'78 Gold Special Edition Trans Am of Philip Lepage

I was looking for a ‘78 Trans Am to restore to look exactly like the Trans Am I owned in 1978. I saw an ad for a 1978 Trans Am, so on September 20, 2004, Ian Manderscheid, Dianne (my wife) and I left for Dodsland, Saskatchewan, Canada to look at it. The car needed a lot of work but had potential. I purchased the car from Kevin Jenn. I still had the idea of restoring it to look like my old one. After getting the car home and seeing how everything on the car had a gold theme, I realized it would be quite difficult to change the car to look like my old white one. I did a little research and realized the car was a gold special edition Trans Am. Our youngest son, Daryl, found a picture of a 1978 gold special edition Trans Am and made it his computer screen saver. When I saw the picture I thought, “Why would I want to change the appearance of this car”. It looked great! Dianne looked up more information on the Internet, and we realized we had quite a special car here and decided to keep the car as original as possible.

In December 2004, Ian, Daryl and I pulled the engine, transmission and interior out of the car. The transmission was brought to Extreme Transmission in Saskatoon where it was completely rebuilt, including a new 2,500 rpm stall converter.

The engine was completely stripped and rebuilt. The heads were brought to SIAST (Kelsey) in Saskatoon and worked on there. The rest of the engine rebuilding was done at Thane’s and Prairie Engine Rebuilders in Saskatoon and assembled by Paragon Auto Services.

The work done on the engine included a 3 engine valve job, harden exhaust seats, port matched and polished, all new valves – intake and exhaust, new valve springs, valve guides, crane roller tipped rocker arms, 7/6″ push rod guide plates and rocker arm studs, comp hydraulic performance cam shaft, Edelbrock aluminum intake and 626 cfm electric choke carb, .040 bored over, new TRW forged pistons, chrome ring, high volume oil pump, double roller timing chain, water pump, starter, alternator, spark plugs, wires, cap and rotor.

In March 2005, I brought the car to Lyle’s Autobody in Annaheim, Saskatchewan, where he fixed the floor, roof and did a few other minor repairs.

In July 2005, the car headed to Paragon Auto Services. There the engine, transmission, exhaust system with Headman headers, brakes and shocks were installed. A new three-core radiator from Advance Radiator in Saskatoon was also installed.

The rims were removed and brought to Kelvin’s Wheel, Tire and Polish of Saskatoon, where they were restored to original. The rims on the 1978 gold special edition Trans Am are unique. In all the years, Kelvin had been restoring rims, he had never seen rims with this type of finish. Only 8 inch rims on the 1978 gold special edition Trans Am and a few 1978 Bandit cars have rims painted this way. If the car would have had 7 inch rims, they would have gold on the inside of the honeycombs and the face of the rims would have a polished silver look. These rims are completely gold except for the very outside lip which is polished silver.

The car was then brought to Specialty Cars in Prince Albert, where the remainder of the bodywork was done. A new heater core and dash were installed. We could see that the gauge panel was extremely faded. Wherever the gauge covers had protected the dash from

the sun it still had a gold color, so we repainted the gauge panel back to its original gold color. We also painted the steering wheel to its original gold color. The car was painted and the pin-striping package was put on.

The car was then returned to Paragon, where the final touches were put on the brakes and engine. The seats that were in the car were not the original seats. They appeared to be from a 1980 or ‘91 Trans Am. The style of these seats was the same as the seats in the 1978 Trans Am, but the material was different. I contacted S.M.S. Auto Fabrics in Canby, Oregon. They sent me the original material for a ‘78 gold special edition Trans Am.

Michelle Lepage of Chaise Michelle Upholstery in Bruno, Saskatchewan reupholstered the seats and made a new parcel tray.

I brought the car home and installed the interior. I painted the interior panels and installed them. I also bought and installed a new headliner and sound deadener package and carpets on the floor. I then installed the seats.

