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Automoblog Book Garage: Pontiac Trans Am: 50 Years

I have been staying up at night recently, scraping the depths of the interwebs for three vehicles: a 2006-2008 Pontiac Grand Prix GXP, a 2005-2006 GTO, and a 2009 G8 GT GXP. I have a soft spot in my heart for Pontiac, which comes from my time as a Service Advisor at a GM dealership. These slightly older Pontiacs are on my list of dream cars.

If they existed as new models, I would be beside myself. I miss Pontiac.

Grit & Guts

With today’s vehicles, it’s often about connectivity; Bluetooth this, smartphone that. But these Pontiac cars were never about infotainment and internet connections. They were about performance. They were about those sweet engines. They were about grit and guts.

I only gravitate toward the GXP models and the more modern GTO because they are what I would deem the essential Pontiacs of my generation (I’m approaching 37). But the truth is, there is an entirely different Pontiac that represented an entirely different generation. And as the youth would say today, it’s cool “AF.”

Cue the Trans Am.

Pontiac Trans Am
By 1979, the Pontiac Firebird was the last performance car standing, and 117,108 Trans Ams were sold that year out of 211,454 Firebirds. Americans still wanted an automobile with V8 power and trendsetting style – and the Trans Am delivered. Photo: Tom & Kelly Glatch.

The Eagle & The Horse

Pontiac Trans Am: 50 Years by Tom Glatch is a deep dive into a car that tore up race tracks, thundered down main street, and blazed across Hollywood’s silver screens. On the heels of the GTO, the Firebird had its work cut out when it rolled onto the scene in 1967. Across town, Ford’s Mustang was raking it in, an instant sensation among baby boomers. And so it was: the screaming eagle would clash with the charging horse.

Glatch takes us through the entire history, from 1969 when the mighty Firebird Trans Am arguably ruled the roost, to the quiet years of the 1970s, to a reemergence in the 1980s. When muscle cars became dormant for a generation, it was this classic Pontiac that revived American performance.

If you feel that itch – that one modern cars can’t quite scratch – this book is for you. Pontiac Trans Am: 50 Years is available through Amazon and Motorbooks


Since 1983, Glatch has contributed hundreds of stories and photographs to major collector, Corvette, Mustang, muscle car, and Mopar magazines. Glatch grew up during the muscle car era, later owning a 1970 Plymouth Duster 340, described as a “very quick” machine. He and his wife Kelly have contributed photographs for others in the Motorbooks family. When not pursuing old muscle cars, he works for a Fortune 500 company as a data and systems analyst and developer.

Carl Anthony is Managing Editor of Automoblog and resides in Detroit, Michigan. He studies mechanical engineering at Wayne State University, serves on the Board of Directors for the Ally Jolie Baldwin Foundation, and is a loyal Detroit Lions fan.

Pontiac Trans Am: 50 Years Gallery