First, I want to tell you how much I appreciate your knowledge and support to all of us diehard Pontiac enthusiasts.
I used to have an ’80 Turbo Trans Am with a 3-inch-diameter, four-point chrome rollbar. I have only seen one other T/A with this same rollbar inside of it; I’ve heard of one other. Was this a factory option, a dealer option, or did somebody start installing them in these cars?
In my opinion, not only did it look good, but also it is a good safety device, especially for the T-top Birds like mine. I just bought a ’78 T-top Trans Am to restore and would like to install this roll bar in my new project, but I have no idea where to start looking. I would greatly appreciate your help.
James Blair - Via Internet
Rocky Rotella responds:
James, unfortunately, Pontiac never offered any type of rollbar as a factory-installed option in any year Firebird. To my knowledge, no company is presently offering a Firebird-specific bolt-in rollbar kit today.
The four-point, bolt-in rollbar was a popular aftermarket accessory available during the ’70s and ’80s. A number of companies produced direct-fit assemblies for the GM F-body that consisted of a one-piece, pre-welded unit or a multi-piece kit that required some assembly.
A few Pontiac-specific performance shops like H-O Racing and Nunzi’s Automotive offered them in their catalogs back in the day. So when considering availability and popularity, it’s not surprising to find a Second-Gen Firebird with a bolt-in rollbar assembly that had been installed by a dealership, local speed or fabrication shop, or savvy owner when the car was relatively new.
It’s not surprising to find a Second-Gen Firebird with a bolt-in rollbar assembly that had been installed by a dealership, local speed or fabrication shop, or savvy owner when the car was relatively new
The most popular setup in its day was likely Hooker’s Show Bar kit, which bolted onto the floorpan near the rear spring perches and onto the rear wheelwell. It required some slight modification to the carpet and rear-seat trim panels for proper installation. Others available at that time installed similarly. You may still be able to find a used unit by cruising online auctions and/or the classified ads on many Pontiac and/or F-body–specific web-based forums. I think you’ll find the group at Trans Am Country (www.transamcountry.com) most familiar with them, so you might consider starting there. You may also want to ask for this info on our forums at www.highperformancepontiac.com.
If you simply want a rollbar for your ’78 Trans Am and a ready-made kit isn’t of the utmost importance, you can certainly have one fabricated for you. Companies like Competition Engineering sell generic kits that can easily be modified and/or assembled to fit your particular Firebird.
It may be more of a job than a hobbyist wants to tackle, but any competent fab-shop should be able to handle it for you. You can test-fit it, and then have it chromed or powdercoated just before bolting it into place.
When deciding which is better for you and your Pontiac, remember that a bolt-in four-point unit is far less permanent, and in my opinion, its effects on body rigidity are a bit limited. A weld-in unit becomes an integral part of the body shell and significantly increases overall structural integrity.
Detroit Speed and Engineering’s offering (www.detroitspeed.com, PN 011303) connects the floorpan and trunk floor for maximum effect, but it can require modifications to the rear package shelf and reduce an already tight trunk area.
Whichever style you choose, be sure to let us know how it works for you!
When deciding which is better for you and your Pontiac, remember that a bolt-in four-point unit is far less permanent, and in my opinion, its effects on body rigidity are a bit limited
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