1976 PONTIAC TRANS AM TURNS THE CORNER
1976 marked Pontiac’s 50th birthday, and the commemorated it with a special edition of the Trans Am. Painted black with gold accents, this was the first Trans Am Anniversary package ever released, and the first use in production of the Black and Gold Special Edition (2,590 were built). It took until nearly this time for the Trans Am to prove its business case to the bean counters at GM. They were making boatloads of money selling T/As at premium prices and at volumes that nearly matched those of all other Firebird models combined. They started investing more to further differentiate the Trans Am from lesser Firebirds with special front end treatments, among other things. And it was finally paying off. The 1976 Pontiac Trans Am was the first T/A every to double the sales volume of the base Firebird. In actuality, it more than doubled it, with 46,701 Trans Ams sold vs. 21,209 base Firebirds.
1976 PONTIAC TRANS AM STYLING CHANGES
For ’76, the T/A got a revised body-colored, deformable urethane front facia with a more integrated look, with a trimmed front spoiler the parking lights back in the lower integrated bumper, in the cooling vents. This was the last year for round headlights, one on each side. Out back, there was a new urethane body-colored bumper, while the wide horizontally-slatted tail lights remained unchanged form the prior years. This is also the first year for the T-Top. Trans Ams came with GR70X15 steel belted radial tires on Rally II wheels (body-colored or argent) or honeycomb alloy wheels as a no cost option. This was the last year for the honeycombs.
1976 PONTIAC TRANS AM ENGINE OPTIONS
The base motor, unchanged from ’75, was the 400 rated at a paltry 185hp. The top engine was the 455 H.O., itself unchanged from ’75, that only came with a 4-speed manual transmission, which made it unavailable to California buyers due to their smog laws. The 1976 Pontiac Trans Am would be the last to have a 455 option. All had a 2-into-1-into-2 exhaust system with dual tail pipes. The shaker hood was no longer functional.