The second generation Trans Am is synonymous with things such as the 1970′s, classic rock, and a little film called Smokey and the Bandit. Although they were very decent handlers for the era, their performance leaves a lot to be desired by today’s standards.
Once considered a cheap alternative from the traditional musclecars of a decade earlier, the late ’70s and early ’80s Trans Am’s are quickly gaining momentum in the classic car hobby.
Despite the fact that Pontiac seemingly built millions of the things, they’ve gained so much value in the passed ten years that clean examples are becoming out of reach for most enthusiasts.
So what’s the average guy to do? Buy and restore one in less than stellar condition, that’s what!
The beauty about rebuilding one of these cars from scratch allows the owner/builder to craft the Trans Am of his dreams from something rather mundane, into something truly extraordinary. We say if you’re going to go through all of that trouble, you might as well make it worth it.
A perfect example of this is Ryan Babcock’s ’76 Trans Am. Purchased back in 2005 as a well used, and rusted relic from a time where catalytic converters were a new thing, this Pontiac has been completely rebuilt from the ground up, while being blessed with a 21st Century pro-touring theme.
The T/A came from the factory with a 400/4-speed combination, and Ryan was happy to learn that it went under a recent rebuild prior to it’s restoration. He simply just cleaned it up, repainted it, and installed a new timing set, oil pump and gasket kit just to be safe.
The body went under an extensive overhaul however, since it was so severely infested with cancer. Replacement and patch panels were both used in Ryan’s rebuild, and the ending results produced a rock solid, straight appearance that any Trans Am fan could appreciate. The interior has been replaced with new upholstery as well, giving the cockpit an as-delivered appearance, and the 1976-spec 100 mph speedo was replaced with an earlier 160 mph unit.
While relatively happy with the fruits of his labor, Ryan decided on taking things up a notch, and has upgraded his ‘Bird with a ’98-02 F-body rear brake kit, C5 Corvette front brakes, Koni shocks, PTFB springs, a three-inch exhaust system, LS1 electric cooling fans, and aftermarket wheels.
When more is never enough, Ryan has already picked up a rough early LS1 Camaro Z28 to swap it’s powerful, all-aluminum drivetrain into the vintage Pontiac. Good call, Ryan. If you are interested in following along with the build process of Ryan’s car, you can keep tabs on the project at pro-touring.com and transamcountry.com.