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Car of the Week: 1977 Pontiac Trans Am Special Edition

It took a pretty stunning car to steal the show from a lineup of Burt Reynolds, Jackie Gleason, Sally Field and Jerry Reed. But movie makers found one that was up to the task: The 1977 Special Edition Trans Am.
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{Editor’s Note: In honor of the somber news this week that Pontiac will soon be no more, we salute one of the more memorable models to ever carry the Pontiac name plate).

It took a pretty stunning car to steal the show from a lineup of Burt Reynolds, Jackie Gleason, Sally Field and Jerry Reed. But movie makers found one that was up to the task.

Just as “Bullitt” and “Gone in 60 Seconds” will forever be linked with their star cars, so will the 1977 Pontiac Special Edition Trans Am be forever linked with Smokey And The Bandit — so much, in fact, that in hobby parlance they are simply known as the Bandit Trans Ams.

Turns out there was a lot to like about the rollicking film, and there was just as much to like about the special T/A, which — for a short time, anyway — showed that there was a true performance car still around during a decade of sagging horsepower and little to excited about when it came to new cars.

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Truthfully, even though Reynolds melted the tires from Atlanta to Texarkana and back, the ’77 Trans Am was fairly pedestrian in the grand scheme of things among memorable muscle cars. It made between 180 and 200 horsepower, depending on which engine you wound up with and if you picked the automatic or the manual, but the styling, graphics and overall polish made it a truly memorable car. And of course, the movie didn’t hurt.

For 1977, the Trans Am could again be ordered with an extra-cost package, which was called the Special Edition rather than Limited Edition. It was available in Y81 coupe and Y82 Hurst Hatch (or T-top) models. Custom gold decals and gold snowflake wheels really set off this well-integrated appearance option. PMD records indicate that 15,567 Special Edition Trans Ams were built in 1977.

While performance may have been down somewhat from earlier years, the Trans Am still had a hot, sexy sports-racing-car image that drove the Firebird’s popularity higher. Model year production totals included 30,642 base Firebirds, 34,548 Esprits, 21,801 Formulas and 68,745 high-profit-margin Trans Ams. To put the Firebird’s success in perspective, remember that less than 30,000 were made just five years earlier, when the model’s future seemed dim.

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The 1977 Special Edition package was similar to the 1976 Limited Edition package. Its standard equipment started off with all federally mandated safety, anti-theft, convenience and emissions control features. The 400-cid (6.6-liter) V-8 was standard in 49 states and the 403-cid (6.6-liter) V-8 was standard in California or high-altitude counties. The T/A 6.6-liter (400-cid) V-8 was optional.

The “Bandit” package cost $556.00 with out Hurst Hatches (Y81) and $1141.00 with (Y82) with them. package included specific gold trimmed exterior appointments. Gold trim was seemingly everywhere on the car, and teamed with the black paint the car was truly a head-turner. The interior featured a gold formula steering wheel with gold spokes. The instrument panel bezel, and console trim plate and door panels were trimmed in gold faux engine turned plating.

Other standard equipment included a Turbo-Hydra-Matic transmission (or four-speed manual transmission with the optional T/A 6.6-liter V-8), a Trans Am front fender decal, a black-out grille, a Trans Am grille panel decal, a Trans Am wraparound rear deck spoiler decal, a front center air dam, rear wheel opening air deflectors, a shaker hood scoop and air cleaner, concealed windshield wipers, front fender air extractors, power steering, a Power-Flex radiator fan, Rally gauges with a clock and tachometer, a front seat console, power front disc/rear drum brakes, a heater, a defroster, carpeting, windshield moldings, an aluminum machine-turned instrument panel trim plate, a formula steering wheel, dual sport mirrors with left-hand remote controlled, dual horns, a rear deck lid spoiler, dual chrome splitter tailpipe extensions, 15 x 7-inch. Rally II wheels with trim rings, a Saf-T-Track limited-slip differential, GR70-15 black sidewall steel-belted radial tires, a Radial Tuned Suspension with larger front and rear stabilizer bars, Starlight Black exterior body finish, gold body striping, gold interior and exterior accents, gold aluminum wheels and an available removable hatch roof.

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Production figures

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400 Pontiac V-8 [UPC L78]: Overhead valves. Cast-iron block. Displacement: 400 cid. Bore & stroke: 4.121 x 3.750 in. Compression ratio: 7.6:1. Brake horsepower: 180 at 3600 rpm. Torque: 325 ft. lbs. at 1600 rpm. Five main bearings. Hydraulic valve lifters. Carburetor: Four-barrel. Splitter exhausts. VIN code: Z.

