‘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.

1974 Trans Am of Perry Pegoraro of West Bend, Wisconsin

I found this car in 1997 coming home from dropping my daughter off at college. I saw it at a Classic Car dealership. I stopped, it was raining, I gave it a quick look and went home. I thought about it for a week. I had purchased a 74 Trans Am brand new and kept it for ten years. This was the car I had when my wife and I met. Always regretted selling it. I went back the following Sunday and the car was gone. I called them the next day. Apparently the car had been there for two years and the owner just took it back. They said mostly kids wanted it and they did not have the money. They wanted $8500.00.

I called the owner and went over to see and to drive the car. It had surface rust on the roof going back. The dealership had broken all the flares driving it up onto one of those raised racks for display. The owner was a large guy. He was linebacker big. He said he didn’t want the car because it’s too small for him. I asked him how much and his reply was $7500.00. I countered with $7000.00 and the deal was done.

I immediately began to restore things. Everything was loose. They said the A/C worked. Well I pulled it off to do some engine work and there wasn’t an o-ring to be found on any of the lines. Later I also found out all the AC ductwork under the dash was missing. I had the car completely repainted as close to Buccaneer Red as we could find. I reinstalled all the decals. We joined a local car club and have been having a fantastic time with the car. Over the years it has accumulated over 200 awards, including five best in shows. Every year I think about modifying the car and I am about to retire so I will finally have the time. Keep the hobby alive for future generations.

1974 Trans Am of Perry Pegoraro of West Bend, Wisconsin

Featured Car – ’68 Firebird 400 of Wes Hardy

A National Firebird and Trans Am Club featured car is the ’68 Firebird 400 of Wes Hardy from Nahant, Massachusetts.  Here is his story:

Reading the latest issue of Eagle, reminded me that I’ve been meaning to send some pics of my restored 1968 Firebird 400 Convertible.

While not “numbers matching”, it is a “period correct” ‘68 400, with a 4 spd M22 transmission & Hurst Shifter and a 355 Posi Rear End.

The original “somewhat frame off” restoration was done approx 15 years ago by a mechanic in NJ, who I bought the car from in August of 2019 after it had been “backed into” while being stored. Upon receiving the Bird, we (my mechanic & I) noticed a number of other “issues”. It went into the shop and went through a “real” restoration at one of the area’s best local shops – Louis Restoration and Repair in Salem Massachusetts.  The engine was totally rebuilt and all of the fenders, quarter panels, doors, etc were taken off, taken back to bare metal, re-primed and realigned to better than new. Though the new restoration took over 6 months (and totally blew my budget!) the car is now approaching “show quality”. As the attached pictures show, the beautiful new paint job is immaculate and “Blue” turns heads wherever I go!

Wes Hardy

68 Firebird 400 of Wes Hardy from Nahant, Massachusetts
68 Firebird 400 of Wes Hardy from Nahant, Massachusetts
68 Firebird 400 of Wes Hardy from Nahant, Massachusetts
68 Firebird 400 of Wes Hardy from Nahant, Massachusetts

‘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.

2021 Pontiac Celebration in Warwick, Rhode Island

by Rick DiGiacomo and Larry Kummer

The 2021 “Pontiac Celebration” Eastern Regional Meet was a huge success, much welcomed after the year (2020) delay. Once again, our event continues to draw great Pontiacs showing, and many enthusiastic Pontiac hobbyists enjoying this special weekend gathering.

Not forgetting the purpose of this event– “Pontiacs with a Purpose”– many gave their time, energy, and contributions to our children’s cancer charities: Alex’s Lemonade Stand foundation for childhood cancer and The Tomorrow Fund helping children and families affected by cancer. To date we have donated over $60,000 from “A Pontiac Celebration” 2010 through 2021 and made partners with a lot of companies that wish to help, look at the Exhale Wellness HHC that reduces some of the bad symptoms your body gets while fighting cancer. All from of our generous Pontiac enthusiasts. Proving how great Pontiac people are!

While a few Pontiac lovers arrived as early as Thursday to help with the event, many more rolled in on Friday to participate in our area-wide “Teddy Bear Cruise” that evening. Music, food, and drink attracted many great looking cars of all types, makes, and models from throughout the local community cruising in for the fun and to help support our charities.

The big event was the All Pontiac Car Show on Saturday. Overcast and then sunny Fall weather made for a great day. We were happy to see 220 beautiful Pontiacs on the show field. Though down a small amount from our 2018 Celebration, it was a very positive sign of the support of our Pontiac community during these continued trying times. Once again many local and surrounding Pontiac Clubs came out in force to make our event a huge success. This Celebration the Long Island Pontiac Clubs took home the Club Participation Award. Every year they come out in force to support and enjoy the Pontiac Celebration. We thank everyone for their support.

The Saturday evening BBQ dinner spread was enjoyed by a hungry crowd after a full day of car show and activities. But the high point of the banquet was when the many awards were given out to all who worked so hard preparing their beautiful cars. Top award of the evening – People’s Choice – went to Frank Nolan with his beautiful 1978 Trans Am. Many other Specialty Trophies, some in memory of those who are no longer with us, but in our memories, were also presented.

Our PontiacRegistry.com trophy went to a beautiful 1970 Firebird Formula 400. Each Celebration, we select a Pontiac that we feel represents something special to our hobby. Often times it has been a car that may not be the best on the field, but yet captures something special about our great hobby and the special people who enjoy it. This year, we have to admit, it was the fact that this was not only a very gorgeous car, but that it stood alone (and thus stood out) as not-a-Trans Am. As such, we felt it was award-worthy as a Firebird that is so often overshadowed by the Trans Ams.

One of the last “awards” during our banquet was the drawing for the Vacation Raffle. This year saw a lucky winner heading off to a luxury condo vacation in the mountains of New Hampshire. It was especially delightful because the winner was a wonderful lady and her husband who have work tirelessly during all of our Celebrations to help make it bigger, better, and more enjoyable each year. A prize that was well deserved!

2021 Pontiac Celebration in Warwick, Rhode Island

1992 Firebird of Dave Kime

A National Firebird and Trans Am Club featured car is the 1992 Firebird of Dave Kime from Matthews, North Carolina. Here is his story:

Here are photos of my 1992 Firebird. It is a 305 TBI with an automatic transmission and a 2.73/1 gear.

I purchased the car new in April 1992 in Charlotte, North Carolina. It currently has 237,000 miles on it. It has been repainted once and had the interior reupholstered. I have done my best to maintain it meticulously. Other than the current dress-up items. The engine has never been opened up. It uses no oil and returns about 28 mpg on the highway. I have added Wilwood brakes, a strut tower brace, sub-frame connectors, and GTA wheels.

I have won numerous trophies but this car is no trailer queen, I drive it! A perfect Saturday is cruising the Blue Ridge Parkway with the tops out or driving a twisty North Carolina mountain road. Doing both is even better!

1992 Firebird of Dave Kime from Matthews, North Carolina
1992 Firebird of Dave Kime from Matthews, North Carolina
1992 Firebird of Dave Kime from Matthews, North Carolina
1992 Firebird of Dave Kime from Matthews, North Carolina

                 

‘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.

National Firebird and Trans Am Club – For owners of all year Pontiac Firebirds, Trans Ams, GTAs and Firehawks

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