Hitman's Pontiac Trans Am Forum

Trans Am Information => Trans Am Information => Topic started by: John Witzke on December 17, 2006, 09:45:04 AM

Title: 1978 W72 Firebird Production Numbers
Post by: John Witzke on December 17, 2006, 09:45:04 AM
There seems to be a some confusion from people on other boards and especially ebay recently about the "very rare" one of 4,112 4-speed or one of 4,139 automatic 1978 Trans Ams produced.  These number, while coming coming from Pontiac, are not complete production numbers and it has not been established what part of production they represent.  I caution against using the 4,000 numbers as they do not represent the final numbers.  


Unfortunately, 1978 Trans Am and Formulas produced with the W72 Performance Package and automatic transmission is impossible to separate at this time.  Pontiac production records show 75,239 Firebird Trans Am and Formulas were produced with the L78 400-cid and W72 400-cid engines and automatic transmissions.  According to the early production records, 70,590 Trans Ams were produced in 1978 with automatic transmissions.  Based on this number we can conclude 4,649 L78 400-cid and W72 400-cid Formulas were produced with automatic transmissions.  By carefully analyzing production records, I can establish that 21,384 W72 Firebirds (Trans Am and Formula) were produced with an automatic transmission.

All 1978 individual Trans Am production numbers appear to have come from the same sources that claim only 4,112 W72 4-speeds and 4,139 automatic Trans Ams were produced, which I have verified these two to be incorrect.  While some of these numbers per model (Y84,Y82,Y88) have been used and accepted in the hobby I have no way to positively say these are accurate and should be stated as "accepted" numbers or "believed to be" but not yet verified.

This information can also be found in my W72 Historic Information page on this site.  

Title: 1978 W72 Firebird Production Numbers
Post by: Tin Indians Rule on December 26, 2006, 06:21:44 AM
John, Thanks for the great info and all that you've done to enlighten us on the ever so mysterious W72'ers.  I have a question I wondered if you could answer.

What was driving the poor record keeping from 76-78 at PMD. It seems those three model years are represented the poorest when it comes to numbers crunching.

Thanks, Rob
Title: 1978 W72 Firebird Production Numbers
Post by: O'Neall on December 28, 2006, 10:13:23 AM
John probably has a real explanation, but I'm going to venture a guess... I'm betting it's got a lot to do with the sheer volume of the cars they began building.  In 76 production jumped about 20,000 units from 75, then jumped another 20,000 again in 77, then again in 78, even more in 79... you get the picture (and this doesn't even count the Camaro production which went down the assembly line right next to them).  Heck in 78 they even had to open up a whole new plant (Van Nuys) to deal with the production.  So I'm betting the sheer volume caused some pretty sloppy paperwork.

Just my 2 cents.
Title: 1978 W72 Firebird Production Numbers
Post by: Tin Indians Rule on December 28, 2006, 07:07:26 PM
I'm sure that the volume of cars built did have a role in the sloppy paperwork too. I had heard things like fire damaging some of the records dept, a strike at GM, cooking the books to show more cars built and less cost, etc

Just wondering if someone as close to the numbers as John would be able to shed any light as to why.
Title: 1978 W72 Firebird Production Numbers
Post by: John Witzke on January 01, 2007, 10:29:35 AM
Always glad to help.

It appears the worst year for records was the 1978 model year.  A lot of detailed individual production information appears to have been discarded.  PHS only can give totals for option codes, which is what I have.  My W72 production numbers are accurate and are based on Pontiac production information.    

Hope all this helps.