Driving A Muscle Car Can Be Fun…But Mostly Not
It’s sad that Pontiac is no longer around. Actually, not really. I used to own a 1997 Pontiac Grand Prix in college that I was obsessed with but now thinking back on it, I’m not really sure why. It may have been because it was the first car that I craved to own in my teenage years and so when my dad gave it to me, it was the best thing that could’ve ever happened to me. But I suppose, in those years, I would’ve loved anything.
Is that a Geo Metro you’re giving me? I love it! I’ll own it forever.
These days, looking back, I don’t know how I could’ve loved a car created by the same brand that tortured the world with the existence of the horrific Aztec. The Grand Prix was a good car though.
It was comfortable, roomy and decently fast. 200 hp was plenty back then although I found myself wishing I had the supercharged 245 hp version — I recall reading a review where someone commented on it being “frighteningly fast.” That may have been true in the late nineties, but now, your grandmother would balk at a car with a measly 200 hp yelling through her dentures….“I need at least 300 horses in my So…wa..wa.. (this is where her teeth fall out while trying to say Sonata).”
Owning the Grand Prix also taught me that I never want to work on cars again. I replaced the brakes, once, on the Pontiac and it was such a gigantic pain that I will forever stay away from the utterly thankless, unsatisfying work of doing maintenance work or repairs on my cars. I’d rather stare at a popcorn ceiling and count the number of popcorns wondering why they ever made such horrendous looking ceilings.
I had pretty much forgotten all about Pontiacs until, one day, I went by Mosing Motorcarsand caught sight of a beautiful 1973 Pontiac Trans Am. I suppose there was a time when Pontiac made some pretty cool stuff.
If you’ve read some of the other cars I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing at Mosing, then you’ll know that I wander around like a homeless person salivating over their continually changing inventory.
Eric and Kirk at Mosing have learned to put up with me and so when I came across this beautiful Pontiac Trans Am at Mosing Motorcars, they immediately knew what I wanted to do. They looked at each other with this “Dammit, here we go again” expression and a sense of hopelessness.
You can try your best to get rid of pesky flies but no matter what you do, they keep coming back!
The ’73 Trans Am is such a cool looking car that I had to drive it, even though I didn’t particularly enjoy driving the last Mosing Motorcars beauty, a ’65 Mustang. It wasn’t easy or that much fun to drive a completely manual car and so I decided that it was best to admire its looks than to try and drive it.
But this Trans Am looked so good. If I was alive and a muscle-car designer back in the 70s, this is how I would’ve made it look.
I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to spend some time with this ’73 Trans Am and so I camped out overnight until Eric showed up to hand me the keys. This Trans Am was originally owned by Jeff Mosing himself and decided to sell the car since he found a better, faster and overall much cooler version to replace it with. But while he owned the car, he had the car’s engine and transmission rebuilt; it contains a 7.5L V8 that burns so much gas that you’ll need to tow a trailer of gas behind to make sure you can drive for more than 3 miles.
As with older classic cars, there are plenty of quirks, many of which I pointed out when I drove the Mustang. For example, everything is manual. Braking doesn’t necessarily mean the car will stop. The side view mirrors are pointless. And although there is a lap belt, it won’t do you much good in an accident. Oh, and the backseats don’t need to exist either.
However, the Trans Am did have one redeeming quality that made the car worth driving — it had power steering!
I’m not exaggerating when I say that power steering here makes all the difference in the world. It’s like having a food processor to chop things instead of having a dull knife that can barely slice through boiled potatoes. The Mustang was incredibly challenging to steer with no assistance, but with the Trans Am, all the other inconveniences were not an issue anymore. I could actually point this car in the direction I wanted to go.
The brakes were still terrible so I had to have someone fly in a helicopter above me to alert me of situations where I needed to slow down. I’m joking, of course. I just had people stand on the side of the road and gesture hand signals towards me letting me know I needed to brake. But aside from that, the car drove smoothly with a roaring V8 that was so loud that I’m sure I suffered a little bit of hearing loss.
Cars like the ’73 Trans Am are mainly fun to drive around lazily on a Sunday morning, but if you’re expecting a thrilling experience through twisties at a high rate of speed, that won’t happen. You’ll just lumber along slowly like in a school bus while getting the occasional thumbs up from people who really wanted to own this car in their youth but couldn’t afford it. Now, they still can’t afford it because they’re shuttling their kids back and forth in a Honda Odyssey and will be doing so for the next fifteen years. Life is so unfair!
While I was driving, I kept repeatedly uttering an apology to Mother Nature for contributing to pollution with each mile that I covered as I burned through a gallon of gas a minute.
While driving an older muscle car, it’s always scary to have someone tailgate you. I had someone like that behind me but it was worse. She was on her phone the whole time which meant that if she ran into me, I would have hit the steering wheel and lost my face. That was a stressful moment as I desperately tried to get away from the texting tailgater. Eventually, as we both came to a stop at a light, I jumped out of my car, grabbed the phone out of her hands, threw it down on the ground and then drove over it with the Trans Am.
Of course, I didn’t do this. Instead, I just changed lanes, shook my carefully hidden fist, and quietly grumbled to myself.
HOW DO YOU POP OPEN THE HOOD?
The most annoying thing about the Trans Am was figuring out how to open the hood. I don’t know why I ever care to look under the hood, anyway, because I react the same way every time I see what’s underneath. I mutter, “Oh, look, there’s the engine.” Immediately after, I proceed to slam the hood back down and go on about my day. I should put an end to this useless behavior.
With the Trans Am, I was tempted to look, once again at the engine for no reason at all. But where was the latch to open the hood? I looked all over. Everywhere. And then, finally, after ten minutes of searching, I located its position; it was on the outside below the front grill.
At this point you might think that the mystery was over, but it wasn’t. I needed to then figure out, how to actually unlatch the hood open and prop it up. After struggling with that for another few minutes, Eric showed me that you have to push the hood back down to release the latch. What?! This was the most ridiculous mechanism I’ve ever encountered. You can watch the video below to see what it was like.
Frustrations aside, this was a fun car to drive. It’s nice to have a little muscle car experience in your life every now and then to keep things interesting.