1977 Trans Am Special Edition Affair
This is a discussion on 1977 Trans Am Special Edition Affair within the Firebird / WS6 forums, part of the Vehicle Specific category; 1977 Trans Am Special Edition Affair There are certain experiences during adolescence that produce lifelong memories. For 49-year old Larry ...
07-03-2008, 03:00 PM #1
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1977 Trans Am Special Edition Affair
1977 Trans Am Special Edition Affair
There are certain experiences during adolescence that produce lifelong memories. For 49-year old Larry Reimer, one such occurrence was receiving the Aug. '76 issue of Motor Trend magazine in the mail. On the cover was Pontiac's newest Special Edition Trans Am-a '77 with a new front-end treatment.
"It was love at first sight," the Omaha, Nebraska-based home improvement contractor recollects. "In an instant, that car became my dream and my destiny. I didn't know how or when, but I knew I was going to own one someday, and I immediately started working toward that goal."
The First Impression
Larry's tale starts like many others. He was a young, red-blooded American captivated by the Trans Am's performance image. "It drew me into Pontiac dealers' showrooms. One day, I went with my dad to look at the new '76 Pontiacs, and that's when I saw my first Special Edition Trans Am. It was the coolest and most beautiful car I'd ever laid eyes on," he says.
The Special Edition model that Larry first spied commemorated Pontiac's 50th Anniversary of vehicle production, and visions of that black and gold Firebird danced in the teenager's head.
"When I got the new issue of Motor Trend, I was immediately hooked on '77 S/E T/As. I just had to have one, and I was willing to make any sacrifice to make that happen. Then Smokey and the Bandit came out, and that was it," he recalls.
Needing transportation, Larry dreamed of an S/E T/A, but it seemed impractical and out of reach. "My dad had a '76 Bonneville, and my brother had a '70 LeMans that I always liked, so I started looking for an early-'70s Pontiac A-body. It seems as if everything we looked at was rough and needed repair. Apparently, my dad grew tired of looking at well-used Pontiacs every weekend and saw the advantages of a new car for me," says Larry.
The two started discussing the possibility of a new Pontiac. "I couldn't pass up the opportunity to mention the Special Edition Trans Am. To my surprise, he agreed to look at one, and he found it as captivating as I did. Once we started crunching numbers, we found that it was within my reach, but not without concession. Dad was willing to pay for half of the car, if I paid the remainder by the time I graduated college," he explains. "How could I say no?"
Elated, Larry immediately began searching local dealership inventories and found that the '78 models were just hitting showrooms. "There may not be many differences, but I really wanted a '77. I liked its honeycomb grille and custom interior better, and I figured it might be a little cheaper. After contacting every area dealer, I found just five '77 Special Edition models left in Omaha."
As one might imagine, cost was a major factor in Larry's decision. "Purchasing the car was really a stretch for me, even with my dad's help, so I planned on purchasing whichever S/E T/A was cheapest. But there were certain options I had to have, and that narrowed it down.
"Even though I read that Hurst Hatches commonly leaked, I still wanted them. I wanted custom interior, too, and knew that vinyl interior would be more serviceable than cloth. I also knew that the 200hp T/A 6.6 was part of the W72 Performance Package, but I wasn't that familiar with the package. I really wanted the car more than added performance, so I figured a base L78 400ci engine was sufficient, and would be cheaper to insure, too."
The W72 Performance Package was a new option for 1977 that added $50 to a Trans Am's price tag, and included a host of components aimed at maximum performance. Backing the high-output mill was a torque converter with a stall speed near 2,200 rpm, a Turbo 350 automatic transmission with specific internal calibration, and a 3.23 rear axle ratio. The combined effort produced an engine generating 200 hp at 3,600 rpm, and 325 lb-ft at 2,200 rpm, and a vehicle capable of mid-15-second quarter-mile times at trap speeds in excess of 90 mph.
Fortunately for Larry, the lowest-priced S/E T/A equipped with Hurst Hatches and vinyl custom interior happened to have the W72 package. "I didn't really know how much the two engines differed at the time, but I was happy that the cheapest T/A was equipped with it." Convinced this was the right move, Larry and his father purchased an S/E T/A from McKenzie Pontiac for $6,950 and drove it home on October 5, 1977.
