Thursday, January 17, 2013

Hot Rods in the Holy Land: American muscle cars find fans in Israel, used parts needed

Don't be surprised to find a Pontiac on your pilgrimage. Dozens of V8-powered, American muscle cars, from immaculate show stoppers to the project variety, can be found on the streets and dirt roads of Israel. I found out about the abundance of hot rods in the Middle East from my new junkyardlife facebook friend, Transam Ali
  Ali, a 30-year old, from Northern Israel, was in need of some parts for his yellow, 1974 Trans Am project car (shown above). Finding good, used parts more than six thousand miles from Detroit, Michigan, the birthplace of the American muscle car, has been a challenge. Fortunately, for us, Ali provided a glimpse into the world of muscle cars in the Middle East.     

Ali's 1974 Pontiac Trans Am project car rides a rollback wrecker in Israel.

Message from the Middle East 
  It started as a simple question about car parts. "Can you sell me two doors and a bumper for a 1971 Pontiac Trans Am?" No biggie, I thought. I get request for cars and parts everyday. But, this request ended with, "Can you ship to Israel?" 
  Wait a minute! Really? Some guy in Israel is planning on driving to Tel Aviv in a T/A? Revving up a big bird Trans Am in Jerusalem? I had to know more. 
  I responded to his request with my usual answer, "I wish I could help but I’m a writer/car nut on a shoestring budget with little time to find rare parts for myself." Then I pestered him with questions about his vintage cars. I wanted dozens of details about why and how he and his fellow Israelis started driving American muscle cars. 
  Ali opened my eyes to a group of like-minded gear heads living in the birthplace of civilization. These guys relish old school, hot rod performance and burn rubber on some of the oldest, inhabited land on earth. Ali sent junkyardlife a ton of photos, including some of his black ’78 Trans Am. A car he restored and has driven throughout Israel for ten years. 

Transam Ali takes his T/A to car shows in Israel.

Transam Ali's ’78 Pontiac at Akko (or Acre), on Haifa Bay in Northern Israel.

Chasing dream cars and parts
  Burt Reynolds thought getting parts for his black 1977 Pontiac Trans Am would never be a problem. If ol’ Burt lived in the Middle East, and I don’t mean Texarkana, Texas, even he would have a hard time finding parts. 
  Ali lives in the "real" Middle East, the one that borders the Mediterranean Sea. For Ali, finding usable parts is difficult. Ali and his friends travel the back roads, kicking up dirt, looking for vintage cars and parts. They have discovered a few basket case project Trans Ams and Firebirds throughout Israel, but most of those cars are too far gone. Ali must rely on connections he makes at Israeli car shows and finding parts on eBay. Judging by the job this hard-working hot rodder has done on his 1978 Trans Am, it won't be long before Ali is turning heads on the streets of Israel in his restored 1974 Trans Am.

— Jody Potter,

Know of a car or a junkyard I need to visit or want to send me photos and info about a barn find, car or junkyard? I welcome images from around the world.  
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Rusted-out second generation Trans Ams can be found in Israel.

Is Israel the place to look for a Buccaneer Red 1973 Super Duty Trans Am?

Ali's 1978 Trans Am has custom wheels and side exhaust.

Black Trans Ams look good in Israel, Indonesia and Iowa.

Ali has driven his 1978 T/A for the last 10 years.

Israeli police check out Ali's 1978 Trans Am.

Ford Mustangs can also be found at car shows in Israel.

Dozens of vintage American muscle cars have found a home in Israel. 1968 Pontiac GTO, 1968 Mercury Cougar, 1979 Pontiac Trans Am.

Ali's friends in Israel have vintage Firebirds too.

A pair of 1979 Trans Ams, SE and Tenth Anniversary models, make Israel home now.

Looks like an Israeli junkyard has good some parts.

Have all the 1970-1973 Trans Ams been shipped out of the U.S.?

This beat-up 1978 Firebird waits for restoration in the Middle East.

Know of a car or a junkyard I need to visit or want to send me photos and info about a barn find, car or junkyard?  
Send emails to


Gary said...

That red GTO is a 1968, you can tell by the arrowhead on the front bumper as well as the lower valence lights.

Junkyard Life said...

Thanks for the heads-up Gary. I've always been unclear on the differences between 1968-1969 GTOs. Now I've got the clues. I will update cutline above.

Gary said...

No problem Jody... they look very similar from the front. The main differences to look for between the two are the vent windows which are found on the 68's but not on the 69's, as well as the rear bumper/tail lights. The rest are small stuff such as what I pointed out before, plus a few other little bits.