Jim Patterson
1941 Pontiac Business Coupe, 1941 Pontiac Tudor Sedan,
1950 Pontiac Streamliner Deluxe Station Wagon,
1955 Pontiac Star Chief Hardtop, 1970 Pontiac Lemans Sport Hardtop,
1987 Pontiac Fiero , 2012 GMC

Jimmy Patterson jr.
1988 Pontiac Fiero GT

Michael Pedrotti
1967 Pontiac GTO Convertible

Donald Perkins
1989 Pontiac Firebird

Interesting Options: 2nd gen hood bird decal

Where & when did you find this car?: Found car in mentor Ohio in 2007 really was previously owned by an elderly lady who purchased car brand new at a Pontiac dealership in mentor as a 50th Birthday present to herself.

What condition was it in: the car was in good condition when I got it I drove it home it ran good. First things I did was put new tires on it, we changed oil tuned it up new shocks in the rear etc.

What's the condition currently? What have you done to it?: It's currently in excellent condition performance Chip installed flowmaster exhaust, cold air intake engine dress up kit

Why did you buy this particular car?: My devoted love affair with the Trans Am began in 1977 (smokey & the Bandit) the only car that I ever wanted

Any interesting facts about this car?: I'll never let it go

Have you taken any special trips?: Not yet, would like to someday go to Trans Am Nationals

Has the car won any awards?: Yes

What has been the most enjoyable aspect of owning this car?: Just knowing it's all mine

What are your future plans for this car and do you own any more Pontiacs?: Mild roller cam. Would like to someday own a 77-78 black special edition (Bandit)

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Julie Quackenbush
1992 Pontiac Firebird

Jim & Elaine Reilly
2002 Pontiac Trans Am
2006 Pontiac Grand Prix

Carlene Richter
1977 Pontiac Grand Prix

George Rink
1967 Pontiac GTO

Rob and Theresa Ryan
1970 Pontiac GTO
1973 Pontiac Firebird

Fred & Anne Schell
1970 Pontiac GTO

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Bob Sellin

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Ron Swald
1971 GMC

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Donnie Tamblin
1998 Pontiac Trans Am

Richard Taylor
2008 Pontiac Solstice GXP

Color: Agressive (Victory Red)

Interesting Options: GXP

Where & when did you find this car?: DeLand Florida April 2017

What condition was it in: Near perfect!

What's the condition currently? What have you done to it?: Close to showroom. Polish, polish, polish.

Why did you buy this particular car?: Love the sports car style!

Any interesting facts about this car?: First owner had the car seven years and drove it 1000 miles. Second owner owned it a year and piled up 4100 miles. I bought it with 5100 miles in April 2017.

Who helped you restore this car?: No need.

Have you taken any special trips?: Not yet.

Has the car won any awards?: Yes. Last June at Bill Rapps

What has been the most enjoyable aspect of owning this car?: MG Triumph like with Pontiac performance!

What are your future plans for this car and do you own any more Pontiacs?: Enjoy it! Six prior Pontiacs and Two prior GMC’s but only this one currently.

Heath Thomas
1978 Pontiac Trans Am
 2002 Y88 SETA

Body Style: Pontiac Firebird Special Edition Trans Am, Y-88 Gold Bird

Color: Solar Gold

Interesting Options: Special Edition Trans Am, WS6

Where & when did you find this car?: Bought from original owner in 2001 in PA. Have all original paperwork.

What condition was it in: Original - Good

What's the condition currently? What have you done to it?: Restored - Excellent

Why did you buy this particular car?: Dream car as a young boy

Who helped you restore this car?: Melissa Thomas, James Bartosh, Champion Auto Restoration, BANDIT TA Club members, SDPOCI members, Eddie's Engine Shop

Have you taken any special trips?: Multiple Trans Am Nationals and Regional shows.

