I was looking for a ‘78 Trans Am to restore to look exactly like the Trans Am I owned in 1978. I saw an ad for a 1978 Trans Am, so on September 20, 2004, Ian Manderscheid, Dianne (my wife) and I left for Dodsland, Saskatchewan, Canada to look at it. The car needed a lot of work but had potential. I purchased the car from Kevin Jenn. I still had the idea of restoring it to look like my old one. After getting the car home and seeing how everything on the car had a gold theme, I realized it would be quite difficult to change the car to look like my old white one. I did a little research and realized the car was a gold special edition Trans Am. Our youngest son, Daryl, found a picture of a 1978 gold special edition Trans Am and made it his computer screen saver. When I saw the picture I thought, “Why would I want to change the appearance of this car”. It looked great! Dianne looked up more information on the Internet, and we realized we had quite a special car here and decided to keep the car as original as possible.
In December 2004, Ian, Daryl and I pulled the engine, transmission and interior out of the car. The transmission was brought to Extreme Transmission in Saskatoon where it was completely rebuilt, including a new 2,500 rpm stall converter.
The engine was completely stripped and rebuilt. The heads were brought to SIAST (Kelsey) in Saskatoon and worked on there. The rest of the engine rebuilding was done at Thane’s and Prairie Engine Rebuilders in Saskatoon and assembled by Paragon Auto Services.
The work done on the engine included a 3 engine valve job, harden exhaust seats, port matched and polished, all new valves – intake and exhaust, new valve springs, valve guides, crane roller tipped rocker arms, 7/6″ push rod guide plates and rocker arm studs, comp hydraulic performance cam shaft, Edelbrock aluminum intake and 626 cfm electric choke carb, .040 bored over, new TRW forged pistons, chrome ring, high volume oil pump, double roller timing chain, water pump, starter, alternator, spark plugs, wires, cap and rotor.
In March 2005, I brought the car to Lyle’s Autobody in Annaheim, Saskatchewan, where he fixed the floor, roof and did a few other minor repairs.
In July 2005, the car headed to Paragon Auto Services. There the engine, transmission, exhaust system with Headman headers, brakes and shocks were installed. A new three-core radiator from Advance Radiator in Saskatoon was also installed.
The rims were removed and brought to Kelvin’s Wheel, Tire and Polish of Saskatoon, where they were restored to original. The rims on the 1978 gold special edition Trans Am are unique. In all the years, Kelvin had been restoring rims, he had never seen rims with this type of finish. Only 8 inch rims on the 1978 gold special edition Trans Am and a few 1978 Bandit cars have rims painted this way. If the car would have had 7 inch rims, they would have gold on the inside of the honeycombs and the face of the rims would have a polished silver look. These rims are completely gold except for the very outside lip which is polished silver.
The car was then brought to Specialty Cars in Prince Albert, where the remainder of the bodywork was done. A new heater core and dash were installed. We could see that the gauge panel was extremely faded. Wherever the gauge covers had protected the dash from
the sun it still had a gold color, so we repainted the gauge panel back to its original gold color. We also painted the steering wheel to its original gold color. The car was painted and the pin-striping package was put on.
The car was then returned to Paragon, where the final touches were put on the brakes and engine. The seats that were in the car were not the original seats. They appeared to be from a 1980 or ‘91 Trans Am. The style of these seats was the same as the seats in the 1978 Trans Am, but the material was different. I contacted S.M.S. Auto Fabrics in Canby, Oregon. They sent me the original material for a ‘78 gold special edition Trans Am.
Michelle Lepage of Chaise Michelle Upholstery in Bruno, Saskatchewan reupholstered the seats and made a new parcel tray.
I brought the car home and installed the interior. I painted the interior panels and installed them. I also bought and installed a new headliner and sound deadener package and carpets on the floor. I then installed the seats.