- - Thursday, May 24, 2012

An unvelievably low-mileage solar gold 1978 Pontiac Trans Am equipped with a WS6 performance package is at the heart of Ken and Jeff’s excellent adventure.

Over the years Ken Fauver, of Leesburg, has owned several Pontiac Trans Am models, but in 2002 he found himself Pontiacless. That fact was made more painfully obvious because his friend Jeff Johnson had a vintage Trans Am.

Together they began a casual search for a vintage Trans Am to rectify the problem.

In the summer of 2002 Mr. Johnson found a likely candidate on EBay offered for sale by the original owner in Irwin, Pa.

The photographs displayed on the internet showed a pristine car with a camel-colored interior under a pair of two-latch Hurst T-Tops. On the console between the front bucket seats were pictured the power window switches beside the automoatic transmission shift lever.

Although the rear tires had been recently replaced, the owner said the B.F. Goodrich white-letter front tires were on the car when it rolled off the assembly line. He should know because he was a Pontiac salesman at the Cochron dealership in Monroeville, straight east of Pittsburgh, when he purchased the Pontiac.

When Mr. Fauver learned that there was another interested party he negotiated a price over the telephone and if the car was up to snuff they had a deal.

The next weekend Mr. Fauver hitched a ride with Mr. Johnson, and they drove to Pennsylvania.

Carefully following directions, the pair drove slowly down the residential street until they saw a Pontiac backed into a driveway with a ‘FOR SALE’ sign in the window. They turned into the driveway and sat there aghast, looking at the beat up, half-rusted gold-colored 1978 Pontiac Trans Am. Each man entertained his own thought:

*Mr. Johnson’s was, ‘Let’s get out of here.’

Mr. Fauver’s was, ‘How did they get it to look so good on EBay?’

As Mr. Johnson was about to back out of the driveway, Mr. Fauver noticed the last two digits of the numbers on the house were transposed from the address they sought.

They tujrned the corner, and a couple of blocks down the street, found the ‘like new’ 1978 Pontiac Trans Am awaiting them with 12,496 miles on the 24-year-old odometer. What are the odds of two gold 1978 Pontiacs being for sale a couple of blocks apart?

The two men quickly checked out the condition of the 3,511-pound car that had a base price when new of $5,889.

Below the 100 mph speedometer and other instruments, visible through the three-spoke tilt-steering wheel, is an emblem proudly proclaiming that this car has a Radial Tuned Suspension.

In the center of the dashboard is the AM/Fm stereo with a factory installed CB radio, after all, 1978 was in the midst of the ‘Good Buddy’ era.

As for the speedometer, ‘It’ll peg it,’ Mr. Fauver says, ‘No question.’

At the far right end of the dashboard is the glove compartment door through which an air conditioning duct protrudes. The trunk release is hidden inside the glove box.

Everything on the car works,’ he says, ‘even the clock.’

So on that sunny June day in 2002 Mr. Fauver purchased the car and happily cruised the 215 miles home with absolutely no problems, the 6.6-liter Trans Am V-8 pumping out 200 plus horsepower.

Once at home he put his new old car away for six months so that when he did register the muscular beast it would be as a 25-year-old antique car.

The Environmental Protection Agency fuel economy rating on the Pontiac is 14 city and 19 highway. In all their wisdom they declared the typical combined average would be 16 mpg and the estimated annual fuel cost would be $656.

Obviously, EPA had never anticipated $3 a gallon gasoline.