No worries, good question. A little history first. For my first two cars, around your age, I bought a Fiat Spider and an Opel GT , both 2 seater sports cars. The first one I gave back to the seller, his wife made him sell it, but he missed it too much. He looked so sad, so I gave it back. The second one leaked so much oil on the driveway my dad forced me to return THAT one to the seller. So my first two cars, I owned for a total of about 2 weeks. For me the car-thing wasn’t starting well.
Here’s what the Fiat looked like
And the Opel
I mentions this b/c I know where you are coming from. I think if you want a Trans Am, that’s what you should buy. But make sure you understand what you are getting into: higher insurance rates and higher repair costs for example. Suggest to ask your insurance company for quotes on that car compared to a Civic. And do a little research on typical repair cost, find out how much it costs to replace the water pump on that car vs a Civic in the same used-car price range. The alternator. The radiator. An oil and filter change. Stuff like that. But if you’ve done your cyphering, & you can afford it, that’s the car you want, I think you should go for it.
Safety-wise, sure, it doesn’t have all the safety features of newer cars, but it is still a pretty safe car. Safety has much more to do with you and the manner in which you drive than the car’s safety features. Give some thought on whether it matters much whether you make the next light or not. If you don’t make it, what, delayed 2 minutes. Sheesh, you can make that 2 minutes up by taking a slightly shorter shower tomorrow morning. If safety is a concern, make sure your car is in good repair, your eyesight is 20/20, and just plan to go a little slower & take a little longer to get where you are going is all. A light foot on the pedal in other words. Will save you in operating costs too.
Pontiac Trans Am are common topic in Hot Rod magazine, so you might want to take a look at some back issues at your local library. Especially pay attention to the Hot Rod to the Rescue section, where they diagnose and fix older cars like that and explain how they do it. Best of luck. And you are spot on about manual transmission. Don’t compromise on that at all.
Oh, one more thing, assuming you are a teenage boy. If you think a Trans Am will attract some cute co-eds in your direction, you may well be right about that. My advice on that point: When those cute coeds approach you and your car , hang on tightly to your wallet …