70 1/2 TRANS AM w/RA  IV   (Functional Ram Air Package) - As I recall.

by Ray Waechter

1970-1/2 TRANS AM w/RA-IV       My TA was ordered from Marsh Pontiac, in Ardmore, PA, six months in advance of first production, unseen, except for a pre-release photo of a prototype. A total of 600 of these 70-1/2 TA production units were made by Pontiac. Of these, only 88 Ram Air IV Trans Am units were made with the RA-IV
optional engine rated at 370hp. Mine, tested on a dynometer, was over 400hp for this 11:1, 400 c. i. engine (0-60 in 5+ sec.). The engineering of the functional hood scoop and it's precise location was based on aerodynamic tests. The intake was logically reversed, facing the windshield, which gave the driver more excitement than the pedestrian. But, the backdraft from the windshield thrust enough air into the hopper to make a difference. The shaker hood flapped opening increased as the demand for more air increased. The flap was regulated by sensors and electronic solonoids incorporated into the carburator. This was also the first Detroit production car to host a set of the new B. F. Goodrich Radial TA tire.

I still have a tape recording of the distinctive sounds this machine makes as it goes through the paces down a straightaway, with the 4-speed Hurst gearbox. We taped this in front of our office, as listening to this awesome machine was a favorite lunchtime pasttime. Letting someone else pilot, I would stood among the shadows of a group of fellow employees, as I loved to just watch and listen to racing-idle-purr and the roar of a distinctively provocative and exciting piece of road machinery. It was a one owner car, me, right up to the night I totaled it on the locally notorious "Dead Man's Curve", driving on an unfamiliar, freshly wetted road with a 270 degree curve, with no-sign or warning, tired and exhausted from nearly two months of solid six-day-sixteen-hour days.

NOTABLE MEMORIES:

The sticker price: $5800.00 (About $500 less than a 'Vette at the time.)
Crusing down the Cape Cod to Provincetown, then to Martha's.
Being pulled over by state troopers, on more than one ocassion, just for them to look at the car.
Taking photos of my TA sitting at the starting line on the Watkin's Glen Formula One race course.
A Ferrari owner stopping at the house, asking to buy it. "...Sorry, NO!"
Pulling next to a 'Vette at any speed!

This was my third and last Firebird (1968 F'bird 400, bronze, white vinyl top, white interior, AND a 1969 F'bird 350, Navy blue, white convertible top), as the F-body "Muscle Car" excitement would never be the same, in my evaluation, for any machine after this particular "weapon".

Yet, that passion and enthusiasm has recently been awakened by Shrop! - see Shrop's 1998 TA  (LS1).
OR, see what I cruise in   now.



Photo Credits:      Jim Means
Writing Credits:    Ray Waechter



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