The 1978 Pontiac Firebird, Formula & Trans Am
|| This Formula was recently completely
restored and is now owned by Sherilyn Temple. The restoration was handled by Sherilyn's
father, Leonard Temple. Leonard writes:
"We will keep the car original. the car still has the original engine: (chevy 350 4bbl 160hp <yawn!>) and transmission. (250,000 miles!) We purchased it from the second owner about a year ago. He purchased it in 1980. Sherilyn wanted a car she could take to car shows with us. We have a 71 Malibu and have had several other restoration projects."
Leonard also owns a 1979 S.E. "Bandit" Trans Am that can be seen on '79 Firebirds Lot#4.
||This white Trans Am was the first TA in
a tradition of Firebird ownership for Eric Cerney. This bird came with the W72 option 400
rated at 220hp and a 3.23 posi-trac rear end. Eric installed a shift kit in it and Rancho
front and rear springs to lower it by 1½". These along with KYB gas shocks seriously
improved the TAs handling. On the inside it was a traditionally well optioned car with
power windows, power door locks, cruise control and a tilt wheel. Even though the car
didn't come with a WS6 Performance Package Eric found and added a set of the cool aluminum
15"x8" snowflake rims. Eric was only the second owner and according to him the
car was beautiful and had never seen a body shop. Eric has had a long collection
TAs. He has owned a '95 Trans Am (check out the '95 Firebirds Lot#1)
and a '96 Trans Am (check out the '96 Firebirds Lot#1). You can
also check out Eric's cool new '98 Trans Am (check out the '98 Firebirds Lot#1).
cool Trans Am was the second installment in Eric Cerney's collection. Eric writes:
"I modified this car significantly myself. I added a 4-wheel 3.23 disc rear end, a 700R4 4-speed automatic transmission bolted up to a fuel injected Pontiac 400 engine. I enhanced the WS6 handling package by putting 265-50s tires on the factory 8" rims, by replacing the stock rubber front and rear suspension bushings with nylon and steel. Also, the rubber sub-frame bushings were replaced with aluminum ones. The car produced about 350HP and would probably do 0.86g on the skid pad."
Eric has had a long collection of white TAs. He has owned a 95' Trans Am (check out the 95' Firebirds Lot#1) and a 96' Trans Am (check out the 96' Firebirds Lot#1). You can also check out Eric's cool new 98' Trans Am (check out the 98' Firebirds Lot#1).
Beginning in 1977 Pontiac began to offer special packages on the Esprit to attract more
buyers. Each year the package was based on a specific color and named after it. The first
package in '77 was based on a baby blue color and was called the Skybird. This model
continued about halfway into the '78 year model when the color changed to red and the name
was changed to Redbird. The Redbird was offered again for the entire '79 model year.
Beginning in 1980 the color changed again and for the final time to yellow and was called
the Yellowbird. The package did not continue after the '80 year model. These packages
featured special decals on the sail panels, which looked a lot like more like a bird than
the hood birds, custom paint, and custom interiors all based on the theme color.
Photo courtesy of Mark Allbaugh
||Brett Sandidge owns this radically
painted Trans Am. He purchased it from the original owner in 1985. Since then the car has
seen quite a lot of work to get it to its present day status. If you'd like to read about
the history of the car click here. The engine and drivetrain
while still the original equipment have also been massaged a bit.
To start with a set of 67' GTO heads (2.11 intake & 1.77 exhaust) were added. An Edelbrock Performer Camshaft (custom ground by Doug Statler) was installed. Also from Edelbrock a Performer aluminum intake manifold was added topped by a Holley 750 (zinc plated) carburetor. A Warrior Racing timing chain cover and Milodon Gear Drive were also added. Last but most definitely not least a Compucar Nos system was installed for the little extra punch.
For the tranny the original TH400 still handles the shifting but its been outfitted with a B&M shift kit and a 2500 stall speed converter. On the inside a B&M shifter was added to improve shifting. The tranny hooks up to a 10-Bolt GM rear end with 3.73 gears.
During the many modification this car has undergone the sub-frame was removed and powder coated, new Energy Suspension Bushings were installed and the car was lowered 2 inches. The TAs current color is 1995 Dodge Ram Red and PPG Deltron paint was used for the spraying. The graphics on the car were custom airbrushed on.
In the interior a set of Corbeau seats were added with RCI 5-point harnesses. Factory gauges were replaced by digital Cyberdyne gauges. Other goodies installed include 3" Hooker Headers setup with 3" Flowmaster mufflers, a set of Centerline rims from Warrior Racing, and a set of Mickey Thompson Sportsman Is.
I highly recommend you read the history of the car that I've linked above to get a real idea of what this car has been through and what it has become. The owner and many others have invested a LOT of time and effort in it.
Brett is the president of Dream Machines Car Club Inc. based out of central Illinois. The club was founded over 12 years ago by 12 guys and focuses on people who chose to drive cars other than Fords and Chevies which were very much the norm in Illinois at the time.
