1978 was a record year in sales for the Pontiac Firebird and Trans Am, hitting a whopping 187,285 units sold between them. So what made this car so special that it pleasantly surprised many with its sale numbers? The 1978 model itself was largely unchanged from the previous year, but under the hood, the story was a little different. The horsepower increased for the 1978 model year. Previously, new regulations on fuel economy and emissions had made adding horsepower difficult for many car companies, but some were beginning to get the hang of incorporating more power, even with those regulations.
As was often the case, perhaps the most noticible change to the car’s appearance was a new grille, the Pontiac logo was also added to the grille, so the decal that was previously there was removed. A new Trans Am logo was introduced as well. This model had a base price of $5,799, which is in the neighborhood of $20,000 and change today. For that price, buyers enjoyed a car equipped with a 400 cubic inch V8 engine, which produced 220 horsepower. This behemouth weighed in at 3,800 pounds, but depending on options, the weight could change slightly.
The 1978 model was certainly popular, and 93,341 units were produced. In comparison, 32,672 units of the base Pontiac Firebirds were produced. As drivers continued to buy up the available units, they enjoyed a 0-60 time of 6.3 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 15 seconds.
While the overall 1978 Pontiac Trans Am specifications are not necessarily impressive when compared to today’s models, in a time when companies were still navigating the new requirements for things like emissions, it was an accomplishment. Today, we look back fondly on the Trans Am, and the model is still celebrated among car enthusiast across the country and is a staple at classic car cruises every year.