Category Archives: Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

Feral finds abound on the streets of America’s Hippest Neighborhood®

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First of the day’s three ’64 Imperials.

We’ve been focusing on the Instagram and Facebook versions of Feral Cars of late but a recent find mandated that we go full blog post to do the subject matter justice.  This kind of abbondanza needs to be chronicled with more than just a photo and some hashtags!


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Eliot Ness, your car is waiting.

In search of comidas Mexicanas muy auténticos,  we recently had occasion to visit LA’s Highland Park area, a/k/a “America’s hippest neighborhood.” Apart from the record stores (vinyl only, please), hipster beard trimming emporiums, tattoo parlors and artisanal cocktail dispensaries (and the other kind of dispensaries), we were pleasantly surprised to encounter a cache of feral finds on the street and decidedly in the raw.  One block of Avenue 57, just belowFigueroa, was populated with scores of oldies but goodies, all of which carry current registrations and need to be moved, per regulation, at least once a week.  Our deduction is that all of these are fully capable of running under their own power.  The collection, consisting of American iron as well as a smattering of European and Japanese rolling stock seems to have no unifying theme — just a random aggregation of vehicles that have endured against all odds.  Inspiring!

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As we know all too well: “Cadillac means luxury.”

Our best guess is that this grouping belongs to a single visionary as these disparate (desperate?) vehicles do share something in common: massive patina.  It’s not rust in Southern California but, rather, “distressed” paint.

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“From a Buick 6”.. a ’48 to be specific

On display were a ’64 Cadillac, a ’65 Imperial Crown, a ’48 Buick, two VWs (a Bug and a Karmann-Ghia), a first generation Mazda RX-7, a ’57 Chevy tow truck, frozen in tableau, hoisting a ’47 Cadillac (original California black plates which appropriately read ‘SAD326’), a Smokey & The Bandit era Trans Am, a Fargo-worthy and very woeful Corvette and something very unexpected.  Yes, a ’36 Nash in better shape than any of the other cars seems to occupy a special spot at the top of the street. That machine, built in Kenosha at least 81 years ago, presented much better than quite a few half its age though a ’63 Valiant convertible was surprisingly fresh looking, too.

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Slant sixer

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Tow, tow, tow your boat..

Later that day, en route to El Hurache Azteca on York Blvd. for an infusion of gut-busting goodies, we came upon a fix-it shop (“Bernie’s Transmission”) where we found still more feral treasures though it’s not clear how roadworthy some of these are.  Yet another Imperial of the same vintage as the one we had seen on Avenue 57 was in repose as well as a ’64 Ford Galaxie that had seen better days.  We were taken with a seemingly perfect ’64 Pontiac and a gorgeous green ’56 Ford wagon.

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There’s a Ford in your future but it’s probably not this one

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That Pon-ton is a clean machine, same goes for the Ford wagon

Remember those two ’65 Imperials?  We ended the day with another MoPar line topper of the same vintage in our sights.  It was being transported aboard a car carrier down the 101 Freeway and we implored Wendy Abrams, a certified Feral Cars Field Scout, who had been riding shotgun to shoot a snap of it.  What are the chances, right?

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Back in the high life again..

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Fireturd / “if it’s brown, flush it down”

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Veteran Vette

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Two tone rotary; yes that’s a ’55 Chevy (non-Nomad) wagon in the driveway

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Ghia got gashed

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Bug needs love

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As close to a Ferrari 250 GTO Berlinetta as it gets in Highland Park

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:  info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.

Note: While we strive for factual accuracy in our posts, we readily acknowledge that we we sometimes make inadvertent mistakes.  If you happen to catch one please don’t sit there and fume; let us know where we went wrong and we’ll do our best to correct things.

Sic Trans Am Gloria

The way it was

’79 Trans Am from the collection of Bill Stewart

We were saddened to hear that Burt Reynolds’ very own ’77 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, his Smokey and the Bandit co-star, is set to hit the auction block this week along with the Golden Globe he won for Boogie Nights and hundreds of other artifacts from the breadth of his career. Burt’s apparent reversal of fortune underscores the fact that they don’t make movies like Smokey and the Bandit anymore. Come to think of it, they don’t make Pontiacs anymore, nor films starring Burt Reynolds. The Trans Am isn’t so much a vehicle as a holy relic of a bygone era of automotive excess and scenery chewing..

The (screaming) chickens have come home to roost

The (screaming) chickens have come home to roost

We also noted that the Trans Am of this era was listed by no less an authority than Road & Track as among the 51 Coolest Cars of the Last 50 Years.  It’s not often that the louche Firebird gets to keep company with all manner of Alfa Romeos, Lancias, Ferraris, Lamborghinis, Porsches and BMWs.  Aura, it seems, is not something on which one can put a price.



