Firebird Trans Am Super Duty
Restored Numbers Matching Trans Am Super Duty 455
- 1 of only 180 produced with a TH400 automatic transmission
- Frame-off concours level restoration
- Took second place at the Pontiac Nationals
- Correct Buccaneer Red paint
- Original 455 Super Duty V8
- Original Turbo-hydramatic 400 3-speed transmission
- Factory correct air conditioning
- Fully documented
By now you know that RK Motor's restoration shop turns out some of the nicest cars on the planet, and the latest is this 1973 Pontiac Trans Am SD455. Accurate throughout and highly detailed, it is ready to show and compete at any level and has already earned a second place at the Pontiac Nationals in Norwalk, Ohio (more on that second place finish in a moment). With a matching numbers drive train, it has the pedigree that serious collectors need, complete with a full PHS documentation package and window sticker. If you're looking for your next investment or you want what might be the most accurate Super Duty on earth, look no further. Add in the fact that it's rare (one of only 180 SDs built with an automatic out of a total of 252), and it's one heck of an investment.
Given all that, it should be no surprise that the paint and body work on this car is spectacular. Panel gaps are excellent, there's 100% steel in the body and if you're an F-body expert, you know that the area at the base of the rear window can be a minefield. The body was actually fairly straight and clean when we started which makes the end result that much nicer. Our guys spent weeks blocking and sanding the panels to make them laser-straight, and then we coated every surface in appropriate colors and finishes, which means red oxide primer underneath and gorgeous Buccaneer Red 2-stage urethane up top. Correct decals were sourced and installed, but only after the paint was carefully wet sanded and buffed to a mirror-like shine. If you're familiar with Buccaneer Red, you know that it's a bright, vivid red and definitely not the color you'll want to choose for sneaking around.
But color was only a small part of the exterior story for '73. The traditional nose bird was given a new, more detailed look with larger wings and a much more “fiery” look. Then there is the famous RPO WW7 Hood Decal, an option exclusive to Trans Ams, and the owner of the nickname “screaming chicken.” Talk about awesome! Sure, it's interesting to see a '73 with a clean hood and the small bird affixed to the front bumper, but deep down inside, we all want the big bird. It is doubtful if designers John Schinella and Bill Davis could have imagined the visual statement that his $55 option would make. Was it gaudy? Maybe. Was it too loud? Probably. Was it necessary? Absolutely!
The heart of a car like this is the engine, and the Super Duty moniker is not a misnomer. These 455 cubic inch engines share little more than the displacement with their more common brothers, as the Super Duty engines were largely hand-built pieces with significantly reinforced components throughout, from the block with four-bolt mains to the reciprocating assembly. The heads were actually based on the Ram Air IV pieces, but massaged and modified to extract even more performance. A cast iron intake manifold, Rochester carburetor, and cast iron exhaust manifolds round out the package, which ended up producing 290 horsepower—not too shabby for the EPA-choked 1973 model year.
On this car, the original SD engine has been fully rebuilt to factory specs and is as highly detailed as any car you're likely to see. Every component was exhaustively researched and returned to factory fresh in terms of color and finish. If it was painted, we painted it. If it was plated, we plated it. Date codes, engine markings, and all the other little details that separate a true #1 car like this from even very nice Trans Ams were faithfully reproduced. It's the original Y8-coded block in there, topped by the original Super Duty 16 cylinder heads. The original block was torn down and received a complete rebuild, using the correct crankshaft, rods and camshaft. The carburetor is a correct Rochester 800 CFM 4MV topped by an original SD scoop with block-off plate (most of which were discarded the instant the new owner got the car off the showroom floor). You'll also note that this SD carries factory A/C which has been fully restored and blows ice cold. Hoses, clamps, wiring, and fasteners are exact, making this one of the most thoroughly researched and documented Super Duties around.
