Going through all the mags and newsletters and sales instruments, it is
confusing what the early Firebirds/TransAms are worth. I know the adages
about things being worth what you can get, and that prices fluctuate
according to the condition and modifications, but if those of you who know
the values had a chance to pick a Firebird/TA from a lineup of them in
original condition, which would you pick? I guess I'm wondering which year
and configuration would represent one of the best investments? I'm new to
this breed having just gotten into my first Pontiac through a series of
trades and adventures. Now, I'm studying, learning, and curious.
I ended up getting my '74 as a sort of investment. It's pretty plain except
it's a 4-spd, and at some point it aquired t-tops. No a/c or power options.
But then, I only paid $3000 for it, but I knew it wasn't a waste of the money I
had to spend at the time. It was in good condition, but now I'm wanting to
restore it with 115,000 on the clock. I've put about $2000 into it with a
rebuild and an expendable tranny I put in since the original felt a little iffy
(nice tight close-ratio M-21 that is worth what I paid for it the second I pull
it out) and a clutch, but I still figure to come out ahead in the deal
considering I've already rebuilt the engine and I will do most everything else
myself, including rebuilding the original tranny and new paint (can strip it
back down myself, if I discover I suck at paint). Will probably have a body
shop check the unibody for true and patch the little rust and weld in SFCs
first, but I'll do the clean up from there. In other words, I might have a
$15,000 car in the end with $3000 up front, $2000 I've already put into it,
about $4000 I know I'm going to put in, and who knows what else... Even if I
spend more than the difference, it's a worth while investment for me as it's
also a hobby I love and it doesn't have to be a liquid asset at all, and it's
not like it just sits there and looks pretty. I've put 10,000+ miles on it
since I bought it, and won't let it collect dust when I'm done. Just don't
expect to buy a car and put a couple hundred into it and turn a profit is all I
can say. Have fun and good luck. Let us know what you have, by the way...
Thank you for the response. It sounds as if you've got a plan laid out that
will work for you. It's nice having a vehicle that appreciates instead of
depreciates. What I have is a 1971 TransAm H.O. 455. It got an automatic,
and everything is original. Even the seats are original upholstery and not
a tear in any of them. The car has been hit in the right rear end from
behind. It crunched up the right rear end, tweaked the trunk and ruined an
otherwise great paint job. I don't know what procedure yet to follow in
fixing it. I suspect, since it looks like a unibody, I will have to have it
straightened back out with a ram of some type. Could be pricey, but that
crunch in the rear is the only problem it's got. The engine hasn't been
turned over in three or four years, and I guess it was running rough even
then. I saw the car on the street about five years ago and I swear it made
the pavement rumble. I'd like to get it back into that shape. The research
I've done shows this could be a valuable automobile, and the reason for my
question was that I cannot find more than one or two of them for sale in any
of the online auctions and private sites. It seems that they just don't
come up for sale very often, and that's why I'm having trouble figuring out
what the value might be.
Depending on if its original # matching drivetrail it could easily be a
$25,000 car when fully restored. Typically it seems non-original drivetrain
devalues the 70-72 T/As around $5-$8,000 depending on the over condition of
If your car is in good overall original condition with no large amounts of
surface rust on the undercarriage and has the original drivetrain its probably
a $7-$10,000 car as it sits. Fix the collision damage and do some detailing
and it will easily be in the $14,000-18,000 range. Doing a total concours
restore with everything exactly like the car came off the assembly line will
definately put it over $25,000.
The picture of your 71 looks just like this one. Minus the blue stripe,
been repainted. It's all white currently. Having taken Bill's advice, I
up the NADA value. Gulp. I don't think there's any doubt I will be fixing
It came from a renter in a house I owned who stiffed me for fifteen hundred
so I did
a lien sale on the car. (He just split and left it, so I figured it might
cover my loss.)
He didn't bother to contest the sale, show up, give me a call, attend
the sale or pay me back. The sale cost me $150. That's my entire
investment to date.
I think something may have finally fallen my way. I'm not known for having
good luck. It must be my turn. Now, can you, Dennis, or anyone else tell
me if I should
be looking for a back quarter panel, or if, being a uni-body, I need to find
a shop that
can stretch this one back out? (BTW, it's the original drivetrain. I've
got the buildsheet
on it, too.) Hope I can get it looking like yours.
It would definitely be worth it. BTW, don't touch the interior. As long as
there is no significant wear, you're better off with the origional upholstery.
If you're worried about it, find donor seats and re-upholster those (store the
origionals, as is). You might want to do that in any case, just to keep these
in the condition you got them if you plan on driving the car once the damage is
repaired and you get it running right. If I remember right, it runs/ran rough
and hasn't been started in years? I'm sure a few of us can help you get it
running at least and can help you from there.
Interesting. Usually the ones equipped with the white interior were
blue/white stripe cars. I'm sure there were some white exterior/white
interior cars made but I've never seen one. You may want to pull a door panel
or a sill plate and see if the car was originally blue. If it was you have an
even more rare car as only about 25% of the 70-72 T/As were blue.
I may have typed it incorrectly. What I meant to say was that mine is
currently all white because it has been repainted. The build sheet shows
that it originally was white with the blue stripe.
Considering your investment, I have two words. Fix it!
I'm not sure what the best way to repair would be, but I'm sure that a
restoration quality repair would be well worth it. Probably something
involving cutting the sheetmetal, at least, after it's straightened and
replacing the panels. You might want to seek the advice of profesional
restorers, considering what you have. What are your intentions concearning the
car? Are you going to keep it, or are you considering selling it?