Though it might seem that Larry's Trans Am was otherwise sparsely equipped, convenience options included air conditioning, tilt wheel, and cruise control. One feature that was conspicuously absent, however, was a radio of any type. "The car didn't have a radio, but it didn't matter to me at the time, because it meant that I could install a better stereo at a later date, which I did the following spring."
Larry drove his new T/A as much as possible to break it in before it saw its first Nebraska winter. "I knew before purchasing the car that I was going to preserve it, so I drove it that first winter only when the streets were dry, and borrowed family-members' cars or carpooled in bad weather," he says.
The Trans Am's street duty was limited for the next couple of years, and Larry admits that he was fanatical about its cleanliness when he drove it. "I washed it regularly, and it was always exceptionally clean. So clean, in fact, that my friend Gus Frics suggested I enter it into a local ISCA show in 1979. I did, and at that point my desire to preserve it grew even stronger."
It wasn't long thereafter that the T/A was officially retired to a life of ISCA shows and local area Pontiac events. Its first appearance at a national gathering occurred in 2004 at the POCI National Convention in Joplin, Missouri, where it amassed 389 out of 400 possible points, earning Gold Survivor status.
"The Hurst Hatches leaked when they were new, and I immediately took it in to the dealership for adjustments. On the third visit, they replaced the weatherstrip, and they didn't seem to leak nearly as bad, but the car wasn't really driven in the rain after that. I found out just how bad the hatches really leak during a downpour in Joplin. Let's just say it'll never be in the rain again," he jokes.
The Twilight Years
Larry tells HPP that his love affair with the Special Edition Trans Am is as strong today as it was over 30 years ago. "I love the look of a black car when it's clean, and the appearance of any S/E T/A is, in my opinion, stunning. The Second-Gen T/A already has a sleek, aggressive stance, and the black and gold contrast grips me. The stripes pop off the body."
One look at Larry's Trans Am's mirror-like Starlight Black finish, and most would bet that it's been professionally repainted, but Larry maintains that the exterior is completely factory applied. "My dad was a car polisher, and he liked Blue Coral liquid polish. I hand-rubbed the T/A for hours a day, panel by panel, until the finish was absolutely smooth. I was careful not to damage any decals, so some of the factory orange peel is still visible," he states.
When asked what he likes best about his S/E T/A, Larry modestly replies, "How well it's preserved, and how good it looks after all these years. I'm continually asked if it's restored, but I'm proud to say it's completely original. It's far from perfect, though. There are body dimples, runs in the paint, and the stripes are not perfectly positioned in places, but that's the way it rolled off the assembly line, and that's the way it's going to stay."
Today, Larry's T/A shows just over 15,400 miles on its odometer, and he says that future plans include adding a handful of miles each year attending area events, and possibly any nearby national-type gatherings. He adds, "I'm mostly going to do my best to continue preserving this survivor for years to come."
Photo Gallery: 1977 Trans Am Special Edition Affair - High Performance Pontiac Magazine
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07-04-2008, 10:19 PM #2
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holy shit, that interior is AMAZING!!!
07-05-2008, 10:19 PM #3
Wow!!!! Larry is a cool guy. And is dad is also a cool dude for going halfsie's ..... That car was the best thing to drive back then.... and still, almost is. Besides these "newer" TA's!!!
07-05-2008, 10:21 PM #4
thats my dream car
07-07-2008, 09:13 AM #5
I wish my 78 looked that good. That is one beautiful car
07-07-2008, 02:15 PM #6
The hoodscoop seal looks like the GM replacement part as it differs from my original. I also don't see the original space saver red filler bottle. I have a 1977 Trans Am (non-S/E) that I purchased new which has been stored in a climate controlled garage and has never seen rain from day one. Mine has the custom interior and it has Lombardi velour seats and door panels (not the vinyl). Mine also included options such as Power windows, 8-track player, rear window defroster, and I added the rear seat console as it was still available at the dealer then. That car is awesome and looks very well maintained. For those that aren't familiar, the 1977 does not have anywhere near the power of a stock 4th generation WS6 but it was one of the fastest on the road back then and sure has the looks then and now IMO. Great job keeping it that way!
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