Carol Duckworth, courtesy of Mecum Auctions
  • 1978 Macho Trans Am #202
  • The last Macho Trans Am modified by DKM in 1978; two 1978 models were converted in 1979
  • The last of nine produced with the HO Racing Specialties turbocharger
  • The only turbocharged Macho Trans Am in black and gold
  • MCACN Day Two Gold award in 2015
  • Featured in September 2016 Hemmings Muscle Machines
  • Correct WC-suffix 400-ci, 325-hp V8 engine
  • 480 ft-lb of torque
  • Borg Warner T10 4-speed manual transmission
  • Hurst Competition Plus shifter
  • 10-bolt rear end
  • 3.42 limited-slip differential
  • WS6 special-performance package

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1978 Pontiac Macho Trans Am
Years Produced:1977–79
Number Produced:325 (estimated)
Original List Price:$9,610 (base Macho), $13,000 (Turbo Macho)
SCM Valuation:$40,000
Tune Up Cost:$350
Chassis Number Location:Plate at base of windshield
Engine Number Location:Stamping toward left side of front of block
Club Info:National Firebird & T/A Club
Alternatives:1972 Dodge Demon GSS, 1968 Pontiac Royal Bobcat GTO, 1981 Chevrolet Yenko Turbo Z Camaro
Investment Grade:B

This car, Lot F202, sold for $57,200, including buyer’s premium, at Mecum’s massive Indy sale held at the Indiana State Fairgrounds in Indianapolis on May 15–20, 2018. It was offered without reserve.

Who’s Macho?

Okay, we might as well get this over with right away. Coming from the south, referring to some guy as a “Macho Man” was likely a beer-tossing, gloves-off excuse to start a bar brawl. That said, out on the West Coast, the term was evidentially widely popular back in the late 1970s — even being ensconced in history with a hit song by the Village People that made the Billboard Hot 100 during the summer of 1978.

If you’re not familiar with these modified Trans Ams, you’re not alone. The only reason I am even remotely familiar with them is that one cruised around my hometown in central Florida back in the early 1980s. I recall thinking that it had a pretty stupid name, and a few of my buddies thought some dude had put the graphics on it. Needless to say, it didn’t go over too well.

Little did we know that it was a professionally modified Trans Am, one that was purpose-built by a subsidiary of a little-known Pontiac dealership in Glendale, AZ.

Turned-up T/A

As the story goes, the sons of the owner had decided that the brand-new Trans Ams were lacking in the performance department — and they were determined to do something about it.

We are talking about the era of “smogger” performance — or lack thereof. Yes, the cars looked fast and were glorified by Burt Reynolds in “Smokey and the Bandit” (1977). And, if you didn’t know better, the GM marketing had you convinced that a new 1978 Trans Am was a genuine high-performance road rocket.

In stock form, a 1978 Firebird with the highest-output W72 400 under the hood made 220 hp under the best conditions. Sure, that’s not a terrible number for 1978, but Dennis and Kyle Mecham (DKM) thought they could do better.

Enter the Macho

The Macho Trans Am was designed and built by DKM from 1977 to ’79. To circumvent the new-car dealer restrictions, the modified cars were sold as used cars even though they were essentially new off the showroom floor. Most were spec’d out by the customer, and based on various production sources, about 325 total were produced.

The vast majority were modified, naturally aspirated machines. Modifications included re-jetting the carburetor, increasing the distributor curve, opening up the Shaker hood scoop and adding a set of Hooker headers. The challenge for DKM was to do all of this without altering the mandated federal emissions systems. Other mods included suspension changes, graphics and aftermarket seating. Basically, anything the customer wanted, provided it was reasonable and doable.

While the modifications were things a guy with some mechanical aptitude could do on his own, DKM made it easier and packaged it neatly into the Macho line of performance Trans Ams. The cars weren’t cheap, which might suggest why only a handful were sold. But for some guys, this was just the ticket: a hotter Firebird that was ready to go out of the box.

A super-rare turbo model

Our subject car is reported to be one of nine with the HO Racing Specialties turbocharger. The upgrade truly ratcheted up performance, taking the 400-ci V8 from 220 hp to about 325 hp. It also ratcheted up the price to north of $13,000 — about two times the MSRP. Toss in a properly geared differential and an even rarer 4-speed transmission, and you’d likely find yourself doing your best “Smokey and the Bandit” impression, cowboy hat not included. Plus, we can add a red bandit scarf on top of it, as this is reported to be the only turbo model in the desirable black-and-gold combination — and the last one delivered in 1978.

All in all, if you’re a fan of the later 1970s-era Trans Ams, our subject car separates itself from the pack. It even has the infamous T-top, which certainly adds more value to the configuration. It’s the right color and it has the right options including a/c. Finding a 4-speed in a 1978 Trans Am is difficult enough, but finding one with a MCACN Day Two Gold award and a proper restoration is even tougher.

Rare car, great comps

Mecum sold a collection of five Macho Trans Ams at their Dallas sale in 2017. This single sale gives us the best up-periscope view of the value range one might expect to pay for a typical Macho Trans Am. The one caveat to that — these were all 4-bbl cars. The huge game changer for our subject car is the turbo under the hood.

The five cars sold at the Mecum sale ranged from an all-in price of $53,900 to $35,200. While the conditions varied, that would suggest a median value of about $40,000. That’s a pretty good benchmark to use for our valuation dynamics.

Our subject car carried a pre-sale auction estimate of $75,000 to $100,000. Given the recent comps, that’s pretty aggressive. However, we are talking about a very rare Macho model that remains in excellent condition. So where do we go from here?

By my observations and by dissecting the broader Trans Am market — especially the black-and-gold 6.6-liter “Bandit” Special Editions with T-tops and low miles — fetching $50,000-plus on the block is not all that unrealistic. Some have sold for far more than that. It’s a car that resonates with a whole herd of car-crazy guys — and a bunch of them have the money to buy one. So values have been fairly steady with some cooling in the past year or so, but the right examples can still pull a surprisingly strong number on the auction block.

Mucho Macho money?

So was it mucho money for our Macho Trans Am? Given the overall market and desirability for just about any black-and-gold T/A with a T-top — not to mention the rare 4-speed — the price paid for this particular Macho seems completely in line with recent sales for an everyday 6.6-liter black T-top Trans Am. But if I were really a macho, macho, man — I’d dare say it was very well bought.

(Introductory description courtesy of Mecum Auctions.)

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