Most classic cars end up in long-term storage due to mechanical issues that their owners never got around to fixing. And they emerge back into the light decades later with severe rust issues. However, some end up sitting in barns or garages as partly restored projects. This 1971 Pontiac Trans Am is one of those cars. And it just came out of storage after a whopping 40 years.Far from being a rust bucket or a derelict classic, this Trans Am from the golden muscle car era was retired from public roads sometime in the 1980s. It’s unclear whether it broke down or not, but the owner decided to give it a makeover. And based on how the Trans Am looks 40 years later, he had a solid car, to begin with.
The Poncho still has most of its factory features, while the body is straight as an arrow. And the paint job hiding under all that dust appears to be in excellent condition. Unfortunately, the owner never finished what he started, and the Trans Am is still waiting to get much of its trim elements back. But look at that nice white-and-blue livery and honeycomb-style wheels! These are hard to get nowadays.
How original is this 1971 Trans Am as it stands? While the exterior is pretty close to factory specs, the interior hides some bad news. Apparently, the owner got tired of the original blue upholstery and redid almost everything in saddle brown. I say “almost everything” because the headliner and a few other elements are still blue, so the transformation is far from complete.
Then there’s the center console and floor shifter, both of the aftermarket conversion variety. Yup, this Trans Am left the factory with a shifter on the steering column, which probably makes it a pretty rare example. But what about the drivetrain? Is this Poncho still a Trans Am as far as the engine is concerned?
The answer is yes because the long front hood still hides the massive 455-cubic-inch (7.5-liter) that Trans Ams came with back in the day. This one is also an HO version, meaning it sports an LS5 that was rated at 325 horsepower when new. The nameplate’s range-topping mill delivered ten more horses over the L75 455 V8.
For reference, the 400-cubic-inch (6.6-liter) V8 in the regular Firebird generated up to 300 horsepower, while the 350-cubic-inch (5.7-liter) small-block came with up to 175 horses on tap. The base model had a 250-cubic-inch (4.1-liter) inline-six good for 155 horsepower.
But the 1971 Trans Am isn’t just a powerful, hot-looking muscle car. It’s also a rare gem. Because pricing started at $4,595, about 53% more than a base Firebird, customers didn’t rush into showrooms to take them home. The high insurance rates for performance cars and the looming oil crisis didn’t help either. Specifically, Pontiac sold only 2,116 Trans Ams in 1971. Total Firebird production for the year came in at 53,124 examples.
The fact that it’s an automatic model makes it even rarer, narrowing it down to only 1,231 units. Sure, it’s nowhere near as scarce as the HEMI-powered Mopars of 1971, but these Trans Ams are becoming increasingly harder to find. All told, this Poncho is an important barn find and a classic that’s totally worth restoring to original specifications. Check it out in the video below.