Dennis Collins is a YouTuber and all-around gentleman who specializes in rescuing iconic old cars. Usually, you’re seeing Mustangs that have been sitting in storage, but this pair of Pontiac Trans Ams haven’t been neglected at all; they’ve just been victims of a massive house fire that left them charred almost beyond recognition.
Dave Hall from Restore a Muscle Car tasked Dennis and his team with this garage rescue. Because the two cars are in such bad condition, getting them out of storage and loaded up is a challenge.
It wasn’t always that way. An electrical issue cause a fire that burned down the house they were in and destroyed these two Firebirds which were in great condition. The pair belonged to a collector coupe, long-time Trans Am fans.
The gentleman owned a 1977 Pontiac Trans Am which had a tan interior and even a dashboard signed by the Bandit himself, Burt Reynolds. Meanwhile, his wife owned a 1979 car which she got from her dad in exchange for a 77 Camaro and a 1967 Camaro Rally Sport Super Sport. In hindsight, she admits that giving up on an RS/SS was probably a bad idea, but her 79 T/A must have been a real eye-catcher with Heritage Brown paint and a golden chicken. Can you imagine getting that as your college car? Beats the heck out of Civics and Elantras.
The two Trans Ams look horrible, almost like they’re victims of a 1970s riot. Almost nothing is left of their interiors or paint, and the bodywork is orange, probably surface rust from the firefighter’s hoses-down. We don’t know what the procedure is for restoring something like this. Probably an acid dip first.
There are certainly much better 70s Pontiac shells out there for not a lot of money, but these have tremendous emotional value.
The 1977 Trans Am is in much worse condition. The heat from the fire has completely caved in the roof and bent most of the metal out of shape. Even the alloy wheels have partially melted. However, this is a hugely important car for the Trans Am community, the lead car for the first Bandit Run.
While the Firebird in general doesn’t get the same recognition as the Camaro, if you’re talking about Smokey and The Bandit spec of the Trans Am, black with a gold bird, it’s one of the most “American” things out there.
The Firebird was started by John DeLorean, as the youngest head of any GM division, he wanted Pontiac to be spicy. Originally, he wanted to make a true sports car 2-seater called the Banshee, shown in 1965 as a prototype. But it overlapped with the Corvette and so we got the Firebird 4-seater instead.
Now, all the Firebirds are popular, except maybe the first one, but this second-gen is the coolest. In fact, by the late 1970s, this was one of the few cool muscle cars left. It didn’t make a lot of power, 220 hp tops with the W72 400 V8 (6.6-liter) if you’re talking about 1977-79 models. Though at least it was only available with the 4-speed manual, which was enough for Car and Driver to call the 79 Trans Am the “best-handling American car.”