THE CAR AND ITS OWNER
1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am hardtop coupe owned by Francis R. Wiseman
WHAT MAKES IT INTERESTING
The ‘77 Trans Am first became famous as the automotive star of “Smokey and the Bandit,” the action comedy film featuring Burt Reynolds, Sally Field and Jackie Gleason. But while the movie may be a distant memory, Pontiac enthusiasts still pine for Firebirds of any era, especially the gold-embellished Trans Ams of the late ‘70s.
The 1977 model launched an unusual slanted front end with four rectangular headlights, a body style that would carry forward with minor modifications through 1981. Wiseman’s ride is one of about 15,000 1977 versions delivered with the Special Edition package, consisting of gold “snowflake” cast aluminum wheels, gold interior appointments, gold stripes and the iconic gold “screaming eagle” hood emblem.
HOW LONG HE’S OWNED IT
For 36 years
WHERE HE FOUND IT
He bought it new from a Buick-Pontiac dealer in Port Jefferson.
“It has 26,200 original miles,” Wiseman says. “It has never been restored. I have all the original manuals. I have the original build sheet from Pontiac. I’ve maintained it by waxing with many coats of carnauba wax.” Beyond the Special Edition package, the coupe features custom air conditioning, a tilt sport steering wheel and custom vinyl bucket seats. The signature dash gauges are set in an engine-turned panel and give the driver a hint of the Trans Am’s performance. Under the “shaker” hood is a 6.6-liter “W72” engine pumping out 200 horsepower, a significant amount in a period when most American cars (including the 180-horsepower base Corvette) were strangled by government-mandated emission controls. The Pontiac advertises its power with a gold “T/A 6.6” label on the hood scoop.
TIPS FOR OWNERS
“Use your car and enjoy it,” Wiseman advises. “I am sorry I did not use the car more.”
He estimates the value at $26,000. The NADA Guides puts a “high retail” value of $36,375 on a 1977 Trans Am Special Edition with the 6.6 engine and other options.
Base price for the cars began at just over $6,000.
THE BOTTOM LINE
“I love when I take the car out for rides and people give me the ‘thumbs-up,’” he says. “They ask if the car has been restored. When I tell them it is all original, they cannot believe it. When I get behind the wheel, I feel a lot younger.”