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.
Red Line Auto Sports