The 1979 Pontiac Trans Am 10th Anniversary Edition crosses the block. Photos courtesy Barrett-Jackson.
In 2011, a 1979 Pontiac Trans Am 10th Anniversary Edition with less than seven miles on the odometer raised eyebrows when it sold at auction for $85,000, or roughly $35,000 over then-published high-book value. Even this sale paled in comparison to one recorded by Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale, Arizona, last week, where a second 1979 Pontiac Trans Am 10th Anniversary Edition, with a single-owner history and 7.9 miles on the odometer, auctioned for a record-setting (for an Anniversary Edition Trans Am) $187,000, including buyer’s fees, roughly $126,000 above current high-book value for the specific model.
The 10th Anniversary Trans Am sold in Scottsdale last week was purchased new by the consignor in March of 1979. Desirable for several reasons, including its limited-edition status and the last-production-year Pontiac 400 V-8 beneath the hood, the Trans Am carried a window sticker price of $10,822.55, but commanded a selling price of $15,000 with dealer markup factored in. Trailered home, the car was reportedly stored in a shop building and started monthly, yet never driven.
The 10th Anniversary cars, code Y89, came only in silver and dark charcoal, trimmed in red, silver and gray striping with a “super bird” hood decal that flowed onto the fenders, 10th Anniversary decals, T-tops, and a silver interior. Leather seating was standard, as was a hand-embroidered bird on each door panel and the rear seat, a leather-wrapped Formula wheel, red instrument panel lighting, air conditioning, and many other comfort and convenience options including an AM/FM/8-track stereo with seek and scan functions available only on Y89 models.
Buyers outside California had a choice of two engines on this special-edition Trans Am: Opting for the 185-hp 403-cu.in. Oldsmobile-built V-8 (the only option for Golden State buyers) automatically selected the three-speed Turbo Hydra-Matic transmission, while choosing the Pontiac-built 220-hp 400-cu.in. V-8 automatically selected the four-speed manual transmission. As Matthew Litwin wrote in the 1979 Pontiac Trans Am Buyer’s Guide, published in the May 2013 issue of Hemmings Muscle Machines, 5,683 examples were built with the 185-hp 403, while 1,817 examples were built with the 220-hp Pontiac 400.
All Y89 cars also came equipped with unique 15×8 Air Flow (or Turbo, as they’re also known) wheels and 225/70R15 white letter tires, as well as the WS6 handling package. The WS6 package included stiffer rear leaf springs; a .75-inch rear anti-roll bar (up from .625); nylon end-link bushings, instead of rubber bushings, for the existing 1.25-inch front anti-roll bar; firmer dampers; fixed ratio (14:1) steering box; and rear disc brakes, a new feature for 1979 models.
There’s no way of knowing how many more 1979 Pontiac Trans Am 10th Anniversary cars remain in undriven form, stored since new in the hope that one day they’d be bona fide collectibles. Auction results like this have a way of bringing cars out of hiding, and we wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see other low-mileage Y89 Trans Ams on the docket at future 2016 sales.
1977 Pontiac Trans Am, used to promote Smokey and the Bandit.
The 10th Anniversary Trans Am wasn’t the most expensive example to trade hands in Scottsdale, either. On Saturday, January 30, a 1977 Trans Am, originally purchased by Universal Studios and used to promote the film, Smokey and the Bandit, sold for $550,000, cracking the sale’s top-10 and setting an auction record for all Pontiac Trans Am models. Adding to the pageantry, the car was driven onstage by Burt Reynolds, who also signed the car for its new owner.
1947 Talbot-Lago T-26 Worblaufen cabriolet.
Other lots in the Scottsdale top-10 included a trio of first-production model Corvettes (a 1955, a 1956, and a 1957), which sold as a single lot and achieved a price of $1,815,000; a 2015 Porsche 918 Spyder Weissach, which sold for $1,760,000, setting an auction record for the model; a 1939 Mercedes-Benz 540K with “Cabriolet A” body conversion, which sold for $1,485,000; a 1965 Shelby 289 Cobra, CSX2495, which sold for $797,500; a 1947 Talbot-Lago T-26 Worblaufen cabriolet, which sold for $715,000; a 1969 Chevrolet Corvette L88 convertible, which sold for $577,500; a 1939 Talbot-Lago T-15 cabriolet, which sold for $550,000; a 1953 Chevrolet Corvette, the last one built, which sold for $533,500; and a 2006 Ford GT Heritage Edition, which sold for $522,500.
1977 Pontiac Grand Prix.
With nearly 1,500 lots sold over the weeklong sale, there were lots in more affordable price points, too. A 1987 Ford Mustang GT sold for $5,500; a 1977 Pontiac Grand Prix sold for $8,800; a 1968 Volkswagen bus sold for $8,800; a 1969 Cadillac Eldorado sold for $9,350; a Mazda-built 1972 Ford Courrier pickup sold for $4,950; a 1975 Lincoln Continental four-door sedan sold for $5,500; a 1974 MG Midget sold for $7,920; a 1962 Mercury Comet sold for $4,730; and a recently repainted 1949 Crosley coupe sold for $3,850.
For complete results from Barrett-Jackson’s 45th Anniversary Scottsdale sale, visit Barrett-Jackson.com.