Welcome to wheels Elie — this has to be one of the best second generation Trans Ams I have ever seen. What is about these cars that you love so much?
First of all I’d like to say a big thanks to the entire wheels family for featuring me in my favourite car magazine!
Second generation Trans Ams have been my favourite ever since I was four years old. I remember my father would buy them, fix them and sell them — and I enjoyed every moment with him and these amazing cars. I bought my first one while I was an 18 year old student with my pocket money that I’d been saving for years. It was a red 1978 model with the Pontiac 400 V8 and a hard-top roof. It cost me $1,250 and I spent another $2,500 to fix it up. Since then, I have been fortunate to have owned over 50 Trans Ams!
50! That is incredible! I have had three so far — I guess I have some real catching up to do…
You’ll get there! The Y88 Gold Special Edition is my favourite — and I have three of them. We all know that the boom in Trans Am sales was after the success of the legendary movie Smokey and the Bandit featuring the 1977 Y82 Special Edition Trans Am which was a black car with gold decals and in 1978 they made another special edition car which was this Y88 code designation featuring gold paint and brown decals.
It’s a real stunner! Where did you come across this beauty?
I found this car in Minnesota at a local dealership. It was a one owner car and after the price was agreed I had it shipped to Abu Dhabi — along with a lot of spare parts and a fresh set of decals.
The car then underwent a full restoration which took one and a half years to complete. It had been wearing its original paint on most of its body which had faded and it had some rust on the rear left fender. We replaced the fender and took the body apart and gave it a bare metal respray which consisted of three base coats and three clear coats to make it shine like a large bar of gold! We also sand blasted the underside of the car and gave it a base coat, replaced all the bushings and rubbers and tuned the big block V8. Now, when I start the motor and hear the big block’s symphony, it brings me immense pleasure and when I remove the t-tops and drive this car on UAE roads there is no better feeling. I also enjoy all of the thumbs up from people everywhere I go.
Tell me about that 6.6-litre V8 — it still has plenty of power even though this is a 40 year old muscle car doesn’t it?
The Pontiac 400 is a great motor and indeed does still have lot of power. It’s nothing like my 470bhp Dodge Challenger SRT8 but it’s enough to put a big smile on my face and give me that wonderful feeling that only Seventies American muscle cars can deliver. I am really proud of not just this Trans Am but every Trans Am that I have owned. I can’t stop staring at them — it feels like they are my relatives or children! Is that strange?
Not at all — I feel the exact same way about these iconic cars! What’s the hardest part of maintaining a classic such as this?
It’s expensive — buying a car from abroad, getting it imported, then restoring it with original parts, it sure isn’t a cheap hobby but this is my passion and I wouldn’t have it any other way. And when you have eye-catching results it makes it all worthwhile. If you’re going to spend a lot of money on restoring a car then there’s none better than a Y88 Gold Special Edition Trans Am. These cars are worth the hassle. I love everything about this car from the shiny gold paint, the beautiful front end, the screaming bird on the bonnet, the spoilers, tail lights, sound of the exhaust, the t-tops — like I said, everything about this car is amazing.
You can say that again. Aside from the Trans Am, there’s another very special Pontiac in your life isn’t there…
Yes, in fact, I’d it is the most interesting car I ever bought, and it was the first Pontiac ever built! It’s a museum quality 1926 Pontiac Chief which was labeled the “Chief of the Sixes”, in reference to its six-cylinder motor.
I bought it from a company in Ohio — and when the opportunity arose to buy a 1927 model I didn’t hesitate! I shipped them both to my home in Lebanon and they’re my pride and joy.
I hope all of your cars bring you years of happiness. You already own your dream car (three of them!) but what else would you love to have?
I like so many cars like Ferraris, Lamborghinis and Rolls-Royce — but I’d take another Y88 Gold Special Edition Trans Am before any of them.