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
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.