This is my 1977 Y-82 S/E Trans Am I've been restoring on and off
since 1998. We bought it locally from the original owner who had
worked at a shopping mall and sometimes parked it out in the far
corner of the lot (away from other cars) while at work, or shopping.
We drove by it quite a few times in a 5 year period and always
wished it were for sale. I even left an occasional note under the
wiper arm that..."if he ever wanted to sell it....etc". At the time
I was driving a nice red 1975 T/A, but the '77 Bandit car was always
my heart-throb. In 1998 I had been looking on the internet and in
the local paper and nothing really good was around any more. If it
was, it was thousands of miles away in the USA and needed a full
resto. So I decided to put an ad in the local paper looking for this
exact car. The first week went by and nothing happened, but the
second week we got (1) call. He asked if we were still looking for
this car and told me what he had. That his boss had spotted my ad in
the paper and called him and told him to "give it a shot, give the
guy a call".
I was skeptical, but very excited at the same time. He said it had been driven about 300 miles in the past 5 years, had 78.000 orig. miles and was all original but in need of restoration and he did not have the money to do it right. So in spring he was going to sell it, but if I wanted to look at it now...it was there. We went there and when I walked around the back of his house, THERE WAS THE CAR I'D SEEN ALL THOSE YEARS AT THE MALL! I could tell as he had put an extra bird decal on the front fender under the German lettered Trans Am name. But I had found my car!
The car upon closer inspection needed a lot of refinishing. The paint was badly cracking from the far-north hot & cold climate we have here. It had been garage kept, but showed signs of age everywhere except the interior was still very nice. It would need full stripping of the paint to the bare metal, and although the driveline was good, I wanted it as good as possible so a rebuild was a must to be to my standards. The car had not been winter driven, therefore the Hurst Hatch roof seals were mint yet, and the glass panels do not have a scuff or mark on them. They were carefully removed when driven, obviously. He had the factory Hurst bag and the factory build sheet was still under rear seat cushion in the springs. The rest of the paperwork was in the glove box.
Well, we thought it over and a week later, bought it and got it home where it sat about 2 years awaiting funds to do it "right". Finally we dived in and started on the car.
We had the L-78 Pontiac 400 cu.in engine, Turbo 350 Hydro transmission, and driveline components all professionally rebuilt. All brakes parts, bearings, seals, bushings, exhaust, cables, etc were done. The engine was rebuilt to factory specs, no mods. I wanted to keep the car original as possible. We took the car to the body shop and had it all taken apart and stripped to the bare metal. It The car upon closer inspection needed alot of refinishing. The paint was badly cracking from the far-north hot & cold climate we have here. It had been garage kept, but showed signs of had very little rust on rear lower quarters but they cut out & repaired the panels and made it look new. All panels & bumpers, doors were removed and the entire car stripped and painted original Starlight Black Base-Clear. The wheels were refinished locally at a specialty Wheel & Polish Shop, they did a fine job. We even had the original lug nuts re-chromed locally and those are what is on the car. The center caps & medallions are GM NOS and I have both sets with gold or red birds. I chose the gold as in Canada I was told they came with either depending on how early or late you bought your car. I like the gold as it keeps the gold-emblem theme throughout the car consistent. All fender spoilers were replaced with NOS GM parts, the front grills, emblems, park lamps, headlight trim rings, door & trunk locks, PONTIAC grill emblem are all GM NOS. The original parts actually looked still excellent, I kept for spares and the original grills actually are still near-perfect. Actually the shaker seal is mint and the original the car came with!
The rest of car externally was acceptable as-was (body-wise). The interior had great, clean carpet that is still unworn and original. The rest of interior was excellent, I replaced the shifter knob & button, shift plate, re-tinted the dash bezel, and the door birds and cups, the lower map pockets had extra holes drilled so I bought NOS GM panels off eBay. The seats are original, the upper door panels were fine, as was the carpet, console and dash pad. Aside from a few minor other small detail things in the interior that were replaced, the headliner is original and the t-tops do NOT leak. We put new glass in the doors and windshield as they had some sandblasting look from over the years and minor wear. The window hardware (felt pads, window sweeps inner & outer, etc) were replaced, the PW motors are original and strong yet. I found NOS Hurst Hatch t-top latches and replaced 2 that had the black grip splitting, those were hard to find!
The car basically had a full frame-on restoration. The paint on the inner fenders was still great, the frame still had a flat black color and no rust. The car was refinished with all GM parts, no repop stuff. It has a beautiful black mirror-like shine and the cloth interior is second to none for comfort. It came almost fully loaded, with A/C, PW, PDL, P.T, Cruise, RWD, factory AM/FM/8-Track stereo, Hurst Hatch t-tops, L-78 Blue Block 400 Pontiac engine with 2:41 gearset and Turbo 350 Transmission. With those gears, it is not maybe the fastest car right off the line, but rotates the tires easily and once it gets going it hauls pretty decent for stock. The tires are BF Goodrich Radial T/A's with 60 series all around. It has never had any extra holes cut in anywhere for speakers, etc. Kind of hard to leave such a car with no hi-power stereo for "cruising" but I like to maintain its originality as best possible.
The striping and decal kit were from Stencils and Stripes, and are the die-cut kind...no overlapping roll of tape for striping used here. I wanted only the best once you've come this far and spent that kind of money.
My boys age 11/13 love the car. Smokey And The Bandit is their favorite old-time movie, and the car is a favorite of all of ours. They enjoy cruising in it as much as I do, and provincial car shows in the summer is a must for us. We enter it in a few shows yearly, the car draws a large crowd and attention wherever it goes.
It may not be the perfect National Show-Winner but it is something that has come a long way and is 90% restored to show quality, a pleasure to drive and own. My boys made me promise to never sell it, as some day I guess they have ideas for it too. No doubt it will be in the family for many years to come, I still tinker on this and that trying to get those tiny things"one notch better". Seems you never know when to quit, but that is what makes restoring your fav. dream car so much fun.
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