You Can Feel the Heat Coming From this Scorching 1979 Pontiac Firebird

This month, seven years ago, General Motors (GM) killed Pontiac. The decision to scrap its quirky, enthusiast-focused brand likely wasn’t easy, and may even have been a mandate from the federal government as part of its bailout plan. Still, closing the door on an 84-year-old brand was rough.

Since the fall of Pontiac, collectors have hastened to acquire classic models, driving the value of pristine examples up considerably. Case in point, this 1979 Pontiac Firebird. RK Motors in Charlotte, North Carolina, has its mitts on a 65-mile Special Edition with a wild ownership story.

Purchased new by an 18-year old William Leland III (Bill Jr. to his friends), this stunning black and gold muscle car was the envy of any kid who’d ever seen Smokey and the Bandit. How in the world could a teenager afford such a cherry car? The short answer is family funds, but there’s a bit more to this tale.

Bill Jr. came from Detroit royalty. His father, William Leland II, was the great-great nephew of Henry Leland, the founder of Cadillac and Lincoln Motor Company. Having developed an enthusiasm for autos via his father’s car collection, Bill Jr. worked at a Pontiac dealer in Massachusetts.

After securing a loan of $10,000 from his father, Bill Jr. leveraged his dealership contacts and assembled his perfect Firebird. Bill Jr.’s finalized Trans Am SE (Firebird) was loaded with $3,454 in options, or the equivalent cost of a new compact car in 1979. Excessive? That’s just the start of it. Bill Jr. was so particular about his car that when it was finally delivered, he wouldn’t let the dealership do any of its typical prep work. No washing the car, no driving it around the block, and no drilling holes in the front bumper to install a license plate.

Bill Jr. received his Firebird with six miles on the odometer. He then drove 20 miles to his parents’ house. For the next several years, the car sat unused and unregistered. After marrying, Bill Jr. drove the car 20 miles to his new house. Once again, the car sat (with the occasional idling, oil changes, and gear articulation).

Tragically, at just 42 years of age, Bill Jr. was diagnosed with terminal melanoma cancer. Before passing, he signed over his prized possession to his father. With just 65 miles on the odometer, the Firebird was installed among William II’s collection. For the next decade, William II serviced the car and valued it highest among his assembled vehicles.

Finally, in 2013, the Firebird was sold to a new owner. The next year, this symbol of Pontiac’s golden age it made its public debut at the Pontiac-Oakland Club International All GM Car Show where it earned a Survivor Award.

If you ever wondered what a brand new muscle car looked like in the late 1970s, this is it. We can’t imagine a better tribute to Pontiac than this bold, beautiful ‘bird.

Outdoor and Fitness

The Return of Dave Mackey: From Ultrarunner to Leg Amputee and Back

In 2016, ultrarunner Dave Mackey made the decision to amputate is left leg below the knee — but that hasn't stopped him.
Food & Drink

A Guide to Whiskey Decanters and the Best Ones to Buy

How bad ass and in control do you want to look? If you want to, great, then go ahead and decant your whiskey.
Food & Drink

How to Make Hot Sauce: Spicy Perfection in a Homemade Recipe

Fortunately, making homemade hot sauce is laughably easy. The best thing about this basic recipe is that you can alter it in countless ways.

A Simple Swedish Cabin Gets a New Addition and a Japanese Twist

The two styles have more in common than you think and Archipelago Sommarhus is proof.

The North Face and BMW Team Up for Revolutionary Futurelight Camper Concept

This is coolest, most futuristic camper money can't buy. Yet.

6 Fastest Electric Cars in the World

Everything we thought we knew about automotive physics was wrong.
Fashion & Style

Luxury Car Maker Pagani Teamed Up with Performance Footwear Maker Piloti for an Over-the-Top Boot Collaboration

An expensive, beautiful car deserves to be driven with expensive, beautiful boots.
Food & Drink

Busch Made Beer Cans Out of a Race Car and You Can Win One

If you like NASCAR and you like Busch, then you'll love this limited-edition series of beer cans.

Ford Revives the Harley-Davidson F-150 for 2019

Though the release was without the typical fanfare as per Ford’s known for, the 2019 Harley-Davidson F-150 will be an absolute boon to Ford’s already stellar F-150 track record.

KTM Releases Your New Favorite Motorcycle, the 790 Adventure and Adventure R

This is a motorcycle that’s been designed to go anywhere you’d like and get you back home without a problem.

Cake’s Newest Electric Motorcycle Prepares for Its Street Debut

Built as a fully street-legal electric motorcycle, the Kalk& (yes, that's the name) furthers the Swedish company’s minimalistic design and engineering aesthetic.

5 Best Car Movies to Watch Again and Again

Everything that makes cinema extravagant and exciting is only enhanced by automotive action.

PlugVan Converts Most Vans Into Full-Fledged Campers in 5 Minutes

Your van can be backcountry-ready for the weekend and back to work Monday morning.

The RMK E2 Electric Motorcycle Wants to Rival Harley’s New LiveWire

Finland has produced more world racing titles than any other country on Earth. As such, it’s easy to understand the thought process behind this new bike.