American Muscle….Birds of Prey

Heath Thomas’ 1978 Gold Special Edition Firebird Trans Am

(December 2005 POCI Smoke Signals Edition Cover Story)

I’m not sure what it was that made me a Pontiac enthusiast but at age 15 I bought my first car, which later also became my third car (but that’s a story for another day). It was a 1971 Pontiac Lemans. The Lemans wasn’t my dream car in 1982 (that would have been any of the 1st or 2nd generation Firebird Formulas or Trans Am’s that were popular at the time) but I had limited funds to spend on a car I wouldn’t be able to “legally” drive for another year. When I left Bangor, Pennsylvania in 1985 it was in a Pontiac that I began to explore our country and the world. My life as a United States Marine was just beginning. North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, Washington DC, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Virginia and West Virginia were all explored in that Lemans Sport. Many a race was won and many good memories made.

Then another Pontiac, a 1986 Sunbird GT took flight to carry me even further and provide “fairly” reliable transportation the next 13 years and 300,000 miles. With this car I would explore new places like Tennessee, Kentucky, New York, Ohio, Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana and California while revisiting SC, NC, MD, PA, VA, WV, GA, AL, FL, DE, NJ and NY. My travels around the world with the Marine Corps were just as exciting and memorable.

In what seemed to be a blink of the eye 18 years had passed and I had gone from being a Marine jet mechanic to a Navy pilot who just happened to be visiting that small Pennsylvania hometown for a holiday vacation. My wife, her mother and I had gone out to a favorite pub in the area and I noticed an advertisement of a car for sale as we walked in the door. I looked at the info a little closer and immediately told (well maybe asked nicely) my wife that the car of my dreams was for sale and I just had to have it. The car was of course my 1978 Gold Special Edition Firebird Trans Am. I spent the rest of the evening trying to convince my wife this car would make a fantastic Christmas present, but even after the extra beer or two I bought her she was resolute in her opinion that it was too much money to spend for a car that we would just have to drag all around the country with us. By the time we left, she had me convinced she was right and it was just too much to deal with (multiple cars and military life).

I was stationed in Maryland at the time and little did I know that upon our return the Sneak (my wife) had called her mother and brother to have them check out the car with instructions to let her know if it was in good shape. My brother-in-law checked it out and gave it a solid, double thumbs up regarding its condition. The seller was the original owner and had most of the original paperwork. He was asking $10,000 but my mother-in-law talked him down to $9,000. The deal was done and the surprise Christmas present was driven home to wait the special day. My brother-in-law said he was sure he saw a tear in the owner’s eye as he drove off.

A few weeks later the surprise was unveiled and my brother-in-law said he was sure he saw a tear in my eye when they opened the garage door (it was dust in my eye of course). The 1978 Firebird Trans Am MSRP was $5,799. The Y88 Special Edition Package added another $1259 and the WS6 Special Performance Package another $151. Total sticker price for the car with other options was $8, 755 (and I paid $9,000 for it twenty two years later – I wish all cars would hold their value like that). For the motor heads out there, the WS6 package included the 15X8 gold-colored-snowflake-aluminum wheels, upgraded Goodyear polysteel radial 225/70 R15 tires, a constant ratio - high effort steering box, an upsized rear sway bar and smaller bushings all around to improve responsiveness. Production numbers for the car were 8,666 total built. 6,519 were automatic transmission with some variant of the Pontiac 400ci engine. 1,267 were made with the manual transmission and powered by the Pontiac L78/W72, 220 HP, 400ci engine, while 880 were made for California or higher altitudes and had the Oldsmobile 403ci engine. My Gold Bird of Prey has the automatic transmission with the L78/W72, X7, 220 HP, Pontiac 400ci engine.

I’ve enjoyed my Gold Bird and its unique characteristics. I’ve worked hard to restore it to its original form. It’s been great going to car shows and having the only Gold Trans Am. Even the Trans Am Nationals in Dayton only draw out 4 or 5 of the Special Edition Gold Birds. One of the earliest projects was the R-n-R of aftermarket wheel fairings the former owner had installed to reduce road chips on the paint. Like I’m sure many of you have experienced, my small project ended up to be something more. It turned out to be a little body work, a complete new paint job and it took 3 years of patient waiting until the stripe and decal package was made to complete the job. Melissa & I applied all the stripes and a friend helped me with the giant “Fire Chicken” (Melissa was to afraid to help with it). It’s a great culture to step into! I’ve met lots of great people from around the world and cannot begin to say how much members of the Bandit Trans Am club and members of the SDPOCI chapter helped me along the way.

