Been Reading Issue 17

These books are hardly hot off the press, but now seemed like an appropriate time to get them both read. Firstly, the fact that December 8th marks the 50th anniversary of the big media launch of the Pontiac Trans Am; secondly, to mark the passing of the man who probably did more for the Trans Am’s sales and long-term popularity than any other, Burt Reynolds.

It’s a beautiful story, too, from the car that started out playing second fiddle to its Camaro sibling, through to being arguably the last of the true muscle cars in the dark days of the oil crisis, and ending up being one of the most iconic cars of the Seventies.

Author, Rocky Rotella, has done an amazing job with these books, somehow managing to combine an encyclopaedia of facts and figures into a readable and entertaining story. For instance, a list of facts might tell you that no 1970 Trans Ams were ordered with the Cordova vinyl roof; Rotella will tell you that you couldn’t have a vinyl roof because of the Trans Am up-and-over stripes package, and so on. This is what makes it readable. One book might tell you how things were, while Rotella tells you why.

He’s also done a sterling job of interviewing many of the guys (and back then, it was very much a boys’ club) responsible for styling and engineering these cars in the first place. Of the team who developed a car more than 50 years ago, fewer and fewer are left, so it’s great that he’s committed these stories to paper before they were lost forever. It also makes you realise just what they were up against, from GM’s corporate bean counters to their opposite numbers at Chevrolet.

It‘s a great read for any F-car fan, stuffed with period and current photographs, snaps from the GM archives, interviews and copies of contemporary GM bulletins and memos (that are far more enlightening than they sound). Of course you can never have too many books about muscle cars, but dare I say that, for Firebird and Trans Am fans, these are the only ones you need…?

The Definitive Firebird & Trans Am Guide, 1970.5-1981, and The Definitive Firebird & Trans Am Guide 1967-1969, by Rocky Rotella, are published in softback by CarTech with a RRP of £28, and in hardback with a RRP of £38.