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.