We’ve always found Firebirds to exude an anti-social attitude, they’re a cipher for the “greaser” ethos, especially the hot Trans Am model which sports that crazy “screaming chicken” hood decal. It depicts a literal “Firebird,” wings splayed, rising from flames and/or ashes.  We know a woman who was set up on a blind date back when these things were new.  She looked through the peephole in her front door when she heard a low end rumble emanating from the driveway and was aghast to realize that her date had driven up in a Trans Am.  She panicked and left though the back door, standing up her unseen date and foregoing the thrill of riding shotgun with a view of inverted feathered fury before her.

The read deal, shaker hood 'n' all

Somebody’s idea of bird watching

The Firebird name can be traced back to a series of GM dream cars one of which we encountered during a visit to the GM Tech Center in Warren Michigan.  Behold the Firebird II, a gas turbine powered experiment that debuted in 1957, truly a flightless flight of fantasy.

Bubble roof bird

Bubble roof bird

'50s Firebird, a literal road rocket

Road rocket for real

We found a first generation (’67 – ’69) Firebird on the streets of Stockholm where American muscle cars are very much appreciated. It’s not clear if the purple paint job came from the factory or was applied by the Scandinavian equivalent of Earl Scheib.

Swede stuff

Swede stuff

Feral Cars Field Scout Heather Crist Paley found this much more subdued convertible of the same vintage back in the USA.  We think it looks downright civilized; who wouldn’t open the door to someone who arrived in this?

Chickenfree early 'bird

Chicken-free early ‘bird

The last generation Firebird didn’t endure as long as Pontiac.  GM shut down the marque in 2009 while the final Firebirds were built from 1993 to 2002.  Quite recently, we saw a white convertible and a blue coupe from that era.  It’s a reminder that, like Burt Reynolds’ career, the leap from renown to ridicule can sometimes be a short jump.

Headed for extinction

Headed for extinction

Look at the beak on that thing!

Sleek beak

Burt’s Bandit Trans Am is expected to go for upwards of $60,000 but you can get a perfectly serviceable example for less than half that much.  We like this ’78 with a mere 95,000 miles on offer in nearby Milford, OH for a just $18,500.

OK, back to Burt and his Trans Am.  Somebody pulled some of the best tire-smokin’ Trans Am stuff from Smokey and The Bandit and posted it here.  We’re lovin’ the late, great Jerry Reed’s “Eastbound and Down” on the soundtrack!

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.






DRIVEN was a wild ride

FeralCars is delighted to have played a role in last week’s DRIVEN installation at Palm Springs’ Stephen Archdeacon Gallery, attended by scores of cognoscenti in town to celebrate Modernism Week.

Art parked

Art parked

“Bob,” a swanky orange Mercury Bobcat begged the question, “Would a Pinto, by any other name, would still explode on impact?” Bob, along with an anonymous though glamorous, in a 1984 K-car kind of way, Chrysler LeBaron convertible greeted guests at the event celebrating the ‘car noir’ art of Eric Nash, hosted by ZZ Top’s Billy F Gibbons.

DRIVEN co-conspirators: Matthew Reader, Bob Merlis, Billy F Gibbons, Eric Nash

DRIVEN co-conspirators: Matthew Reader, Bob Merlis, Billy F Gibbons, Eric Nash

Matthew Reader, a/k/a “Mr. Palm Springs Modern,” curated the collection of cars deployed in the area that included a “Smokey and The Bandit” style Pontiac Trans Am, complete with “screaming chicken” hood treatment, an Oldsmobile 98 the length of three Smart cars, a Lincoln Continental Mark IV plus a “plain Jane” Ford station wagon that is the subject of one of Eric’s pieces.   His set design sense was spot on with matches strewn around the Bobcat along with a gasoline can, a vintage lunchbox exhibition in the “wayback” of the Ford wagon and a literal “trunk show” of women’s shoes in very large sizes next to the Olds.

"Atlanta to Texarkana and back in twenty eight hours? That ain't never been done before." "That's cause we ain't never done it."

“Atlanta to Texarkana and back in twenty eight hours? That ain’t never been done before.” “That’s cause we ain’t never done it.

Kickin' it Oldschool

Kickin’ it Oldschool, curbside

After sundown, Feralcars presented a breathtaking slideshow in which 190 images were projected on an outside wall of the gallery.  We’re told that some of these could be seen from the International Space Station but this has not been confirmed.

Pura Vida powered non-Pinto

Pura Vida powered non-Pinto

Let’s take stock: great art, legendary rock ‘n’ roll star host, curated cars, Feralcars slideshow. And, oh yeah, our friends at Pura Vida Tequila were kind enough to send along Sara Abbas who most artfully and responsibly poured the finest agave-based cocktails we’ve ever enjoyed at an art installation.

Portrait of the artist with a portrait of a feral Ford wagon

Portrait of the artist with a portrait of a feral Ford wagon

Life imitates art

Life imitates art

When she pours she reigns

When Sara pours she reigns

If you’ve stalked a feral car and would like to submit a photo of it for posting consideration please send it to us:   info (at) feralcars (dot)com OR through our Facebook page.