A National Firebird and Trans Am Club featured car is the ‘81 Bandit Trans Am of Santiago Class from Springville, Alabama. Here is the story:
I purchased my Trans Am in 1981 at a dealership in Montgomery, Alabama. She was originally white with a gold hood bird, tan interior and an automatic transmission. She has taken me all the way to Maine and down to Miami, Florida before finally settling back in Montgomery due to a divorce and prior military service.
Financial strain forced me to drop my insurance. As fate would have it on May 4, 1984 — just two weeks after dropping my insurance — I was driving to work about 5:30 in the morning when it started raining so hard I could no longer see the road in front of me. The car began to bounce violently.
As I reached over to buckle my seat belt, I heard a loud bang. The rear window exploded and hit me in the back of my head! Then, my T-tops flew off. As I looked up into the sky, I could see that I was now in the middle of a tornado’s funnel!
All around me, other cars (and even an 18-wheeler) were being tossed around like toys.
After my windows blew out, my car became a bit more stable.
Fortunately, my terror was over relatively quickly, but that same violent tornado went on to claim the lives of five local residents while cutting a path of destruction one-mile wide and several miles long.
Yes, we survived this event but it took years for me to get used to driving in the rain once again.
Meanwhile, the damage to my Pontiac was extensive. The paint on one side suffered thousands of rock chips. The rear window, driver’s window and T-tops were each gone, and my hood was bent in half. The Trans Am looked really beat up.
I eventually purchased another hood, replaced the glass and got a new set of T-tops, but that was all I could afford to fix at the time.
Fast forward to 2005 when I finally decided to undertake a full restoration. I was transferred to Miami with my job but kept paying for the restoration here in Alabama.
During a visit back home to check up on the Trans Am’s progress, I quickly discovered that nothing had been done in the past eight months. As I was speaking to the owner, bill collectors were hounding him on the phone. Obviously, something was wrong.
I then found a place in Miami called Trans Am Specialties who offered to take on my project, but I had to hire an attorney to get things moving. But, when my Pontiac showed up in Miami, all that arrived was a shell — no motor, transmission, front or rear end. The total loss was estimated at $18,000.
Trans Am Specialties proceeded to work their magic and replace all the missing parts. Just before they were ready to install the decals, I told them to stop — I decided to have the iconic Trans Am graphics [Airbrushed] here in Alabama by Impatient Creations.
During the resto-mod upgrades, I installed a 5-speed Tremec 600 TKO and FITECH fuel injection. The balanced and blueprinted 400 motor features Kaufman RAVI racing heads and a RAVI cam.
Exterior custom touches include sequential LED taillights and LED headlights. The cutout mufflers are controlled with a key fob.
All the pinstripes, lettering and ‘Bird graphics were airbrushed and then sealed with a ceramic coating. Four stone guards that mirror the wheel flares in front of each wheel were also added. They perfectly frame the 17×9″ Year One Snowflake wheels.
Inside, the original radio has been gutted and replaced with new internals featuring Bluetooth capabilities. A Dakota Dash provides modern gauges. The front seats have been replaced with Cordeaux units, and my shifter knob has had the numbers painted gold.
It took a total of 10 years to finish, but the wait was well worth it. My Trans Am has won various Best of Show awards plus First Place honors at the World of Wheels three different times.
Finally, at age 63, I have achieved my dream of having the ultimate Trans Am: Super Bandit 400.