1970 1/2 Pontiac
Firebird Trans Am
Documented Numbers Matching Trans Am Ram Air IV 4 Speed
If you haven't been paying attention lately, Pontiacs are red hot. Maybe it was the demise of the brand earlier this year that fueled the fire, but in the past 12 months, top-notch Pontiac muscle has skyrocketed in value. The best cars continue to sell quickly and for top dollar, ranging from our brilliant 1971 Judge convertible ($300,000) to our gorgeous 1974 Super Duty ($170,000). Every time we think we've found the ultimate Poncho, something even more spectacular shows up in the showroom.
With that in mind, we're pleased to debut this spectacular, 100% numbers matching 1970½ Trans Am Ram Air IV, one of only 59 built with a 4-speed, and fully documented with a build sheet. At first glance you may think that the production numbers listed in the story are backward, since you may have seen 29 4-speeds and 59 automatics in print many times. According to Pontiac historian Fred Simmons, however, those numbers were accidentally swapped by Pontiac years ago, and were simply accepted by researchers at the time as being correct, but today we know they were swapped. They actually did build more 4-speed Ram Air IV cars than automatics, which only proves that the guys buying these cars in 1970 knew EXACTLY what they were getting.
A life-long west coast car, this was one of only 24 RA IV cars built at the Van Nuys assembly plant, and one of only a handful to receive the California evaporative emissions control system, despite being sold in Phoenix, AZ (thanks to a change alert that's noted in the PHS documents). The RA IV Trans Am was another one of those cars that GM quietly slipped out the back door before the brass caught on—it was nearly a match for the top-of-the-line Corvette in terms of acceleration, and managed a comfortable ride and a usable back seat all at the same time. Handling was vastly upgraded from the first generation F-bodies, and the new low and wide styling was a slam-dunk.
Befitting a car of this caliber, the restoration has been executed to the highest standards throughout. As a west coast car, the body led an easy life and still sports 100% of its original sheet metal, save for the lower rear valence, which is a high-quality reproduction steel piece. With only 40,000 original miles, it's likely that this car has never been used in the daily grind, so opportunities for bumps and bruises were few and far between. Nevertheless, the restoration took the body down to bare metal on a rotisserie and straightened every imperfection and massaged it into spec far better than the factory could ever manage. Gaps are exemplary, panel fit is very good, and this might be the most well assembled early F-body I've ever seen. Those massive doors close effortlessly and latch tightly without being slammed—how'd they do that? The Polar White paint matches the factory finish exactly, and the decals are exact reproductions. The '70s hadn't really gotten their dancing shoes on in late 1970, and the “screaming chicken” is thankfully small and somewhat tasteful above the traditional Pontiac split grille.
The optional tinted glass in this car is almost entirely unmarked, with a few indications here and there that it is a low-mileage car. There's not much bright work, although this car does include upgraded décor body moldings and door edge guards, according to the build sheet. The chrome rear bumper has been restored to better-than-new condition, and all the lenses are bright and clear. Out back, the ducktail spoiler fits beautifully and carries the correct TRANS AM insignia.
Simply selecting RPO 342 got you the famed 370-horsepower round-port Ram Air IV engine, which delivered much more than simply an advertised 25 hp over the standard D-port Ram Air III engine. You also got a high performance camshaft with .527" lift (both intake and exhaust) and 308 and 320 degrees of duration, 1.65-to-1 ratio rocker arms, larger diameter push rods, higher valve spring pressures and an aluminum intake manifold with a cast iron crossover (which is still intact on this car). The engine was assembled with much tighter tolerances than any other high-performance engine Pontiac was producing at the time, closely resembling a “blueprinted” engine. Atop that intake and under the solenoid-operated scoop, the date-code correct Rochester Quadrajet carburetor (part number 7040273, which is correct for RA III and RA IV cars) makes its home. Short-block specifications include 4-bolt mains, an Arma steel crank, cast rods and forged aluminum pistons. As you can see, the Ram Air IV was no garden-variety engine.
This one has been fully rebuilt, and as I mentioned before, retains the entire evaporative emissions control system—perhaps the only one in the world so equipped. The cylinder heads are 614 castings, the block is a correct WW unit, the intake is a correct 97999 casting, and the unique Ram Air IV exhaust manifolds have been beautifully refinished. All the correct markings have been duplicated throughout, and the ancillary parts such as hoses and clamps are correct reproduction items.
The chassis has been expertly restored as well. From the red oxide primer on the floor pans, to the Polar White overspray just as the factory did it, you'll be more than impressed with the quality of the workmanship on this car. The Muncie M20 4-speed manual is the original, matching numbers piece, while out back, the RA IV was the only Firebird to receive a 12-bolt rear end as standard equipment (this one is packed with 3.73 gears and a Posi for explosive acceleration). The heavy-duty power disc brakes have been fully rebuilt, and correct F41-spec shocks are at all four corners. The dual exhaust system is an exact reproduction with an original cross-flow muffler that sounds healthy, but very stock on the streets (which I suspect was a good thing when you went out hunting in your new RA IV Trans Am). It's finished off with a set of original date-coded Rally II wheels wearing NOS PMD center caps and fresh reproduction 60-series Firestone Wide Oval tires from Coker. Of note, if you look closely at the 15x7 Rally II wheels, you will note the wheel is comprised of a 14-inch center with a metal band added to mate with the 15-inch outer rim—1970 is only year that you will find this detail.
Unlike most of the RA IV cars you'll see this one sports its original code 211 Medium Bright Blue Vinyl (deluxe) interior. Yes, I said original, not a new replacement interior from a kit. The seats and door panels have been reconditioned and re-dyed, but they are the OEM pieces. The carpets are spectacularly original, as is the headliner, which remains taut. The gorgeous engine-turned dash is amazingly well preserved with crisp detailing and no signs of fading or corrosion. Gauges are all functional and remain in outstanding original condition. The original AM radio lives in the dash, and the console is in great condition with no cracking or fading. According to the build sheet, this car also features the code 731 custom interior trim package, which included a trunk mat, roof rail molding (interior), instrument panel assist grip, custom front seat, door and quarter panel interior trim. The trunk features that fitted floor mat, as well as a full-sized spare tire with complete jack assembly.
This car is heavily documented. As I mentioned, the original build sheet is included, along with a reproduction window sticker and other documentation from PHS. We also have restoration photos showing this car being refinished from top to bottom, as well as a stack of receipts for much of the recent work, including the tires.
So the parade of white-hot Pontiacs continues at RK Motors. If this one is anything like the last few top-flight muscle Pontiacs we've featured, it won't be here long. Is the 1970½ Trans Am Ram Air IV the ultimate F-body? I suppose it depends on whom you ask, but there are large numbers of people who seem to think that it is. Big power, great handling, and an all-new body that looked like nothing else on the road, it was certainly the car to own in late 1970. One of the rarest Pontiacs ever built, with low original miles, 100% matching numbers, and a ton of documentation. This is truly an investment-grade automobile, and can easily anchor the most significant Pontiac collections. Call now!
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