The Screaming Chicken’s feathers...
The Screaming Chicken’s feathers flowed onto the fenders for the first time on the Y89 10th Anniversary T/A.
When you’re a kid, the mall is a magical place where everything is shiny, new, and expensive. All these attributes held true in 1979 when an 8-year-old Rob Holtz discovered the most expensive ’79 Firebird made, a 10th Anniversary Trans Am, on a rotary platform display at his local mall. “Wishing I was older, I told myself one day I would own that car,” he recalls.
In 2005, the 34-year-old electrician from Niagara Falls, New York, made good on his promise when he purchased one off of eBay. What he received for $12,000 was a 133,000-mile Anniversary car that he describes as “rough but 100 percent complete and rust-free. And I have every piece of paperwork that came with it, including the bill of sale, window sticker, and finance papers.”
This 10th is one of the 1,817 that received the L78, 220-horse, Pontiac 400, Super T-10 four-speed, and the 3.23 limited-slip rear. The remaining 5,683 Anniversary T/As had the 185-horse Olds 403 and an automatic trans. Since most of the Firebird options came standard in the 10th Anniversary T/A, the engine happened to be the only extra-cost item on Rob’s particular car at just $90, and even the WS6 Special Performance Package was standard. Deleting the cruise control saved $103. The sticker price with destination charges was $10,852.55.
But wait, there’s more. Dealer-added items, including Polyglycoat (paint sealant, textile sealant, rust proofing and/or sound shield—it may have had one of them, two of them, or all of them, we don’t know), bodyside moldings, and local dealer markup, resulted in a $14,975 sticker price!
Soon after it arrived, Rob began dismantling the T/A but he had more than a restoration in mind. On the outside, the 10th would appear to be a concours-restored Bird, right down to the block, trans, and rear codes. Even the carb, intake, and distributor numbers would match. The heart of the beast, however, would be fortified with a Butler 461ci stroker kit.
In September 2007, Rob delivered his T/A to Muscle Car Alley in Arcade, New York, for the full treatment. The engine was sent to K&S Machine in North Tonnawanda, New York, for a power injection.
Though it appears to be a...
Though it appears to be a stock, restored, 220-horse, code-PWH 400, with an overbore, a 4.25-inch stroker crank, a hot cam, and ported heads, output has been increased considerably.
The block was bored 0.035-over and filled with an Eagle 4.250-inch-stroke crank, 6.800-inch forged rods, and Ross forged pistons with Speed-Pro rings. The 6X heads were mildly ported and fitted with Ferrea 2.11 intake and larger 1.77 exhaust valves, and Comp Cams valvesprings; compression checked in at 9.5:1. Comp Cams’ XE268H hydraulic flat-tappet cam features 224/230 degrees duration at 0.050 and 0.477/0.480 lift with 1.50 Harland Sharp roller rockers. LSA is 110 degrees.
On the stock iron No. 10003395 intake sits a rebuilt and restored No. 17059263 Q-jet. Oil is circulated by a Melling 60-psi pump, fuel is delivered via an ACDelco pump, and spark is courtesy of the original Delco HEI with reproduction Packard 8mm wires and ACDelco R45TS plugs. Once Rob got the engine back from K&S, he delivered it to Musclecar Alley.
According to Tom Fischer, owner of Muscle Car Alley, “The T/A’s body was in very good condition when it came in. Beyond the regular ding removal, we only had to cut out rust from the lower corners of the rear tailpanel, and we fixed a small area that had been dented and previously repaired on the lower passenger-side quarter near the door jamb.”
The body was stripped via sanding on the outer panels and media-blasting on the underside with the Bird on a rotisserie. PPG epoxy primer was applied and block-sanded multiple times.
The 15x8 Air Flow (Turbo)...
The 15x8 Air Flow (Turbo) wheels, first seen on the 10th Anniversary T/A, were restored and powdercoated with clear for a like-new luster. Modern BFGs measuring 255/60R15 replace the factory 225/70R15 raised white-letter tires.
Once the panels were deemed straight, a coat of DuPont sealer was shot. Then came three coats of DuPont ChromaPremier urethane base in Platinum. After multiple coats of the Dark Charcoal accent color were sprayed, four coats of ChromaPremier clear were applied.
Tom says, “I use four coats of clear because I want to ensure that I have sufficient material for wet-sanding. I start with 1,000 to knock down the high spots, progress to 1,500 and 2,000, and finish with 3,000-grit.” Final polishing is done with Wizards Products.
Muscle Car Alley rebuilt and detailed the suspension and brakes. The stock spindles and WS6 14:1 constant-ratio steering box and 1.25-inch and 0.750 sway bars are augmented with Eaton Detroit replacement springs, a Moog steering linkage, and ACDelco shocks. A set of EBC Redstuff ceramic brake pads improves the performance of the factory 11-inch, four-wheel disc brakes.
Buck Lewis of First Gear in East Aurora, New York, rebuilt the Super T-10 trans and the rear, and brought them to Tom for reinstallation. To improve exhaust efficiency, a Ram Air Restoration Enterprises 2.50-inch system featuring Ram Air manifolds, x-type pipe, tailpipes, and Goerlich XLerator mufflers were installed.
Only the 10th Anniversary...
Only the 10th Anniversary Trans Ams got this special code-152 silver-leather upholstery with a Firebird embroidered into the door panels and the center of the rear seat. Even the steering wheel is leather covered.
Next came the painstaking application of the reproduction graphics from Phoenix Graphix. The 10th Anniversary T/A had more decals than any other Pontiac made up to that time.
Muscle Car Alley restored all of the hard parts and sourced a new carpet prior to reassembly of the interior. The seat upholstery and door panels were replaced with PUI parts. The assembled T/A was gone over to ensure it was finished and road ready.
This AM/FM 8-track stereo...
This AM/FM 8-track stereo features a digital readout and seek and scan features. It came standard in the 10th Anniversary T/A.
In August 2008 Rob got his dream car. He reminisces: “Driving it for the first time after Muscle Car Alley finished the restoration is one of my best memories with the T/A. It drives and handles just like a brand-new ’79 Trans Am with the exception of the acceleration—it really throws you back in the seat!”
The 2010 Trans Am Nationals is also etched in Rob’s memory, for two reasons. His T/A took First Place in the ’79-’81 Stock Class, and his 17 month-old son Harrison, who is crazy about Trans Ams, is in the group lead photo for the Trans Am Nationals coverage in the Aug. ’11 issue of HPP. “I’m holding him along side my T/A,” he says.
The paint scheme is code-15...
The paint scheme is code-15 Platinum and code-16 Dark Charcoal.
Nearly three decades after an 8-year-old boy made a promise to himself in a mall, he has fulfilled it in grand fashion. Now Harrison can grow up enjoying Dad’s powerful ’79 10th Anniversary T/A as well.