MARCH 2023: A 1983 FIREBIRD TRANS AM ALMOST LIVED UP TO ITS FIERY NAME IN 2016

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Trevor Bennett is the proud owner of a 1983 Pontiac Trans Am with a connection to the 2016 Fort McMurray wildfire that forced the evacuation of over 90,000 people and destroyed 2400 homes and businesses in the northern Alberta Canada city.

The connection to the fire? The Firebird’s previous owner was a resident of Fort McMurray who worked in the oilsands industry as a heavy-duty mechanic.

The car was purchased new by the previous owner’s mother, he needed the car as a commuter vehicle to his job and, as a result, the 40-year-old Trans Am did not get destroyed by the huge fire.

Six years ago, Trevor happened to spot the car in a parking lot outside a parts store with its hood up and offered to help the former owner install a new water pump. Then, even though Trevor admitted he is a Ford guy, he bought the ’83 Trans Am on the spot from the guy because the owner had lost interest in the car, particularly after its breakdown.

The car is a solid example of an Eighties-era survivor car and wears its history on its paint. For example, the Firebird’s hood has a worn paint area that roughly resembles the outline of a cat. Trevor explained the outline was created by a feral cat in his neighborhood that liked that particular spot on the Firebird’s hood, possibly due to the warmth factor.

He also mentioned the cat was territorial and did not take kindly to any attempt to remove it from the Trans Am hood, so it had plenty of time to leave a big impression in the car’s paint.

The other legacy worn paint spot is located above the gas filler door on the driver’s side rear quarter. Trevor attributes the spot to the first owner’s habit of positioning her purse in that location when she got fuel for the car.

Trevor’s 1983 Trans Am came equipped with a T-roof, a popular feature in sportier domestic cars built during the 1970s and ‘80s. The T-roof offered the open-air experience of a convertible within a rigid roof structure, but eventually followed the drop top into the annals of domestic car history.

The sporty Firebird still has its original powertrain, including its 305 small block V-8 that left the factory with a cowl induction system, although the fresh air system is not functional at this point, according to Trevor. However, Trevor was able to reintroduce the Trans Am’s factory air conditioning system to the car.

MyStarCollectorCar mentioned the ’83 Trans Am is a survivor car, but we need to add the car continues to survive winters in northern Alberta because Trevor drives his car year-round and added winter tires to the car so he could navigate snow and ice in his community during the long winter months.

Trevor uses a hotter winter thermostat to deliver more heat in the cabin during the deep freeze segment of the year but reverts to a cooler thermostat during the summer because the Pontiac pony car has an overheating problem in hot weather.

Trevor bought the car with 98,000 kms (roughly 61,000 miles) on its odometer and now it has 202,000 kms (roughly 125,000 miles) because he loves to drive the car in every season.  

A 1983 Pontiac Trans Am is a cool car in its own right-but an ’83 TA driven in the winter is even cooler in more than one sense of the term. Trevor Bennett and his 1983 Trans Am are truly road warriors.     

BY: Jim Sutherland

Jim Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer whose work has been published by many major print and online publications. The list includes Calgary Herald, The Truth About Cars, Red Deer Advocate, RPM Magazine, Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, Windsor Star, Vancouver Province, and Post Media Wheels Section. 

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