Rare Rides: The 1985 Trans Am Kammback Concept, for Double Barrel Shooting Brake Needs

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides the 1985 trans am kammback concept for double barrel shooting brake

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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  • Budda-Boom Budda-Boom on Dec 07, 2018

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

  • Featherston Featherston on Dec 07, 2018

    "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. Signed, That Guy ;-)

  • Tassos I hope y'all had a happy Thanksgiving. To answer the question, my present car is almost Ideal for such road trips, but I can think of an even better one, which has the same awesome engine in a bigger, far more luxurious vehicle.OK, let's THINK, what kind of car is best for such a trip? NOT a 911 or a Corvette, not a Body-on-frame pickup truck or SUV. It has to be a LONG vehicle, and most importantly, with a LONG WHEELBASE. It should be quite heavy so it is comfortable (in addition to the always nice to have passive safety). It should be powerful but frugal, with today's ridiculous gas prices. It should be LUXURIOUS so when you get out of it after 12 hours of driving, to feel as rested and relaxed as when you started the trip. So naturally the best candidates are FLAGSHIP LUXURY SEDANS with the above attributes. What are the best ones to choose? A 2007-2012 Lexus 460 LS would be hard to refuse, and is very reliable to boot. (in 2012 they ruined its grille), but is poor in other chores (handling, poor steering feel etc). A BMW 7 series, like the MAGNIFICENT 1998 740iL with its adequate 4.4 lt V8 and its 282 HP and 300+ LBFT torque was also an excellent cruiser AS WELL as a great (as if on rails!) Handling car, with plenty of features and luxury fit for a king inside (plus they had facrtory GPS as early as 1998, which Merc Did not then!), but it is not as reliable as you would like. I owned one from 2005 to 2017, almost 20 years old and 150k miles at the end, when I donated it. My current car is just perfect for this job, being a GLORIOUS DIESEL Merc E 320 Bluetec 2007 (I also have a 2008 twin!), it gets 35-37 MPG on long trips, which offsets the ridiculous current Diesel prices, AND its 21 Gallon tank gives you 700-800 MILES OF RANGE, so you can fill up at the lowest cost stations at your convenience. COmpared with the BMW 7 V8, its V6 actually gives you about the3 same performance at half the MPG!! Because the HP may be less (208 vs 282) BUT the TOrque can only be matched by AMG gas versions, the E55 AMG, at over 400 LBFT.If you want a little better than the above AWESOME choice, try the S350 Bluetec Diesel, 2010-2013 models. THere are very few Diesels sold in the US, so you may have to drive 4 hours to buy yours (as I had to do with both of mine), BUT it is REALLY WORTH IT.BTW, the extra benefit of the diesel MErcs, they are THE MOST RELIABLE VEHICLES I EVER DROVE, and I had plenty of Hondas and other alleged reliable cars in the past. TWO diesels, owned from 2016 and 2017, and NOTHING went wrong with them except ROUTINE Maintenance, brake pad replacement, new set of tires, NO FAILURES OF ANY KIND!If you have experienced these outstanding cruisers, tell us what you think. If NOT, try them!
  • Nrd515 I bought an '88 S10 Blazer with the 4.3. We had it 4 years and put just about 48K on it with a bunch of trips to Nebraska and S. Dakota to see relatives. It had a couple of minor issues when new, a piece of trim fell off the first day, and it had a seriously big oil leak soon after we got it. The amazinly tiny starter failed at about 40K, it was fixed under some sort of secret warranty and we got a new Silverado as a loaner. Other than that, and a couple of tires that blew when I ran over some junk on the road, it was a rock. I hated the dash instrumentation, and being built like a gorilla, it was about an inch and a half too narrow for my giant shoulders, but it drove fine, and was my second most trouble free vehicle ever, only beaten by my '82 K5 Blazer, which had zero issues for nearly 50K miles. We sold the S10 to a friend, who had it over 20 years and over 400,000 miles on the original short block! It had a couple of transmissions, a couple of valve jobs, a rear end rebuild at 300K, was stolen and vandalized twice, cut open like a tin can when a diabetic truck driver passed out(We were all impressed at the lack of rust inside the rear quarters at almost 10 years old, and it just went on and on. Ziebart did a good job on that Blazer. All three of his sons learned to drive in it, and it was only sent to the boneyard when the area above the windshield had rusted to the point it was like taking a shower when it rained. He now has a Jeep that he's put a ton of money into. He says he misses the S10's reliablity a lot these days, the Jeep is in the shop a lot.
  • Jeff S Most densely populated areas have emission testing and removing catalytic converters and altering pollution devices will cause your vehicle to fail emission testing which could effect renewing license plates. In less populated areas where emission testing is not done there would probably not be any legal consequences and the converter could either be removed or gutted both without having to buy specific parts for bypassing emissions. Tampering with emission systems would make it harder to resell a vehicle but if you plan on keeping the vehicle and literally running it till the wheels fall off there is not much that can be done if there is no emission testing. I did have a cat removed on a car long before mandatory emission testing and it did get better mpgs and it ran better. Also had a cat gutted on my S-10 which was close to 20 years old which increased performance and efficiency but that was in a state that did not require emission testing just that reformulated gas be sold during the Summer months. I would probably not do it again because after market converters are not that expensive on older S-10s compared to many of the newer vehicles. On newer vehicles it can effect other systems that are related to the operating and the running of the vehicle. A little harder to defeat pollution devices on newer vehicles with all the systems run by microprocessors but if someone wants to do it they can. This law could be addressing the modified diesels that are made into coal rollers just as much as the gasoline powered vehicles with cats. You probably will still be able to buy equipment that would modify the performance of a vehicles as long as the emission equipment is not altered.
  • ToolGuy I wonder if Vin Diesel requires DEF.(Does he have issues with Sulfur in concentrations above 15ppm?)
  • ToolGuy Presented for discussion: https://xroads.virginia.edu/~Hyper2/thoreau/civil.html