The 1972 Pontiac Firebird, Formula & Trans Am
Log this one in Dept. X and among the rarest of the rare. This is not only a
1 of 1 1972 Trans Am this is a survivor design experiment. To be more
specific this is a 30k mile all-original and un-restored 1972 Trans Am
equipped with the famous Super Duty 455, that's right the SD455. That engine
was not made available in a production Trans Am till 1973. Neal Wichard owns
this truly amazing piece of Pontiac Engineering history. Neal writes:
"I own a "one off " 1972 TA built in the GM Design Studio. This car has been in storage for close to thirty years. It is painted a special white pearl color with matching pearl white leather interior. My car has many interesting features, much too numerous to list. One of the features that I found most interesting is the emblems on both door panels that specify "General Motors Design."
I noticed you had a photo of a Design Studio 1974 TA taken at the Chicago Auto Show. I was wondering if you might have a photo of my car as well. I would appreciate any pictures or information that you might have. My TA was on display at the Design Studio in late 1971, and was driven by Bill Mitchell for a period of time during the fall and winter of that year. By the way, it is equipped with a 455 SD engine which was not made available until 1973."
Thanks in advance for your help.
In a nutshell this Trans Am was designed by Bill Mitchell who (for those of you that don't know) was the head of GM design and GM V.P. at the time. The GM design dept built it as a concept/experiment of sorts and, as Neal states, was driven by Bill for a period of time. You'll not the document found attached to the gas tank in the last pic that reads "White Trans Am, Mitchell's". The Trans Am features a lot of unique features such as the hood bird that was much smaller than the hood bird that would see production in '73, a special Pearl paint job with a lot of light blue accents, white real leather interior, pearl painted instrument bezel, color matched light blue steering wheel and the list goes on. Neal has given us permission to provide a pdf version of an article written on his car recently by Greg Raymond that has appeared in many national publications. I highly recommend you read the article to get the full story on this truly amazing Trans Am.
The mysterious red '72 Trans Am has been located and its story unraveled. When I first added this pic to the site I stated it wore a color never offered by the factory. In this one case Pontiac proved me wrong. Read on...
Thanks to contributions from several visitors to the site I now have the story behind this very unique Trans Am. Its a true factory-built 1 of 1 Trans Am built in 1972. It was given to the SCCA president who was obligated to drive it to SCCA events. As the story goes the President initially refused Pontiac's offer stating he only drove red cars. Not to be denied Pontiac delivered a red one. The TA was later sold the Vice President of the SCCA who had quite a collection of cars. As of today the TA is owned by Volo Auto Museum who is offering it for sale to the public for the first time ($40k). It is the only red '72 Trans Am ever built and it only has 5,500 showing on the odometer. Its in excellent condition and is definitely one of the rarest TAs out there. Thanks to the contributor for the new pics of this amazing Trans Am.
A few interesting things to note from these photographs:
All of the "Trans Am" decals have blue stripes in the decals. Apparently Pontiac wasn't interested in developing a one-off set of decals for this car.
Not surprisingly the TA still has the original Polyglass GTs and honeycomb rims. From the picture it looks like the tires about 10 or 15 lbs low on air.
In the interior the most interesting feature is the console shifter. Not a necessarily a desirable option nor a common one. I wonder why they chose to install it in a car that was to be "shown-off" at racing events around the country.
Thanks to Horst Fiedler for most of the pics displayed here.
