In 1980, Pontiac equipped its top-of-the-line Firebird Trans Am with a 4.9-liter turbocharged V8 engine producing 210 horsepower (157 kilowatts). It was decent horsepower for the time, but this turbo V8 was as reliable as the weather in the mountains. We’re not sure if the turbocharged Trans Am featured in this video has any reliability issues, but with 1,000 hp (746 kW) under the hood, Smokey absolutely has no chance to catch the Bandit.
Technically speaking, this is a 1979 Firebird Trans Am and it is gloriously restored to an original Trans Am SE specification. This means it’s lined with vintage gold stripes all around the black exterior, with a factory-accurate Firebird graphic on the hood. The t-tops are there, the shaker hood scoop is there, and on a casual glance, one would think this is a fine example of a Trans Am stock. A discerning eye would see that the wheels of branded snowflake are a bit larger, and a very a closer look would reveal that the car’s track is wider. Specifically, it’s four inches wider, but only Pontiac enthusiasts would notice.
Open the hood, however, and everyone will notice something different. In place of the well-known 6.6-liter naturally aspirated V8, a custom 7.0-liter engine built from the ground up to create quantities of power. With the help of two 76-millimeter turbochargers, this Trans Am develops 1,000 low-boost hp, but push a button to activate the boost controller and you’ll get 1,400 hp (1,044 kW). Everything goes to the rear tires via a T56 six-speed manual, and judging by their bald appearance in the video, traction is indeed an issue.
Oddly enough, the owner of this car claims that it is a daily driver and is actually quite road if you stay off the boost. To that end, the car was built with all kinds of sound deadening to muffle noise, and in keeping with the original theme, the exhaust is the quietest setup possible given the monster under the hood. The interior is also mostly original, with the exception of upgraded gauges and a double DIN stereo. It even has air conditioning to keep occupants cool while trying to muster all that power.
The second-generation Trans Am was already a popular 1970s pony car before Smokey and the bandit sent it to fame. The insane power of this restomod is certainly impressive, but the attention to detail on preserving its original appearance is arguably more impressive. This brings us straight back to the Bandit and Buford T. Justice antics, but with a little more whistle under the hood. We think the Bandit would be fine with that.