One of the most expensive, time-intensive, difficult, and yet, rewarding, projects of mine has been taking care of a 1976 Pontiac Trans Am.
A bit of history.. This car was bought by my father in 1976 and was raced in a few stock car series. It survived multiple crashes, engine rebuilds, and races, but did not have a chance once my siblings and I were born. It sat corroding, an eye-sore, for over a decade before I took it on as a project car in 2013. Since then it has undergone an initial-fix, painting, an exhaust conversion in 2014, an engine rebuild (whoops) in 2015, and constant little fixes.
The initial fix was rather interesting. Honestly, I consider myself rather lucky that I was able to find the problem so quickly. The car would not start. That was the overarching problem. The engine could turn over, but there was no spark. The battery was fine, the wiring all in order. So, with the data that I had I assumed an electrical problem. I started with the distributor, seeing as there was no spark, and found quickly that the pole piece had disintegrated. After replacing the part and putting the distributor back in place, starting the car came smoothly. The body work came next.
While searching around for pictures of other Trans Ams, I found Roger Bolliger’s 1971 Race Trans Am. I drew a huge amount of inspiration for changing the stock exhaust to side-pipes from his car. The original solution was rather shabby, as I used flex pipe to create the major turn. The first attempt left my exhaust pipe with only 2 inches of ground clearance. After multiple scrapes on the asphalt, I bent up some new pipes and now it performs a great deal better.
The engine rebuild is a success story that I am still very proud of. At the start of the rebuild I had no idea of where to start. But, I sat down with a manual for mechanics working on Pontiac vehicles, and started working. The problems can be seen below.
The engine had a crankshaft that was damaged, camshaft that was worn down, and a couple broken push rods. Parts arrived, everything was cleaned up, and eventually it went all back together.