Pontiac used a few different styles and types of hood birds as well as decals on the second generation Trans Ams. They are really broken down into years and what style they used on the cars. From 1973 (the first appearance of the big hood bird) until mid-1978, they used what was called the "Looping" style hood bird. In mid 1978, they changed from the looping to hood bird to the 5 color hood bird used on gold Trans Ams in 1978 and also all Trans Ams in 1979 and 1980. For 1981, they went to a one color hood bird. For the decals and the lettering, they used again from 1973 to mid-1978, the "Looping" style lettering. Then from 1979 to 1981, they used the "Formula" style lettering. On Special Edition Trans Ams, they used the "German" style lettering. I will cover these in a little more detail below.
From 1970 to 1972, the paint schemes and decals were pretty simple. The decals consisted of a small hood bird on the nose and a wide stripe running down the length of the car. They also had the "TRans Am" names on the fenders and rear spoiler. On white cars, they were blue decals, and on blue cars, they were white decals..... pretty simple huh?
For the shaker designations, they used designations such as "455", "455 HO", or even "Ram Air".
1973 marked the first year for the large hood bird. This would become iconic for the Trans Am to make it stand out from the crowd. When you see the big bird on the hood.... you know what car you are looking at. From 1973 to mid production year 1978, Pontiac used the "Looping" style hood bird and names. The decals came in a variety of colors such as Green, Orange, Blue, Charcoal/Red, Gold/Clear, and Gold/Black. The Trans Ams came with the hood bird, the "Trans Am" names on the fender and rear spoiler plus also a front bumper name located above the front drivers headlight (1976 & 1977).
For the shaker designations prior to 1977, they used designations such as "455", "SD455", or "400".
Also, on the sail panel was an emblem.
As I have mentioned on quite a few other pages, 1978 was the worst year for Pontiac and making mid-year changes. Changes such as Hurst T-tops to Fisher T-tops, going from a Black Special Edition to a Gold Special Edition and then back to a Black Special Edition again..... The list goes on and on and the decals for 1978 are no different. Sometime mid-production year of 1978, they decided to change the decals. When exactly it happened, we don't really know for sure, but they changed from the "Looping" style lettering to the "Formula" style lettering that was continued in use until 1981. They kept the looping style hood bird, but changed the style of the names.
Changed from the "Looping" style (left) to the "Formula" style (right).
Another few things to note for 1978.... They got rid of the "Trans Am" name above the drivers side headlight for this year.
Here is a good illustration of that below. This photo was taken at the Trans Am Nationals with two almost identical cars sitting next to each other.
Also, if you had the L78 Pontiac 400 or the Olds 403, then you got no shaker designation decals.
One other change was the introduction of the new style 5-color hood bird.
In 1979, they kept the same 5 color hood bird and the "Formula' lettering found in late 1978. The color choices were blue, red, orange, gold, silver, and they also added burgundy, bronze, and dark gold in 1980. The "Trans Am" name on the front nose made it return in 1979 and was now located under the front drivers side headlight. The shaker decals once again came back for all engines. And the sail panel emblem was replaced with a smaller 3" decal.
5 Color hood bird "Formula" Style lettering
3" sail panel bird decals Front nose decal returns
1981 was the final year for the Second Generation Trans Am. GM produced a different decal kit exclusively for the 1981 vehicles. The bird is 1" wider and ½" taller than the 1979-80 style and dropped from a 5 color design to a 2 color design. The front nose "Trans Am" name was also again removed as well as the "Unleaded Fuel Only" decal from the rear bumper.
The Special Edition cars from 1976 to 1978 used a different style of decals than the rest of the Trans Am fleet. The hood bird on the normal Trans Am was a two color gold with orange highlights shown above, byut the Special Edition hood bird was a matte two tone (mostly called "one color") gold hood bird. The typical "looping" style or "formula" style lettering was replaced with a "German" style lettering that adorned the car. And of course, the Special Edition had body stiping that outlined just about every aspect of the car.
One Color Hood Bird (Matte Gold) "German" Style lettering
They also had a sail panel decal instead of the regular emblem
For more information about the Special Edition, plase check out this page: Special Edition
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