Here's The Real Story Behind Pontiac's Black-And-Gold Trans Am

Jul 29, 2020 3 min read
Here's The Real Story Behind Pontiac's Black-And-Gold Trans Am

This instantly recognizable package is far more than just a famous movie car.

The 1977 film Smokey and the Bandit may have immortalized the black-and-gold Pontiac Trans Am, but this special edition model was actually created by GM design boss Bill Mitchell to celebrate Pontiac's 50-year anniversary in 1976. These cars were designated with the Y82 RPO code, and they featured the iconic black paint job with gold accents including gold pin striping, gold grille, gold wheels and, of course, the gold Screaming Chicken decal on the hood. The Y82 Trans Ams were built in low volume from 1976 through 1978, but this "Bandit" paint job carried on (under various other RPO codes) through the second-gen Firebird's final year in 1981.

In 1977, the Y82 code represented only the examples with t-tops, while the hardtops showed Y81 on the build sheet. Compared to the more than 15,000 Y82/Y81 Trans Ams built in '77, the 1978 model year saw this number drop down to just 3,643, and t-tops were also added as standard equipment with this package. With the Firebird's 1979 redesign, the RPO code was changed to Y84 for the final three years of production.

Black and gold Trans Ams are everywhere these days, but if you want a true Limited Edition/Special Edition car, be sure to check the build sheet and/or the trim tag under the hood for the Y81, Y82 or Y84 codes. All of these Trans Ams being sold by Restore A Muscle Car are legit.

1976 Pontiac Trans Am Limited Edition

Image Credit: Speed Digital LLC

Only 2,590 examples of the 1976 Pontiac Trans Am Y82 50th Anniversary Limited Edition were ever built, and these cars were available with either the 400 cubic-inch engine or 455 H.O. engine (the last year for this engine) as well as the option of Hurst t-tops. Not only is this numbers-matching Trans Am one of just 110 Y82 cars built with the bigger engine and the available t-tops, it has also been fully restored and looks brand new.

1977 Pontiac Trans Am Special Edition

Image Credit: Speed Digital LLC

The popularity of Smokey and the Bandit led Pontiac to increase production of the Trans Am Special Edition to more than 15,000 units offered with three V8 engines: the L78 400, W72 6.6-liter or the L80 Oldsmobile 403 cubic-inch. The Y81 designation was used on on cars without t-tops, while the Y82 cars still used the Hurst t-tops. This Y82 features the L78 engine making it one of 6,030 built in this configuration, and all L78 SE cars came with the three-speed automatic transmission. What really makes this Trans Am Y82 special, though, is that it is a numbers-matching car with just 38,000 original miles and factory air conditioning.

1979 Pontiac Trans Am Special Edition

Image Credit: Speed Digital LLC

The 1979 model year brought some big changes to the Firebird lineup. The most obvious is the restyled front end, but this year also introduced the new 301 cubic-inch V8. The Special Edition code was changed to Y84, and this is just one of 1,107 equipped with the 6.6-liter enigne (now coded L78); all of the L78 Y84s had a four-speed manual transmission.

Great! Next, complete checkout for full access to Motorious.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
You've successfully subscribed to Motorious.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.
Success! Your billing info has been updated.
Your billing was not updated.