Mecum heads to Southern California for collector car auction

A lavishly customized 1959 Cadillac Coupe DeVille is an Anaheim feature | Mecum Auction photos
A lavishly customized 1959 Cadillac Coupe DeVille is an Anaheim feature | Mecum Auction photos

Mecum Auctions rolls into Southern California on Thursday for its annual three-day sale at the Anaheim Convention Center, with about 750 muscle cars, customs and classics offered for bidding. Continue reading

Pick of the Day: 1979 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

The 1979 Pontiac Trans Am is emblazoned with the famous golden eagle, aka screamin' chicken, on its hood
The 1979 Pontiac Trans Am is emblazoned with the famous golden eagle, aka screamin’ chicken, on its hood

Still steamed that you missed out on that 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, the Smokey and the Bandit promo car that sold at Barrett-Jackson for a whopping $550,000 while actor Burt Reynolds looked on from the podium?

Fret not because the Pick of the Day is an essentially similar 1979 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am in the same black paint and gold trim. And while this one might not have the celebrity provenance of the Barrett-Jackson car, it doesn’t have the outlandish price tag, either. Continue reading

My Classic Car: Dan’s 1987 Pontiac Formula Firebird

Top down | Dan Groppenbecker photos
Top down | Dan Groppenbecker photos

I had a 1988 Pontiac Formula Firebird when was a young man, but we live in a city where there are many hills and rear-wheel drive is not ideal. It was my everyday driver and I had to sell to get a front wheel-drive car. Continue reading

Countdown to Barrett-Jackson Las Vegas: 1974 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am 455 Super Duty

day6_74PontiacFirebirdtransam_5daysleftEditors note: This is the sixth in a 10-day series featuring cars to be sold September 24-26 during Barrett-Jackson’s Las Vegas auction.

The 1974 Pontiac Firebird and Trans Am Super Duties were the last of the high-performance cars from the ’70s. A total of 943 were produced for the 1974 model year. Of that number, only 212 were equipped with the Pontiac 455 Super Duty engine and 4-speed transmission, and this is one of them, with less than 9,500 actual miles.

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My Classic Car: Fox family’s 1969 Pontiac Trans Am

The 1969 Trans Am | Fox Family photo
The 1969 Trans Am | Fox Family photo

This story started in 1994. I had heard that dealership that was close by was selling out and closing the doors. Someone had told me that they had some old Pontiac dealer signs that they were going to sell. I have been a sign collector for a long time and had a soft spot in my heart for Pontiac.

So I called one of the brothers that owned the dealership, it was in Valdese, North Carolina, and he gave me a date and time to meet with him and look at the signs. My wife and son went with me on that day.

When we got there, my wife and myself went with the owner to look at the signs downstairs. My son stayed upstairs and said he would look around and wait on us. What he had came across was some old cars that were in another room next to the old showroom of the business. One car had a car cover on it.

My wife and myself had no idea what my son had found upstairs. We bought the signs and were working on a time to come back and pick them up.

When we got back upstairs my son came to us and said you are going to believe what I found. He said follow me and we went to the room that had the cars in it. There was a 1965 GTO convertible, a 1962 Corvair pickup, 1962 356 Porsche, but the one that had the cover on it was best of all — a 1969 Trans Am.

We looked at all of the cars over and asked if these cars were for sale. The brother told us that all the cars belonged to his brother, the other owner of the dealership, but he would ask and let us know.

A period of time went by. Finally one morning I got a phone call and it was the owner of the cars. He told me that they were all for sale and we agreed on a time to meet. There were many people asking about the cars, but we were the first.

We got to the dealership, my wife and son and myself. He asked what we were interested. The Trans Am was the pick for all of us. We would have liked to have all of them, but money, you know.

My son and myself took the Trans Am for a drive. When we got back were talking with the owner about the price for the ar I noticed my wife was talking to a man and a woman in the showroom. The man looked upset and he stormed out after saying something to the woman he was with him. My wife told us later that the man told her that he was there to talk with the owner about buying the Trans Am and had been asked to be there the previous day but couldn’t make it.

I asked my wife why the guy left so mad. She told us that she told him that the Trans Am was already sold, that we had just bought it.

