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Autoweek archives: Pontiac Firebird Type K wagon

Mon, 03 Oct 2011 00:00:00 -0700

This Autoweek archives piece comes from March 1980, when Bob Irvin and Bob Hall explored the fabled--and failed--Pontiac Trans Am wagon.

In the late 1970s, the Pontiac Firebird Type K (Kammback) was explored as a way to inject some life into the aging F-body lineup.

After a concept build by Pontiac Motor Division, vice president of design Bill Mitchell had two 1977 models constructed in Italy by famed Ferrari designer Sergio Pininfarina.

The Kammback's rear hatch was fixed in place, but it had two large windows that opened in a gullwing fashion with the assistance of two struts on the front and rear of the window.

“Two [Type K's] were produced out of 1977 models,” said Jim Mattison of PHS Automotive Services, keepers of Pontiac build sheets and records for all vehicles from 1961 to 1985. “One was destroyed by GM for an unknown reason, and the second is still around. It received updates to make it appear as a '79. It underwent a full restoration and is still in the GM Heritage Collection today.”

After the Type K was positively received, Mitchell considered production--at least until Pontiac discovered final MSRP would hover near the $25,000 mark, ending General Motors' interest in the project. In comparison, a 1977 Ferrari 308 GTB stickered for $28,580.

Enter two brothers, Takanobu and Yukimasa Hoshi, one in Japan and the other in Los Angeles. The two ran Deco International Corporation in Pacoima, Calif., an exports company that revived the idea of offering an aftermarket conversion to create Type K replicas.

Unlike the all-steel construction from Pininfarina, Deco conversations were fiberglass over a steel frame.

The price for the work from Deco was $15,000, with the owner supplying the car. Base 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am prices were $5,799, meaning even the fiberglass conversion ended up costing nearly $21,000.

It is not known how many conversions Deco performed. According to the California Secretary of State the company is no longer actively doing business, and representatives could not be reached for comment.

But at least one still exists: In 2007, a fully restored Deco-converted Pontiac Type K crossed the block at a Michigan RM Auction for a cool $154,000.

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By David Arnouts