No Trans Am for Pontiac

New Firebird New Trans AmBuick, Pontiac and GMC dealers will get 12 new or special-edition vehicles over the next 20 months — but they won’t get a Pontiac Trans Am.

Pontiac had lobbied for a sibling vehicle to the Chevrolet Camaro, which is scheduled to arrive in February 2009.

General Motors’ plan to make Pontiac a rear-wheel-drive performance car division is likely to be scaled back because of fuel economy regulations, GM leaders told dealers at the make meeting.

One dealer said the business case for the Trans Am didn’t compute.

“It was an economic situation,” said Lynn Thompson, owner of Thompson Motor Sales in Springfield, Mo. “It would cost $200 million to bring out the vehicle.”

Pontiac will remain a car-only brand for the foreseeable future, dealers were told. But because of new legislation requiring vehicles to reach a fleet average of 35 mpg by 2020, Pontiac might not end up as GM’s performance division, dealers said they were told.

“The plan is being tweaked because of the gas situation,” Thompson said. “I hope they don’t give up on performance because they don’t have to. You can use four-cylinder engines to achieve incredible power.”

B-P-G will give dealers six new or special-edition vehicles — such as the special-edition GMC Sierra pickup, called Pro Grade — this year. They will get another six next year, dealers who attended the meeting told Automotive News.

Chicago Auto Show Concept Trans Am

by Bob Phillips

Trans Am Concept Trans Am of Bob Phillips This Trans Am is the original, un-restored, survivor, 1 of 1, promotional concept car that was built for the 1974 Chicago Auto Show (actually has 24 separate options that would make this a one of one [1 of 1] car or a first [1st]). The interior has a special silk material used on the seats and the carpet is by Cadillac. The famous 455 Super Duty (SD) engine that Nascar developed with only 1296 made in a two year period was dropped under the hood.  It features a one of a kind special gold metallic flake blended into the black base color with gold  pin striping (also known as a Johnny Player Special) and would become the promo car (for the second time) for the 1976 50th anniversary Limited Edition TA that would evolve into the later Special Edition models from 1977 – 1981. 

It was used as a promotional car (for the third time) for the Trans Am Territories, (which was a gathering and race for Trans Am buffs and GM personnel), and was driven by John Schinella (Head Chief of Design for GM) on the track.  It has untouched, original paint and clear coating, with spider webbing from many clear finishes from all the changes by the design staff.  It is documented 28,000 original miles and still wears its original tires (Goodyear made two sets special for this car with gold lettering).  The car (most thought lost) was purchased from the original owner’s estate sale in 2004 by Bob Reason, car dealer and collector of Michigan.  The original owner (Clarence Sproul) worked for GM as head accountant and was close to Bill Mitchell, the vice-president of GM who owned the car before it was turned into a concept car.  Bill instructed the car go to the accountant rather than being destroyed like most concept cars.  It was personally signed by John Schinella on the center console and core support in 2004.  John was appointed head of Trans Am design by Bill Mitchell in 1971 and used this car to sell the Big Bird idea to Bill Mitchell, who originally hated the bird decal.  The car is titled as a buccaneer red 1973 Trans Am with Turbo 400 automatic transmission. 

The public excitement over the car during the 1974 show circuit prompted the release of the 1976 Limited Edition (50th Anniversary) Trans Am and essentially was the first Bandit car.  It is historically documented in 21 articles online,  and in seven books  publications such as in the  “The Fabulous Firebird” by Michael Lamm, “Firebird Trans Am” by David Newhardt, “Pontiac Firebird” by Marc Cranswick. 

More photos at www.firebirdconcept.com or www.1973-76transamconcept.com .