When Mike Genovese of Cherry Hill, New Jersey, began his search for the perfect Trans Am, in his mind it was a '71-72 model with a four-speed and A/C. He soon found that pristine ones were few and far between, despite King's ransom asking prices. Strangely enough, after broadening his search to include '69s and '73 SD models, he found this '69. Why strange? Well Pontiac only produced 697 '69 models, considerably less than the 3,196 made in 1970, the 2,116 in 1971 and the 1,286 of the strike-shortened 1972 model year. Yet, there it was. Genovese's T/A was factory-fitted with the 335-horse Ram Air III engine and is backed by the optional Turbo-400 transmission (code 351). (Mated to the Ram Air III, the trans was calibrated for 4,800 rpm upshifts. When paired with the more high-strung Ram Air IV, full throttle upshifts were moved to 5,200 rpm.) Mike's machine contains other options as well, including: pushbutton AM radio (382), Rally II wheels (454), tinted glass (532), and console (472).
The suggested retail price with options was $4,462 and the T/A was sold through Livingston Pontiac in Woodland Hills, California. Well, we now know where it was sold from but how did it find its way to Mike? Actually, purchasing the T/A and tracing its past, lead to an odyssey to which many readers can relate. To that end, much of the following is in Mike's own words.
Mike Genovese's T/A Timeline
* September 1982 - This Trans Am was pictured in Popular Hot Rodding magazine in an article entitled "Trans Ams Then and Now." It's shown from the side (revealing the engine) for the '69 model year.
* 1986 - Rick Salzillo of Connecticut purchased the claimed "61,000-mile" T/A sight-unseen from Mark Rubins of Santa Monica, California. From the claimed mileage, it seems that Rick drove the car about 9,000 miles more.
* 1987 - Rick painted the Pontiac since it needed some minor bodywork. At this time, he also undercoated it, which he regretted almost immediately thereafter.
* 1989 - Salzillo sold the T/A to Jerry and Eileen Boulay in Connecticut. Rick is known for having the Fitch Bird and sold the T/A because he needed the money to complete the restoration of the Fitch and purchase a house. The T/A is mentioned in a feature article on the Fitch Bird in the August 1999 issue of High Performance Pontiac magazine. Jerry and Eileen used the car for shows and cruises, trailering to long distance events, and in the 11 years that they owned the Pontiac, they claim to have only driven it about 1,000 miles.
* June 2000 - I purchased the Trans Am from Jerry and Eileen Boulay. It was listed for sale in October of 1999 on excite.com classifieds, priced at $20,500 with 71,000 miles. I called to make an appointment to see the T/A, but Jerry decided not to sell it. Through the winter, I continued to contact Jerry, and in May 2000, he responded saying that he was ready to sell. I immediately set the time and drove up with a deposit. The T/A was sitting out and was in very nice condition. There was no obvious rust or body damage. Its interior was in very nice original condition and the engine was clean and ran very smoothly. The only obvious problem was that the exterior paint was checking throughout. I drove the T/A and discovered no obvious problems. The price was firm and the deal was struck. I arranged to have one of Jerry's friends trailer the car down from Connecticut and it arrived the next day. When I finally had to chance to closely analyze the car, I found some things that I didn't realize earlier due to my lack of knowledge regarding certain aspects of this model. The major problem was that the Ram Air unit was a fiberglass reproduction and not the original metal unit, the wheels were the correct size but not the original JK coded Rally IIs. A passenger side mirror and wheel opening moldings had been added by a past owner as well. Also, the trans and engine leaked a great deal, probably from sitting idle. Nevertheless, I was still very pleased with my purchase.
* July 2000 - It took first place in class at its first show, the Classics In The Moonlight Car Show at Agresta Oldsmobile Pontiac GMC. The class is Stock '68-69 GM Models. This was a very large and tough class.
* September 2000 - I took the T/A to Burns Pontiac to correct the transmission and engine leaks. Replaced all the seals and gaskets under the car.--total cost $1,200.
* December 2000 - I replaced the AM/FM radio with an original AM radio. The AM was converted to an AM/FM stereo but maintains the appearance of the correct original unit.
* June 2001 - The T/A was repainted at Classic Restorations in Sloatsburg, New York. It was done in modern basecoat/clearcoat but with original colors applied. All chrome, emblems and weather-stripping were replaced.
* July 2001 - The carb rebuilt by ICS and the master cylinder failed on my way back from picking it up. I replaced it with a dual clip type but not the original numbers matching with the bleeder screws. I've been searching for the correct one ever since!
