Home Car Stories One Owner 1984 PONTIAC Firebird Trans Am- Di
1984 PONTIAC Firebird Trans Am- Di PDF Print E-mail
Written by Double Dragon
Monday, 09 April 2012 17:37

1984 PONTIAC Firebird Trans Am- Di

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Story and photography copyright D. S. Brown. Warranty and owner's manual images copyright Pontiac.

This story begins back when Di bought her dream car: a 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. For nearly seven years she enjoyed her new car. One day in 1983 Di went down to the underground parking at her condominium and her Trans Am was gone. What a terrible feeling for anyone. The theft of the 1977 Trans Am spurred Di to replace it with a new Trans Am and to take many measures to ensure that the new car wasn't stolen, too.

In the years Di had been driving her 1977 the old second gen T/A body style that dated back to 1970 had been replaced with a space ship design downsized 305 c.i. version. No more big blocks or spoilers and spats. Di enjoyed the monster torque of the Pontiac big block in her old 1977 T/A but she didn't want a second hand car. She wanted a new one, so on June 16, 1983 Di made her peace with the small 305. She went to the Wheaten Pontiac Buick car dealership in New Westminster, BC and ordered the T/A. She put a deposit down and waited for her third gen 1984 Trans Am to be built.

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Four months later the car arrived and Di rushed down to take delivery. Below is a copy of the bill of sale for the replacement Trans Am. Di's name, address and the final significant digits of the VIN are removed for internet privacy.

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On Oct 7, 1983 Di took delivery of a brand new white 1984 Trans Am from Wheaton Pontiac Buick GMC Ltd in New Westminster, British Columbia. The Van Nuys, California factory build sheet below has the final VIN digits removed. Wheaton Pontiac Buick GMC Ltd is listed as dealer number 077 in zone 81. The build date appears to be September 20, 1983.

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The list of options was so long that it was easier for the salesman to simply cross off the ones that didn't apply from the two page list shown below. The salesman then deducted the cost of unwanted options from the price of a fully loaded vehicle to come up with an individual quote.

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The warranty book and owner's manuals have highlighting on the relevant passages. Di is one of the few people who actually care enough to read these books. Her full name, address and final VIN numbers have been removed from the images.

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The owner's manual below also came with a supplement.  The owner's manual supplement provided detailed instructions on starting the car under very cold, cold, warm and hot conditions. Different methods were needed for various optional engines.

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The finicky emission control carburetor engines being produced alongside fuel injection engines motivated this supplemental information. The booklet instructs the owner to turn the ignition key to the run position. If a "Check Engine" warning light lit up that indicated that the car had the "Computer Command Control System". The system used a digital microcomputer to coordinate fuel, spark advance, idle speed, EGR, and transmission. These owners were told to disregard the information in the supplemental booklet. The owners with regular preset carburetors could use the procedures outlined in the supplement.

Di highlighted the engine VIN code 'H' which the booklet explains is a 305- 4 barrel engine built in either a Chevrolet plant or a GM of Canada plant. A very cold 305 engine required three pumps of the gas pedal versus the two pumps required in a V6.

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Di vowed that this time her new Trans Am would be theft proof. Immediately after purchase a Uneo box TZ- 3000 was installed. This was a state of the art car alarm in 1983. Any tampering with doors, hood or even significant vibration set off a loud alarm. The alarm trumpet was attached to the passenger front inner wheel well as seen below.

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To its credit, it is still functional today. Di didn't stop there. She created a homemade hood lock system which was riveted into the front of the radiator support to add another layer of protection to the car. Except when she was at work the Trans Am was garaged from day one.

Next on Di's list was a Whistler 500 radar detector, which today seems to be placing a bit of extra faith in the performance of the 305 smog motor provided with the T/A. Di remembered how much of a stormer her 1977 Trans Am was and psychologically expected the same from the third gen T/A. When I drove this car it was somewhat peppy because it is a light car to begin with and some good aftermarket exhaust work not only gives this a nice burble on idle but a touch more response when you floor it.

The T/A had presided over the late 1970s as one of the best all around muscle cars being sold. In the 1970s, the Trans Am stalked the Corvette performance within a hair. A Dodge Dart 360 was within a smidgen of the T/A acceleration (in some tests faster, others slower). The Dart 360 was gone after 1976 leaving the T/A and Corvette as basically the only muscle cars still standing. The Mustang 5.0 was slowly returning to the land of the living but was always a hair behind the GM muscle.

The mid 1970s T/A 400 and 455s actually out cubed the Corvette when the Vette had only two versions of the 350 to pick from. In 1980 even before the space age T/A body appeared, the 400 had breathed its last. The T/A was falling off the map in the early 1980s with a two into one single catalytic converter feeding into fake dual exhaust and a low compression carbureted 305. The 1984 Corvette still had 350 cubes bolstered by fuel injection.

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Pontiac ducted cool air in from the front of the car as well as creating a functional rear facing scoop system that mated with the air cleaner. This system helped pick up some power, and sealed out weather quite well for most of the life of the car. In later years a leak developed during heavy rain. The engine is original, but the carburetor is a remanufactured replacement required to pass British Columbia’s Lower Mainland Aircare testing program.

