autoevolution
Car video reviews:
 

1976 Pontiac "Trans Rat" Is a Big-Block Monster With Drag Racing Skills

Introduced in 1969 as a performance package for the Firebird, the Pontiac Trans Am is mostly famous for its hood graphics and rear spoiler. And, of course, for its appearance in "Smokey and the Bandit" film.
Pontiac "Trans Rat" custom dragster 18 photos
1976 Pontiac "Trans Rat" custom dragster1976 Pontiac "Trans Rat" custom dragster1976 Pontiac "Trans Rat" custom dragster1976 Pontiac "Trans Rat" custom dragster1976 Pontiac "Trans Rat" custom dragster1976 Pontiac "Trans Rat" custom dragster1976 Pontiac "Trans Rat" custom dragster1976 Pontiac "Trans Rat" custom dragster1976 Pontiac "Trans Rat" custom dragster1976 Pontiac "Trans Rat" custom dragster1976 Pontiac "Trans Rat" custom dragster1976 Pontiac "Trans Rat" custom dragster1976 Pontiac "Trans Rat" custom dragster1976 Pontiac "Trans Rat" custom dragster1976 Pontiac "Trans Rat" custom dragster1976 Pontiac "Trans Rat" custom dragster1976 Pontiac "Trans Rat" custom dragster
The Trans Am was no longer all that special during the Malaise Era, but the road action comedy movie starring Burt Reynolds propelled the Trans Am into stardom in the late 1970s. Sales soared, Pontiac was again in the spotlight, and the "Firebird" hood decal became a legend.

Come 2021, and Trans Ams from the "Smokey and the Bandit" era are among the coolest yet affordable 1970s classics. But if you're not happy with the V8 engines of the era (rated at up to 220 horsepower), here's a Trans Am that will quench your thirst for quick quarter-mile runs and ear-piercing exhaust notes. Meet "Trans Rat," a fully customized Poncho that looks like it just came out of a racing shop.

Put together sometime in the 1990s, the Trans Am still retains the stock body panels, with no major modifications to the fenders and the bumpers. And yes, the iconic spoiler is still there, sporting the "Trans Rat" script and a mouse cartoon. The black paint, which is sinister enough for such a build, is complemented by a somewhat psychedelic set of blue, red, and purple stripes.

The cabin retains the standard 1976 Trans Am layout, but it's been augmented with a handful of race-spec parts. The package includes velour-covered racing buckets with harnesses, a Mr. Gasket shifter, and a rollbar with swingout bars. The rear seats were removed and replaced by a beaded metal panel. Oh, and it comes with an AM/FM/cassette player, just in case you get tired of the V8 soundtrack.

Speaking of which, this Trans Am no longer relies on a Malaise-Era engine for oomph. Instead, it packs a Chevrolet 427-cubic-inch (7.0-liter) big-block V8 with a ton of upgrades. Bored .030-inch over, it sports a forged-steel crankshaft, forged rods, and a Cam Dynamics hydraulic roller camshaft.

The upgrades list continues with a Weiand aluminum tunnel-ram intake manifold, a pair of Holley carburetors, a high-volume oil pump, and MSD ignition. The engine mates to a Turbo Hydra-Matic 400 three-speed auto set up by Kenne Bell.

How powerful it is, you ask? Well, the seller says it doesn't have a dyno sheet but claims it's "an absolute monster" that "will put a smile on the face of whoever drives it." Judging by the setup, the V8 should crank out more than 600 horsepower.

Just like the drivetrain, the chassis received a few notable upgrades, including a frame-rail kit that stiffens everything and provides mounting points for a ladder-bar rear suspension. The car has disc brakes at all four corners and currently rides on Weld Draglite wheels wrapped in Mickey Thompson tires.

Although the odometer shows a five-digit mileage, the seller claims that the car was driven only 200 to 250 miles (322 to 402 km) since its completion. What's more, the car was never driven at the drag strip. Well, that needs to change because this Trans Am shouldn't spend its life as a garage queen.

If you want to take this beast racing, the "Trans Rat" is currently being auctioned off on Hemmings. Bidding is at $15,500 with five days to go, but the auction has a "reserve not met" status as of this writing. Would you drag this rat?

Editor's note: This article was not sponsored or supported by a third-party.

 
 
 
 
 

Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories