The Great Pumpkin

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Today I took the Great Pumpkin out for a long-neglected drive.

My 1976 Trans-Am. Carousel Red (orange, really; same paint code used in 1969 on the GTO Judge). Polycast “Honeycomb” wheels (they look like aluminum, but they’re actually steel with a urethane composite material molded on to create the look). 8-Track tape player. That famous “Formula” steering wheel – and engine-turned dash facing – that all ’70-81 Trans-Ams came with. 455 V-8. Last year Pontiac installed them in Trans-Ams.

But most of all, what it did not come with.

No air bags. Not even a seat belt buzzer.

No computer. Just a big ol’ Rochester four barrel carburetor.

Traction control? ABS? That’s for pussies.TA inside

I love this car. Or rather, I love the way this car reminds me of the way cars used to be. Before the safety cult ruined everything.

Can you imagine it? Cars like this used to be driven by teenaged boys. I know. I was one of them. I’ve owned this car for 20 years now – and before I owned it, I owned another one. A black ’76 that got T-boned to death and I managed to walk away from that even though the car had no air bags – just a lot of heavy steel.

This car is my redneck red barchetta. I feel the truth of that Rush song as soon as the 455 ignites and the dual 2.5 inch pipes spit 20 Prius’ worth of C02 into the air. There is nothing new that can match the marvelousness of an 800 CFM Q-Jet’s secondaries dumping open and the engine vacuum sucking through the shaker’s open scoop like a mini black hole all your very own.

I will keep this one forever.

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  1. EP, I’ve been enjoying your POV for years. This post made shed a tear and remember my ’73 Formula 400 4-Speed which I was able to walk away from after a black ice spin out at 80+. The car ended up in two pieces more than 150 ft apart. The drivers door and the windshield went with the front half, the windshield frame and the passenger door with the rear. The drive train lived on in a ’68 wildcat (without seat belts) for another 10 years. Really nice TA there, I’m jealous. I still get some kicks in a ’88 GTA WS6.
    Thanks again

  2. Nice old TA there, you ever run it down the 1/4 mile? You gotta love the sound of that Q-jet when the secondaries open up 🙂 Used to own a 74 Grand Prix SJ with the 400 and a 74 Bonneville with the 455 (even more of a land yacht than the GP), loved them both.

    An old friend of mine builds and restores pontiacs (makes me drool every time I visit his shop), his current toy is a 69 GTO with an ATI supercharged 428 under the hood. Took a ride with him on the highway and that thing pulls third gear just as hard as first, even with the 3.00 gears in it. Torque monster.
    Car is only legal to run 11.50 (doesn’t want to mess up the full interior with a roll cage) so he has to use a throttle stop on the dragstrip, seen it accidentally run an 11.2x at around 120 mph. I’m guessing mid 10’s if he opened it up.

    • Hi Dirty Bob,

      No – but (assuming I could hook it up) I think it’d be solidly in the mid-high 13s. I never dyno’d the engine, but the hp should be in the “honest” 320-340 range, given the cam (RA III) and other specifications (including the slightly higher CR 6X heads from the “T/A 6.6” 400, factory cast-iron “Ram Air” headers, Edelbrock dual plane intake, tuned/jetted Q-Jet). It’s a really nice street engine. Idles down to 800 RPM with a pleasant lope, makes good power through 5,500 RPM and pulls like a Clydesdale at any RPM.

      I’ve debated going with the new aluminum heads (tremendous airflow improvement over the stock Pontiac heads) but I like the almost stock appearance of the engine.

      • I was thinking 13’s as well but sometimes those cars will surprise you (which is why I asked).
        Nice that you kept the Q-jet, those tend to get a bad rap from people that don’t understand how to tune them. IMHO they’re better than a TBI when properly tuned.
        5500 is plenty of rpm for a 455, trying to exceed 6k would net diminishing returns since that motor is “undersquare”. Let it do what it does best, make gobs of off idle/midrange torque while putting a smile on your face.
        Only know one pontiac guy running the edelbrock aluminum heads, the car is definitely a runner though.


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