In the 1970s, American carmakers could still build classic big block V8 muscle cars, but the primitive technology available to meet increasingly stringent government pollution limits strangled those cars into unrecognizable shadows of their former legendary selves.
The rules only applied to new cars, however, so Phoenix-area Pontiac dealer Evan Mecham saw a solution: build unrestricted hot-rod Trans Ams and sell them as used cars.
He dubbed the result the Macho Trans Am, building and 325 of the muscled-up Pontiacs between 1977 and 1979, and now Mecum Auctions has five of those cars headed to the block in Dallas on Sept. 9.
Four of these Macho Trans Ams are the slick-looking 1978 models that resemble the car that appeared in Smokey and the Bandit. A fifth one is a 1979 model, which is saddled with that year's ugly front end, as depicted in Smokey and the Bandit 2.
The 400 cubic-inch engine (code-named W72) only produced 200 horsepower from the factory, but Mecham rejetted the four-barrel carburetor for more fuel flow, cranked in some ignition advance, removed the obstruction Pontiac installed in the otherwise functional hood scoop, and bolted on some exhaust headers to add an easy 50 horsepower.
At the time, Car and Driver magazine pronounced the Trans Am the finest-handling American car available, but Mecham realized there was still room for improvement in that area too, so he added Koni shocks, lowered the front end and adjusted the front suspension and alignment to complement the changes.
There is no estimated sale price for the cars, but there is also no reserve price, so have your wallet ready.