My Car Quest

December 8, 2023

This Pontiac Trans Am Is really A GT

by Mike –

What is a GT car? The term has been applied to cars that do not really have the attributes originally intended for a Grand Tourer or Grand Turismo (GT). I am sure you all can think of an example or two of a car branded a “GT” that really is not a GT.

The author, Sam Dawson said in the introduction to his book, “GT”,

Of all the terms in the motoring lexicon, the ‘GT’ moniker has been one of the most misused and abused.

Ideally, the GT car should have been devised by its progenitors as a Grand Tourer, with all associated considerations in mind. It should be able to transport at least two in comfort with their luggage and have space to spare – probably in the form of a two plus two (2+2) seating arrangement. All the engines fitted should be able to cope with cruising comfortably at the upper limits on all continental roads without drawbacks or loss of usable power. The design of the car, inside and out, should be geared towards its complete control by the driver; and the chassis and suspension should also provide suitable handling and roadholding on all routes that might be encountered on one’s travels.

Royal Pontiac Firebird Trans Am Bobcat

It would be easy for any reader to think the 1971 Pontiac Trans Am for sale here on My Car Quest is a muscle car – but the owner makes the case below that it is a true GT car and a muscle car. Although Pontiac did not brand it a GT they could have.

From the owner, Ken Phillips,

The Pontiac Firebird series was designed from the beginning by Pontiac to be an American GT car specifically exceeding the handling of the Camaro. The Trans Am also has the coordinated front and rear wheel spoilers which were developed in the GM wind tunnels as part of a serious racecar project for the Camaro and taken by Pontiac for the premium Trans Am.

Pontiac Trans Am

Those spoilers are not a stylist’s concept. They were designed and proven in the wind tunnel by race engineers. The Royal Pontiac dealership continued to work with the Pontiac engineers to test and apply other improvements for all Pontiacs, some of which were deemed cost effective and emissions compliant for the factory to use and some (such as the carburetor changes) were not used by the factory but appreciated by the Royal Pontiac customers.

Not all of these improvements were for the drag race customers and customers could order some of these engineering alternatives to better suit that particular customers use for that car.

This car appears to have not been set up for drag racing but for American Time and Distance Sport Car Rallies. This Trans Am came with a Participant’s Medal from “The Worlds Largest All Night Rally” in 1972 by the Metropolitan New York VW Club.

This is not a drag car event. These American Rallys appreciate the massive torque that helps maintain the precise speeds and timing required by the event which is consistent with the modifications on this car.

I certainly could see myself driving this Trans Am across country in style and comfort – with plenty of speed available just in case.

Royal Pontiac Firebird Trans Am Bobcat

This Pontiac Trans Am Is really A GT
Article Name
This Pontiac Trans Am Is really A GT
Can a GT also be a muscle car? Yes, when it is a 1971 Trans Am.


  1. wallace wyss says

    When I worked at Motor Trend ion Sunset Strip, I borrowed one of these from Pontiac. It was sometime between ’70-’72. The assistant art director–who was nutso over Ferraris–gave me a tip that the Ferrari Owner’s Club would be making one of their Malibu runs through the back roads on Malibu the next Sunday morning. They were still allowed to drive old LeMans racers , cars like 250LMs. 275P;s, Comp Daytonas, etc.–still wearing their race inspection stickers!. I did a good job keeping up with them on Decker canyon for the first five minutes–I could accelerate with them, corner with them but then the steering got sluggish and I had to pull over to let the power steering fluid cool off. That’s when I became more of a Ferrari fan, realizing these American musclecars were not ready for the twisty bits. All show and no go as far as I was concerned.

    Ironically the T/A later grew more popular because of Burt Reynold’s using one in a movie. The buyers didn’t care if they could keep up with a Ferrari. All they wanted was one that looked like the black t-top one Burt Reynolds drove in Smokey and the Bandit.I am surprised Pontiac didn’t give away a glue-on mustache with matching chest hair wigs with each one…

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