Car 7 - 1978 Pontiac Trans am

Car 7 – 1978 Pontiac Trans am

I was still finalizing the sale of my 1959 Bonneville when I started again the search for a late second-generation Firebird. There were some offers that caught my eye, but I knew that in the summer (2018) I am going to the US with my wife on the wedding party of her cousin. What a better time to choose my classic American car in person? This would add a sentimental value in the car. I was considering all conditions from a project to a car in excellent condition.

When the time came I carefully selected the best cars I was interested in and checked which ones I could go and see in person. The USA is a big country. Our plans were to visit several cities in different parts of the country, but I realized I would be able to see in person only 5 cars.

When we landed in the US my good plan failed quickly unfortunately. Our first stop was in Los Angeles where I was going to check a white 1976 Formula and a gold 1978 Trans am project. The first car sold on Ebay about a couple of years earlier and I was surprised to see it again on the market. When I saw it I realized it was looking much better on the pictures and needed a lot of TLC. I gave up from it. The same day two of the cars I was planning to visit in other cities on our way were sold. On the next day we had to change our plans and cancel our visit in Denver, Colorado. The reason was health issues in the family of my good friend there. I called to the seller of a nice 1978 Trans am in Minneapolis area and it turned out he will not be at home in the weekend when we will stay with our friends who live there. I realized that the white 76 Formula I saw and the 1978 Gold Trans am project in LA area will be the only two cars I will be able to see. I went to see the Trans am with a good friend of mine. He was shocked by the place where the car was located. He told me that the junk yard was perfect for a criminal movie.




I inspected the Trans am. It was solid and to my pleasant surprise the engine run. The car was last registered in 1988 and was sitting ever since.

The original paint and interior were destroyed from the California sun.






We reached an agreement on the price, and I bought the car.

This happened in August 2018.

I was not able to see the car again before January 2019 when it arrived in Bulgaria.




The restoration challenge began.

It turned to last much longer and was much bigger deal than I expected even though I already had some restoration experience with these cars.

I started with the brakes and the differential.

Then moved to the suspension, followed by the welding, which took 3 months.

I had to change welders, because the first one was too slow and was not good enough.

After the welding I had to wait to have the car repainted for 9 months.

Initially the painter started very quickly with the preparation, then he slowed down.

At one point I started wondering whether I will have the car repainted at all. But at the end a lot of work was done and it was repainted nicely.

Then the next time-consuming step followed: it took me about an year until I figure out the reason for the rough idle of the engine. It was something totally unexpected. The new camshaft that I installed was too aggressive for the stock engine. This camshaft was recommended by Pontiac experts in the US, and I was surprised that they selected a cam with these specs keeping in mind that I told them that I am trying to keep the car stock. During the 4 years of restoration a close friend of mine who was helping me working on the car passed away.

I was very lucky to get help from my friend Gancho who came back to Bulgaria for a few months in his professional shop in Stara Zagora.

I had to have the engine opened for a second time.

This time Gancho did professionally all the work. He made the overhaul with new seals, gaskets, main and cam bearings, piston rings, oil pump, stock cam etc. 

The transmission was also rebuilt and resealed. The final problems were solved after I bought a brand new 3 row aluminium radiator.

I finally reached the stage of detailing: applying decals, adjustments etc. Some four legs helpers joined while I was doing the final idle tune up.

Once done this Trans am became the nicest of the three second-generation Trans ams I have owned.

I enjoyed the car for one season while doing some final work on it. 

It was a great experience to be together with one of my best friends who owns almost identical car at the season opening in 2023.

Then a potential customer from my country appeared. The other two Trans ams went to Belgium and Denmark. I wanted the car to stay in Bulgaria, so I decided to sell it to him. The long and tough restoration didn’t create a strong bond between me and the car. I really hope that this is not the last second-generation Firebird that I have owned and that someday I will not regret that I sold it.

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Since I have so many good friends in the USA, have bought, restored and sold cars in Bulgaria and Europe, I decided to create this website where you can find a good selection of classic American cars and projects for sale. You will also see the cars I have delivered over the years by people order.
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