Test Drive – Tim’s 1972 Trans Am by Rob Healey
For a long time I’ve enjoyed the look and sound of Tim’s Trans Am as it arrives at the Car Club Meetings. The deep noted, burbling exhaust sounds really good, and the car exudes brute power from every gleaming curve.
In 1972 Pontiac Trans Am’s came in only two colours – Cameo White with blue stripes or Lucerne Blue topped with a white stripe.
I asked Tim if I could have a test drive and he immediately handed me the keys. WOW!! I really enjoy test driving different cars but I always like the owner to be with me. So we both walked over to the car which has been converted to right hand drive.
Despite my stiff back, access to the drivers seat was easy and the mirrors were already in the right position for me. I sat there looking around. It was a great feeling just sitting in the car and I hadn’t even started the motor !! Here was a car from the end of the Muscle Car era, built the year before the Arab Oil Embargo that changed the design of cars forever. 1972 was a time when there was ‘No substitute for cubic inches’, when engines were huge thirsty beasts with 4 barrel carbys gulping down fuel as fast as they could. This was exciting!! I get pleasure driving cars, no matter what they are, there’s always something to be experienced, whether it’s a 500cc Fiat or a 7500cc fire breathing monster.
There was a lap strap seat belt and also a separate diagonal belt that could be pulled down from above the side window. I inserted the key and turned the ignition but not long enough, I turned it again, blipped the throttle and the motor started easily. The idle was a bit high and Tim advised me to blip the throttle to drop it back..
I put the Turbo 400 auto into drive and as soon as the Trans Am began to move I found it required more turns of the wheel than expected and the steering was very light. As I accelerated down the street the car felt very good, it didn’t feel at all like the 40 year old vehicle it is. Everything was tight, solid – signs of a well maintained vehicle. The engine ran smoothly and the exhaust sound was just right. Tim told me that the mufflers were fitted by Walsh’s to his request for the least back pressure without being noisy. Walsh’s have come up with an ideal system.
Stopping at a road junction the disc front brakes felt Ok and pulled up the big car in a straight line. I accelerated into the 100kph zone and could feel the massive 7.6 litre engine had heaps of power. The rev counter was laying on its side with 0 at the bottom left and the needle rising up the left hand side of the gauge, presumably so that the red line would be the vertical position. The Speedo was in MPH and the needle was steady.
On a roundabout the suspension was firm, there wasn’t much body roll. I’ve read that The Trans Am was considered to have very good sports suspension. The 455ci engine has been rebuilt twice and is now 40 thou over, this calculates to be around 465ci. Tim has fitted Edelbrock heads which have increased the compression and power output.
The Turbo 400 auto transmission has also been rebuilt and they are known to be very strong although they soak up some of the horsepower. I felt it shift very firmly into 2nd, and as I accelerated away from the roundabout I gave it a quick burst of about 4/5ths throttle. The roar of the engine and exhaust, plus the push into the seat confirmed the dyno results which have shown over 300hp at the rear wheels.
The short test drive was over too soon. The car felt much lighter and easier to drive than I had expected. The throttle was very smooth, the steering very light. There was plenty of power under the hood and the brake pedal pressure told me we were pulling up some weight. Thanks very much Tim for trusting me at the controls of your fantastic muscle car.