American Muscle…Birds of Prey, what the hell does that mean you ask? Well, I’ve retired from the Navy after being a SH-60B Seahawk helicopter pilot for 20 years and I watched the Seahawk develop into a lethal Bird of Prey. The SH-60B was replaced by the even more leathal MH-60R and it is the premiere helicopter of the U.S. Navy. It can pretty much do anything needed from shooting missiles at a ship or tank to sinking a submarine to controlling a section of jet fighters for a strike mission. This Bird of Prey can also be used to rescue the poor jet jock that got shot down or pick up the unlucky Mariner stuck on a sinking ship and most recently American Muscle was used to deliver food and relief supplies to millions of Tsunami refugees when no one else could. Now you may ask, how do I classify my T/A 6.6 Special Edition Gold Bird as a Bird of Prey? Well let me tell ya, in 1978, Road Test Magazine matched the WS6/W72 Firebird T/A against a Z28, and a Corvette in a down and dirty street fight. The T/A was chosen the victor, running the quarter in 15.2 seconds at 93.4 MPH. 0 to 60 in 7.2 seconds with a top speed of 123 MPH. Other cars like the Ford Mustang, 302ci V8 powered King Cobra ran a slow 17.09-second quarter at 80.69 MPH and the Chevy Monza Spyder with the 305ci V8 made the quarter in 17.16 seconds at 82.04 MPH. Special Edition Firebird Trans Am’s rock and still prey on the weary.

Ensuring I foster the driving excitement, I convinced my wife (a known driver of Fords and Camaros – please don’t hold that against her, she really is a good woman) to purchase a new Trans Am back in 2002. We were looking for a new car and I told her GM was not going to make the Firebird or Camaro anymore. It only took one test flight and she was hooked. Now we have two Birds of Prey to stalk the highways.

2018 Update. It’s been many years since I submitted the above article to POCI’s “Smoke Signals” magazine back in 2005. I was honored to have made the cover page and be the cover story of the December 2005 edition. Many shows have been attended, many awards won and lots of money spent on additional restorations and repairs.

One such example. The transmission began to slip in 2008 so I had the transmission rebuilt and while at it decided to have the engine overhauled.  The transmission got a new converter, all new seals and guts.

I removed the engine and transmission in 2009. Both were overhauled by Eddies Garage in Stafford, VA. Engine overhaul was completed in 2009. I completed a frame off restoration of the engine compartment in 2010 after my Brother-in-Law said it was a great time to get it done. Then my military responsibilities slowed the process down a bit…5 years later…. Didn’t get it all put back together again until 2014 due to military travels and postings. By the time I got around to reassembly I had forgotten how to put the puzzle pieces back together so I sent the car to my Brother-in-law for reassembly. After all, it was his idea I tear it apart for the frame off restoration in the first place.

I had the following done to the engine during overhaul,

-Cooked/vatted the whole thing.

-New forged pistons.  Bored .30 over.  

-New high performance crankshaft. 

-New freeze out plugs

-New gallery plugs

-New lower end bearing

-Shaved the heads

-rebuild oil pump

-rebuild carburetor

-beaded/blasted intake

-new valve seals

-new spark plugs

-painted block pontiac blue

We moved from San Diego, California to Stafford, VA and now after my military retirement we find ourselves in Cazenovia, NY. Have not driven the car much since overhaul, due to retiring from the military and moving to upstate New York, but now as we’re getting settled, we are venturing out a bit more. We are happy to be part of the Six Nations Pontiac Club and look forward to meeting you.

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Bernie Tufts
1971 Pontiac Lemans Sport Convertible