Congratulations to Brett on getting featured in the June 04 edition of High Performance Pontiac!! Not only is there a feature on the car but his car is on the cover to!!
Mark Wilcox owns this absolutely prefect survivor Redbird Firebird. Mark
"I would love to tell you a story of how we rescued the car from a rusty grave, personally removed each piece of sheet metal, lovingly refinished the car by hand in my little cramped garage and made it a concourse champion. But if I did, it would all be a big lie. This car is so
original, that when you turn on the radio it only receives Donna Summer, Fleetwood Mac's Rumors, Billy Joel and Saturday night Fever, thank god for the cassette player and Sony CD player cassette adapter.
My wife wanted a Bird, Thunder Bird that is. Then she saw "The Rockford Files" on TV and became interested in the Firebirds. I had my eye on a hot little gold Formula 400 when we arrived at Don Davis Pontiac of Tonawanda N.Y.. While we were on the lot we saw the pretty Red Bird roll off the delivery truck. Three days later we drove it away with only one mile on the odometer. Now 44,000 miles later it's still ours and all original inside and out. The car has received only routine maintenance work that most of which I do myself. Once a year (twice if I can find the time) I wax it then put it back under cover and in the garage. We do not drive it in the rain and from November 15th to about April 1st the car hides from winter's wrath and won't come out until we get three good rains to wash the road salt away.
According to a 1978 Pontiac product manual update dated December 8,1977, the Skybird appearance package was to be replaced by the Redbird Appearance package. Production of the Redbird edition began in February 1978 as the W68 appearance package added to the Esprit model. Price of the Redbird package was the same as the Skybird M.S.R.P. $461.00 with cloth trim and $426.00 with Vinyl trim.
Roman Red ( 72) Exterior with Redbird lower accent and bright gold striping.
Carmine Custom Interior - Cloth or vinyl.
Red custom seat belts.
Red formula steering wheel with gold spokes.
Redbird tail lamp bezels and grill.
Gold instrument panel trim plate.
Interior and exterior emblems.
Roman red cast aluminum wheels.
Recently I had the car appraised and it is now worth more than the original $6744.63 we paid. Mom and dad were right. You take care of your toys and they will last you a long time. Many thanks to Hitman's Trans Am page (www.78ta.com) and to Brian and Joe at www.firebirdtransamparts.com for their wealth of information."
Mark and Kathy Wilcox
Very nice black/black Trans Am. Its not a Special Edition or Smokey & The
Bandit TA as most people would identify it. More likely its a clone.
Copycatting the famous look of the real Special Editions used in the movies
is very common. A lot of the real SE's have been hot rodded and worn out and
were probably lining the shelves of your favorite local grocery store years
ago. Some speculate that as many as half are gone. Some are more optimistic
and others more pessimistic. Pontiac only built 3,648 of them in 1978 so if
we go with the 50% estimation that'd mean there's only about 1800 or so left
out there. Of course these Special Editions were made from '77 to '81 so
there are really more than that left. And there is no factual basis to these
numbers, just pure speculation.
Anyway, all that said it is very common for people to dress up '78 TAs to look like the Bandit car. Its easily the most recognizable TA ever built and a lot of folks remember the cars from the movies and want one. I've had more than a couple write in and tell me about it. Of course I said I would own one someday too after seeing Burt hotrod that '77 around for an hour and a half. I've owned about 16 different TAs now and still have not bought an SE. I'm going to have to get one soon.
The Special Edition TAs were built at two plants, one in Van Nuys California and one in Norwood, Ohio. The TAs from the Van Nuys plant are much rare. Of that total above 3,345 of the SEs were built at the Norwood plant. You do the math.
So you may be wondering why I don't think this is an SE? A lot of people ask how to identify one. First problem with this car is the chrome trim around the windows and T-Tops. On a real SE they would have all been flat black. Next its a little hard to see but it doesn't appear there is any gold tint on either the steering wheel spokes or the instrument bezel. I can't tell but the bird emblems on the doors and on the steering wheel would also have been gold.
| I try not to
post black and white photos on the site but this looks like it might have been an original
promotional photo, possibly used in some kind of advertisement. Another reason I like this
one is because the car is in motion which isn't usually the case with photos. Enjoy...
Photo courtesy of Mark Allbaugh.
Grant Nelson owns this great looking '78 Firebird. Grant submitted pics when
it was in restoration and the car was entered into the Projects Lots. He
recently sent me these pics and let me know it was complete so it has moved
out of the Projects Lots and into the '78 Firebirds lots. Grant writes:
"Firebird Gallery, here are a couple more photos of my car. I currently have pictures listed on your web-site in the Project Birds Lot # 3. I have completed a inside and outside restoration of this 1978 Firebird. I recently added a Art Carr 4 speed automatic racing transmission, 3:73 posi rear end. The car was painted a 2004 Sonic Blue. Enjoy!!"