The Trans Am's interior is just as immaculate as the exterior, and Mathias added custom T/A floor mats and an Alpine stereo for a personal touch. With so many '79-81 T/As produced with automatic transmissions, it's nice to see the Hurst four-speed handle resting at the driver's right hand. Mathias also modified the T-tops with help from Pat Whitaker, who etched the Firebird graphic into each panel. Another personal touch is the license plate which reads EXTINCT.
Since their first trip to Dayton in 1995, Mathias and Debbie Buckson have attended the T/A Nats every year, and their latest acquisition has brought in its share of trophies. In 2000, the Bird took first place in the Heavy Custom class, and garnered the Jim Emmel Memorial award and the HIGH PERFORMANCE PONTIAC Editor's Choice award in 2001. Mathias has also nabbed quite a few first place trophies at local shows as well. And speaking of nabbed, Mathias is a Sergeant with the Eastern Michigan University Police Department, but despite his role as an officer of the law, he informed us that, well let's just say he exercises the Trans Am quite vigorously. "I have to make sure there is no carbon build up," he said.
For many of us, we will never know the days when '79 Trans Ams were brand new, but for Mathias Buckson, his low-mileage Pontiac is right in his garage. He told us that the household has gone too long however, with just one Bird of prey. "My wife wants another Trans Am, so it will be another red one, or maybe one of the turbo 20th Anniversary T/A's." We're pretty sure the Buckson's are done trading Trans Ams, so we expect this next one to be a purchase.
|CODES THAT COUNT |
|ITEM ||CODE |
|Engine Block ||PWH |
|Carb ||17059263 |
|Intake Manifold ||10003395 |
|Distributor ||1103315 |
|Heads ||6X |
|Four Speed Trans ||UH |
|Differential ||2PP |
|Snowflake 15x8 Gold ||JF |
|Heritage Brown ||69 |
|Camel Tan cloth ||62B1 |
There is no better Trans Am...
There is no better Trans Am wheel to have than the 15x8-inch Snowflakes, which featured a 1-inch lip at the edge of the rim to ensure that you knew these were not 15x7 Snowflakes.
By 1979, Pontiac's 400ci engine...
By 1979, Pontiac's 400ci engine was producing a, respectable for the day, 220 net horsepower and 320 ft-lb of torque. These cars were good for high to low 15s in the quarter depending on which magazine road tests you believe.
Mathias gets a lot of car...
Mathias gets a lot of car show pointers from friend, Eddie Barra, and spends quite a bit of time detailing the car. "We see Don at every Trans Am show and he compliments me on how well I take care of it, but my hat's still off to him," said Mathias. Buckson does what he can to keep the Bird as clean as the day he bought it; but this Firebird is a driver, which makes the job tough, but worth it.
The l78/W72 Performance PackageThe W72 220-horse 400 Pontiac engines were stockpiled from the 78 run and offered in 79 models recorded L78. The L78/W72 Performance package was comprised of the 400 Pontiac engine, four-speed manual transmission, WS6 suspension, J65 front and rear disc brakes and 3.23-geared limited-slip rear.
This engine featured a specific Rochester carb fed through insulated fuel line. It had custom primary metering and secondary metering rod hanger changes and sent the mixture to a cast-iron intake with restricted secondaries. 6X #4 heads from a 350 featured 91-93cc combustion chambers to peg compression at 8:1 and the cam used was possibly a 274/298-duration stick with .364/.364 lift and 55 degrees overlap. According to historian John Witzke, who is the POCI technical advisor for the '77-79 W72 Performance Package, there is still some debate on the cam specs however.
A tried and true HEI lit the mixture and the cast-iron 400 block with a cast crank (held in by two-bolt main caps located with special spring pin dowels), cast rods and pistons and a harmonic balancer to ward off bad vibes comprised the bottom end. A 60-psi oil pump was installed as was a baffled oil pan. Exhaust was handled by factory log manifolds, which dumped into a 2.50-inch pipe and a single pellet-filled cat converter. Then the pipes split into twin 2.25-inchers after the converter and dual resonators tuned the tones before the exhaust exited twin tails with splitters.
WS6 suspension consisted of a 14:1 constant ratio steering box, four-wheel power disc brakes, heavier duty springs and shocks, a larger .750 rear stabilizer bar, 15x8 Snowflake wheels and 225/70-15 raised white letter radials.
Special thanks to John Witzke, -TD