1979 Pontiac Trans Am - Twin-Twin Situation
Tod and Scott Warmack aren't twins, they were actually born five years apart, but their matching '79 Trans Ams sure look like they came from the same mother egg.
Tod tells HPP, "In 2005, I was looking for a '79 project T/A. It had to be a Nocturne Blue four-speed. The idea was to build a twin to my brother's car." Tod's first attempt at matching his brother's T/A was unsuccessful. "After about six months of searching, I found and bought its twin," Warmack explains. "It was 100 percent original, but had more rust than I could stomach, so it got relegated to donor status and the search was on again."
Tod's T/A
Two months later, Tod found the Trans Am he was looking for, a 39,000-mile four-speed with the same DNA as his brother's Trans Am. Tod recalls, "When I looked at the photos of the undercarriage, interior and engine compartment, I was surprised to see a Northern car in such solid condition. I ran the numbers, checked out the car's history and decided this would be my next project. So $8,900 and three weeks later, it was in my driveway."
Tod says he wanted a nice driver-condition T/A, but it turned into a frame-off project. "I wanted a very clean driver on a budget. I was not building a show car," he says. But when Warmack removed the aftermarket "Bandit" stripes from his Trans Am, he found dead paint underneath. "There went the budget," he lamented, "And what a waste, too, because otherwise, the original lacquer paint was a solid eight out of ten." Tod decided to completely repaint his low-mile Trans Am.
First, the T/A interior was removed. The frame was sent out for powdercoating and the front springs, rear shackles and driveshaft were blasted and finished in a coat of metal grey. Then the control arms were done in GM 20 percent gloss black and dipped in metal gray to mimic the original factory process of bare metal on the ends. The brake calipers and rear end chunk were finished in Seymour Cast Blast gray metalcast and the differential cover received two coats of Plasti Koat's T-41 dull aluminum.
To prepare the original engine for show duty, Tod meticulously stripped it to bare metal, shot a coat of primer, and then repainted it GM Blue. He resealed the engine and sent the original carburetor to The Carb Shop in Ontario, California, for a rejet and show quality recolor. He also installed a distributor curve kit to wake up his 400's throttle response. Finally, the freshly detailed original engine was sent to Wildcat Engines in Adel, Georgia, for a dyno tune.
Meanwhile, Tod worked on the under-pinnings and swapped its factory 3.23 rear gear for a Richmond 3.42-ratio. His idea was to duplicate the gear of the '78 W72 Trans Ams. A Pypes 211/42-inch dual exhaust system was hung underneath the Trans Am and the original exhaust pipes, tips, and resonators were stripped, coated, and put into storage.
The T/A was then stripped of all its exterior paint and carefully metal-prepped. Randall Gay of Coolidge, Georgia, sprayed it in Nocturne Blue two-stage paint. The T/A's original 8-inch gold Snowflake WS6-option wheels were removed for a mild resurface. The rear interior panels were cleaned and re-dyed their original blue, and a new carpet and sill plates were installed. BFGoodrich 245/60R15s were mounted on the cleaned factory rims.
Reinstalling the original motor by himself, Tod told HPP that his Trans Am was built to concours level and was ready to compete at the 2006 Trans Am Nationals, where it successfully took home First Place in the Stock '79-'81 category.
Scott's T/A
If Tod Warmack's restoration seems like a lot of hard work, wait until you read what brother Scott Warmack had to go through to get his Trans Am to the First Place podium. In 1980, Tod had his eye on a '79 Nocturne Blue four-speed Trans Am for his mom. She declined the purchase, but Tod was truly a Trans Am nut and he talked a friend into buying the very same one-year-old Pontiac.
In 1991, Tod was presented with the offer to buy the Trans Am back; this time, he was not about to let it get away. He discussed the deal with brother Scott, and for $2,500, Scott became the proud owner of the brothers' first Nocturne Blue '79 Trans Am.
From 1991 to 1996, Scott restored his Trans Am in his home garage. He removed the subframe and the suspension components from it. He scrutinized every component, bolt, and accessory, and carefully restored each item to a factory appearance. At the same time, a spare bedroom became his in-house parts warehouse as he accumulated the necessary parts to complete the restoration.
It was a long journey. There were many nights he slept on the creeper underneath the Trans Am, literally working himself to sleep. After six years and intense dedication, the Trans Am was complete. From its urethane front bumper to its blacked-out taillights, it was perfect.
On Halloween night, 1997, Scott planned for an inaugural drive of his Trans Am and a celebration of the six years of hard labor he put into its restoration. "With T-tops off and hair blowing in the wind, she performed like the well-oiled, highly-tuned machine that she was. Zero miles on a rebuilt and dyno-tuned engine, NOS Goodyear Polyglas radials, and a four-speed that flew through the gears with ease. Finally, the Trans Am Nationals were in her cross hairs," he remembers.