And that was when the blamed the woman that was with him for missing out on the deal because he could not come the day before.

But it all worked out good for all of us. We got all of the dealership signs and the Trans Am and to this day we still have them.

— Tommy Fox, Mooresville NC

My Classic Car: Merv’s ‘wrong number’ 1969 Pontiac Firebird

The wrong number brought the right car | Merv Smith photo
The wrong number brought the right car | Merv Smith photo

In mid-August 2014, I was shopping online for a 1969 Pontiac Firebird and called a local British Columbia classic car dealer about a ’67 Firebird.

The person I talked to was Mike, the owner of the dealership. He informed me that he had an offer on the car and he would know by 10 a.m. the next morning if it was sold.

The next morning at 10 a.m. I called Mike to see if the car was sold. Someone other than Mike answered the phone ,so I asked to speak to Mike. When Mike came on the line I asked if the Firebird was available. To my surprise he said that it was, so I asked him to forward pictures of the car.

When I received the pictures I realized that it was not a ’67 but a ’69. At that point I also realized that this was not the car dealer I thought that I had called. I discovered that I had mistakenly dialed the number of a classic car dealer in Rockville, Maryland, in the U.S.A. instead of the one in Vancouver, Canada, and was talking to another sales person named Mike.

After we agreed on a price and I bought the car over the phone, I explained to Mike how I had mistakenly dialed the wrong number. Mike replied that he and the sales manager wondered how I knew about the car as they had just gotten the car in and had not advertised it yet.

It even had some very rare options for that year that I really wanted, including a special order color for that year.

I am still amazed how this happened, but makes me believe that there are such things as miracles.

— Merv Smith, Coldstream BC Canada

’73 Trans Am drives off with ‘best of’ honors at AutoFair

1973 Pontiac Trans Am declared Best of Show at Charlotte AutoFair | Charlotte Motor Speedway photo
1973 Pontiac Trans Am declared Best of Show at Charlotte AutoFair | Charlotte Motor Speedway photo

A 1973 Pontiac Trans Am was declared best of show at the AutoFair at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in North Carolina. The car is owned by Charlotte resident Mark Brantley, who noted that his first car also was a Trans Am.

Cars from nearly 50 car clubs were eligible for honors at the AutoFair. Brantley is a member of the Carolina Classic Pontiac Club.

His winning Trans Am was originally sold in Maryland, but Brantley found it in the Raleigh, North Carolina, area and spent four years on its restoration.

Fox Sports commentator Mike Joy noted that Brantley’s car looked like a 40-year-old time capsule that just rolled out of a Pontiac showroom.

Brantley rebuilt the engine and transmission, but tried to keep as much of the car as original as he could. For example, the only new components in the interior were the carpet and dash. He retained the original 8-Track and AM/FM stereo.

“It’s unbelievable,” Brantley said of having the car judged the best at AutoFair. “I didn’t think I would even come close.”

Brantley works as a mechanic and is on the staff at his church.

“I’m really proud of it,” he said of the Buccaneer Red car. “A lot of blood, sweat and tears went into it.”

First runner-up honors went to a 1972 Opel GT owned by Keith Ludham of Cookeville, Tennessee, who also won the best restoration by an owner trophy. Second-runnerup was a 1967 Ford Fairlane GT owned by Chris and Rachel King of Minneapolis, North Carolina.

My Classic Car: Mark’s (and brother Billy’s) 1971 Pontiac Trans Am

Mark's Dad bought this car new for his older brother, Billy | Mark Brantley photo
Mark’s Dad bought this car new for his older brother, Billy | Mark Brantley photo

This car originally belonged to my oldest brother Billy. It was purchased at Bill Beck Pontiac in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Our father bought it for my brother when he turned 16 and it was bought literally off the showroom floor.

My brother was thrilled. It was one of the first Trans Ams in Charlotte.

This car is kinda rare: It came automatic with a column shift, most had consoles.

We kept the car in the family for about 4 years and ended up trading it in.

Low and behold, I was at the Auto Fair at Charlotte Motor Speedway with a buddy of mine and and there was a picture on an easel of my brother’s Trans Am. The way I knew it was his is that he put a Hurst shifter in the floor and it was still in the car.

