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1976 50th Anniversary

Just after the gas crunch of 1973-74, when the public was looking for smaller and more economical vehicles, Pontiac was still “building excitement”. 1976 was noted in many respects as being the last of the Muscle Cars as it was the last year for the Pontiac L75 455 engines. To celebrate GM’s milestone of 50 years being in business, from 1926 to 1976, GM offered a Limited Edition 50th Anniversary Trans Am.

The 1976 50th Anniversary Trans Am was based on GM’s 1974 Chicago Car Show concept black and gold paint scheme Trans Am that had overwhelming reviews. GM decided to bring the black and gold paint scheme to full production in 1976 to celebrate its 50th anniversary. GM also decided to contact Hurst Performance and ask them if they could produce 2 glass tops for this Trans Am with a limited production of just 2400 but actual production was up to 2590.

Hurst Performance was already producing the Hurst Hatches (also known as T-tops) for GM’s Hurst/Olds line in 1975 with great success. GM thought a Special Edition/Limited Edition Trans Am (with the RPO code of Y82) would be perfect for its 50th Anniversary celebration and GM figured the glass tops would fit the Trans Am model very well. GM shipped only 643 1976 50th Anniversary Special Edition/Limited Edition Trans Ams to Hurst Performance for the Hurst Hatch installations. All the Limited Edition cars were to be produced with the Hurst Hatches but Pontiac found the hatches leaked severely and stopped the production of them due to unsatisfied customers at just 643 of them, of which 110 had the L75 455 engines and 533 had the L78 400 engines. The remaining 1628 were hard top cars with L78 400 engines and 319 had the L75 455 engines for a total production number of 2590.

All the 50th Anniversary Special Edition/Limited Edition cars for 1976 had special amenities:

Black paint with Gold striping and trim
Gold polycast Honeycomb wheels
Gold grille and headlamp liners
Gold anodized instrument panel
Gold steering wheel spokes
Gold bird emblems inside and out
Special Gold 50th Anniversary emblems on the quarter panels
Hurst Hatch T-tops
L78 Pontiac 400
L75 455 was optional

Hurst Performance put an “alteration” sticker on the door near the driver’s door latch of each car that was produced with Hurst Hatches and the build sheets indicated a “shipped to” address of Hurst Performance for the Hurst Hatch Installation. This would be the last year of the 455 engine and therefore many consider 1976 as the last of the Muscle Car era.

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