Then disaster struck. The next morning, Scott left the hood up, the tranny in neutral, the emergency brake disengaged and the garage door up. He went inside for breakfast. As fate would have it, a terrible gust of wind whipped through the garage, forcing against the hood of the Trans Am, and pushed it out of the garage, down the driveway and smack into a tree. The only sound Scott heard was that of the terrible collision. The impact upon the Trans Am was so hard that "the needle jumped off of the speedometer in search of relief," Scott recalls. After six years culminating in the completion of a concours-ready Trans Am, all Scott had was "a mangled wreck"and a quickly fleeting memory of its inaugural ride.
He grieved for two full years before gaining the emotional strength to restore the Trans Am again. And as he had done six years earlier, he brought it into his garage and promised that it would not leave until it was concours ready. Scott took the body down to bare metal again, replaced the passenger side quarter panel and the tail panel, and had Randall Gay of Coolidge, Georgia, spray PPG two-stage paint over its body.
In 2006, after 15 years and two restorations, Scott's incredible work was complete. He was rewarded at the 2006 Trans Am Nationals where his Trans Am won First Place in the '77-'81 Modified category (it has non-stock Ram-Air manifolds). Tod was awarded his First Place at the same time, in the Stock class. The event marks the only time in the history of the Trans Am Nationals when two brothers with the same year Trans Ams each took home First Place honors.
"I was just happy to be there," Scott remembers. "It was 15 years of a project that would never end. Finally, I had made it." Tod reminisces, "One of my fondest memories of this hobby will always be winning at the 2006 T/A Nationals. The feeling was nothing short of exhilarating. And it wasn't because the countless hours invested during the previous 12 months had born the fruit of capturing the show's highest honor for the Stock class. Rather, it was being able to share the stage with my brother, who had been through so much over the last 15 years trying to finish his car for that seemingly elusive day. I was more excited for him than I was for myself. So for both of us to bring home the gold was truly extra special."
'79 T/A SpecsOwnerTod WarmackVehicle'79 Trans Am CoupeColorNocturne Blue (code 29)InteriorBlue Cloth (code 24B1)EnginePontiac 400ciBlock CodePWHHead Code6XCamNo. 402Duration274/298Lift0.364/0.364-inchIntake100003395Carburetor17058263TransmissionB W T10 four-speedTransmission CodeUHOwnerScott WarmackVehicle'79 Trans Am T-topColorNocturne Blue (code 29)InteriorCustom Black (code 19N1)EnginePontiac 400ciBlock CodePWHHead Code6XCamNo. 068Duration288/302Lift0.414/0.413-inchIntake10003395Carburetor17058263TransmissionBW T10 four-speedTransmission CodeUH
How Norwood- and Van Nuys-Built '78 and '79 Trans Ams Differ
Scott and Tod Warmack are the owners of Trans Am Depot, a Tallahassee-based business that specializes in Second-Gen restorations. Together, they have deciphered production codes, assembly markings, paint techniques and bin part variants from both the Van Nuys and Norwoodfactories for '78 and '79 Trans Ams.
Tod Warmack tells us, "When evaluating a Trans Am for that factory-correct restoration, one of the things we take into account is where it was assembled. There are some subtle, but telling, differences between a car assembled in Van Nuys and one made in Norwood. While we can't say these differences were always true, we can say we've not seen a variation to these distinctions in the 20-plus years we've been involved with the Second Generation T/A."
Although show judges do not subtract points for inter-factory differences, for a Trans Am to be factory-correct, you must first know which of the two factories it was built at and then duplicate the parts and methods unique to that specific factory. Warmack explains further, "A few differences we've noticed in the '78 and '79 models, for example, is that California cars used different fender hardware than Ohio. This is most visible under the hood where the fender bolts to the core support. California used a metric 12-point bolt in this location, whereas Ohio used a standard 6-point fastener. California also grounded the A/C on the front compressor bracket with the existing compressor adjustment bolt. Ohio used a special grounding bolt that fastened to the rear compressor bracket. The firewall paint from Ohio always seems to be a consistent satin black, compared to California, which is either a high gloss or very flat-mostly the former."
Warmack also explains that there are factory differences when you open your deck lid. "Jack shafts installed in the California cars were silver cadmium (or zinc), while the ones used in the Norwood cars were gold in color. The trunk paint in Norwood cars seems to always be a medium gloss black with a smooth texture, while their Van Nuys counterparts sport a flat finish with an 'under-coated' texture," he says.
Finally, Warmack discusses finding hidden treasure in your Trans Am. He says, "Less important to the restoration, but a novelty nonetheless, is the location of the buildsheet. Not a fast and hard rule, but our experience shows that the Van Nuys plant would more often put the buildsheet under one or both of the two front seats and/or 'glued' to the top of the differential. Norwood buildsheets are almost always found beneath or behind the rear seat."
If you have questions about the factory-specific correctness of '78 and '79 Trans Ams, contact Tod or Scott Warmack directly at www.transamdepot.com.

Photo Gallery: 1979 Pontiac Trans Am - High Performance Pontiac Magazine

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