Pontiac’s days of excitement building are long gone, though arguably the brand faded into the sunset long before the division was dissolved in 2009 as part of General Motors’ bankruptcy.
Still, old Pontiacs are getting a second life in the collector car world, as the values of many classics, good and bad, continue to rise in value, and for true Pontiac enthusiasts, the Firebird is impossible to ignore, especially the Trans Am version that is famous. was featured in the hit 1977 film “Smokey and the Bandit” with Burt Reynolds in the lead.
Jay Leno looked at a near-perfect 1979 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am in the final episode of his online series “Jay Leno’s Garage”, finished in the same black and gold as the movie car. While not a fan of the chicken on the hood, he appreciates the car and the way it drives. However, he couldn’t drive too fast with it. This particular specimen is normally in a museum called the Audrain Auto Museum in Newport, Rhode Island, to be specific.
This one has the 400 cubic inch V-8 offered in 1979, which produces around 220 horsepower and 325 pound-feet of torque. This one also has a 4-speed manual transmission which, as Leno rightly points out, only adds to the fun.
The 1979 model year was a final outage for the Firebird Trans Am before new emissions and fuel economy regulations severely limited performance over the next few years. But the Firebird Trans Am was never about just going fast; it was about looking and sounding good, something Leno absolutely understands.