Ken de Vries
My interest in Pontiacs, in particular 77-78 Trans Amís started around 1980. At the early age of 12 I saw probably the best advertising for a car that any auto company could hope for in the movie Smokey and the Bandit. After watching this movie I always wanted a Trans Am just like the one Burt Reynolds drove to fame. I suspect that this was probably the same motivating factor for most owners of Special Edition Trans Amís.
Unfortunately for people like myself living in Australia, the Trans Am was never exported to Australia by GM and consequently it was rare to see one on our roads. Some were imported privately, initially during the 1970ís but only in relatively small numbers along with some other American cars of different makes and models. This changed during the 1980ís when these cars became older and therefore more affordable
So anyway years later I still wanted that Trans Am and in December 1987 I was given a subscription to an Australian car magazine called Modern Motor. The first issue I received had an article about a guy in Sydney who specialized in importing American cars of any type you wanted. All you had to do was list the condition, color, miles etc and he would find that exact car for you in the USA.
So after many years of reading all the articles and magazines tests on Trans Ams I phoned this guy and gave him the details of the exact Trans Am I wanted, which at the time was a 1978 black and gold Trans Am. He informed me that he actually had the car I wanted but it was a 1977 Trans Am. It had just arrived in Sydney along with a 1970 440 Challenger and 1959 Cadillac limo. The Trans Am was actually imported for another guy but he had gone bankrupt so I got first option on the car instead, lucky me!
I arranged to drive to Sydney a week later to view the car and took enough money to pay for it just in case it turned out to be as good as it sounded. The next week I was in Sydney after driving overnight but I had trouble finding the address of the guy who was selling the T/A. I phoned him from a gas station and he agreed to come and meet me there and then I could follow him back to his house. Now I thought he'd drive his regular car out to meet me but he actually drove the T/A, when I saw it coming down the road with its black paint, gold eagle, gold stripes and the snowflake wheels sparkling in the sun it was love at first sight!. After spending an hour or so checking the car over and taking it for a drive, we agreed on a price and I was the proud owner of my first Trans Am.
Along with the sale came all the original documents belonging to the car from the original and first owners in California, amongst this paper work was also a build sheet with the all important Y82 code on it, which at the time didnít mean that much to me. This guy could have sold me a fake Special Edition and I wouldnít have known any better at the time. I wasn't aware that the Special Edition Trans Am was a unique optional order which added a significant increase in price over the regular Trans Am. It wasn't until a year after I bought my T/A that I learned how to decode the VIN, trim tags and most importantly the build sheet (I found another matching one under the rear seat) before I realized that I actually had a Special Edition Trans Am. So I guess in a way I was lucky to get the car I have now, I was really pleased to find out that I had a genuine original Special Edition Trans Am.
My car is a one owner Californian car with 89000 miles, Hurst T-Tops, A/C, Power Windows, rear console etc and being a Californian car it has the 403 Oldsmobile engine. It still has its original paint and decals. I drove the car for about 18 months before having it converted from left to right hand drive. It was actually more fun driving it LHD as people thought nobody was driving (tilt steering pulled down low) as the car flashed by them with one person sitting in the left side of the car, I've owned my T/A for 17 years now and I'll never sell it. I was considering at one time replacing the Olds 403 with a 400 or 455 Pontiac engine and went so far as buying a 400 and then a few years later a 455 Pontiac engine for it but Iíve since decided to leave it with the original 403 Olds.
The T/A spends most of its time garaged, but does come out during the summer months. I live in Geelong which is in the state of Victoria, Australia and is approximately 20 minutes from the Great Ocean Road which is a fantastic road for cruising in a car like the T/A.
In 2003 after many years of searching I bought another Firebird to keep the T/A company in the garage, this one is a 1971 Firebird with very few options. It has a 350 Pontiac engine, TH350 auto, Rally II wheels, 8 track tape player but only a mono AM radio for some strange reason. Itís also a Californian car and Iíve been able to keep it LHD and register it for the road due to a change in the RHD laws in Australia. I built up the 455 Pontiac that as I mentioned earlier was intended for the T/A and itís now going to find a home in the Firebird instead. The original 350 engine will stored because itís the matching numbers engine for the car.
Hope you enjoyed my bio.
For any questions or information relating to my cars or other Pontiacs in Australia feel free to contact me and I'll help out where I can.
Ken de Vries
My Photo Gallery