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Missed out on the “Bandit” Pontiac Trans Am? Try these faster alternatives

If you were a kid in the 1980s, Smokey and the Bandit was the most fun you could have with a VHS tape. And if you were an adult in 1977, the same movie inspired the most fun you could have courtesy of Detroit. At a time when Disco was awful and emissions were worse, the Bandit Trans Am gave enthusiasts hope.


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/02/06/bandit-trans-am-alternatives

In 1975 the 455 was rated at 200HP! LoL…
I’m not sure how it would even be possible to choke that many cubes down to that low of horsepower output… LoL… Maybe drill some holes in the piston tops!?! LoL…

I have a 520cube Big Block Ford in my Cobra that IDLES at nearly 350HP with nearly equivalent amount of torque… That is the best car in the world to teach somebody to drive a manual transmission in. With such a light car, with that much HP and torque available at idle, one can literally “dump” the clutch and the engine will not stall. Yes, the car will make a couple jerky/rocking motions as it lurches forward after doing so, but the engine will not stall.

I tried looking this up before and it has apparently been wiped from existence, but who (custom/hot-rod shop) use to make the 455 Big Block “Bandit” 1977 Firebird conversions (they did the work on your car; they didn’t offer turnkeys)? If my high school memory serves me, they were not “cheap” (the conversion cost nearly as much as the car?) but you ended up with a very well built 455/4spd under the hood and lots of groovy suspension upgrades to make it handle…
Anyone?
Bueller? Bueller?

Hey 427SC - Is this what you were looking for?
http://www.firebirdgallery.com/fireamlot1.htm

My first choice would definitely be a black 1977 ,but I would also consider a 1971-73. I do like all of the 1970-78’s.

First off, the SD Trans Am was the one to go for, the bandit was mostly show not so much go, I have a 73 Grand Prix SJ 455, sadly about 250 hp, and it weighs mid 4s so not too much time trial wise, but lots of torque, it will smoke its Vogue tires and spoke wheels for a block, as far as your Disco comment, assuming you can’t dance, and wore plaid huh?

The premise is that the Bandit cars have gotten quite pricey, yet there are some traditionally collectible—and faster—Trans Ams that may offer more for your money. The Super Duty does not.

I’m not sure that is them…
They marketed them as a “Bandit”, just like the cars in the movie, but they were very fresh and I guess very fast. Along with that, they were not cheap either (+$10K-$15K for the mods if I remember correctly). But you ended up with 500-600HP and GOBS of torque…
Maybe they were too expensive and they didn’t build many?

You are thinking of Trans Am Specialities of New Jersey. They put 455’s in some cars and had a deal with Burt to help sell them.

That might just be them Dave (you really ARE ingenious! LoL…).
Take a look at this Hotrod article:
Hot Rod Mag. TA Specialties

From the article:
Trans Am Specialties’ owners Chuck Posey and Rob Jones Jr. realized that with the 301, it would be more efficient to simply replace the engine with a well-built vintage Pontiac 455. And so they did, adding 400 horsepower and 450 lb-ft of torque, or 500 hp and 610 lb-ft when equipped with nitrous.
To mix the gears, the buyer could select a Doug Nash 4+1 manual trans or a modified Turbo 400. The Nash was not an overdrive, as its Fifth gear was 1:1. Instead it had a low 3.27:1 First gear, a 2.13:1 Second, a 1.57:1 Third, and 1.23:1 Fourth. The result was dig in First with a 3.08:1 rear gear that was equal to a 2.20:1 First from a vintage close-ratio Muncie matched to a 4.56 rear gear. This enabled Trans Am Specialties to retain the stock 3.08:1 Safe-T-Track disc brake rear.
Inside were tuner car staples-Recaro seats, an Escort radar detector, and a 170 mph speedo adorned with the company name. Outside, it was sinister Starlight Black, defrocked of all the vestiges of the S/E. The stripes and Birds were replaced with Bandit decals and a buyer-chosen car number.

Pricing was $26,000 to $30,000 Reagan-era dollars, which includes the purchase price of an ’81 S/E T/A.

$30,000 back then was 911 Porsche/308 Ferrari expensive if I’m not mistaken. I think if you sent them your car to do the mods, that would still run you $15-$20K…
Ouch!