There are certain experiences during adolescence that produce lifelong memories. For 49-year old Larry Reimer, one such occurrence was receiving the Aug. '76 issue of Motor Trend magazine in the mail. On the cover was Pontiac's newest Special Edition Trans Am-a '77 with a new front-end treatment.

"It was love at first sight," the Omaha, Nebraska-based home improvement contractor recollects. "In an instant, that car became my dream and my destiny. I didn't know how or when, but I knew I was going to own one someday, and I immediately started working toward that goal."

The First Impression
Larry's tale starts like many others. He was a young, red-blooded American captivated by the Trans Am's performance image. "It drew me into Pontiac dealers' showrooms. One day, I went with my dad to look at the new '76 Pontiacs, and that's when I saw my first Special Edition Trans Am. It was the coolest and most beautiful car I'd ever laid eyes on," he says.

The Special Edition model that Larry first spied commemorated Pontiac's 50th Anniversary of vehicle production, and visions of that black and gold Firebird danced in the teenager's head.

"When I got the new issue of Motor Trend, I was immediately hooked on '77 S/E T/As. I just had to have one, and I was willing to make any sacrifice to make that happen. Then Smokey and the Bandit came out, and that was it," he recalls.

Needing transportation, Larry dreamed of an S/E T/A, but it seemed impractical and out of reach. "My dad had a '76 Bonneville, and my brother had a '70 LeMans that I always liked, so I started looking for an early-'70s Pontiac A-body. It seems as if everything we looked at was rough and needed repair. Apparently, my dad grew tired of looking at well-used Pontiacs every weekend and saw the advantages of a new car for me," says Larry.

The two started discussing the possibility of a new Pontiac. "I couldn't pass up the opportunity to mention the Special Edition Trans Am. To my surprise, he agreed to look at one, and he found it as captivating as I did. Once we started crunching numbers, we found that it was within my reach, but not without concession. Dad was willing to pay for half of the car, if I paid the remainder by the time I graduated college," he explains. "How could I say no?"

The Search
Elated, Larry immediately began searching local dealership inventories and found that the '78 models were just hitting showrooms. "There may not be many differences, but I really wanted a '77. I liked its honeycomb grille and custom interior better, and I figured it might be a little cheaper. After contacting every area dealer, I found just five '77 Special Edition models left in Omaha."

As one might imagine, cost was a major factor in Larry's decision. "Purchasing the car was really a stretch for me, even with my dad's help, so I planned on purchasing whichever S/E T/A was cheapest. But there were certain options I had to have, and that narrowed it down.

"Even though I read that Hurst Hatches commonly leaked, I still wanted them. I wanted custom interior, too, and knew that vinyl interior would be more serviceable than cloth. I also knew that the 200hp T/A 6.6 was part of the W72 Performance Package, but I wasn't that familiar with the package. I really wanted the car more than added performance, so I figured a base L78 400ci engine was sufficient, and would be cheaper to insure, too."

The W72 Performance Package was a new option for 1977 that added $50 to a Trans Am's price tag, and included a host of components aimed at maximum performance. Backing the high-output mill was a torque converter with a stall speed near 2,200 rpm, a Turbo 350 automatic transmission with specific internal calibration, and a 3.23 rear axle ratio. The combined effort produced an engine generating 200 hp at 3,600 rpm, and 325 lb-ft at 2,200 rpm, and a vehicle capable of mid-15-second quarter-mile times at trap speeds in excess of 90 mph.