Rick Dionne

My name is Rick Dionne I am 46 years old from Greene Maine. I work full time at the Maine Turnpike Authority. I have been there for 24 years and for the past 7 years have the position of a highway maintenance foreman. I also work part time for Dead River Co. delivering fuel oil for the past 23 years and I own my own company called Bull Run Striping. I have been striping parking lots for 13 years and very successful at it.

My fascination with cars started at a young age. My father is very interested in cars and always had a special old car in the garage. The first car I ever drove (on my fathers lap) was a 39 Ford which is what I came home in from the hospital. My father also has a 57 Oldsmobile which he bought new and still owns today, some day it will be mine I hope!

When the 77 Trans Am came out and I saw the movie Smokey & the Bandit I knew I had to have one but being 14 I would have to wait. My first car in high school was a 76 firebird. It looked like the Rockford Files TV show car. It was a 6 cyl. 3 speed stick. It was a great car that I had a lot of fun in.

While owning this car I joined a local car club called TAZ-28. It was for Firebirdís Camaroís all the way to Z-28ís & TAís. It was a lot of fun. As soon as I could afford it I wanted a Trans Am preferably a black 77 or 78. In 1983 I got my chance to upgrade. I found the perfect car for sale at a Toyota dealer of all places. I went inside to ask about it. It was a Black 77 special edition with hurst t-tops and 4 speed stick. It was in excellent shape. The salesman told me the person traded it in for a 4x4 Toyota pickup.  He also told me that I was too late and someone else already bought the car.

So I ended up going to an auction with someone I knew picked out the car I wanted and brought it home. It was the car of my dreams or as close as I could get, a 78 white Trans Am loaded with red interior no t-tops with 32,000 miles. It is a nice car that I still own today it now has 59,800 miles. After the first five years I stopped using it. I would skip 2 or 3 years take it out put 1,000 or less miles and park it again. Getting married having kids changes things but I was never willing to sell her.

But back to the reason of this letter. You remember about the Black 77 TA I talked about earlier? While cruising around town in my 78 TA I ran into the guy with the 77, not literally, and we became friends and were in the same car club. I told him back then if you ever want to sell the car let me know.

Well in 1997 he called me and asked if I was still interested in the car. You still have it? Yep. I took a look at it in his fatherís barn. It was in sad shape. The last time it was registered was in 1990. He always wanted to fix it up but didnít have the money, which is another story. He could never afford the car to begin with and had to refinance it many times to keep it. The two things it had going for it was one he never used it in the winter except once and I gave him hell for it so he parked it. And it was complete for the most part. He pretty much abused the car taking out his frustrations on it broken t roof, spoilers, flares, damaged wheels interior a totaled mess. I even got my carpet back from my 78. I had a leak in my heater core on my 78 which got the carpet all wet so I bought a new carpet he wanted my old one because I was better than his so I gave it to him. He gave me a price, I made him an offer and he accepted. I promised him I would fix it up & call him when it is done. I finally had the car I always wanted.

I had it towed home and parked it in my garage. It sat there for 10 years before I touched it. My wife would often tease me about it. In 07-08 I started to take it apart, all that is left is the shell, chassis, and engine. I am taking pictures of everything as it comes off and documenting it. I recently went to the Fall Carlisle meet, what a place there is everything for everybody. I bought a boat load of parts and ordered a lot of new stuff mostly from Ames Performance. Their out of New Hampshire about 31/2 hours from me.  I ordered the suspension & brakes from PST.

My goal is to have it look as close to original as possible but handle better than when it was new.

I look forward to hearing from you and I sure could use some advice about restoring it. Sorry about the long story I hope you found it interesting. Oh by the way the original owner who traded it in for the Toyota ended up being a cousin of mine, at the time I didnít know it but it came out later we were related.

Pictured above are both my cars taken in 1985 and the former owner of the black TA. The white TA next to it is mine. The picture below is the same car today.


Rick Dionne

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