It was love at first sight.
Everyone loves an underdog, especially if the said underdog is rocking a V8 under the hood, a flamin' bird on top, and features in one of the best car movies of all time. We're obviously talking about the Pontiac Trans Am. introduced on February 23, 1967, the Firebird range of cars shared a platform with the better known Chevrolet Camaro and was first released with a weedy 3.8-liter six-cylinder engine in base trim and a number of V8 options. Finally in 1969, Pontiac decided to give it some horns when it released the high-performance Trans Am that soon became an American legend after featuring in the now cult classic film Smokey and The Bandit. To dig a little deeper into what makes these cars so great, another American Icon, Jay Leno, takes one for a spin.
Unlike a lot of the cars you see on Leno's YouTube series, this 1979 Trans Am does not belong to him and is instead on loan from the Audrain Automobile Museum in Newport, Rhode Island. The car was bought by the museum for $40,000 and shows 30,340 miles on the odometer. In the video, Jay commends the car on its originality; it has a full service history since new, and sold for $8,200 in 1979. This price included awesome extras such as that timeless graphics pack, shaker hood, disk brakes, and t-top. "This is something you can drive to Vegas or San Francisco all day long, it's really comfortable. I'm a huge Firebird fan. These cars never got the recognition they deserved" said Leno.
The car features a 400-cubic inch V8 under the hood, but due to the fuel crisis, the engine was limited to only 220 horsepower and 325 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the rear via a four-speed manual transmission, which is the car's saving grace considering the tepid power outputs. As Jay rightly puts it, the Trans Am was never about straight-line performance but was more about looking good while cruising the highways and byways of America. True that brother.