Saturday, February 1, 2014

Barn find: Brewster Green 1973 Pontiac Trans Am


Junkyard galoots go green! If you thought the days where you could find a collectible muscle car grazing in field were over, you are wrong (we were too). The Junkyard Life crew could not believe our eyes after seeing the Brewster Green, 1973 Pontiac Trans Am that our partner in grime, Anthony Powell, found in a field. So it shall be… Anthony will restore a dream car. What a Galoot!

  I’m not making this up. Anthony really did find this in a field. That lucky dog. Really, who finds a 1973 Brewster Green Trans Am in a field? Further irony exist in that it was sitting with a handful of early 1970’s Ford Mustangs. I wish I had a picture of that. Wait a minute...


Here, you can actually see a bit of a Mustang, but only after you get tired of the Brewster Green Trans Am in the foreground. So, you never actually see the Mustang.



In the office of King Powell’s Pontiac, you may notice a console not belonging in this car (4-speed console in an automatic transmission T/A). This ’73 has the optional deluxe interior we refer to as “horse collar” seats. These chairs keep the occupants planted in place and tend to grip you better than standard seats. Manual windows saved a few pounds and burns calories at the same time.



Close-up view of the 1973 T/A’s perfect and complete dash. A quick inventory reveals a host of high performance goodies like the eight grand tach and the 160 MPH speedo (standard in the Trans Am) and comfort options like tilt wheel and air conditioning.



Deluxe interior 1973 Trans Ams often came with these awesome map pockets on the door panels. His Majesty has room for the royal Tic Tacs.
(Author’s Note: the term “Royal Tic Tacs” has never been used in a Junkyard Life story ever before


Original hood bird and Brewster Green paint, shaker scoop from parts unknown.

What’s under the hood bird?
  Anthony discovered that the ’73 T/A has an un-original 455 engine and the factory 3:08 posi rear gear – this thing should really haul. What happened to the original 455 engine it was born with? We don’t know, but we did learn that the second owner left the Brewster Green T/A at a dealership to fix something and it returned home with another engine under the hood. The former owner surmises, “They took it for a ‘test drive’ and it didn’t fair so well.” 
  The car’s original history is unknown, but the second owner that I “sleuthed-up,” bought the car in 1976. He opted to trade-in his 1975 model Trans Am with a 400 engine, in exchange for this older model that had a 455 power plant. However, after speaking to the second owner by phone, he seemed to not be a car guy and was not excited about his old car being found and rescued. His loss.



Ron’s Accusation of Attempted Murder!
  That’s right. Murder. I accuse thee, Pontiac for the attempted murder of the Trans Am. Anthony does not agree with this point of view, and I know it is not the general consensus. Why would they want to kill the Trans Am? The best selling icon of sex appeal, glamour and rebellion all wrapped into one bird clad hood? Keep in mind this was years before the black and gold Special Edition model became a national addiction (and still has us in rehab).

Anthony washes his recently rescued, prized 1973 Pontiac despite near-freezing temperatures.

Bird of a different color
  An expanded color palette and broader wings were on the option list for 1973. Pontiac Trans Ams came in only 2 flavors prior to 1973 – Cameo White or Lucerne Blue. A bold white or blue stripe bisected these Birds and continued the white/blue T/A tradition set forth by the 1969 Trans Am.
  But, Pontiac’s feathers were about to be ruffled. 
  In 1970, designers tried to convince the powers-that-be that the newly re-styled Firebird needed a huge bird on the hood. Not just a yard bird, but a predatory Phoenix bird. They were met with a resounding, big fat “no”. They tried again in 1971 and 1972. Still “no”. 
  For the 1973 model year, upper management agreed to try the big bird design on the hood, but with a different color line-up. A quick spin of the color wheel was necessary before the big bird decal could spread its wings. Amazingly, only three colors were made available for the Trans Am. Lucerne Blue was dropped from the option list. 
  You could have had a deck of color cards to choose from for the Firebird and stealthy Formula, but only three in the Trans Am? What were they?

1973 Pontiac Trans Am paint options:
  • Buccaneer Red: America finally got to see a splash of color on the remaining muscle on the dealership floors. Red will sell.
  • Cameo White: We can picture this. Innocent color for a tire shredding machine. Major irony points. Classy color, it will sell.
  • Brewster Green: What? Really? After all the marketing research Pontiac had access to, why green? Grandma, come get your new Trans Am. (Author’s note: “Grandma, come get your new Trans Am” is yet another expression never before used on Junkyard Life)
Paint fail
  That is why I say Pontiac or GM tried to kill the Trans Am in 1973. They had access to all the marketing research about who was buying what. The demographic of the Trans Am buyer would NOT have wanted it green. Green was on the way out by 1973 and was synonymous with domestic settings and PTA meetings and not a Trans Am. The people who would buy a green car were probably not looking for a Trans Am, and the people buying a Trans Am would not want a green car.
  Murder, I say. They set-up the Trans Am to fail.

Ron Kidd digs out his green hat for the Brewster Green 1973 T/A’s homecoming party.

Last hurrah for muscle cars
  Remember Jim Wangers? The advertising hero of mine that kept Pontiac in trouble with the powers-that-be. He said that Pontiac was getting stodgy and losing their John DeLorean inspired excitement. Pontiac had an image all right. That’s what they wanted to change. Just a few years before they got into hot water for advertising that seemed to advocate street racing. Old fashioned “whip hinnie on the street” recipes for mean cars.
  So now, with insurance and fuel cost on the rise, that should have been the last hurrah for muscle cars packing a 455 engine. A Trans Am package on an otherwise docile car (except the Formula) was not going to help that image at all. Kill it. Then bury it in paint code 48 – Brewster Green. 

Ron Kidd and Pontiac loyalist gather around the 1973 T/A to bask in the glory of the rare Brewster Green Bird.

Sell like… 
  And they would have gotten away with it too… but we thwarted their evil plan and bought them anyway. We bought enough of them in 1973 to justify continued model years. Even after Chevrolet dropped the Z28 package on the competitive Camaro in 1975 and 1976 (and at times outselling the Firebird), Pontiac still gave us a Trans Am. Pontiac never regretted that decision after the release of the “Smokey and the Bandit” movie in 1977. Pontiac Trans Ams were flying off the dealership lots.

Rare and one-year only
  Well, Brewster Green was released only for the 1973 model year, never to return on the Trans Am line until a variation emerged in the early 1990’s. That fits us perfectly, because we love green, we love Trans Ams and we really love things that didn’t sell well in the first place. A 1973 Brewster Green Trans Am is at the top of our list of dream cars we never thought we would own. Very valuable and collectible by today’s standards. A total of 4,472 Pontiac Trans Ams were produced for the 1973 model year. Only 146 were painted Brewster Green.

This 1973 Trans Am now has a safe, dry resting spot until Anthony gets the rare Bird back on the road.

Come back for more
  Follow along as we bring this green machine into a new life. Anthony has it disassembled and has bins of re-finished parts. Check in from time to time and watch us hatch this green bird.
Happy Hunting!

Ron Kidd
—Junkyard Life


Solid floor pans and minimal rust make this 1973 Trans Am a keeper of Super Duty proportions.

Many Second Gen Trans Am have undergone the shaker hood scoop-to-hood attachment plan. Friends don't let friends bolt shaker hood scoops to the hood of a Trans Am.



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