1977 Special Edition of Trans Am of Dr. Anthony LaRusso

This August 2009 issue’s featured car is the 1977 Special Edition Trans Am of Dr. Anthony LaRusso. Here is the story:

THE SECOND TIME AROUND

1977 Trans Am Special Edition of Dr. Anthony LaRusso
1977 Trans Am Special Edition of Dr. Anthony LaRusso

I became a NFTAC member in 1996 and got serious about my love for Firebirds and that Firebird spirit that is so evident in all NFTAC members. There is just something about the Firebird that no other car has. Not even the minute-est fraction of
A Firebird is like no other car; even the similar body styled Camaros with the same shell never looked like a Firebird.

My dream car was a 1977 Special Edition Trans Am. I had one and it was featured in the Spring 2000 issue of this magazine and it’s story. Then divorce hit. I was forced to sell it and everything else I owned. After a few years of being broke and starting my life over, I found another 77 Sp. Ed. Tran Am in Queens, New York. I went to see it in June 2004 and by that point they had become much more popular than in the 1990’s and more valuable (and expensive). This one was shot, but all there, numbers matching. It blew out smoke, but it still ran. T-Tops and all. It was a genuine Y82 Trans Am and loaded with every option including the more expensive Lombardy Cloth interior, new for 1977. The interior was clean but faded. Not even any rips! The dash was cracked and the armrest was as well, and there was more rust in it than in the Titanic. To me, it was a survivor. Originally from Brooklyn and now in Queens, this sucker made it! From 1977-2004 and still all there and running. In New York! It’s probably the only one in all 5 boroughs to survive. Even though it was tired, it had a look to it. Tough and mean. The face on it just looked so manly. The ride was smooth and handling was even better than the previous mint condition one I had before divorce. This was a well built T/A. I loved it. I bought it for $3,000 and after driving around and burning several quarts of oil each time I took it out for a day, I blew the motor on the NJ Turnpike trying to outrun a pain-in- the butt T-Bird that was chasing me. I had the engine taken apart. My uncle was concerned for me and urged me to sell it. He pointed out that I was not yet on my feet after divorce and this car just wasn’t worth all the time and energy it would need, and the money to invest in it. I agreed and sold it for $1,000.

1977 Trans Am Special Edition of Dr. Anthony LaRusso
1977 Trans Am Special Edition of Dr. Anthony LaRusso

Two years and three months later I was regretting selling it. I saw one go by one day and they had also gone even further up in popularity and value. Heck when I was first going in 1996, they were $9,000 clean and no one talked about them and they were not considered classics and no one cared. At the time I didn’t understand this and it quite frankly ticked me off. In 2006 they had risen to $30,000 clean and today clean survivors are selling in the low-mid 30 thousands. Restored cars are worth over $40,000. Wow! I mean all classic muscle cars and classic cars in general have skyrocketed in value in this decade… .and now the 1977 Special Edition is lumped in with all of the rest. It is now a highly sought after valuable classic car.

I was combing ads in 2006 and saw a 77 Sp. Ed. For sale with freshly rebuilt motor. It was in a town about 20 minutes from mine, so I went and it was my car! With the engine rebuilt bored 30 over and done right. My shorts were still in the trunk and it was still titled in my name. The dude bought it from the person I sold it to.
The first guy monkeyed with it and the second guy knew what to do. He did the engine himself and in the garage next to it was a gleaming restored 4-speed 1976 Trans Am 455 that he had restored himself He was working on a few cars and ran out of money. So, he was forced to sell this car. Now that I had my car back and it ran like hell, I wanted to do something special for it. I mean, heck, this thing survived New York for 30 years and had this crazy story in New Jersey and I end up buying it twice. It just deserved something special.

