans Am Club featured car is the ‘88 Trans Am GTA of Dave and Jodi Przybysz of Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania. Here is their story:
My wife, Jodi, and I have wanted our own collector car for years. Financially, it just never seemed to be the right time so we lived vicariously through my father, going to shows and car cruises in one of his classic or antique cars that he had restored.
Then one day, in the middle of a substantial home remodeling project, our contractor told us about this 1988 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am GTA.
He said it’s been in his buddy’s garage for years and he believed he would sell the car. We thought…”Wow! A true barn find!” Not really being in the position to purchase, we made arrangements to go see the car anyways.
It was gorgeous and with only 12k miles on the odometer, it was something we knew we just couldn’t pass up! The car was stored for 17 years, in a clean climate controlled garage (not really a barn find). It was sitting sideways in the back of the garage on wheel dollies. The owner just simply stopped driving it one day and began driving a different vehicle in their collection and so there it sat.
The stickers on the windshield indicated that the last time the car went through a Pennsylvania state inspection was 2003! A price was negotiated and arrangements were made to have a flat bed pick it up. We bought it without even knowing if it would run!
Thanks to our good friend, who is also a mechanic, all the proper maintenance and repairs were preformed to get her running again! We flushed the fuel and brake systems, replaced the fuel pump and injectors and all four tires were replaced. The air conditioning compressor was bad so we replaced it and upgraded the refrigerant. Finally we rebuilt the power antenna motor and then we fired her up. After 17 years she roared back to life!
The history of the car is kind of interesting. As I understand it, the car was purchased new in the Philadelphia area. At some point the car was stolen. It was eventually recovered although, I do not know in what time frame that this occurred. The GTA had sadly been partially disassembled. The radio and taillights were missing, there was a scratch down the passenger side, the windshield was missing and the VIN tag had been removed.
The second owner had purchased the car at an insurance auction.
Oddly enough, because the major components of the car were still intact, the car retains a clean title with a reissued VIN. The taillights and radio were replaced, as were the windshield and the paint was repaired.
Today she sits in our garage. It goes out on nice days to car cruises or for drives in the country, sometimes just to go get ice cream and occasionally to work. Since we’ve owned it, it’s never even seen the rain.
Now, she’s not perfect. There are small details and imperfections that we will enjoy detailing as time goes by but, she is better than anything we ever dreamed that we would own!
Recent events in our lives have proved to us that there is never a right time and that life is too short. The timing, financially, was definitely not right for us to purchase this car but, it is a dream come true and a continuation of a family tradition…in fact…our Trans Am bares the Pennsylvania Antique license plate that was originally registered to my father’s first antique car…a 1930 Chevy.