Let us steer you to Pontiac Trans Am (Motorbooks, $40), a must-have tome that chronicles the car’s full history, from early days burning up both race tracks and Hollywood to its final days as the most potent muscle car made. Author Tom Glatch has done a revving good job.
The early ’60s saw American auto manufacturers desperately trying to sell cars to the emerging baby-boom market. Pontiac attained success with its original muscle car, the GTO, but as successful as the GTO was, it was handily outsold by Ford’s grand-slam home-run pony car, the Mustang. In response, Pontiac entered the pony car market in ’67 with its new Firebird, a model that became one of the most iconic cars of the classic muscle-car era.
Introduced for ’69, the Trans Am version Firebird became the standard bearer for automotive performance in the U.S. market and kept the muscle car flame alive throughout the dark years of the ’70s and led the charge when performance reemerged in the ’80s. When muscle cars became dormant for a generation it was once again the classic pony cars that jump started American performance.
The battle that raged between Firebird, Camaro and Mustang in the ’80s rejuvenated the U.S. auto industry’s interest in high-performance muscle cars and the Trans Am remained the most potent car of the lot until the bitter end. Pontiac Trans Am: 50 Years chronicles this ultimate version of the Firebird’s rich history, from the early attempts to reach the youth market in the early ’60s, through the potent and turbulent years of the classic muscle car era, the resurgence of muscle in the ’80s, to the car’s continued popularity in both the automotive world and in popular culture today.
Perhaps you ‘auto” grab one for the car connoisseur in your life?