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Drop Top Turbo: 1988 Pontiac Sunbird GT

I’m having a slight case of deja vu because it was only a week ago that I wrote up what looks like an identical car to this 1988 Pontiac Sunbird GT Turbo convertible. Heck, it was even red. I thought maybe an ultra-quick flip had occurred, but this car is much too far away in Nevada (whereas last week’s was in Connecticut). Surprisingly, it looks just as nice – even if it seems to undermine my rarity claim. Find the Sunbird here on eBay with bidding over $2K and no reserve.

These turbocharged Sunbirds do not turn up all that often, but here we are with car number two. In looking at it from this angle, the luggage rack really is an unfortunate addition. While these weren’t necessarily pretty cars, they were sporting enough that a luggage rack seems like a very unfortunate throw-back to an era this car had little in common with.

The interior is holding up just as well here as it was on the Connecticut car (which is still for sale, by the way). The gray fabric won’t win any beauty contests, but it will be forever easy to clean. The carpets look equally fresh and the door panels show no signs of obvious wear. This car is an automatic as well, but the manuals in turbo guise are very hard to find. The seller says just 1,268 of these cars were built but doesn’t elaborate as to whether that’s just soft tops or the whole lineup of GT cars.

The engine bay looks quite clean, with no obvious cosmetic flaws to the painted “Turbo” intake manifold. The seller notes its strong cosmetics are due to high-grade storage in a climate-controlled environment when not in use, which seems incredible to me considering how many people consider these cars throwaway vehicles (turbo or no turbo). I was going to tell you if you disagreed with the current bid to “Find another one”, but as it turns out, it’s not that hard to do.


  1. rmward Member

    Nice looking Sunbird. The Ebay listing shows it’s in Minnesota, but yet it has Nevada plates. The pictures look more like MN than NV too.

    Like 1
  2. Andre

    What an awesome summer daily this would be. Just odd enough to stand out in the crowd of soap bars.

    Like 3
  3. CCFisher

    Surely, you know that the red object under the hood with the “TURBO” markings is the intake manifold and you and the other staffers are taking bets on who’s going to call it out first.

    Like 0
  4. JSB Member

    All of these cars, and Cavalier convertibles, had the luggage rack, it has the third brake light mounted in it. Never cared for them as a style choice, but you didn’t have an option.

    Like 0
  5. Royal

    My GF in college who came to NY via the way of Texas had an red 85 like this sans the Turbo, which I loved as it was much nicer put together than her Step Dad’s Dodge/Chrysler 400 drop-top which got totaled. She was a spoiled little brat who would go on to become the Texas Poster Child for Post Pardon Depression. Just google Dena Schlosser if you want to learn more. Back in the 80’s though she was a happy well adjusted person.

    Like 0
    • DayDreamBeliever DayDreamBeliever

      The ghoul in me just had to look. Yikes! Looks like you dodged a bullet there. (BTW, “Post Partum” Depression = after-delivery psychological problems)

      Like 0
    • LOL

      Wow, someone has issues forgetting the past. LOL

      Like 0
  6. Brian

    I agree on the luggage rack comments.
    Something to note about some mid- to late-80s convertibles (Mustang comes to mind) is they were designed prior to the 1985 mandate for Center High-mount Stop Lamp (CHMSL). As such, to meet the mandate a luggage rack (which was already optional on some cars like Sunbird) was made standard as an easy way to house it. It was an unfortunate aesthetic by-product of the regulation but likely cheaper than integrating into the sheet metal as most are today on convertibles. Most manufacturers integrated the CHMSL much better on post-1986 model year redesigns of their convertible models.

    Like 4
  7. Capriest

    In high school a girl down the street from me had this exact car. She was notorious for being a “sure thing” if you asked her out so pretty much all of my friends had “gotten a ride” in that sunchicken. Kid across the street from me had a red hardtop that was turbo and 5speed. Went pretty good as it would burn the tires through 2nd. I ended up installing a cd player and a fosgate sub and amp in it for a few extra bucks. Quite the PITA if you’ve ever seen the factory radio on these you’ll understand.

    Like 0
  8. mikestuff

    It must have been in 1988 or 1989 (although my old man memory remembers the date later) my then-wife and I flew to Las Vegas for a few days, alone, no kids, in September –she had some kind of work bonus IIRC, and rented a car. I of course had reserved a basic 2-dr coupe and all that was left was a Pontiac Sunbird convertible or a Ford Taurus wagon (we had a Taurus at home). I don’t remember it being a turbo but it was great fun, top down at night and the drive to Boulder City to visit Hoover Dam was just great. Nothing like driving down the Las Vegas Strip at about midnight with the top down, just watching things and people. That was of course before all the growth.

    Like 0
  9. Miguel

    I bought the same car new if you deduct one year, the turbo, the convertible top and the automatic transmission.

    The 1987 models are really hard to find.

    I bought it because I loved the pop up headlight covers.

    Like 0

    Wife totaled hers,I have the factory Radio & 2 of the SE rims,God only knows why I saved em.

    Like 1
  11. Damian Randal

    A 1988 GT Turbo convertible was my very first car! I bought it for 1k in 2012. I bought it with 67,381 miles on it. It had a host of issues.. the vinyl top was broken and needed completely replaced. As well as engine issues. Sadly, it was hard and expensive for parts. And being a broke high-school student, I couldn’t afford a weekend car show classic..it didn’t last me a year before the engine blew.. shame I didn’t keep it and try to fix it when I was older with a little more money.

    Like 0

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