Bill McGraw bought his '74...
Bill McGraw bought his '74 SD-455 Trans Am brand-new in June of 1974 from the dealer listed on the plate surround. The vintage Pennsylvania vanity plate is the real deal, too. Just $55 bought the hood decal (inset) that made a T/A stand out from the crowd. Like many '73-and-later T/A owners, Bill removed the block-off plate from the Shaker scoop back in the day to let in the fresh air.
"I am no rich guy, I'm just a workin' man who drives a truck," Bill McGraw said to the author during the HPP photo shoot. He was referring to the fact that most SD-455 owners nowadays need a thick wallet to buy and restore one, but Bill has his because he bought it new and kept it for all these years.
The instant he spoke those words, the opening riff of the legendary Rush song began to play in my head. At over seven minutes long, "Working Man" became the anthem for generations of diligent clock punchers, who put up with less-than-glamorous and often difficult jobs to provide for their families. Coincidentally, it was released on Rush's self-titled debut album in March of 1974, just two months before then-22-year-old Bill took delivery of his new ride.
With cash in pocket from selling a '68 Corvette, an Admiralty Blue 400 T/A in front of Howard Wilson Pontiac in Boardman, Ohio, caught Bill's eye. That Bird was sold, but there was a surprise waiting inside.
"The salesman and I began talking about musclecars, and then he told me of another Trans Am they had inside," Bill recalls. "It was special ordered, but the buyer became impatient with the wait and purchased a '74 Corvette instead."
In the showroom was a Buccaneer Red '74 SD-455 Trans Am with a four-speed. "The moment I saw it, I realized it was the perfect candidate for my first new car," says Bill. "We negotiated a price for $250 under the sticker, and I quickly gave the salesman $100 down to hold the vehicle. I was scheduled to pick it up that Friday-the 13."
When Friday arrived, Bill returned to the dealer anxious to drive his new Pontiac, but he soon found that the deal had changed for the worse. "I was greeted by the same salesman who had sold me the vehicle," he remembers. "He said the agreed-on price was no longer valid, and I was going to have to pay the full sticker price in order to leave with the car. As a 22-year-old, I would quickly get hot under the collar, so I told the salesman to refund my deposit.
Bill added rear mudflaps back...
Bill added rear mudflaps back in the day to protect the quarter-panels from road rash. It appears that they worked, as the code-75 Buccaneer Red paint is original. Factory-equipped with GR70-15 steel-belted radials with optional white lettering ($45), the rusty original 15x7 Rally IIs have been replaced with reproductions and the trim rings left off for a meaner look. They now feature newer 235/60R15 front and 255/60R15 rear Firestone Firehawk SS20 tires.
"While waiting for him to return, I learned that the gentleman who originally ordered the Trans Am decided he now wanted to trade in his '74 Corvette for it, and the sales manager was trying to negotiate a price with him. I tracked down the salesman and demanded my money back again. We argued back and forth for about 20 minutes, but he refused to refund my deposit.
"I was becoming more enraged. Upon noticing my tension, the salesman went to the sales manager. Once in his office, the sales manager told me about the gentleman who originally ordered the car. I said I wanted the car at the negotiated price or my money back. He said he could do neither-I had to give up my deposit or pay full price.
"I'd had enough. I grabbed the sales manager by his tie and pulled him over his desk into my face. I told him for that $100 deposit, I could easily inflict bodily harm. He then agreed to take the $250 off the sticker price and I left with my first brand-new car. Who says Friday the 13 is unlucky?"