Originally the Pontiac Trans Am was a flop. Launched in 1969, just 697 were sold that year.
But the highly stylized and high-performance version of the Pontiac Firebird would soon become the automotive icon of the following decade and a bona fide favorite of car collectors all over the world.
Named for the Sports Car Club of America’s popular “Trans Am” racing series, the model cost Pontiac a $5.00 royalty for every Trans Am it sold. It didn’t add up to much at first, but in 1970, Pontiac redesigned the Firebird, along with the Trans Am, and its second generation would go on to sell in huge numbers.
Best known for its massive “Screaming Chicken” hood decal, the second gen Trans Am was produced for more than a decade, making it one of the most successful American muscle cars ever. And today, after several decades of middling interest, their values are on the rise.
Here’s everything you need to know before you buy yours.
A note about Klipnik’s buying guides. These are not collector car guides. (There are already plenty of other excellent sources for that.) Rather, our guides recommend cars that we think make for entertaining, interesting, reliable, and value-oriented buys — cars meant to be driven and enjoyed (not stashed away for investment purposes) and that don’t cost a fortune to acquire or maintain.
Scott Oldham is an award-winning automotive journalist with over 25 years of experience. In addition to Klipnik, he has written for Car and Driver, Autoweek, Kelley Blue Book, Edmunds.com, Popular Mechanics, and Autoblog.