13 October 2015

Classic Classified: 1972 Pontiac Trans Am

From: Hemmings Motor News
Date: March 1989
Price then: $9,500 ($18,300 adjusted for inflation, about the cost of a new 2015 Honda Fit today)
Price now: $16,400 - $62,500
Approximate dollar difference: $44,200 (assuming No. 1 condition)
Annual rate of return: 4.8%

Trans-Am: 1972, 455 H/O, totally restored, many new parts, $12,000 invested, $9,500 firm.

It is hard not to want a ’72 Trans Am when there is so much going for it. The brutal 455 High Output engine came standard and outdid the Camaro’s 402 by 60 hp, and it had a limited but purposeful range of available colors (white with a blue stripe or blue with a white stripe). It also has exclusivity going for it. In 1972 only about 1,286 Trans Ams were produced, making it a tough find. While this example saw reasonable gains in value, the cool factor is off the charts.

6 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Bill Graham Phoenix, Az October 14, 2015 at 17:17
    I bought a '73 Trans Am in 1976 for $3600.00. People think it was cheap back then, but the prices are all relative. $3.6k back then was just as hard to come by as $36k is now. Who really knows what the real inflation number is with all of the rigging by the Fed & the Gov.
  • 2
    DMcG Boise, ID October 14, 2015 at 18:36
    43 years ago, but memory says the 455 HO was not available in the T/A until the 1973 model year. It was the 400 ci RA3 before that. The HO was '73 and '74 only, with slightly different HP and tune due to the '74 smog regulations. Not to say that car didn't have one, but it wasn't original.
  • 3
    Jim north new jersey October 14, 2015 at 23:40
    Still amazed at how many people don't know how to write a classified ad. Automatic or 4 spd.? Is it white, blue or painted something else? Matching numbers ? Options ? How many miles on drivetrain ?
  • 4
    luis ferreira cape cod, ma. October 15, 2015 at 08:33
    I could have bought one of these back in 1976 but ended up buying a 1967 Shelby GT500 instead.
  • 5
    Tom B. Dallas,TX July 17, 2016 at 06:15
    Owned 1970 1/2 Trans Am, RA III,4spd,3:73 posi, Lucerne Blue with White Stripe in the mid 70s and had the fun of "competing" against hey-dey heavy metal muscle cars.Z28s,Mach Is,Panteras,Cudas, GTOs,442s,427 Vette,to name a few.Trans Am was factory stock and I always won.Did not run against built race cars.Pointless, this was my daily driver and weekend racer.Ran like a scalded cat and handled/stopped like a Vette.Back then paid $1500 used and drove the crap out of it (no mechanical issues other than replaced clutch) and sold it several years later for $2500K. Shifted at 5500-5600 rpm and got rubber in all four gears:)
  • 6
    Jim Jerzycke SoCal / Long Beach September 28, 2016 at 23:32
    The 455 HO was available ONLY in 1971 and 1972. In 1970 all T/A's had 400 CID engines. In 1973, the base 455 was pretty "Plain Jane", basically the same 455 you could get in a Catalina. If you wanted something hotter, you ponied up for the SD 455 and waited....and waited....and waited! The 455 HO had a different cam (a version of the "068" Tri-Power cam, IIRC), heads with round port exhausts, very similar to the Ram Air IV heads but with bigger combustion chambers to reduce the compression ratio, and a two-piece (separate cast-iron exhaust crossover passage) cast aluminum high-rise intake manifold, and a 750 cfm QudraJet. The SD 455 was a completely different engine, with a dedicated block that had extra pads cast into it for adapting a dry sump oiling system, thicker main bearing webs and deck surfaces, cast-iron crank, and forged connecting rods and pistons. The heads also had round exhaust ports, but the intake ports were widened, and a brass tube for the push rods was pressed in to eliminate any air leaks. The distributor drive gear was larger to transmit the torque required for the heavy duty oil pump and not grind itself to powder, and the cam gear was smaller to match. The SD455 cam was originally going to be based on the Ram Air IV cam 308*/310* duration, .520" valve lift with 1.65:1 rocker arms), but when they couldn't get it to pass emissions with that cam, they downgraded it to the Ram Air III cam specs with 1.5:1 rocker arms. The SD 455 and certain Oldsmobiles and Buicks had a unique 800 cfm QuadraJet. The extra 50 cfm of air flow was gained by increasing the size of the primary throttle bores.

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