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Growing up within the Motor Metropolis, the mere point out of the title “Trans Am” introduced excitement to a younger boy’s heart. My father used to take me all the way down to our local dealership, Woody Pontiac in Hamtramck, which at all times had a great number of scorching Pontiacs. Can you imagine it being March 1969, and the native salesman tells you about this great new automobile just released from General Motors, the Trans Am? For slightly below $750 you might improve your normal Firebird to legendary status.

That first year a mere 689 Trans Am hardtops had been built. Even rarer are the convertibles, as only eight were made. These automobiles launched a era of efficiency that lasted up until 2002, when the last Trans Am rolled off the assembly line

All of the Trans Am convertibles were built at the Norwood, Ohio, assembly plant and produced in Cameo Ivory with Tryrol Blue stripes, with a particular Ram Air hood and signature decklid spoiler. They have been all powered by a 400 H.O. engine with Ram Air III cylinder heads and topped by a 4-barrel Quadrajet carburetor. The motor was rated at 335 hp at 5,000 rpm. Consumers had a selection of transmissions, both a M20 4-pace guide or Turbo four hundred automated. Of the eight convertibles, 4 of the cars had been ordered with four-speeds and other 4 automatics. The interiors mixed it up a bit, with six cars ordered with blue upholstery, one black, and the opposite parchment. Of the batch, 5 had white tops, while three acquired blue. Three of the eight had been exported to Canada.

In 2014, the Muscle Automobile and Corvette Nationals (MCACN) celebrated the Trans Am’s 45th anniversary with a special convertible exhibit. Six of the original eight produced were on show at the show, and the seventh one was displayed the following 12 months by Mecum Auctions. Through the 2014 show, there was quite a lot of dialog concerning the lost final automobile. There have been rumors that the car was in Hawaii, or was shipped out to the West Coast, however nobody was sure. Did it even nonetheless exist?

Automobile collector Rick Mahoney had long been looking for that missing eighth convertible. He had owned the one within the Mecum booth, and after seeing all the cars together at MCACN, he decided to see if he might accelerate the search for the eighth automobile. He employed the assistance of several non-public investigators, and within a brief period of time the final proprietor was situated in Michigan. Rick made a name to him, but he was less than enthusiastic to speak with him in regards to the automotive.

After a couple of month the guy referred to as Rick again. Apparently the owner’s father was a part of the original design workforce that created the first generation of Firebirds. He had a smooth spot for the automobile, but knew that the automobile needed a ton of work, so he gave Rick the opportunity to come and look at it. Rick contacted Scott Tiemann of Supercar Specialties in Portland, Michigan, to go examine the automobile out for him.

It was one of many 4-speed cars, with a blue interior, power high, and rally gauge cluster. However in contrast to the other seven, it was not ordered with a console, making it one in every of a kind. It was delivered to Southpark Motors in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, the place it spent most of the primary couple years of it life. Then the automotive crossed again into the United States, having been sold to a brand new owner in upstate New York.

The car saw laborious use, as most performance automobiles of the time did. An accident broken the car, and it was repaired, solely to be damaged again in 1973. The insurance company didn’t need to repair the automobile, so it was sent to a salvage yard in New York. It laid dormant there till it made the trip back throughout the border, having been offered to a different yard in Canada. It continued to sit down there for almost another decade until the mid nineteen nineties, when it was bought by the proprietor in Michigan.

Upon arriving, Scott inspected the automobile to verify it was the actual deal. The proprietor pulled off the cover, and as you can think about, the automotive had seen higher days. It had intensive injury to the front and rear from the 1973 accident, but was very fixable by today’s requirements. Since it had been sitting for years in salvage yards, among the pieces have been missing. The unique motor was lengthy gone, but the transmission and rearend have been still in place.

Scott pulled again the heater field to reveal the stampings on the firewall and checked below the cowl as well. All the things proved that this was the lost Trans Am convertible. He contacted Rick to tell him the good news, and Rick then spent the following six months negotiating a price for the automotive. Once the deal was performed, Scott loaded the automotive and piles of elements into a trailer and headed back to his store.

After making an inventory of the parts, Scott started the restoration process. Lots of recent and N.O.S. items had been ordered, however at any time when doable, authentic components that may very well be saved have been restored. More than 1,000 hours went into the metal work alone, and there have been certainly challenges alongside the way.

When the body got here back from the media blaster, it was very obvious that the years sitting in muddy salvage yards didn’t assist the car. The floor pan had to be eliminated, as did each quarter-panels. After the brand new sheetmetal was welded in, the car was positioned on a rotisserie and sanded and blocked until straight.

The hood that got here with the car was a bit rough, so one other used one was sourced. After looking at the sourced hood, Scott and his crew determined that the internal construction wasn’t quite like the original. In order that they drilled out the fresh hood’s spot welds after which mated the new hood to the original inner structure. The ultimate result is much nearer to the best way the automotive rolled off the assembly line.

There have been a few items of the unique top material left on the convertible frame, and both the material and the frame have been blue, which was completely original to the car. However the undersides of the aftermarket tops that have been accessible have been black. Rick asked a large convertible prime producer in the Northeast if it might match the unique materials. The company agreed, however to take action it could have to buy and custom-dye sufficient yardage for roughly 25 to 35 convertible tops. Rick reluctantly agreed, so his automobile can be genuine. And now all the other blue-prime Trans Am convertibles will have the right tops, as he contacted all of the house owners and provided tops to them. He has a number of spares, too, just in case.

After a year and half of work, the “Lost” Trans Am made its debut on the 2016 MCACN. Rick want to thank Scott Tiemann, Dan Farr, Tim Fish, and Randy Jensen of Supercar Specialties for the incredible restoration.