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‘Birds in Flight – Auctions

by Mark E. Neumann 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
2. You can find out after the auction take place what the car sold for
3. You usually get a good rundown of the car’s features and accessories

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.

FL22_Mecum Kissimmee 2022_1973 Pontiac Firebird Formula_K89
FL22- Mecum Kissimmee 2022: 1973 Pontiac Firebird Formula – K89

AZ22_Mecum Glendale 2022_1979 Pontiac Trans Am_S188
AZ22-Mecum Glendale 2022: 1979 Pontiac Trans Am – S188 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

by Mark E. Neumann

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.

Nothing like a Sunday drive during Thanksgiving weekend in you T/A after a hearty slice of pumpkin pie! Photo courtesy of Paul Albinger
Nothing like a Sunday drive during Thanksgiving weekend in your
T/A after a hearty slice of pumpkin pie! Photo courtesy of Paul Albinger.

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.

Some examples:

• 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.

Activities director Paul Albinger, his wife Barbara and their ’79 Trans Am in San Diego. Paul is coordinating our New Year’s Day cruise.  Photo courtesy of Paul Albinger.
Activities director Paul Albinger, his wife Barbara and their
’79 Trans Am in San Diego. Paul is coordinating our
New Year’s Day cruise. Photo courtesy of Paul Albinger.

• 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 – Trans Am Worldwide


by Mark E. Neumann

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 with a car 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” 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.

The Definitive Firebird & Trans Am Guide: 1970 1/2 – 1981

Definitive Firebird and Trans Am Guide

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

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.
Ben Kenion

Rick McLauglin Update

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!

Ben Kenion Editor’s Note: Ben Kenion can be contacted on our Facebook group (www.facebook.com/groups/firebirdclub) by searching for his posts.

Bandits Rumbled through Camdenton


by Mitch Prentice from the Lake Sun

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.

Kelsey Tires in Camdenton, Missouri and Smokey and the Bandit
Kelsey Tires in Camdenton, Missouri and Smokey and the Bandit
 

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.

Enter to Win the Ultimate Smokey and the Bandit Collectible!

Enter to Win the Ultimate Smokey and the Bandit Collectible! 50% Bonus Tickets Compliments of The National Firebird and Trans Am Club!

Say the word “Bandit,” and one image instantly comes to mind—Hollywood legend Burt Reynolds behind the wheel of a black-and-gold Pontiac Trans Am.In 2015 and 2017, Mr. Reynolds worked hand in hand with Dream Giveaway Garage to bestow two autographed Bandit Trans Ams on two lucky winners. These Bandit Trans Ams became two of the most popular muscle cars in Dream Giveaway history. Now, with the full blessing of the Burt Reynolds estate, you can bring home an extremely low mile and restored 1979 Bandit Trans Am, which is nearly identical to the one that Burt Reynolds owned and sold for $300K at a recent national auction. When you enter to win, you’ll be honoring the legendary Burt Reynolds, who will always live in our hearts and minds. Plus if you’re the winner, we’ll pay $17,500 for taxes and fly you to Clearwater, Florida, to be awarded this grand prize. Enter now!

Enter now by clicking here! Remember your donation helps veterans’, kids’, and women’s charities.

Put The Pedal to the Metal and Enter Now
Smokey and the Bandit
fans, listen up. If your lifelong dream is to own a Bandit Trans Am with Burt Reynolds’ autograph looking back at you every time you put the pedal to the metal, this is the only Bandit Trans Am on earth for you. Win a Bandit Trans Am Autographed by the Legendary Burt Reynolds
Dream Giveaway Garage worked closely with the Estate of Burt Reynolds to handpick the perfect Bandit Trans Am, which honors Burt Reynolds’ life, legacy and films. Now you can bring home this very special Bandit Trans Am in the Bandit Dream Giveaway brought to you by Ames Performance Engineering.This documented 1979 Pontiac Trans Am has all the signature features that made Smokey and the Bandit a car-guy classic for all time – Pontiac’s black and gold Special Edition package, T-top roofs and a numbers-matching V-8 engine.


Enter now by clicking here!

“I know what an important part the Smokey and the Bandit movie has played in the lives of so many of my fans.” — Burt Reynolds, 2015 *Photography of Mr. Reynolds from the 2015 Bandit Dream Giveaway.
ENTER TO WIN AND HELP CHILDREN IN NEED AND OUR VETERANS!
Go to DreamGiveaway.com or call toll free 866-600-0646 and use code NF1019Z
NO PURCHASE, CONTRIBUTION, DONATION OR PAYMENT IS NECESSARY AND MAKING ONE WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING. Donations are tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law. Bandit Dream Giveaway starts on September 6, 2019, at 12:00 a.m. Eastern Time and ends July 28, 2020, at 11:59 p.m. Pacific Time, with the selection of a winner on or about August 13, 2020. This giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. (except Oregon) and Canada (except Quebec) and other countries and U.S. territories and possessions only where offered and permitted by law, age 18 and older. Void where prohibited. Odds of winning equal to one divided by the total number of tickets issued. This ad is for informational purposes only. For entry and official rules including free entry method visit www.dreamgiveaway.com/dg/Bandit/official-rules. The Sponsor, New Beginning Children’s Homes, Inc., a 501(c)(3) organization, PO Box 529, Centerton, AR 72719, is a licensee of the Dream Giveaway® brand. Prizes identified, logos, brands and other trademarks referred to within a Dream Giveaway are the property of their respective trademark holders and are not sponsor of this promotion.. 


Pontiac Transportation Museum

Pontiac Transportation Museum
350 W. Pike St.
Pontiac, Michigan 48341

One of America’s most robust centers of transportation history, innovation, and accomplishment is Pontiac, Michigan. While nearby Detroit proudly claims the mantle of “The Motor City,” it was here in Pontiac during the late 19th and early 20th centuries where some of the nation’s most successful manufacturers of horse-drawn buggies and carriages evolved into the earliest automobile companies. Among the dozens of such companies with local roots, two of the largest ultimately became General Motors’ famous Pontiac Motor Division and GMC Truck and Coach.

To celebrate the heritage and remarkable achievements of these many enterprises, the Pontiac Transportation Museum is being created to showcase examples of the cars, trucks, and other vehicles designed or built here – vehicles that truly changed the nation and the world. The Museum will also honor many of the personalities whose legacies are associated with these efforts. Through the museum’s existing and growing collections we will endeavor—through displays and various programs—to help educate and inspire young people to chart their own destiny with greatness.

The Pontiac Transportation Museum has acquired and will develop a 55,000 square foot building that will include vehicle display galleries, a theater, research, library, and restoration spaces. The museum store will offer appropriate merchandise and the facility and its grounds will be able to host special events, vehicle shows, and other meetings. The Museum is expected to open to the public late 2019.

Pontiac Transportation Museum Rendering