As 59-year-old Steve Carrington fired up his 1977 Pontiac Trans Am on a pleasant winter afternoon and took a spin on the streets in his Shawnee neighborhood, it was easy to understand the pride he had in a vehicle that is now viewed as an iconic muscle car.
Those thoughts weren’t in Carrington’s mind when bought the nearly new Trans Am in 1978 as a 21-year-old.
Carrington was still two years away from getting married. It was the height of the disco era, and Carrington liked cars. He had owned six others up to that point when he went looking to purchase a new, 1978 Trans Am. He settled for a 1977 Trans Am that was less than a year old.
“They had quit taking orders for four-speeds,” Carrington said. “That was one of the things I had to have was a four-speed. I was shopping around with Andy Klein Pontiac. There it sat. It looked like it had my name on it.”
The red Trans Am with the cool-looking firebird emblem on the hood was an eye-catcher, an attention-grabber.
Carrington admits he drove the car hard in the early years. It was his daily driver. At the time, he had no idea it would be a car he would keep for decades. But he did take special care of it.
One reason the car he bought in 1978 still has its original paint is because he rarely drove it during the winter when salt was on the streets. He drove a Ford Bronco.
An indication that Carrington was serious about keeping his Trans Am in pristine condition occurred when he got married to his wife, Laura, in 1980.
“I was pretty protective,” Carrington said. “I drove it to the wedding. I stashed the car a block away so all my friends wouldn’t decorate it.”
Carrington said his wife calls the Trans Am their “marriage carriage.”
With marriage and starting a family a year later with the birth of their son, Steven Carrington Jr., Carrington became more frugal and stopped buying cars on a regular basis.
The memories with the Trans Am grew with each passing year. It was the car he used to bring home his wife and son from the hospital after Steven Jr. was born.
Years flew by, and Carrington hung on to the car even as he started buying other cars to use as his daily driver.
“It wasn’t anything I planned,” Carrington said of keeping the Trans Am. “It just kind of happened. After I had it for a while, I just ended up keeping it.”
When his son reached his teenage years, Carrington figured one day he would give the Trans Am to him.
“He wanted it when he was in high school,” Carrington said. “I told him if he graduated with a B average, I would give it to him. He didn’t, so I still have it.”
Now his son recently had a child. Carrington said the Trans Am will eventually belong to his son. There won’t be any stipulations this time, except for one.
“He just needs to have a good garage,” Carrington said.
Keeping the Trans Am out of the winter elements has been the key to keeping the car looking so nice.
Carrington jokes the Trans Am looks great from 10 feet away, but closer inspection reveals a few chips here and there. But it was hard to see any marks on the car on the winter afternoon he took it for a spin.
On average, Carrington puts 300 to 500 miles on the Trans Am each year. It recently went over 107,000 miles.
“It is kind of a weekend toy,” Carrington said.
A lot has changed in the 38 years when Carrington first bought the Trans Am, but in one sense, the car has come full circle.
“I’ve had people ask if I wanted to sell it,” Carrington said. “A lot of time they are kids. It was kind of like that when it was new. It got attention and then nobody paid attention and now it is kind of a classic and everybody seems to like it again.”
Do you have a car, truck or motorcycle or other vehicle you would like see featured Make It Yours? If you do, email your idea to David Boyce at Drive@kcstar.com