1969 Pontiac Trans Am Convertible

For decades General Motors was one of the biggest corporations in the world - at one point selling one out of every two cars in the U.S. Just between the 1940s and the 1970s alone GM made so many cars that some of its divisions were big enough by themselves to be among the world's largest car companies. There was plenty of room for competition between the divisions, and the sports car segment was the real showcase. It was during these golden years that Pontiac created the Trans Am, its designers and engineers as much at war with Chevrolet as they were with AMC, Ford or Dodge., etc. It was to be the definitive Pontiac sports car, and the wizard behind it was John Z. DeLorean, Pontiac's division head. Driven, charismatic - the proverbial force of nature - DeLorean was inspired greatly by European sports cars; many of the model names he chose for his cars paid homage (GTO/Grand Prix/Le Mans). He had ideas for a sleek, light, shorter wheelbase GT with Detroit iron under the hood, and he had developed a fiberglass-bodied prototype he called the Banshee. Unfortunately, GM brass told him the Banshee concept would remain just that forever, but that he could build a Pontiac version of the Chevy Camaro. Instead, DeLorean created a car that nearly beat the Camaro at its own game. The Trans-Am started as an $1,083 “Trans Am” option package on the Firebird 400 (as with early and later GTOs, 1969 Trans Ams were optioned Firebirds and not yet their own separate model range).

Pontiac engineers had managed to coax 325 high-strung, high-RPM horsepower out of their 250 cubic-inch OHC six, DeLorean's preferred engine for the Trans Am, but early designs of the all-new, second-generation 1970 F-body clearly ruled out using the tall and long OHC engine for the future. GM management weren't satisfied with the costly 6-cylinder engine anyway, so they simply turned back to good old-fashioned V-8 power, choosing the 400 cubic-inch Ram Air III as the powerplant of choice in 1969. The 335hp V-8 featured the same 10.75:1 compression ratio and four-barrel Quadrajet carburetor as the standard 400, but with a different camshaft, operational ram air and exhaust manifold setup. An optional 345hp Ram Air IV 400 engine option was ordered for only 55 examples. Officially, Pontiac offered a three-speed manual as the standard transmission for the Trans Am, but very few three-speeds were ordered; the vast majority of Ram Air III Trans Ams came equipped with the Muncie “M-20” wide-ratio four-speed transmission (the Ram Air IV engine exclusively featured the close-ratio M-21). A variable-ratio power steering unit greatly enhanced the handling and road feel of the car; in addition the Trans Am featured a unique one-inch anti-roll bar.

This car has an astounding and lengthy history within the Pontiac division of GM – having started out as a company car - and is the only triple-white convertible version in existence. It received a concours-level restoration that was completed in 1994. It was auctioned by Mecum Auctions at their Kissimmee Florida event in January 2016.





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