Pontiac Trans-Am - index

review of Pontiac 1978 Firebird -and- 1978 Trans-Am

Have owned:
- a 1978 Pontiac Firebird -and-
- a 1978 Pontiac Trans-Am

The two cars were very different.

Difference was in driving them.
The 1978 Trans-Am drove like a race car.
The 1978 Firebird drove like an old lady's Buick.

The Firebird was a Firebird Esprit with rare two-tone blue/white paint. Had a weak Chevrolet 305 (5.0L) V8, either was made weak or became weak. Interior was blue, had false-wood trim, standard mundane Pontiac steering wheel, basic gages.

The Trans-Am was a black/gold Bandit edition. Had WS-6 option: performance suspension, stronger sway-bars, faster steering, a Pontiac 400 (6.6L) at 220HP with slightly hotter cylinder heads and camshaft. Its original Pontiac 400 was replaced by a Pontiac 455 (7.5L), Offenhauser intake manifold, exhaust headers, glass-pack mufflers, intake scoop was made functional.

Full-throttle on Trans-Am would shake its intake scoop, rock its front up, fish-tail its rear as engine torque was shifted from one spinning rear wheel to the other. Trans-Am turned very quickly, without leaning, G-force caused shoulders of its human occupants to slam against its doors. Passengers would cringe seeing a RR sign. Its super-stiff springs permitted the shattering of spines driving over train-tracks.

The Firebird was frustratingly slow. It had some handling characteristics of Trans/Am, but it also had some of an old lady's Buick. Firebird had a comfortable bouncy ride, but it could turn without floundering like a Buick or hippo. Turning Firebird too sharp could cause a front wheel to dive, whereas Trans/Am's wheels would stay more level. Firebird was a compromise between a comfy vs sporty car.