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Identifying the 1977 to 1978 Firebirds
Spoiler/Trunk lid

When ordered with the rear spoiler the bird decal was installed in the center. For Skybirds and Redbirds a special decal was installed looking like a pinstripe bird. When ordered with Formula a FORMULA decal was installed at the right hand side. All spoilers received a PONTIAC decal on the right as well, in the case of the Formula the PONTIAC decal appeared below the FORMULA decals as shown at right. Without the spoiler the bird emblem took the center position a PONTIAC emblem adorned the right side of the trunk. On Formulas without the spoiler the FORMULA decal appeared above the PONTIAC emblem.

Fender Emblems
All Firebirds except Trans Am had a Firebird emblem on each fender. On Esprits, including Skybird and Redbird, an Esprit emblem again appeared below the Firebird emblem. On Formula models without the W50 Appearance package a FORMULA decal lay below the emblem. W50 cars continued the black out treatments and the large FORMULA door decals to announce the model.
Sail Panel Adornment
A new cast bird emblem adorned all Firebird sail panels except on Special Edition Trans Ams, Skybird, and Redbird. For 1977 and 1978 Black and Gold Special Editions the large bird decal remained from the 1976 Limited Edition. In 1978 the new Gold Special Edition received an oversized four color bird matching that hood bird of that model. (Note the non-Special Edition Solar Gold cars received the emblem even though the large hood bird was the updated four color bird. Skybirds and Redbirds received their own specific decals (right) in blue for Skybird and gold for Redbird.
Trans Am Fender/Spoiler Decals

Trans Am fender and spoiler decals were very similar except for the spoiler decal being larger. The Black and Gold Special Editions continued to use the German style logo introduced on the 1976 Limited Edition. In 1977 the TRANS AM script was in the same style as all previous years but the 1978 models received a new updated TRANS AM decal that had more of a block letter appearance.

Note that it is common to see 1978 Trans Ams that have the older style script and many pre-production factory photos of the 1978 Trans Am show the older script. It is possible that some early 1978 models received the older style decal and that the change was made after production began. However, all production factory literature show Trans Ams with the newer lettering so it is believed that many restorations incorrectly use the older decals. Most factory literature shows the Solar Gold cars which received newer four color hood birds so it is possible that they had special graphics initially. The subject remains open to debate.

If you have documentation to support the installation of older style graphics on a 1978 Trans Am your guidance will be appreciated. Please send your comments and any scanned documents if possible to Steve@Tran-Zam.com.

Trans Am Hood Scoops
  Pontiac Crest   Fender Top Decal
The 1977 Trans Am received a newly redesigned hood scoop with a more angular look. Early 1977 models had a smaller version that protruded from the hood only one or two inches and was difficult to see. As a running 1977 change the hood scoop was enlarged to stick up through the hood several inches making the engine call out decals much easier to read. Decals on the scoop varied. In 1977 models the W72 400 engine received TA/6.6 decals while all other engines, the base 400 and new for 1977 Oldsmobile 403 received 6.6 Litre decals. In 1978 the 6.6 Litre decal was discontinued making the T/A 6.6 decal the only hood scoop decal. Of course you still had to buy the W72 motor, otherwise your hood scoop remained blank. The decal style was the same as the Fender/Spoiler graphics, either the German style lettering on Black SE cars, the older Trans Am script, or the newer Trans Am block lettering.

The new front fascia received the traditional Pontiac Arrowhead crest on all models. For 1977 the red crest was the only available style. In 1978 a gold crest was released to grace the front bumpers of the Black and Gold Special Editions, the Solar Gold Special Editions, and the Redbird.

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All 1977 Trans Ams received a TRANS AM decal adorning the top driver's side fascia. This decal matched the style of the other TRANS AM decals, either the Special Edition German script or the traditional TRANS AM script.

In 1978 the TRANS AM decal was eliminated from the bumper. It is very common to see 1978 Trans Ams with the decal since most kits include one. This is especially true of the Black and Gold Special Editions but original examples all lack the decal.

Custom Seats

When the custom interior was ordered (standard on Esprits, the seats varied from 1977 to 1978. The 1977 model used a rounded horse collar style made popular on earlier models. The 1978 custom interior had more angular seats with a pillow style design (left). A quick glance to interior of the car is a dead giveaway to the model year unless the standard interior is installed. The standard interiors were identical from 1977 to 1978.

Grilles

The front grille design is the easiest clue to whether the car is a '77 or '78 model. The 1977 model had a hexagonal grille design while the '78 used a cross hatch design. Both years had an identical PONTIAC emblem in the driver's side grille. Many variations were used gray on Base and Esprit, Blacked out on Formula and Trans Am, and body color on Skybird and Redbird.

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Formula Hood
The 1977 and 1978 Firebirds received a new steel hood this year with angular hood scoops to match the aggressive outward appearance. W50 Formulas received black hood scoops while base Formulas remained body color.
T-Tops

Two styles of T-Tops, or hatch roofs can be seen on 1978 Firebirds. The first version, available in 1977 and 1978 was the Hurst hatch roof that debuted on the Limited Edition Trans Am for 1976. These hatches are smaller than the later Fisher style. The Hurts Hatches sometimes had black trim and sometimes chrome trim. Both are correct except for Black Special Editions which always had black trim.

For 1978 the Fisher T-Top roof was made available alongside the Hurst Hatch roof. Buyers could not specify which style they wanted so whatever the factory decided was what the buyer got. The exception to this was the 1978 Gold Special Edition which always received Fisher Tops, albeit a special gold tinted version specific to that car.

Trans Am Hood Birds

Trans Am hood birds were carried over from previous years with several colors being available. A new blue version was introduced for the Martinique Blue 1978 Trans Am even though factory documentation mistakenly shows a gold bird. The 1978 blue hood bird appears as identical to the blue hood bird from 1973 to 1975 but Pontiac did have a separate part number for the two. Presumably the colors are slightly different as no clues visible to the naked eye can be discerned.

In 1978 all Solar Gold Trans Ams received a new four color gold hood bird to augment the striking colors of the car. This was true for both Gold Special Editions and standard Solar Gold Trans Ams. The new design was larger and more prominent on the hood and this design would last until the end of the model run in 1981 with only slight variations.

Trans Am Tail Lamps

A mid-year change in 1978 to the Trans Am tail lamp treatment was the installation of blacked out tail lamps for the Trans Am similar to those used on the W50 Formula cars. It is unknown exactly when the production change took place but body color and blacked out lamp assembles are both factory correct for 1978 Trans Ams. Solar Gold Special Editions always had blacked out tail lamps being the only consistent entry in the 1978 field.