SCCA chief steward of Trans-Am series racing ordered this ’72 Trans Am new. With the help
Any vintage Pontiac with less than 6,000 miles on its odometer is sure to create enthusiast buzz. Now imagine if that Pontiac is a ’72 Trans Am. Now add a one-off Cardinal Red exterior finish and original delivery to an SCCA Chief Steward. Oh yeah, and a column-shift automatic.
By now you probably think we’re conjuring up a fable just to lead you on, but there is such a Firebird and only a few pictures of it existed.
The details of its connection to the SCCA have been rather vague. The assumed story suggests that Pontiac gifted a ’72 Trans Am to the SCCA president and requested he drive it to SCCA events. Since the Trans Am was only available in Lucerne Blue or Cameo White that year, he refused the gift, saying he only drove red cars. Pontiac then produced a one-off Trans Am. The president drove it briefly before giving it to his vice president, who placed it in a private collection for several more years.
Never has anyone with firsthand knowledge been able to substantiate the Firebird’s relationship with the SCCA. Other than a brief stay at Volo Auto Museum, the Trans Am has largely remained out of the public eye.
At the time of our photo shoot, the odometer showed just 5,977 miles. After a quick once-o
Well, that is, until now. HPP has found this very Trans Am and has even spoken with the original owner, who purchased it new. Follow along as we share the exact details of its existence for the very first time.
Sport Car Club of America (SCCA) is a popular racing organization that hosts events throughout the country. During the late ’60s, Jim Kaser, director of professional racing, and the SCCA staff created a nationwide road-racing series for “ponycars,” with an established maximum engine displacement of 5.0 liters. It was called “Trans-Am.” Kaser then appointed fellow SCCA racer Berdie Martin as Series Chief Steward of Trans-Am in 1970 to oversee all operations. But let’s step back.
Well before accepting his new position within the SCCA, Berdie was familiar with Pontiacs. “I purchased a few over the years and always thought of it as a performance automaker,” says Berdie, now 82 years old. “Pontiac decided to build a high-performance Firebird bearing the Trans-Am name. SCCA had it trademarked, however, and Pontiac agreed to pay a royalty of $5 per car to use the Trans Am name.”
Berdie lived in the Chicago, Illinois, area and his first glimpse of the new ’69 Firebird Trans Am came at that year’s Chicago Auto Show. “I really liked the idea and thought it was a great-looking car. I recall being perturbed to find its standard 400 engine (6.6 liter) didn’t fit the SCCA regulations of the Trans-Am racing series. It couldn’t even compete in a race it took its name from!”
Along with many individual racers, the Trans-Am series included a number of factory-backed teams, and the Terry Godsall team had a connection with Pontiac engineer Herb Adams. Its driver, Jerry Titus, won four of twelve races driving a Mustang in 1967 to help bring Ford the Trans-Am series manufacturer’s championship. He joined Godsall, forming the Titus/Godsall team, to drive Pontiacs in late 1968 and drove Trans Ams into the ’70 season, when he was fatally injured and the Pontiac team dissolved.
By now Berdie had been promoted to chief steward, and as head of the Trans-Am series, he made it a point not to personally drive any model that competed in Trans-Am. “I didn’t want to show favoritism toward any make or model,” says Berdie. “When Jerry Titus died, there wasn’t a Firebird Trans Am running in the series any longer. I really liked the look of the new body style, so I didn’t foresee any issue if I purchased one for my own use.”