Stock ride height was retained...
Stock ride height was retained through use of OE-replacement leaf springs, sourced from Eaton. The exhaust tips (and dual-resonator exhaust system) are part of an over-the-counter service-parts kit sold by GM specifically for the ’79 Trans Am WS6 only.
It’s one thing to remember your first Pontiac fondly. It’s another to still own it in nearly as-good-as-new condition after 35 years. Nick Seslar, a group leader at General Motors Truck Assembly in Fort Wayne, Indiana, still owns his ’77 W72 Trans Am which he bought new, and not only is it his first Pontiac, it’s his first new car. “In 1976, I drove by the local Pontiac dealership and saw a new Carousel Red Trans Am sitting in the showroom,” Nick tells HPP. “I loved that car and the color. I was totally hooked, but couldn’t afford one. Motor Trend had an issue out during the summer of 1976 with a ’77 SE T/A on the cover. The redesigned nose convinced me it was the car to own. In January 1977, I started working full time at BFGoodrich as a tire builder and could finally afford my first new car.”
Unbeknownst to him, Pontiac had already established a new high-performance powertrain option to replace the 455. Called the LS7 engine package (later changed to W72), a Car Distribution Bulletin dated June 25, 1976, heralded its coming for 1977: “A new 6.6 Litre TA 400 4 bbl, UPC code LS7 is available on the Formula and Trans Am. This new engine will be extra cost [$50 in 1977] and will be optional with the [Turbo 350] hydramatic transmission, and will be the only 400 engine available with the 4 speed manual transmission. Standard axle ratio with this engine will be 3.23.”
This 200hp W72 400 has never been apart. The Rochester Q-jet (code 17057266) is upgraded with fatter jets, and the GM HEI distributor (code 1103271) has a quicker advance curve, both thanks to performance kits from H-O Racing
On April 23, 1977, Seslar special-ordered his Trans Am. “Carousel Red was discontinued and I couldn’t afford the Special Edition, so I went with the brightest color available, which was Goldenrod Yellow,” he recalls. “I ordered almost all the performance options available at the time, including the W72 Performance Package and the Super Cooling radiator. I say almost because I originally priced my Trans Am with a Super T10 four-speed, but when my dad found out it was a stick shift he convinced me to switch to an automatic. I’m still mad at myself after all these years for not ordering the manual as I originally planned.”
Nick’s T/A would also include A/C, power windows, illuminated vanity mirror (“…for my girlfriend, Kim Kurtz-Seslar, who has been my wife for 27 wonderful years,” he says), Custom trim, and a rear-seat console. Regarding the latter, he says, “I knew it was somewhat of a rare option, though I didn’t know how rare at the time. Besides that I thought it would prevent me from hauling too many people around in the back of the car.” He added the radio accommodation package, since he wanted to install an aftermarket cassette deck. One other order oddity: he specified blackwall tires because he could buy a set of Radial T/As for just $40 through the B. F. Goodrich employee-purchase program.
The Goldenrod Yellow Trans Am was built on June 18, 1977, and shipped to L. Smith and Son Pontiac in Antwerp, Ohio. Nick took delivery of it on June 21, 1977. “I was so excited to have the car that I missed work that night so I could go out cruising. It was the first day of work that I missed at BFGoodrich,” he says.
Code 19B1 Black Velour interior...
Code 19B1 Black Velour interior was chosen for a specific reason, “I didn’t want to burn my legs in the summer when I wore shorts and drove the car,” Seslar says. Other extra-cost interior options on this T/A include A/C, power windows, and tilt wheel.
The summer of 1977 also saw the release of Smokey and the Bandit. Though very popular in the deep south, Seslar remembers that it was not yet playing in movie theaters in Fort Wayne. “I owned my T/A a couple of weeks before ever hearing about it,” he says. “When some of my friends and I went to see it, in front of the theater was a black-and-gold Special Edition Trans Am. After that movie, all you saw were black-and-gold Trans Ams. I was glad my yellow T/A was different.”