HomeCar Culture1976 Trans Am the Only Game in Town

1976 Trans Am the Only Game in Town

During the Dark Ages, this Firebird reigned supreme


Imagine it’s 1976. Armageddon has come and gone. Earth is now a desolate place, full of leisure suits, disco music, the Krofft Supershow, and automobiles that have been hit with the ugly stick. Despite the bleak environment, Pontiac continues to produce a performance car with 455 cubic-inches.

Looking at the performance environment in Detroit, we have a Camaro that was missing its Z/28, leaving only a 350 Corvette with 180 or 210 horsepower. Chrysler could do that one better with a 360-powered Dodge Dart Sport and Plymouth Duster that offered 220 horses; mid-size Mopars offered a 240-horse 400 big-block — now, things began to get interesting. Ford had plenty of decals but no performance offerings comparable to the above. Extra pity goes to the folks from California who were restricted from buying these.

And Pontiac? The 455 was reintroduced for the Firebird after taking a year-long sabbatical. It put out a pathetic 200 horsepower, but its torque numbers made up for it. Plus, it was only available with a four-speed. Amid the desolation on Earth, there was an emergence of life.  

This 1976 Pontiac Trans Am, one of 7,528 built, was the last of the performance cars that harkened back to another era. Join Muscle Car Campy as he asks the question that Freud and others have always wondered: Is the 1976 Trans Am a legitimate muscle car?

Diego Rosenberg
Diego Rosenberg
Lead Writer Diego Rosenberg is a native of Wilmington, Delaware and Princeton, New Jersey, giving him plenty of exposure to the charms of Carlisle and Englishtown. Though his first love is Citroen, he fell for muscle cars after being seduced by 1950s finned flyers—in fact, he’s written two books on American muscle. But please don’t think there is a strong American bias because foreign weirdness is never far from his heart. With a penchant for underground music from the 1960-70s, Diego and his family reside in metropolitan Phoenix.


  1. For it’s day, it was a pretty nice car, beautiful looking, handled like it was on rails, not anywhere near as powerful as many older muscle cars that were still roaming the streets, don’t forget, 1970 was only 6 years prior, so it’s respect is challenged, I loved them, cause they had amenities no Road Runner or Chevelle SS 454 had, but then I’m from that transition generation, loved fast cars, loved luxury too, and I was into Disco, so there you go

  2. I was around for 1976, the bicentennial, loved these cars, coming of age for me, yes loved Disco music too, they weren’t as hardcore as muscle from the not so far back days, that’s where they lost their respect, there was still plenty GTOs and Cudas and Chevelles cruising the streets, 1970 was only 6 years ago

  3. My 76′ Trans am was red on red, 400 cubic inch motor with a 4-speed. I paid $5,000 for this Beautiful,
    Bountiful, Baby…. 🍼
    I love the 70’s Pontiac Trans ams….. especially the 1976
    50th anniversary edition with the black and “plenty
    of Gold” paint…. not much 🐴
    horsepower, but a joy to drive…..

  4. The 76 Trans Am was a winner. The last year of the round headlights with the endura bumpers. They look great in yellow. The formula was also just as nice a car with the 400.

  5. I had a 1973 455/Hurst 4spd white with tan interior blue and black bird. Net hp 250. I replaced the Rochester 4bl with a Holly double pumper 850cm. I belive gross hp was north of 300hp and after the holly definitely over 300. It was a blast to drive. Sold it when went into the US ARMY. Want it back


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Recent Posts