For $7,995, This 1982 Pontiac Trans Am MSE Special Edition Could Be Your Dealer Wheeler

Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

Today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Trans Am is claimed to a dealer-created special edition, and it is outfitted with some special touches. Will that however, make this classic Firebird’s price a special deal?

Well, we can once again say that the Eagle has landed as yesterday’s rare and seemingly tidy 1989 Eagle Premier landed itself a solid 64% Nice Price win to start the week. It might not have been everybody’s cup of tea, but there’s no denying the fact that it would probably be welcome at any Renault, AMC or Mopar fan meet, and you have to applaud that kind of versatility.


Still, Eagle’s dead, baby. And so is AMC. In fact, the post war era is strewn with the detritus of defunct brands. One of those is Pontiac.

Named for a leader of the Ottawa peoples and surviving for more than eight decades, the Pontiac—the Arrowhead Brand—was unceremoniously killed off by its GM parent because that company had too many mouths to feed.

Perhaps one of the saddest loses that came with Pontiac’s demise was that of the F-body Firebird. At first an also-ran to its Camaro sibling, the Firebird found its place, and its inner screaming chicken, with the advent of the Trans Am edition. That car gained further notoriety when it upstaged Burt Reynolds and Sally Field in the classic treatise on the human condition, Smokey and the Bandit.


The factory Trans Am was pretty great, but even pretty great isn’t good enough for some people and that’s why we today have this 1982 Trans Am MSE edition, which features a number of unique, dealer-installed options that kick its looks and performance up a notch.


First off, what the hell is an MSE, right? Well, that stands for Mecham Sports Edition, and this car is one of about 300 that came so equipped from a dealer in Glendale Arizona, Mecham Pontiac. Mecham had a racing division (which is something all good dealerships should have) and with their modified Trans Ams they, along with Huffaker Engineering, won for Pontiac its one and only SCCA Trans Am Series championship.

Mecham Pontiac was founded by Evan Mecham in 1950. A decorated war veteran, Mecham was also Arizona’s governor from 1987 to 1988 when he was impeached due to alleged financial shenanigans. Wait, a car dealer with financial improprieties? That’s unheard of!


It was his two sons, Dennis and Kyle, who were the driving force behind the family’s racing business however. They founded DKM in 1977 and it was through their racing activities that the MSE was born.


This is #195 out of about MSEs 300 built. The cars had substantial modifications over the factory base, including the massaging of the 350-cid V8 to eke out about 25 more ponies than stock. Behind that is a close ratio four-speed box to make the most of those rustled up horses. This one has the optional Talon Suspension, which fit adjustable Koni shocks, urethane bushings, boxed rear control arms, fatter sway bars, and more. An excellent description of all of the changes and updates may be found on the NECF.


If you’re going to make a special edition you’re going to want everyone to know it’s special, and the MSE has that in spades. There are garish MSE badges on every side and a huge whale tail out back. Modern Wheel turbines fill the wheel arches and louvers louver up the big glass hatch as well.

Inside, cloth-covered Recaros cosset your ass while a leather wrapped four spoke wheel gives you something nice and fat to hold. This car is said to suffer some dash cracking, but comes with a new dash top so that can be rectified at some point.


There’s 50K on the clock and the seller says that it runs and drives “ just like you’d expect for a 50,000 mile Mecham tuned sport sedan.” The bad news is that the paint is described as good from far but far from good, and even though it’s an Arizona car it apparently suffers some minor surface rust. The seller says it’s nothing a full strip and respray won’t fix. Well, thanks all to hell, Mr. Seller.


Regional special editions are often times a wonderful find as they can—like this MSE—turn out to be wildly interesting re-imaginations of neat cars. With this series’ racing provenance it’s just one more reason to take a look, and right now we’re going to take a look at its price. That’s $7,995, and that includes the new dash cap!

What do you think, is this MSE worth that kind of money? Or, is this a special edition that’s especially over priced?


You decide!


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About the author

Rob Emslie

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.