I was eight years old in 1973, that's when I first noticed muscle cars. All the guys in my neighborhood had them, Cudas, Chevelles, GTOs etc. The family next door had two boys, one had a butter nut yellow 68 Z28 which I thought was the coolest car ever until, (the reason I remember 1973), his older brother brought home a new buccaneer red Trans Am. I do not remember what it had, but I remember the huge bird on the hood, and the fact he would leave rubber every where. From then on I was hooked. Being I could not have big boy cars, I stuck with building model cars, and I still do. Some time in 1976, I was in a local 5&10 looking for a model to build, when I saw this model called Blackbird. I knew it was a Trans Am, but it had a funny looking nose similar to the 76 Sunbird. I thought some one at the model company made a mistake, but I bought it, and built it close to the look of the box cover. Some time later my brother came in to my room and said he had just seen a commercial for a movie with Burt Reynolds. He did not catch the name but said he was trying to pass a truck in a Camaro. I was a Burt Reynolds fan, (since watching the movie white lighting with that hot rodded Ford), so I had find out what it was called and see it. I think it was May when it premiered. I went to see it with my dad. I remember when Bandit first pulled the T/A out of the trailer and the impression it left on me, and probably every kid in that theater, vowing I would own one.
When I was turning 16, I wanted some type of Trans Am. I had put quite a bit of money aside, but my dad had a different idea. He said I would kill myself in one of those, and that I can have his old Torino station wagon, ( with the wood panels ), for free, and to get the idea of the T/A out of my mind. I was bummed, but I agreed, so the wagon was mine. That is until he found out I could fit 10 of my friends in it and beer. I came home from school one day and found my dad had sold the wagon to a guy that worked with him. I asked why, and he replied that I would kill a lot of people in that thing, but he did get $1200 for it and gave it to me.
Now I had options, but he said get something smaller, and not so fast. It was not a T/A, but a base 79 Firebird with a small V8. I kept it spotless, but beat it pretty well for 5 years. Then it was time for another car.
I worked at a body shop at the time, so I decided I wanted an old Camaro to fix up, thinking of my old neighbors Z28. I found a 68 SS 396 Camaro, restored it to original, babied it for 15 years, and sold it in 1998 to buy a Harley . Within a few years, I had the urge for another car, so I started looking for the car I vowed to own.
After a while of looking at junk, or fake Bandits, I was giving up on finding a real S/E, ( I did not want to travel far ). One day I was looking though a local Penny Saver and found an ad for a white 79 T/A. It was in there for a month, and the seller had dropped the price. Being it was 20 minutes away, I went to look at it, and to my surprise, the car was a very nice, rust free, non S/E Arizona car. It was white and gold, inside was beautiful, tan cloth, and loaded. Underneath had most of its original black paint, and caulk marks on the frame, and the floorboards were still white, so a deal was struck.
I detailed it top to bottom, brought it to shows, and drove it a lot, but it still was not an S/E. I toyed with the idea of cloning it, but it was just to nice. After a couple of years, business was good, ( I was in the family home improvement business ), and I was getting married. I joked with my wife about never being able to get an S/E. She said, then go find one, so she does not have to hear it for the rest of her life. At that point a friend was looking to buy his wife a 50 birthday present, and was bugging me for the white T/A. I had already located what was to be a 78 S/E 4 speed car, half restored, out in Pittsburg. I told him I would go out to look at the S/E, and if I liked it, he could have mine.
I drove out to PA with my truck and trailer not knowing what to expect. When I got there the car was in the drive way. It was painted, but needed to be finished. We settled on a price, but then he could not find the PHS paper work. He said he would find it, and mail it to me. Now I drove far to see it, but would not take it with out the paper work. It could have been a fake. After an hour of tearing his house apart, out came the PHS with matching VIN, and yes, it was a real S/E, 1 of 489! I loaded it on the trailer, and off I went. I got it home and went to work. Aligned the panels, redid the interior, wheels, and rebuilt the engine and suspension. Then I block sanded it smooth and striped it.
been six years, and still looks great! This one's a keeper!
Thanks for reading, if you got this far.