The gentleman that had the car had the PHS (Pontiac Historic Services documentation) on the car and told me it was from Charlotte and had been purchased at Bill Beck Pontiac.

I since have bought the car back and it is in the family once again after40 years.

Still on The Run: It’s Smokey and the Bandits — a bunch of them

The Bandits arrive with a convoy of Trans Ams | Larry Printz photos

Imagine a day at the beach, followed by a night on the town. You’re tired and ready for a peaceful night’s sleep. You pull into the parking lot of your hotel only to find that most parking spaces have been taken by black 1977-78 Pontiac Trans Ams. Another handful are consumed by Snowman’s tractor-trailer. Have you stepped onto a movie set? Did you imbibe too much?

No. You’ve stumbled onto The Bandit Run.

“It’s fun because we take over hotels, restaurants, and gas stations,” said Dave Hall, creator of the event and owner of Restore A Muscle Car, a car restoration business in Lincoln, Nebraska.

Dave Hall organizes The Bandit Run
Dave Hall organizes The Bandit Run

Hall and shop customer David Hersey created The Bandit Run in 2006 as a way to commemorate the following year the 30th anniversary of the film “Smokey and the Bandit.”

Hall had the group traverse the same route as the movie, driving from Texarkana, Texas, to Atlanta. That that initial run attracted more than 100 car owners speaks to the film’s enduring appeal. A similar number joined the run this year.

And while the film’s stars Burt Reynolds, Sally Field, Jackie Gleason and Jerry Reed brought charisma to the big screen, there’s no denying that the picture’s greatest star didn’t receive any billing at all: the black 1977 Pontiac Trans Am accented in gold pinstripes with a screaming chicken decal on its hood and driven by Reynolds.

For a generation of adolescent boys with Farah Fawcett posters on their bedroom walls, the Pontiac’s brash nature was the height of high school cool. Every boy wanted one. Now, those who have them pay a $90 entry fee to run them in the annual event.

For that amount, the drivers get hotel discounts, vehicle decals, a grab bag of goodies and a support truck, not to mention a week of driving through the United States.

But you don’t have to be a disco-decade aficionado to participate; any make or model of car can partake in the event.

“We do not discriminate by any means,” said Hall. “Perhaps over 90 percent of the cars are going to be Trans Ams, but we have some Corvettes, some Camaros, we’ve had GTOS, Chargers, a little bit of everything. We even have a couple pickups.”

This year’s run started at the GM Nationals in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and finished in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. We checked in with the group as it arrived in Portsmouth, Virginia.

Hall already is working on next year’s route.

Unlike the film that it commemorates, the Run’s speeds are mild not wild; it’s a cruise, not a race. Think of it as a vacation built around the love of a car and a film.

“I like the people. I like the camaraderie,” said Roy Smith of Williamsburg, Virginia. Smith drove his 1996 Pontiac Trans Am Comp T/A in the 2014 run.

“We all have this in common and it’s really interesting to get to know people from all over the country.”
No doubt. Let’s sample some of them:

“When I was younger I had GTOs. But the Trans Am was always that car I always wanted but for some reason or another never bought. It is a car I’ve always wanted that I just never got until seven years ago.”

Drew Demarco, Baltimore, Maryland, 1981 Pontiac Trans Am SE



“I’ve been a big Trans Am fan for 25 years.”

Sash Popovic, Kitchener, Ontario, 1976 and 2002 Pontiac Trans Ams

No kidding. Popovic owns a 2002 Collector’s Edition with 11,000 miles as well as a 1976 Trans Am he bought about 26 years ago. “I guess it’s a car thing,” he says. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Bandit3“We’ve had a couple of these cars in the family. It’s a car I always wanted, not so much because of the movie, but because I graduated in 1979.”

Joe Talotta, Cannonsburg, Pennsylvania, 1979 Pontiac Trans Am (also a 1980 Firebird and 1981 Firebird Formula)
Bandit4“Car people are good people. Any car event that we’ve ever been involved in is just like this. It’s not different; it’s just unique because it’s one car. The first year you’re nervous because you don’t know anybody. We know people from all over the world now.”

Larry Smith, with his wife, Susan, Franklin, Illinois, 2002 Pontiac Trans Am


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