This is a 1978 California Gold Special Edition having (as my friend, and member of the Bandit Club, Heath Thomas says) an ďIdentity crisis!Ē I only have pictures of the car as a Black SE, but Iíll work on getting pictures of when it was a Gold SE (parents have those). This car came with the Oldsmobile 403 engine and the TH350 transmission. The original block and transmission are still in the car.
The car was first purchased on March 17, 1978 from Butts Pontiac-Cadillac by Suzane Artellan. Three months and 6,000 miles later, she traded the olí girl in. The owner of the dealership, Sam, owned a bar where my father was the manager. My father had recently totaled his white 1975 Trans Am and was looking for a new car. Knowing this, Sam asked my father if he was interested in buying the recently traded in Gold SE. Shortly after, the Gold SE became a member of our family when my mother purchased the car for dad. This Gold SE served as our family car and my dadís daily driver for the next 20+ years. Some of my fondest memories of this family car were sitting in the passenger seat at age 7, with the T-tops off, while my dad drove us around Laguna Seca Raceway with a hundred other Trans Ams on the track.
In 1991, my father hit my 1970 AMC AMX while backing out of the driveway. The gold paint was fairly faded and was certainly in need of a fresh coat. My father opted to have the Gold SE painted black with no decals.
My father bought my AMX from me and spent years restoring it. Once restored, he started to leave the T/A at home. The AMX became his daily driver until he bought a Mercedes and stopped driving the T/A all together. The T/A sat in the driveway for years, mercilessly beaten upon by the sun and weather.
In 2004, my father called to tell me he traded his Mercedes in for a better one. He was very excited to tell me all about his new Mercedes that had a V12 engine and lots of horsepower. I seized the opportunity to ask him to give me the T/A. After all, I explained, she was just sitting in his yard rotting away. He said yes, and thatís how the family T/A became mine.
In 2005, I had the car repainted black, but added the decals. From 2006 through 2007, the family mechanic rebuilt the engine at approximately 242,000 miles. Of course the transmission has been rebuilt twice in the carís life as well as the rear axle once. The interior is in need of restoration, but the drive train and body are solid. For many years I drove a 1970 Chevy 4x4 truck and did not have the money to restore both. I finally got rid of the truck and can now focus on the T/A.
Unfortunately the car needs a new paint job and Iíve wrestled with the question of painting it black or gold. After seeing this website, I think I will bring the olí girl back to her original condition by painting her gold again!
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