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Pontiac is to be applauded for applying their famous "Ram Air" tricks to the car, but the T/A is still saddled with log exhaust manifolds, restrictive single catalytic converter and lean carburetor on a low compression 305. The T/A benefited from the overdrive 4 speed automatic which allows a higher numerical axle ratio than normally found in those Corporate Average Fuel Economy and emissions era vehicles. This let the car pull out reasonably well in first, but still cruise at lower RPMs in fourth overdrive. The overdrive ceased working in the 2000s. The digital clock in the console is still keeping accurate time.

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The Trans Am was downsized for 1982 and given a raked windshield and more aerodynamic lines all of which did help the car make the most of the less potent power plants necessary to meet tighter emissions and fuel mileage quotas.

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Di used her TA as a daily driver for a short work commute and kept up on maintenance. The relentless wet of New Westminster, BC took its toll on the body. The Trans Am was repainted a white that is a bit brighter than the stock color. The inner wheel wells up front and in rear have rust out. Below you can see the rot in the driver's front inner wheel well. The worst part is the battery tray which is a flaky mess with an actual hole in the middle.

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Take a look in 20 YEARS PLUS section of this website at the amazing rust out accrued by the 1975 Plymouth Valiant which spent it's whole life parked outdoors in New Westminster, BC. The Trans Am is 9 years newer and enjoyed the protection of a garage at night but it still suffered. The original wheels are lacking the center caps, but are in decent condition. Every year a set of winter wheels and tires took the salt and sand punishment dished out to the car. The tires seen here were mounted 6,000 miles ago in 2006.

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The interior has held up fairly well. There is a water leak coming under the dash in the passenger footwell. It's not the typical blown heater core, but coming through a missing grommet on a windshield wiper arm. The white driver's seat is remarkably clean considering how many miles it has been subject to. The seatbelt is free of fraying due to its seat top retaining spooler.

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The rear seats are in good shape and carry on the Firebird tradition of running the carpeted driveshaft tunnel down between the two individual seating sections.

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The third generation Firebirds had hatchbacks that combined with fold down rear seats to create a useful cargo space when needed. The shocks that hold the rear glass hatch open are still working properly without sagging.

Di was a proud owner of her T/A and was very careful but that can't cancel out the 121,800 miles of driving logged. The corner of the brake pedal is worn smooth.

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The Trans Am hasn't been used much in the last few years. The speedometer reads in Kilometers and has an odometer with a six digit format allowing true distance to be known. Earlier GM cars have odometers using the five digit format forcing speculation about how many times any particular car has "been around the dial."

The current Kilometer reading of 196,037 converts to a mileage reading of 121,811. Aircare results and garage bills indicate that the car accrued most of its mileage in the first decade of ownership. After Oct, 1996 when the car was 13 years old, the yearly use drops off sharply.

In Oct, 1992 at 9 years old the mileage was 110,000 KM (68,000 miles).
At 10 years old in Oct, 1993 the reading was 123,000 KM (76,000 miles).
Oct, 1994 mileage= 138.000 KM (85,000 miles).
Oct 1995 mileage= 146,000 KM (90,000 miles).
Oct 1996 mileage= 156,000 KM (96,000 miles)
Oct 1997 mileage= 160,000 KM (100,000 miles)
Oct 1998 mileage= 163,000 KM (101,000 miles)
Oct 1999 mileage= 166,000 KM (102,000 miles)
Oct 2000 mileage= 171,000 KM (106,000 miles)
Oct 2001 mileage= 174,000 KM (107,000 miles)
Oct 2002 mileage= 177,000 KM (108,000 miles)
Oct 2003 mileage= 179,000 KM (110.000 miles)
Oct 2004 mileage= 182,000 KM (112,000 miles)
Oct 2005 mileage= 184,000 KM (114,000 miles)
Oct 2006 mileage= 187,000 KM (115,000 miles)
Oct 2007 mileage= 190,000 KM (117,000 miles)
Oct 2008 mileage= 192,000 KM (118,000 miles)
Oct 2009 mileage= 194,000 KM (120,000 miles)
Oct 2010 mileage= 195,000 KM (120,000 miles)
Oct 2011 mileage= 195,000 KM (120,000 miles)

The car ran well without major issues except for Aircare hassles. In 1995 an oxygen sensor caused the Trans Am to fail inspection at 90,000 miles. In 2008 a new catalytic converter and a remanufactured carburetor were needed to pass at 112,000 miles.

The Trans Am required new drums, lines and wheel cylinders in a 1994 brake overhaul performed at 82,000 miles. The idler arm and center link also had to be replaced. New rotors were required when the front brake pads were changed in 1998. The T/A had just passed 100,000 miles. At this time it received new ball joints, sway bar links, valve cover gaskets, a turn signal cancel spring, front struts and rear shocks.

The speedometer only reads up to 140 KM/ 85 MPH. USA cars from 1980 upwards were restricted to 85 MPH speedometers until someone in authority finally admitted that a low reading speedometer wasn't going to prevent crashes.

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As of this writing a Trans Am collector is going to buy the car. He has Firebirds from each generation and wants a 'driver' that he doesn't have to worry about. Di's Trans Am has enjoyed one owner collector car status for 27 years and 6 months as of the first week of April, 2012.

oocc-dragon-end

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 27 August 2014 20:54 )