’78 Gold Special Edition
Trans Am
Dianne and Philip Lepage on
their 25th Wedding Anniversary

Philip Lepage first ‘78 Trans Am 78 Gold S. E. Trans Am of
Philip Lepage
Before Restoration

From the Editors' Desk – February 2009

by Robert Thomas and Frank Ochal

'79 Trans Am of Kelly Powell Thanks to all of the new members that joined recently.

Thanks to Keith Furst, Tom Smith, David Gerston, Kelly Powell, Philip Lepage and all of the other contributors to this issue! Also many thanks to Todd Stahr, Justin Kwarta, Bill Simcox and Brett Campbell on their continuing technical help to our members on our new message board at board.firebirdclub.net.

We have updated our payment form on our website to directly take credit card and PayPal payments. Your credit card is now checked for accuracy and verified and your order is placed into a shopping cart of items awaiting checkout. This type of program should be very familiar to people who pay for items on other Intenet websites and is available on the PayPal/Credit Card website button. The old form will also remain for members that are comfortable with it.

The latest NFTAC local chapter is the New England Firebird Auto Club serving all of New England. The president is Joseph A. Pendola, the vice-president is Paul Cullen and the organizing officer is Christian Driscoll. The address is 760 North Street, Tewksbury, MA 01876. Phone number 978-821-0528 and email address of Spcledtnta@yahoo.com .

Also there is a now a Local Groups/Activities section on the Club Message Board where each local club has its own section where local club items can be discussed.

You can now find us on the popular networking sites myspace.com, facebook.com, friendster.com and yuwie.com in the groups/clubs section.

I am happy to inform you that Technical Sections Volume II is now available which continues the great tradition of practical tech advice started with Volumes I. In keeping with the times this one is available only on CD for PC or Mac and is available in the Club Store section of each Eagle and on the website at www.firebirdtaclub.com.

Another new item in the store is a complete copy of the past ten years of the Eagle available on CD only for PC or Mac.

We have a new and improved club message board. You can access through the club website at www.firebirdtaclub.com or directly at http://board.firebirdclub.net . We have a members only section of the message board. You can use the user id and password on page 3 of each Eagle or you can get a personal id and password. To do so, register and then logon to the message board and send a message to us with a reply in this section or via email. This allows you to access the Member Only Question & Answer and Upkeep and Performance Hints Area.  It also allows you to post items in the For Sale and Wanted sections as well as post photos in the Member Photos area. Also there is a now a Local Groups/Activities section.

The club also now has a blog located at http://blog.firebirdclub.net . Members can publish items or comments to the Blog.

We have a National Firebird & Trans Am Club photo gallery located at http://photos.firebirdclub.net . The same login is used for the gallery as the Message Board. Members can download photos directly here.

We now offer a 3 year membership or renewal rate which includes a free t-shirt or tech volume II CD. The rate is $95 or $125 for members outside the USA. And in response to many members we now have a 3 year eMembership for $65 which also includes a free t-shirt or tech volume III CD. So save some money and get a free t-shirt or tech CD in the process!

Classified ads are FREE to members but now you can add photographs of your items for sale. For $15 we will include a B & W photograph of your car or item and for $35 we will include a color photo. Also the classified ads will now appear on our Internet web site.

Remember we will send out the eEagle, our email newsletter in addition to the regular Eagle for members that have given us their email address. Our website address is www.firebirdtaclub.com and our email address is info@firebirdtaclub.com .

The website has a “Members Only” section on the web site. This section contains technical staff contact information, recommended repair shops, spare parts lists that members have sent in as well as complete current and past issues of the member magazine which can be viewed on-line or downloaded for printing.

You need an ID and password to access this area. You will find the current ID and password on page 3 of each issue of the EAGLE. These will change with each issue so use only the current ones listed. Also now you can to create your own id and password for the members only section. Submit the form on the members only page to do this.

Thanks for all of your support and to this issue’s contributors and I hope you are have a great start to the New Year are are preparing for next year’s driving season!!