I love the comment about crack addicts. I am very grateful for the
suggestions from both yourself and Bill Hall. The idea about the seats is
one I would have not considered. I took a good look at them. In the
entire car, all I see is a scrape on the driver's seat that is about the
size of a quarter, and four inches of the part of the seat the driver slides
over and looks like a small encased rope bordering the upholstery (I don' t
know what that is called) is worn off. I couldn't find anything else amiss
inside. I'm sure the radio isn't stock since it's a Craig with some good
Pioneer 6 x 9s in the rear deck. The ignition switch is shot, but there was
a new ignition switch in the glovebox. It has 235.60.15s in the front and
265.60.15s in the rear. The rear wheels are 10 inch and the fronts are 8
inch. The wheels are steel five-spoke things that are way not original.
Doesn't matter; they're history. The brakes look like they were just done.
It's got some big ol' hummers in the rear (drums), but I suspect that's what
it needed. I think it is imperative that I treat the engine well, so I'm
not even going to turn it over until it's rebuilt. The hood scoop looks
functional. Does it open when the back barrels of the carb open or
something? Looks that way, sort of. It really used to run like nothing I
had ever heard. It deserves to run like that again. Under the hood, the
air conditioning pump is missing, but that is all I can tell at first
glance. All the glass is good. There is no cable for the hood release,
but I don't see any damage. There isn't even a door nick on the sides
anywhere. The paint job must have been fairly recent. I was thinking about
taking some photos of it, especially the damage, and see what you guys
thought. I don't know how to upload, however. Can I just paste them in an
email like this one and post them that way?
I want to thank you guys for your generous natures. I'm all fired up on
this. I sense some curiosity in your question about what I'm going to do
with it, Vampire Muffin Man, and I'm not certain. But, I'll promise you
this -- if your interest is more than casual, and if I decide I have to sell
it, either now or later, I give you my word you'll be the first one I tell
and if you want to consider it at that point, you'll have the first call on
I'm just finishing the paint on my 77 Vette, and as soon as I get wheels for
it, I'm thinking about selling it and using the money for the repair of the
TA. Better than spending it on frivolous things like debts or a house or
something stupid like that, I think.
The hood scoop on your car should open up when the secondaries kick in.
Looks that way, sort of. It really used to run like nothing I
Aside from the engine needing a rebuild and the body damage, sounds like you
have a gem.
I was thinking about
No, don't post your pictures on this newsgroup. People get quite upset as
this isn't a binaries group. I see your internet provider is Charter. Do
they give you space to set up a personal internet page? Might check with
them. If so, that is where to post your pics, then post a link to your page
in this newsgroup.
That sounds very decent. But are you sure Vampy is worthy? <VBG>
The only thing better to spend money on than cars is guns!
No, now that you ask the question, I don't know if Vampy is worth
the offer. I may have gotten carried away becaue of excitement at finding
out the TA might (will) turn into something to be grateful to have.
I think you might be hinting that he is a n'er-do-well who will steal my
underwear if I'm not cautious, so warning well taken. I'll make him put a
dollar deposit on any offer.
I agree with your last statement too, and in fact, to put some greater
value on those purchases, I can think of few cars that need shooting.
I'm checking with Charter, but I've been contemplating a website anyway,
so I'll check with other providers, too. I'm a little new to that side of
things, but it seems like the older I get, the more everything seems new
to me. There is a certain excitement to entering the early stages of
Ahlzeimer's. What were we talking about?
Nice car. Nice price. The dash on that one is what I've got. That
machined metal look. The interior is the same, except my seats are white.
So is the headliner. I just watched a set of beautiful 1969 TA wheels sell
on eBay. Three hundred bucks. Not bad. Say, Bill, can you tell me where
to look for the number stamps or the tags that indicate the rear-end gear
ratio. I never did find a number on it, just presumed it was original since
everything else was. I've got to run outside and check the mileage on it,
too. I keep forgetting. Been while since I felt like a kid at Xmas.
All 70's Trans Ams have the machined dash. I think it was gold on some of
the Gold Edition models.
If I recall correctly, the number stamp on the rearend is stamped on the
front of the axle housing on the passenger side about an inch from the
I have a '74 Trans Am that I bought when it was 6 years old. I'm sure that
is where the number was located. (3.08 gears, I believe) I would go check
it now, but I would have to move a bunch of stuff from behind my car....
wait a minute............
OK, I went and checked anyway. I was right, except it was actually almost
3" from the diff. It was stamped a little over halfway up on the axle tube
on the front side. I don't know the codes for a '71, but for a '74 they are
First 2 letters indicate standard or safe-t-track and ratio.
GZ- 2.73 standard
CA- 2.73 Safe-t-track
GX- 3.08 standard
GY- 3.08 Safe-t-track
CL- 3.42 standard
CM- 3.42 Safe-t-track
Third letter is one of 2 types of axle shafts. Non "C" lock being "B" or
"O". "C" lock are code "C", "G", "K" or "P".
I think the remaining numbers/letter are manufacture date, but I can't find
my info sheet. Of course, the numbers for a '71 could be different.
Get yourself a factory service manual. I got mine off EBay under
'Automotive-Manuals' for about $25. It is original, used, and covers all
1974 Pontiacs. Axle codes for the gear ratio are in there.
Here's another good site:
According to the Firebird Red Book, the only engine availabe on the 1971
Trans Am is the 455 HO at 335hp. It came with the Ram Air IV's aluminum
intake manifold and 4 bolt main. It would probably have a WC or YE engine
code. It should be located on the flat machined area by the timing chain
cover on the passenger side. Your engine number should be on the same
machined flat area, but down low below the radiator hose. The last part of
this number should match the end of your VIN.
Hope this helps.
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