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Saturday, February 15, 2014

Auto World 1969 Pontiac Trans Am, along with Trans Am's from Johnny Lightning



Here's a few Trans Am, in identical colors, that I gathered up when I got one of my few first Auto World vehicles last year, the 1969 Pontiac Trans Am.

1969: The beginning of the Trans Am

The Trans Am was a high performance package for the Pontiac Firebird first offered in 1969, even though the Firebird never competed in the SCCA Trans Am races.  Additions included dual stripes, Ram Air hood, rear spoiler, rear valence panel that color matched the stripes on the exterior.  Other changes included tuned suspension and rear axle gearing tailored more for the track.  Engine was a 400 CID Ram Air V8 that produced between 367-370 hp. through a four-speed manual.  The Trans Am versions were praised by auto journalists for it's sharp handing designed for the racetrack.  The Trans Am was sold in limited numbers in coupe and convertible body styles.  The Trans Am would continue on in the 1970's as a coupe-only model, though the white with blue stripe color combination would be phased out in the mid-1970's.  Trans Am would become the top dog in the Firebird line for generations to come, mostly noted for it's Ram Air hood on most models and large wing with ground effects.  1994 and 1999 saw 25th and 30th anniversary models based on the same white with blue stripes.  The difference is the 1999 model had dual stripes and blue wheels instead of white.

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The miniature Trans Am's

Auto World did a nice job with the 1969 model in the traditional white with blue stripes.  The front end with the quad headlights and separate bumper nose is crisply detailed, along with the stripes, Ram Air hood, separate-piece front fender scoops, fender badging that incorporated federal-mandated marker lights, rear spoiler with 'Trans Am' on the top, and the rear with the blue valence panel, taillight slots that are sharply carved out, and a "Rare Bird" plate.  The base features above average detailing on a metal base.  The interior is nicely done with driver-oriented dash, 3-sp wheel, and bucket seats.  The hood opens to show the Ram Air V8 with the proper blue on the engine block.  This casting is so nicely done that if there was one area to complain about, it's the wheels:  While the rim and tire letter details are correct, the tires are way too small and the rims even smaller compared to the rims on the actual car.  Overall it's not a bad model.

A few years ago, Johnny Lightning released a 1969 Firebird Convertible in dark blue.  Not only did I love the color I also love the correct dimensions and attention to detail for this new casting.  Later on this Trans Am convertible appeared.  The JL version carries the same exterior detail as the AW version, including Ram Air on the sides of the front scoops, PONTIAC in the left grille, and a separate white convertible top cover at the rear.  Inside is where it really shines with blue color and wood trim detailing on the wheel and center console.  The engine is nicely done even though it lacks the blue colored block of the AW version.  The base seems less impressive, though the wheels seem right even if the tires are too wide.

Click for Photo Gallery


Finally there's the 1999 Trans Am from Johnny Lighting.  Featuring the same white paint with blue stripes (note the screaming chickens at the beginning of the stripes on the ram air hood), screaming chicken on the plate, blue wheels with rubber tires, rear spoiler, and honeycomb taillights with dual exhaust at the bottom of the bumper.  The base has average detailing, and the interior has some excellent, if not sharp, details in the matching black dash/white interior.  The hood opens up to reveal the LS1 5.7L V8 from the C5 Corvette producing 305 hp. through a six-speed manual.  My example had an issue with the blue paint rubbing off the chrome wheels and even though it has since stopped, the ill effects of that event can still be seen here; not sure exactly what caused the problem.  The exterior seems to have some rough and coarse spots as far as detailing goes, so while it's not as exquisite as the Auto World 1993 Trans Am, it'll do just fine.

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