- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 9, 2006

Heidi Newbrough is a woman who knows what she likes.

Almost 30 years ago she informed her husband, Jack, that she wanted a sporty car. She just didn’t know what car.

Her husband, who at the time was working in the recreational vehicle department at Koons Pontiac Oldsmobile in Manassas, suggested a Corvette. With two children still at home, Mrs. Newbrough vetoed that idea.

On a brisk March day as the couple was motoring out on a car-shopping expedition, they stopped at a red light not far from their home.

Mrs. Newbrough pointed to a car in the crossing traffic and said, “That’s the car I want.”

The car that had arrested her attention was a 1977 Pontiac Trans Am complete with the enormous eagle decal on the engine hood.

If that’s what she wants, thought Mr. Newbrough, that’s what she’ll get. After all, how difficult can it be to get a white Trans Am?

As it turned out, the task was very difficult. His own dealership did not have one nor did any other nearby dealerships that could swap cars. Eventually Mr. Newbrough discovered that his dealership had ordered a white Trans Am that was due to be delivered sometime in July.

Because the order was already in the works, it was a simple matter to add some of the options that Mrs. Newbrough wanted.

On July 22, 1977 the car, with factory-installed glass T-tops in the roof, was delivered. With an employee price, the tab was $7,211.40 but once the delivery, title, tax and finance charges were added, the total came to $9,307.40.

Mr. Newbrough telephoned his wife to see if she wanted to drive her new car home. “No,” she responded, she was too busy.

So Mr. Newbrough put the first few miles on the Trans Am. For the records, Mrs. Newbrough was thrilled to see her new Pontiac with a 400-cubic-inch V-8 engine that is mated to a Turbo 350 Hydramatic transmission.

Since then, it has been her car. “I wanted something different,” she says.

The original honeycomb aluminum wheels have been placed in safe storage while more expendable custom mag wheels took their place.

A couple of years ago the interior was showing signs of wear so the white vinyl was replaced, as were the door panels and the red carpet. The original red dashboard is still in place and as a testament to the car always being garaged, the dashboard has not a single crack or blemish.

Despite the huge 400-cubic-inch V-8, with government-mandated emissions regulations, the engine produces less than 200 horsepower. Still, that is more than sufficient power to propel the 3,526-pound Pontiac. The speedometer can register speeds up to 100 mph while the 6,000 rpm tachometer red lines at 5,000 rpm.

The 6.6-liter engine runs cool as long as it has 21 quarts of coolant flowing through its passageways. A four-barrel Rochester Quadrajet carburetor feeds fuel from the 21-gallon gasoline tank to the engine.

The diameter of the three-spoke steering wheel is on the small side but with power-assisted steering the driver can thread a needle with the car.

As expected on a 30-year-old car, the exhaust system has been replaced from the manifold on back, including a catalytic converter and muffler.

Mrs. Newbrough reports that the farthest the car has been from its Manassas home was one 100-mile trip she and her husband took to Richmond. Other than that singular excursion, all of the 36,976 miles on the car have been accumulated on the streets of Manassas with Mrs. Newbrough at the wheel. Mr. Newbrough gets limited seat time at the steering wheel whenever he takes the car in for maintenance or to fill the gasoline tank. He proudly says that his wife’s car has never been run through a car wash. He performs that chore himself by hand.

About five years ago the paint was showing signs of being 24 years old so the Newbroughs turned to son Jimmy for an answer.

Their son paints cars at Mastercraft Auto Body in Manassas and resprayed his mother’s car with a three-stage white paint with the pink pearl metal flake clear coat that is on the car today.

T-tops on cars from that era were notorious for leaking but the ones on Mrs. Newbrough’s Trans Am have never leaked. “That’s because the car has never been in the rain,” Mr. Newbrough volunteers.

Even though 68,745 Pontiacs like hers were manufactured in the 1977 model year, this particular one is very special to Mrs. Newbrough. “I love that car,” she states emphatically.

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