|Old meets new. This Trans Am sits next to a 25th Anniversary TA with the trademark white with a blue stripe paint job. Like the '71 model versus the '70 model there were very few changes for the '72 Trans Am lineup. The only noticeable cosmetic change for the new model was replacing the square mesh grill with a new hex mesh grill.|
|A Lucerne Blue Trans Am. The Lucerne Blue 72s were the lowest production run of the '70 - '73 bodystyle. The '73 Brewster Green Trans Am sitting next to it is also a rare TA. The 455 H.O. remained the only engine option available although the horsepower rating changed to 300hp.|
|These awesome cars easily prove why they have been labeled the most "muscular" looking of the muscle cars. Wheel options flip flopped for the '72 model. Honeycombs had been the standard wheel in '71 with the Rally IIs serving as an option. The reverse was true for '72. Only 458 Trans Am were built with manual trannys in '72 and 885 were built with automatics. Either way this year TA makes for a rare car.|
|The rear window on the early second generation Trans Ams differed from later models in that it did not "wrap" around the rear quarter panels. The new design in later models would increase visibility out the back window to improve safety.|
|This white 455 H.O. Trans Am has Rally II center caps that are blacked out. They were usually colored red. The long smooth doors, fenders and quarter panels that gave the cars such a graceful fluid look were highly susceptible to damage from parking lot door "dings". The doors also tended to sag from their immense wait through the years. This is a chronic problem with second gen TAs.|
||This Cardinal Red Esprit is one of
11,415 built during 1972 and Andrew Benzie is proud to call it his. Andrew's parents
purchased the car new back in 1972 when he was only 4 years old. The car served as the
family daily driver injecting Pontiac excitement into their lives till Andrew and his
brother got old enough to start high school. The car was driven by both brothers during
those years but its Andrew's car now. He wasted no time in "re-feathering" the
old bird as he likes to call it. New paint was applied in 1987 (its still on the car), the
tranny was rebuilt in 1991, and the engine got an overhaul in 1996. Most recently the A/C
has been replaced along with the heater core, the windsheild, the brakes, and new
mufflers. Other than the new paint with racing stripes, a set of Rally IIs and new tires,
and a Trans Am rear decklid spoiler the car is still outfitted the way it was the day it
rolled off the assmebly line.
Andrew webmaster's for his own site entitled "The Firebird Nest: My Online Garage". Here you'll find more pics of his car, lots of stats on '72 Firebirds and some non auto-related content as well. Stop by and take a look around.
This Trans Am is owned by James Scites. James writes:
"I talked to the guy I bought the car from and he says the color is a mixture of Viper Blue and the original Lucerne Blue. He was the guy that painted it. He was going to buy a house with his girlfriend and needed $$$$ for the down payment so he was selling the car. I ran into him when settlement was close so I kinda stole it from him. I entered it in a local car show right after I bought it and took second place out of 5 muscle cars in the show. I found out I lost to a beautiful '65 GTO and only lost to him by 2 votes. I am looking for the correct 455 HO intake and exhaust now. I have the HO heads and and want to make it more original. It has a turbo 400 trans and a 10 bolt 3.42 rear. It has a little more cam than I want in it right now but when I get the heads ready I'll change that too. I am also trying to find the correct carb. You would think these things would be easy to find with this internet thing but it hasn't helped much so far. My last muscle car before this was a '65 GTO my brother has right now. We just finished Pro-Streeting it cause he wanted it that way. It turned out real nice. He added Fiberglass fenders hood trunk and bumpers and left the Pontiac engine in it (at least so far) He says if it lets go he will put a 502 Chevy in it next. He let the car sit 7 years with the engine on a stand and it started before it turned over 3 times. No knocks no smoke. I am 39 years old and used to be a Pontiac Dealer mechanic between 1978 and 1982. After that I became a diesel mechanic for the bus system in Wash DC. Now I do building maintenance for the subway system in DC. (same company). Oh By the way I bought a 1980 Trans Am new in 1980 so this is the second one I have had. Thanks for the email. I'll send more pics if I ever take them."
I think only once before on this site have I posted six pictures of a single Firebird.
This particular Trans Am was also just too nice to try and display with just five. Its
really in incredible condition. Its owner is Greg Johnson. Greg writes:
"This car had 13,000 miles and was stored inside since the 70's. It was restored in 1990, not that the car needed it, but the owner was a perfectionist. When I saw the car it was under inches of dust and it just needed to be cleaned up. I told him I wanted it but he told me it was not for sale; but I proved him wrong because everything has a price. He also had a '73 4-spd. super duty all original. This car is one of the best I have seen, not just because its mine, but I looked at about 1500 cars in 5 years that where supposed to be perfect 10 cars which where not 10's at all. I even looked at the Trans Am Nats. for a few years. Not saying mine is the best but it has done good at the Trans Am Nats. and everyone loves it! Thanks for your time and your knowledge."