By on December 6, 2018

Today’s Rare Ride is what happens when you take the generally British idea of a shooting brake and combine it with some designers in Michigan who had big ideas.

It’s the 1985 Trans Am Kammback Concept. It’s real, and it is spectacular.

The Trans Am name first appeared as a performance trim package for Pontiac’s Firebird model, which rolled onto dealer lots in 1969. Intended for the more enthusiastic driver, the Trans Am package implemented sporty changes to the Firebird’s appearance, along with upgraded suspension components and power. Trans Am proved quite successful over the years, and Pontiac’s popular Firebird entered its third generation for 1982, alongside the Chevrolet Camaro.

The two cars still shared the same underlying F-body, which remained in use between 1967 and 2002 for Camaro and Firebird. But the engineers at GM wanted to add a little more zest to their new Trans Am, so they turned to a concept idea from years past for their inspiration. Said inspiration was the Nomad Motorama from 1954, which was basically a Corvette-styled two-door wagon. The designers at Pontiac removed the rear liftback from the Trans Am and fabricated a new single-piece rear hatch that was covered in glass, residing above a reworked cargo area. The general idea would be implemented in a production car soon after: the 1987 Nissan Pulsar Sportbak.

Following the design’s completion, it was labeled as an experimental prototype and given the designation EX4796. Four total design mockups were made. General Motors immediately sent the Kammback into publicity mode to gauge public reaction. In 1985 it was featured in many motoring magazines and auto shows, while also doing duty as a test vehicle at GM. The EX4796 also did a bit of field work, spending time at the PPG and IMSA race series of 1985 as a pace vehicle. But it wasn’t enough. After its 1985 duties were complete, General Motors gave up on the EX4796, putting it out to pasture at the Pontiac Engineering Collection.

In 1998, the Kammback was purchased by a Detroit car dealer for his private collection. The new owner saw the Pontiac undergo a full restoration, and the car remained in the same hands until 2007. At that point it was sold to another collector, who’s offering it up in January at the Mecum auction in Kissimmee, Florida. The whole car is in excellent condition, and the standard 5.0-liter V8 is paired to a five-speed manual. The Kammback is also fully loaded with regard to power options.

What do you think this Rare Ride will bring at auction?

[Images: Mecum]

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21 Comments on “Rare Rides: The 1985 Trans Am Kammback Concept, for Double Barrel Shooting Brake Needs...”

  • avatar

    Someone will cough up at least 10K.

  • avatar

    All cars must have shooting-brake variant! Every time I see into the hatch area of these F-bodies, I wonder why GM didn’t put an IRS in them and create some actual storage space, not to mention a better handling car. I still think F-car history would be very different if they had done so.

  • avatar

    Surprisingly, that’s not bad.

  • avatar

    It seems like we were forever waiting for GM to actually produce a Kammback Corvette/Camaro/Firebird, it just never happened

  • avatar

    I wish I were more articulate so I could describe all that’s wrong with this mess. I like shooting brakes and wagons, but this thing is just hot garbage. The line from bottom door sill, to door edge that meets with the back of the hatch and then follows the top of the hatch looks like some awful square wave form. The hatch just looks like someone plopped a skullcap on this thing. Also it makes the rear look droopy and tapers up like a turd. The rear glass is similar to the shape to the tail light bar but it’s just a little bit different to the point where it looks awful. Almost none of the lines on the hatch flow from or work with the body shape. Plus, 80s Pontiac at it’s worst.

    All wrong, just burn this ugly POS. YUCK.

  • avatar

    Another valid reason why Pontiac went out of business.

  • avatar

    Call me crazy (you’re crazy!) but all I see is a replacement unit for the original rear glass. I believe that Pontiac never built them, but you could buy the kammback replacement hatch from the aftermarket all day long, much like Calloway sells for the current Corvette.

    • 0 avatar

      No, Pontiac nor Chevy ever built them, but there were plenty of aftermarket companies that did. GM teased for years with these “concept” Kammbacks, the response was always positive, but they never pulled the trigger

  • avatar
    Stanley Steamer

    Seeing this actually triggered a memory of seeing at least one with a flat trunk lid and conventional rear window, possibly all one piece, back in the day. Did that exist or am I dreaming?

  • avatar

    Thats nice really nice. Make mine an Iroc Camaro Kamback. f that shooting brake crap, its a sports wagon!!

  • avatar

    Great greenhouse for raising little cacti or pot seedlings in the back of your car.

  • avatar


  • avatar

    Is this car street legal? If it was built and titled (and the VIN would indicate this) as a prototype, it might not be.

  • avatar

    Pontiac also showed a couple of Kammback Firebirds in the 1970s. Looked pretty good.

  • avatar

    This reminds me of a fanciful drawing I made back in 64 (jr. high no less) of a wagon version of the Mustang. Even more so when viewing the Corvette shooting brake mentioned in the article. It was easy to extend the lines to do a wagon. In reality the length would need to extended a bit, but not by much. I agree with the criticism of the roof line extending back through the back. Just a touch more slope perhaps. It looks rather tacked on instead of a legit integration although not altogether horrible. Thanks for the article, Corey!

  • avatar

    I wonder if the Kammback stiffened up that loosy-goosy body…probably not.

  • avatar

    “The two cars still shared the same underlying F-body, which remained in use between 1967 and 2002 for Camaro and Firebird.” Not exactly. The F-body *designation* remained in use from 1967-2002. GM’s 20th-century nomenclature meant that what we think of as a platform in the commonly accepted sense could be succeeded by a new platform with its predecessor’s name. A 1937 Buick Roadmaster and a 1982 Cadillac de Ville don’t share the same underlying C-body, nor do a ’69 Firebird and a ’99 Camaro share the same F-body.

    That Guy


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