Backing up the engine is a virtually indestructible TH400 3-speed automatic mated to a 3.08 geared 12-bolt rear axle with a limited slip (3.08s were standard in cars with A/C). Period road tests at the time showed automatic-equipped Super Duties running 13.50s at more than 104 MPH in the quarter, times that would not be bested by a factory production car until the Corvette ZR-1 seventeen years later! This car still has its matching numbers transmission, of course, and all the components around it have been refinished to new condition. The floors are the correct red oxide primer with overspray because the factory was NEVER all that careful about the bottom of a car. Lines and hoses are all new, and the 2.25-inch dual exhaust system is an exact reproduction, including the transverse rear muffler. Yeah, we could have stuffed a Flowmaster under there, but accuracy was the goal, not noise. The suspension is all-new, the brakes are fresh, and all the hardware is correct. We see a lot of these cars rolling around on BFGoodrich T/A radials, but this one rolls on a set of 225/70/15 Goodyear Polysteel Radials as original, wrapped around a set of beautifully restored original Pontiac Rally wheels.
I think Pontiac was really hitting on all 8 cylinders in the '70s in terms of interior design. While the hood decal may be gaudy overkill today, and the engine's horsepower relatively modest compared to some earlier muscle cars, there's no disputing the beauty of this car's interior. Those freshly restored black Morokide buckets are every bit as comfortable as they look. The dashboard features an engine-turned fascia that harkens back to the '30s when all the hottest cars featured this beautifully made finish on their instrument panels. This dash houses a pack of freshly restored gauges that make up a comprehensive package of information, along with the climate controls and AM radio. Overhead there's a new headliner, new carpets and mats are under your feet, and the door panels are excellent reproduction units that show Pontiac's new luxury orientation for the Trans Am in 1973. The center console is a cool piece that looks incredibly simple compared to today's multi-function units that house all sorts of electronic gear. There's a second, smaller console that neatly bisects the back seats, making this Super Duty purely a 4-seater. Since this is a show-winning car, you know all the little pieces are correct and freshly restored, to, from the door handles to the steering wheel to the overhead dome light. The trunk has a correct mat, with a matching spare and jack assembly. You might even notice that a new jacking instructions decal has been affixed under the deck lid.
Documentation on Pontiacs like this has been greatly improved by the introduction of Pontiac Historical Service (PHS), who can supply the build sheet, window sticker, and all kinds of additional information on most Pontiacs, and that's the case with this one. A complete package of useful and interesting stuff is included with this car, plus a full photo documentation of the restoration.
Now about that second place trophy. While second place at the national level is nothing to scoff at, we've grown accustomed to more here at RK Motor. It's in our name, after all. The car that beat this particular Trans Am was also a fresh restoration—a 5-year effort—that was truly spectacular in every way and certainly one of the nicest cars we've ever seen, no question about that. However, when we talked to the judges after the show to find out what we could correct to make sure this car is at the top of its class next time, we received this puzzling answer: “You should have chromed out the engine and made everything underneath shinier,” (yes, we actually have a video of a judge saying this). We understand that philosophy; car clubs can set their rules however they like and it's no secret that most concours class judging is all about beauty, with accuracy and authenticity being secondary concerns. But at RK Motor, we pride ourselves on duplicating the factory work exactly, which is how this Super Duty was restored. So no, the floors aren't clear coated and polished, and no, there isn't any extraneous chrome on the engine. Instead, what you have is an exact replica of how this car might have looked moments after rolling off the assembly line in 1973. So I guess you'll have to ask yourself one question when pondering this particular Super Duty Trans Am: what does the word restoration mean to you?
If your definition of restoration means a highly accurate, beautifully presented, meticulously crafted car that uses factory finishes throughout, well, here's your car. This Super Duty is rare, fast, and beautiful, and there probably aren't many cars built in 1973 that are more desirable. This car is proof that despite some grim days at the EPA and the oil embargo, Pontiac engineers still cared about performance and went the extra mile to build some impressive hardware. This car was restored with all that in mind, and is capable of winning awards at all levels. With documentation, a photo album of the restoration, and the first of many trophies included with the sale, it is truly an investment-grade Trans Am for the advanced Pontiac collector. According to the guys at the Pontiac Nationals, there's one that's nicer out there, but we can guarantee that there aren't many that are better. Call now!
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