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

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis

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]

Corey Lewis
Corey Lewis

Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.

More by Corey Lewis

Join the conversation
2 of 21 comments
  • 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 ;-)

  • Lorenzo Subaru had the ideal wagon - in 1995. The Legacy Outback was a straight two-box design with rear quarter and back windows you could see out of, and was available in brown with a 5-speed manual, as God and TTAC commenters intended. It's nice they're not raising prices, but when you've lost the plot, does it matter?
  • Bkojote Remember a month a go when Cleveland wanted to create a more walkable Cleveland and TTAC's 'BIG GOVERNMENT IS THE PROBLEM' dumbest and dullest all collectively crapped their diapers? Here's the thing- look on any American highway and it's littered with people who don't /want/ to be driving or shouldn't be. Look at every Becky on her phone during the morning commute in her Tucson, look at every Brad aggro driving his 84 month loan GMC. Hell look how many drivers nowadays can't even operate a headlight switch. You expect these people to understand a stoplight? In my neighborhood alone 4 people have been rear ended at lights from someone on their phone. Distracted driving over the past 10 years has spiked, and it's only going to get worse unless Becky has an alternative, because no judge is going to pull her license when 'she needs it to get to work!' but heaven forbid she not check fb/tiktok for 40 minutes a day.
  • Scott Shouldn't the The Italian Minister for Business be criticizing The Milano for being too ugly to be Italian?Better use of resources doing that....
  • Steve Biro Frankly, while I can do without Eyesight and automatic start-stop, there is generally less B-S with Subarus in terms of design, utility and off-road chops than with many other brands. I just hope that when they adopt Toyota’s hybrid system, they’ll also use Toyota’s eCVT.
  • The Oracle These are all over the roads in droves here in WNC. Rarely see one on the side of the road, they are wildly popular, capable, and reliable. There is a market for utilitarian vehicles.