Pontiac T/A 6.6 V-8 [UPC L78/W72]: Overhead valves. Cast-iron block. Displacement: 400 cid. Bore & stroke: 4.121 x 3.750. Compression ratio: 8.0:1. Brake horsepower: 200 at 3600 rpm. Torque: 325 ft. lbs. at 2400 rpm with four-speed manual transmission; 325 at 2200 rpm with Turbo-Hydra-Matic. Five main bearings. Hydraulic valve lifters. Carburetor: Four-barrel. Splitter exhausts. VIN code: Z.

403 Oldsmobile V-8 [UPC L80]: Overhead valves. Cast-iron block. Displacement: 403 cid. Bore & stroke: 4.35 x 3.385 in. Compression ratio: 8.0:1. Brake horsepower: 185 at 3600 rpm. Torque: 320 ft. lbs. at 2200 rpm. Five main bearings. Hydraulic valve lifters. Carburetor: Four-barrel. Mandatory standard equipment in Trans Ams sold in California and high-altitude counties; optional equipment in Formulas sold in California and high-altitude counties. VIN code: K.

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Important spec’s
Wheelbase: 108.1 in. Overall length: 196.8 in. Overall width: 73 in. Overall height: 49.1 in. Front tread: 61.2 in. Rear tread: 60.3 in. Front headroom: 37.5 in. Rear headroom: 35.9 in. Front legroom: 43.9 in. Rear legroom: 28.4 in. Front shoulder room: 57.4 in. Rear shoulder room: 54.4 in. Front hip room: 52.4 in. Rear hip room: 45.8 in.

Body and frame: Integral body and frame with separate ladder-type front frame section. Front suspension: Independent with upper and lower control arms, heavy-duty coil springs, heavy-duty tubular shocks and 1.250-in. diameter stabilizer bar. Rear suspension: Hotchkiss solid axle, multi-leaf rear springs, .625-in. stabilizer bar and tubular shocks. Steering: Saginaw variable-ratio steering with power assist. Fuel tank: Fuel tank: 20.2 gal.

Selected Options:
W72 400-cid V-8 four-barrel, M20 or M40 transmission required ($50). M20 four-speed manual transmission with L27/W72 V-8 only (no cost). C60 air conditioning ($478). Y82 Trans Am Special Edition package with T-tops ($1,143). Y81 Trans Am Special Edition package without T-top ($556). UA1 heavy-duty battery, maintenance-free ($31). AK1 custom safety belts ($21). U35 electric clock, no cost with Rally gauge package; otherwise ($21). D58 rear console ($46). K30 cruise control ($80). A90 remote-control deck lid release ($18). C49 electric rear window defroster ($82). AU3 power door locks ($68). VJ9 California emissions equipment ($70). NA6 high-altitude performance option ($22). K05 engine block heater ($13). Y96 firm ride suspension package, included with V81; otherwise ($11). A01 tinted glass, all windows ($50). QCY Rally RTS handling package ($46). WW7 Trans Am hood decal ($62). BS1 additional acoustical insulation, standard in Esprit; in other Firebirds ($27). C95 dome reading lamp ($16). Y92 lamp group package ($16). B37 color-keyed front and rear floor mats ($18). D35 outside dual sport mirrors, left-hand remote control ($31). D34 visor vanity mirror ($4). D64 illuminated visor vanity mirror ($32). B84 vinyl body side moldings ($40). B93 door edge guard moldings ($9). V02 super cooling radiator without C60 or V81 ($53); with C60 without V81 ($29); with V81 (no cost). U63 AM radio ($79). U69 AM/FM radio ($137). U58 AM/FM stereo ($233). UN8 citizen’s band (CB) radio, 23-channel, D55 and UN9 required ($195). U57 eight-track stereo player, D55 and an optional radio required ($134). UN9 radio accommodation package ($23 but no cost with optional radios). U80 rear speaker with AM or AM/FM radio only ($23). N33 tilt steering wheel ($57). CC1 dual hatch glass sunroof without Y82 ($587). CB7 canopy top, not available on Trans Am ($105). V81 light trailer group without C60 ($64); with C60 ($40). Y90 custom vinyl doeskin trim ($91). Y90 custom Lombardy cloth trim in Formula or Trans Am ($118). Y90 custom regular vinyl trim in Esprit without W60 ($27). JL1 pedal trim package ($6). A31 power windows, D55 front console required ($108). N65 stowaway spare tire (no charge). QBW FR78 x 15 white sidewall steel-belted radial tires, standard on Trans Am. QBP FR78 x 15 raised white-letter steel-belted radial tires, standard on Trans Am.

Collector Values
1977 Pontiac Trans Am
No. 1 Condition $13,000
No. 2 $9,100
No. 3 $5,850
No. 4 $2,600

Note: Add 10 percent for 4-speed. Add 10 percent for L78 option.

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