I went online and searched for restoration shops to restore it. I found Trans Am Specialties of Florida. I called and spoke to Rick Deiters, the owner. He was warm, charismatic and convincing. He is the only restoration shop in the world that focuses on the Special Edition Trans Am. I described the car and we talked numbers and I had a truck take it to Miami. It stayed 11 months there and Rick and his crew labored on it. They took it off it’s frame and even cut-off the back half of the car to fit a donor rear-section on it. That’s how bad the rust was. I wanted to keep as much of it as possible, so that is why I had them save the cabin section and not just replace the entire shell. What a great place. I flew in 3 times, met Rick and his men. He even let me drive a Special Edition he had there (one of many) and took me to his house to meet his wife and beautiful two kids. We went with the kids to Dunkin Donuts for goodies and had fun together. I also hung out at the shop which is Trans Am fever. All Firebirds, accessories, and they do things right. My car came out show-room new and it is my baby. Rick documented the entire restoration on his web site. This one is for keeps. I have learned from my mistakes and for me and for this car, and for our story together, it is truly THE SECOND TIME AROUND.

Dr. Anthony LaRusso

[ad#google-horizontal-ad]

From the Editor's Desk – August 2009

Gaydo Family Firebirds Thanks to all of the new members that joined recently.

Thanks
to Marc Quere, Beverly Reedy, Bob Gaydo, John Sutherland, Dr. Anthony LaRusso and all of the other contributors to this issue! Also many thanks to Todd Stahr, Justin Kwarta, Bethany Orr, Bill Simcox and Brett Campbell on their continuing technical help to our members on our message board at http://board.firebirdclub.net.

We as I am sure many of you are sorry to see the passing of the Pontiac brand but we know that the spirit will live on with our cars

We have updated our payment form on our website to directly take credit card and PayPal payments. Your credit card is now checked for accuracy and verified and your order is placed into a shopping cart of items awaiting checkout. This type of program should be very familiar to people who pay for items on other Internet websites and is available on the PayPal/Credit Card website button. The old form will also remain for members that are comfortable with it.

Also there is a now a Local Groups/Activities section on the Club Message Board where each local club has its own section where local club items can be discussed.

You can now find us on the popular networking sites myspace, facebook, friendster and twitter in the groups/clubs section.

I am happy to inform you that Technical Sections Volume II is now available which continues the great tradition of practical tech advice started with Volumes I. In keeping with the times this one is available only on CD for PC or Mac and is available in the Club Store section of each Eagle and on the website at www.firebirdtaclub.com. Another new item in the store is a complete copy of the past ten years of the Eagle available on CD only for PC or Mac.

We have a new and improved club message board. You can access through the club website at www.firebirdtaclub.com or directly at http://board.firebirdclub.net . We have a members only section of the message board. You can use the user id and password on page 3 of each Eagle or you can get a personal id and password. To do so, register and then logon to the message board and send a message to us with a reply in this section or via email. This allows you to access the Member Only Question & Answer and Upkeep and Performance Hints Area.  It also allows you to post items in the For Sale and Wanted sections as well as post photos in the Member Photos area. Also there is a now a Local Groups/Activities section.

The club also now has a blog located at http://blog.firebirdclub.net . Members can publish items or comments to the Blog.

We have a National Firebird & Trans Am Club photo gallery located at http://photos.firebirdclub.net . The same login is used for the gallery as the Message Board. Members can download photos directly here.

We now offer a 3 year membership or renewal rate which includes a free t-shirt or tech volume II CD. The rate is $95 or $125 for members outside the USA. And in response to many members we now have a 3 year eMembership for $65 which also includes a free t-shirt or tech volume III CD. So save some money and get a free t-shirt or tech CD in the process!

Classified ads are FREE to members but now you can add photographs of your items for sale. For $15 we will include a photograph of your car or item. Also the classified ads will now appear on our website and in the eEagle.

Remember we will send out the eEagle, our email newsletter in addition to the regular Eagle for members that have given us their email address. Our website address is www.firebirdtaclub.com and our email address is info@ firebirdtaclub.com. The website has a “Members Only” section on the web site. This section contains technical staff contact information, recommended repair shops, spare parts lists that members have sent in as well as complete current and past issues of the member magazine which can be viewed on-line or downloaded for printing.

You need an ID and password to access this area. You will find the current ID and password on page 3 of each issue of the EAGLE. These will change with each issue so use only the current ones listed. Also now you can to create your own id and password for the members only section. Submit the form on the members only page to do this.

Thanks for all of your support and to this issue’s contributors and I hope to see you at the many shows this driving season!!

[ad#google-horizontal-ad]