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Hagerty Employee

The Macho Trans Ams kept the muscle car era alive a bit longer

Close your eyes and picture “Macho Man” Randy Savage simultaneously snapping into a Slim Jim while powersliding across the infield at Daytona. Without even telling you the name of the car, this is the one you just imagined him driving, isn’t it?


A 1978 Macho Trans Am spotted by is on Facebook Marketplace for an asking price of $24,995. The rare bird seems to be in decent shape, although it’s not quite car-show ready just yet. The seller is among the most well-known collectors of Macho Trans Ams, a rare hot-rodded version of the F-body offered by Mecham Pontiac in Glendale, Arizona ... Read the full article on



My Son-in-Law's Father, Kent, was from the Greater Phoenix Area and was the proud owner of a Macho T/A, purchased new from Dennis himself.  Unfortunately, both Kent and that particular car have gone to the Great Beyond.  For myself, I was a big fan of the concept, having done some custom work at our own Pontiac Dealership in NorCal, and was first in line for the Mecham T/A when it became available in '82.  The car was the Road Going Cousin to the TransAm, TransAms built by Joe Huffaker Sr at his shop in Petaluma before he moved to Sears Point (Sonoma Raceway).  There was a pair of the Race Car variety, driven by Elliott Forbes-Robinson and Steve Saleen (betcha didn't know that, Fordies...), and later by Eppie Wietzes as well.  The Street Cars were produced as Tribute Cars to the first Trans Ams to actually WIN the Trans Am Title!


I was shipped and sold 4 of those cars in '83, and had so much fun, decided to go Racing myself in '84, and have never stopped...



The Trans Am modifications, beginning with the 1981, all new F-body, were called MSE or Motor Sport Editions by DKM Engineering (still Dennis and Kyle Mecham), built at the Glendale, AZ dealership / shop.  The sale of those cars paid for the Huffaker produced race cars, and the cost to go racing.  With EFR driving, they won the manufacture's championship the first year (all of the MSE models carried a wreath decal on the B-pillar to denote the title.  The next driver, Steve Saleen did not share EFR's success, as the race cars were pretty much used up by that point.  Steve handled a lot of dealer sales contact and even parts logistics (some skills that positioned well him for his Mustang ventures), and drove the race car on the weekends.  The MSE cars had Koni shocks and springs with neoprene bar bushings, custom paint / graphics, custom steering wheel, as well as a specific wheel and tire package.  Recaro seats were an option. There were some "go faster" parts (different intake, carb and headers), but new rules required that those were in a box in the hatch area, for installation after the buyer took delivery.  Of note, was the custom designed rear wing, which replaced the 2-post factory spoiler, with a wrap around fiberglass unit (Pontiac later copied this wing and made it standard on the Trans-Am during the next refresh cycle).  The MSE wings were hand fabricated and designed by an English chap who used to work at Lotus.  The brothers even produced some modified Fieros, which would be even more rare than the Macho T/A of the 70's.


New Driver

I am the original owner of MSE #84-0022, one of only 50 built, The car still draws much attention here in the Phoenix metro area as they were only sold out of the Mecham Pontiac Glendale, AZ dealership. The Macho TA's of the late 70's are pretty well known to car goers, but the MSE's are gaining recognition as they age. Still love the car, recently went through a complete refurb of the drivetrain & interior... but the exterior is still as when purchased new. Started autocross with it this year and having a blast!

This Macho even has the optional Hurst supplied roll bar kit, which was cool, but a literal headache for rear seat access.  With the WS-6 wheels, this one probably has the T/A 6.6 higher output engine from Pontiac, not an Oldsmobile 403. But, who knows with that nightmare plumbing under the hood.



I recall the local Pontiac dealer here in Akron the offered the MSE cars. I got to drive a few. Better than stock.

My choice of this era was the Herb Adams Fire Am.

That was a car they drove from Detroit to Daytona and raced it for 24 hours and drove it home. Pretty impressive even with todays standards.

For me it has to be factory made to be a muscle car and theoretically available in at least all of the USA via the normal dealership network. For me that means the boring answer of 1974 Superduty Trans Am as the last one standing... but that also means lumping "pony cars" into the muscle car label which some don't like.

Reading the article I thought of Saleen/Roush, the post-factory sanctioned modders or whatever we should call them. Then another poster talked about the actual Saleen connection to this story.

Fun car, neat to read about it. I usually love black and red cars but this doesn't realize that the best to my eye.

I agree it needs the fire chicken, especially if it came with one.