2022 Shannons Spring Timed Online Auction
1979 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am 'Body by Fisher' Convertible (LHD)
Result: PASSED IN
This lot is no longer available
The movie Smokey and the Bandit proved to be Pontiac’s most successful marketing tool in the late 1970s. The association of tough guy Burt Reynolds (‘The Bandit’) and a 1977 Firebird Trans Am in black paintwork with gold pinstriping and the famous shaker hood proved irresistible for pony car enthusiasts. Being a Pontiac, the Firebird was slightly upmarket of the Chevrolet Camaro which was essentially General Motors’ riposte to the Ford Mustang and the Trans Am was the ultimate Firebird. Differentiating features included the trademark shaker hood, full width rear deck spoiler, engine-turned dashboard and comprehensive ‘rally gauge’ cluster. In 1976 Pontiac sold 46,701 Trans Ams and in 1978 the total had doubled to 93,341. Pontiac later admitted that ‘Trans Am’ had greater name recognition than the Pontiac brand itself.
On 26 April 1976 a white Cadillac Eldorado convertible reached the end of the assembly line. This was going to be the last convertible ever from Detroit – Cadillac even promised: ‘It is the only convertible now built in America. And it will be our last. The very last.’ Looming federal rollover legislation had killed the open-top car. But history rolled out differently. Just two years down the bitumen in 1978, if you were keen to obtain a convertible, you could order the National Coach Engineering (NCO) option, which added $8000 to the dealer invoice. This meant that your newly ordered Pontiac Firebird (or Chevrolet Camaro) was sent directly to NCE, where it was converted. This exhaustive process entailed underbody bracing to produce an open car that was as stiff or perhaps even stiffer than the original Fisher Body coupe. It is believed that NCE converted 250 Fisher Body Firebirds in 1979.