Street News

1978 Trans Am SE

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You would be hard-pressed to name a Pontiac more recognizable than the ’76 through ’81 Trans Am SE. Commonly referred to as the “Bandit”, the black SE TA has been and will continue to be the dream car for many of us who grew up in the ’70s and ‘80s. Fred and Kim Murfin’s 1978 Starlite Black Z-code TA is a prime example.

Since Fred Murfin is in the automotive restoration business, he comes across opportunities that most of us can only dream of. If finding rare muscle cars hidden away in barns and secluded woods is an art form, then Fred is a master. While most of them require a fair amount of work, this all-original, numbers matching TA did not. The paint was faded and sun baked, so Red Line Auto Sports took it apart, worked the minimal body dings and sprayed the car with correct Starlite Black paint. Then it was color sanded to remove the orange peel and 4 coats of clear were laid on to produce a deep finish you can drown in. To ensure a seamless finish, all of the jambs were sprayed and given the same detailed treatment. A Phoenix Graphix SE stripe kit was meticulously applied to car, making it a perfect specimen. All of the original body panels remain intact, as do the original windows and even the original window sticker.

Moving into the interior, all of the original upholstery is still here, no restoration needed. While there may be a spot here and there that is starting to show a little age, it is only original once, so Fred left it alone. The seats are nice and tight, comfortable to sit in. Fred let us take if for a spin, and the comment was made that this would be a great cross country touring car, it is just that nice. Everything still works like it is supposed to, which is impressive for a mid-Seventies GM product.

The Radial-Tuned suspension on these cars is something that truly needs to be experienced. If you have never driven one, you need to go find one. The Murfin’s TA suspension is in perfect condition, having been treated with brand new bushings and shocks, giving it a nice ride and excellent handling. Cruising down the highway at 70 (and maybe a little over….) the ride is superb, hugging the tightly-wrapped corners and cresting the hills without so much as a hint of being on the edge. GM certainly got it right with this one.

The bone-stock original 220 hp, 400 cubic-inch 6.6 still resides between the fenderwells and fires up on command. No cussing or praying needed, just a flick of the key brings 1978 roaring back to life. A slight blip of the go pedal and the shaker twists sideways, letting you know she’s ready to go. Mated up to an M21 4-speed, the TA is a blast to drive, especially with the Zoom clutch that holds tight when you drop the hammer and the stock 3:23 posi starts to slide.  With the odometer reading just 68k, this TA has been enjoyed, but not abused, and it shows.

1.Even though this TA has been painted, you wouldn’t know it by looking. All of the decals were perfectly applied to stock spec by the crew at Red Line Auto Sports. Also seen here are the original “Hurst Hatches” T-tops.

1. Even though this TA has been painted, you wouldn’t know it by looking. All of the decals were perfectly applied to stock spec by the crew at Red Line Auto Sports. Also seen here are the original “Hurst Hatches” T-tops.

2.Even though The Murfin’s left their TA unrestored, every detail has been attended to. The honeycomb wheels are clean and just new. The taillights shine bright and clear.

2. Even though The Murfin’s left their TA unrestored, every detail has been attended to. The honeycomb wheels are clean and just new. The taillights shine bright and clear.

3.With the low-mile hi-po 400 and M21 4-speed, these taillights are likely the only thing most challengers are going to see.

3. With the low-mile hi-po 400 and M21 4-speed, these taillights are likely the only thing most challengers are going to see.

4.The interior is 100% original. Though there may be a few tell-tale signs of wear, like the lower door carpet and door panel vinyl edge, it is only original once. This wear really isn’t enough to justify replacement.

4. The interior is 100% original. Though there may be a few tell-tale signs of wear, like the lower door carpet and door panel vinyl edge, it is only original once. This wear really isn’t enough to justify replacement.

5.The cockpit feels just like that. Rowing the gears and watching the hood shaker twist is more fun than can be related here.

5. The cockpit feels just like that. Rowing the gears and watching the hood shaker twist is more fun than can be related here.

6.The stock 6.6 400 packs enough punch to make just about any gearhead grin ear to ear. It’s all here and it all works, even the AC blows cold.

6. The stock 6.6 400 packs enough punch to make just about any gearhead grin ear to ear. It’s all here and it all works, even the AC blows cold.

7.Nothing finishes off an SE “Bandit” like a rebel flag front plate. Of course, you might not get away with it in California or New York, but in Oklahoma, its par for the course.

7. Nothing finishes off an SE “Bandit” like a rebel flag front plate. Of course, you might not get away with it in California or New York, but in Oklahoma, its par for the course.

 

Sources:

Red Line Auto Sports

http://www.redlineautosports.com/

About Jefferson Bryant (200 Articles)
A life-long gearhead, Street Tech Magazine founder and editor Jefferson Bryant spends more time in the shop than anywhere else. His career began in the car audio industry as a shop manager, eventually working his way into a position at Rockford Fosgate as a product designer. In 2003, he began writing tech articles for magazines, and has been working as an automotive journalist ever since. His work has been featured in Car Craft, Hot Rod, Rod & Custom, Truckin’, Mopar Muscle, and many more. Jefferson has also written 5 books and produced countless videos. Jefferson operates Red Dirt Rodz, his personal garage studio, where all of his magazine articles and tech videos are produced. You can follow Jefferson on Facebook (Jefferson Bryant), Twitter (71Buickfreak), and YouTube (RedDirtRodz).

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