by Bob Phillips
This Trans Am is the original, un-restored, survivor, 1 of 1, promotional concept car that was built for the 1974 Chicago Auto Show (actually has 24 separate options that would make this a one of one [1 of 1] car or a first [1st]). The interior has a special silk material used on the seats and the carpet is by Cadillac. The famous 455 Super Duty (SD) engine that Nascar developed with only 1296 made in a two year period was dropped under the hood. It features a one of a kind special gold metallic flake blended into the black base color with gold pin striping (also known as a Johnny Player Special) and would become the promo car (for the second time) for the 1976 50th anniversary Limited Edition TA that would evolve into the later Special Edition models from 1977 – 1981.
It was used as a promotional car (for the third time) for the Trans Am Territories, (which was a gathering and race for Trans Am buffs and GM personnel), and was driven by John Schinella (Head Chief of Design for GM) on the track. It has untouched, original paint and clear coating, with spider webbing from many clear finishes from all the changes by the design staff. It is documented 28,000 original miles and still wears its original tires (Goodyear made two sets special for this car with gold lettering). The car (most thought lost) was purchased from the original owner’s estate sale in 2004 by Bob Reason, car dealer and collector of Michigan. The original owner (Clarence Sproul) worked for GM as head accountant and was close to Bill Mitchell, the vice-president of GM who owned the car before it was turned into a concept car. Bill instructed the car go to the accountant rather than being destroyed like most concept cars. It was personally signed by John Schinella on the center console and core support in 2004. John was appointed head of Trans Am design by Bill Mitchell in 1971 and used this car to sell the Big Bird idea to Bill Mitchell, who originally hated the bird decal. The car is titled as a buccaneer red 1973 Trans Am with Turbo 400 automatic transmission.
The public excitement over the car during the 1974 show circuit prompted the release of the 1976 Limited Edition (50th Anniversary) Trans Am and essentially was the first Bandit car. It is historically documented in 21 articles online, and in seven books publications such as in the “The Fabulous Firebird” by Michael Lamm, “Firebird Trans Am” by David Newhardt, “Pontiac Firebird” by Marc Cranswick.