* November 2001 - I blasted and painted four correct 14x7 JK coded Rally II wheels and reinstalled the '77 date-coded Polyglas bias-ply tires. The T/A is stored for the winter on the radials.
* May 2002 - The fiberglass ram-air system was replaced with a metal unit from Ames as was the foam seal. I also replaced the package tray and speakers with a mesh unit to hide the aftermarket speakers.
* June 2002 - Custom QQ plates arrived "TRNSAM".
So how does Mike feel about his rare T/A after his trek through the jungle of Pontiac collecting? "What impresses me about the T/A is that it is mostly original except for the paint. The interior, underside, exhaust, and engine are all-original, save the heads and alternator, and show wear as if they are 34 years old. The problem is, when showing the Pontiac, the engine really stands out as needing to be finished. When parked next to a frame off, spectators and judges aren't quite as impressed with the originality as I am. I've been collecting original parts and have enough to redo the engine. I've also found an original exhaust system, which will be added once the engine is complete. Next, on my "to do" list is to have the engine compartment detailed."
When it all began, Mike has his heart set on a '71-72 model with a stick and A/C. He ended up with a '69 with an automatic and no A/C. But after all was said and done the 39-year-old salesman couldn't be happier with the outcome. The lesson here is to be careful what you wish for. You may be better off not getting it.
The stripes are actually applied...
The stripes are actually applied under the clearcoat and they extend all the way to the edges of the hood scoops and into the cowl under the hood. Though not correct, the look is cleaner and the clear does protect and create a smooth finish at the stripe edges.
According to Mike, "the body...
According to Mike, "the body was in very good condition. But one thing that Classic Restorations found when stripping the car was that the passenger door was from a blue Camaro. The shell was stripped by plastic media; primers utilized were a Dupont Metal Etch followed by an Epoxy primer. Multiple coats of a DBU basecoat were applied for the color, same for the blue stripes, followed by five coats of clear. It was then wet sanded with 1500 followed by 2000 grit and power buffed with a compound first, followed by 3M Finessing It. Then it was finally finished with a Imperial Hand Glaze."
Mike admits to making a $1,200...
Mike admits to making a $1,200 mistake by not recognizing that the Ram Air pans were reproduction fiberglass and not factory metal. The offending pieces have since been replaced by metal repros from Ames.
Your typical '69 Ram Air III...
Your typical '69 Ram Air III replete with Q-Jet, iron intake, #48 heads, ram-air exhaust manifolds and an 068 cam. The block code is YW. The correct #62 heads were swapped for fresh #48s by Salzillo when he owned the T/A. Mike has the original #62s tucked away.
The cabin is still the factory...
The cabin is still the factory black Morrokide. The wood wheel became standard after a proposed leather-wrapped European-style wheel didn't come to pass.
The Sport shifter was Pontiac's...
The Sport shifter was Pontiac's answer to the Hurst His and Hers. It would allow for manual upshifting of the automatic transmission. When the handle was placed in low gear the driver would accelerate and then push forward and to the right to upshift manually, when desired, using positive detents in the shifter to avoid overshooting the intended gear.
Big rear spoilers were all...
Big rear spoilers were all the rage by 1969 and the T/A did not escape the trend. The fiberglass marvel was supposed to aid high-speed stability.
|'69 Trans Am Production|
|Ram Air IV hardtop||46||9||55|
|Ram Air IV convertible||0||0||0|
|Ram Air III hardtop||516||118||634|
|Ram Air III convertible||4||4||8|
If you find any of these, give us a call. Historian, Jim Mattison, related that the engineering car used to develop the '69 T/A package was actually silver, not white. And Fred Simmonds of Pontiac and also a noted historian warned that the production numbers are approximate but these strangely optioned T/As were built:
2 T/As with green interior
2 T/As with gold interior
1 T/A with red interior
4 T/As with dark blue vinyl tops
1 Ram Air IV T/A with wire wheel covers
What Was the Trans Am Option?
Option code 322, UPC WS4 included:
Cameo White paint
Dual Windward Blue (early) or Lucerne Blue (later) racing stripes and tail panel (Noted '69 T/A historian, Keith Wilson, explained that after the first 50-100 cars, the blue seems to have changed to Chevy LeMans Blue or Lucerne Blue)
Trans Am decals
Functional dual scooped hood
Fiberglass rear spoiler
Functional fender air extractors
Ram Air III 400 engine
HD 3-speed manual transmission
3.55 geared rear with Safe-T-Track
HD springs and shocks
1-inch diameter front stabilizer bar
Quicker variable-ratio power steering
Increased effort power front disc brakes
F70-14 Fiberglass belted white line or white letter tires
Wood steering wheel