Black Bandit: 1978 Pontiac Trans Am WS6 W72 4-Speed – Sold?

by | Nov 2021 | Classifinds, Malaise Monday

The wild success of Burt Reynold’s Smokey and the Bandit movie in 1977 inspired many enthusiasts at the time to head down to their local Pontiac dealership to order a Trans Am just like the one featured throughout the film.  The result was a 36% increase in Trans Am sales in 1978 over the prior year.  The holy grail of these cars is to find a black-and-gold Y84 Special Edition model factory-equipped with the WS6 handling package and the W72 220 horsepower T/A 6.6 Liter (400 cubic inch) Pontiac V8 mated to a four-speed manual.  While not a special edition “SE” example, not only does this 1978 Pontiac Trans Am originally listed in October 2021 on Craigslist in South Windham, Connecticut (New London) check those boxes, this one is reported to be an all-original, number matching, and unmolested example.

Currently asking $35,000,  comparing that price against the Hagerty Insurance Online Valuation Tool confirms the private seller has their Trans Am priced between this guide’s #3 “Good” estimate of $19,300 and its #2 “Excellent” appraisal of $35,800.  Similarly, the  Collector Car Market Review Online Tool reveals the seller’s ask falls between this guide’s #2 “Very Good” estimate of $27,975 and its #1 “Excellent” appraisal of $43,625.

First launched during the spring of 1970, the Pontiac Firebird received its most recognizable front end for the 1977 model year. The shaker scoop was also revised for this year, with the early 1977-built T/As coming with off-center, lower-profile shaker scoops. Snowflake aluminum wheel became an option for all Firebirds and was standard with the Y82 appearance package, although it could be replaced with Rally II wheels as a credit option.

The Trans Am had now three different engine options to choose from, the standard Pontiac L78 400, the pay extra Pontiac W72 400, and the Oldsmobile-sourced L80 403. 1977 also saw the cubic inch metrics on the shaker dropped in favor of the displacement of the cylinders. The shakers now wore the decal “6.6 Litre” for all L78 Pontiac 400 and L80 Oldsmobile 403 motors. Only the optional W72 Pontiac 400 received the “T/A 6.6” decal. Many reproduction decal kits for Firebirds often did not include the “6.6 Litre” decal, which is why many Firebirds today bear the incorrect decal on the shaker.

The W72 engine option also saw a revision to the camshaft duration and the tuning of the Rochester Quadrajet which lead to a 10% increase of horsepower from the following year, bringing the total to 220hp. The WS6 special performance package developed by Herb Adams was introduced as a handling option for the Trans Am, including a larger diameter rear sway bar, tighter ration steering box, 15×8 snowflake wheels, additional frame bracing, as well as other suspension changes. Delays in manufacturing prevented the rear disc brake (RPO J65) from being available on the 1978 model year.  Approximately 25% of Trans Ams in 1978 had the WS6 option according to Pontiac sales information at the start of 1979.

The Memory Museum YouTube Channel features this 1978 Pontiac Firebird commercial showing the entire line of trim levels available that year:

Cars are only original once and the unfortunate reality is that most Trans Ams of this vintage wound up in the hands of enthusiasts who modified the cars. If the documentation the seller reports to have in place for this car holds true, you’ll be buying an unmolested survivor quality 1978 Pontiac Trans Am.

Here’s the seller’s description:

“All original .WS6 and w72 packages with performance tire option.Pontiac 400 , 4-speed manual.A/C and power windows.All numbers matching.Owned by 74 year old lady (who recently passed) since’82. Runs and shifts well. Missing A/C compressor. Needs some Exhaust work.$35k FIRM Call or text 86zero86one942six for more info or pictures. I do have Engine number, transmission number, and vin number pictures.

Show or go: what would you do with this survivor-quality 1978 Pontiac Trans Am?  Comment below and let us know!

1 Comment
  1. Scott Morgan

    Is car sold?


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