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25,000 Mile Pace Car: Pontiac Firebird Trans Am Turbo

There were many renditions made of Pontiac’s venerable Firebird / Trans Am over the years, but one of the more desirable specimens is cars like this one: one of 1,155 white GTAs pulled off assembly lines and outfitted with the drivetrain from the Grand National, and then fortified nicely with a variety of upgrades that forced some creative marketing as to how much power it was putting down. This example is one of 1,324 in this configuration and has just 25,000 miles from new. Find it here on craigslist in Georgia for $28,900, and be sure to go here if the ad disappears. Thanks to Barn Finds reader Pat L. for the find. 

If I have my history right, this is the third edition of Pontiac’s Anniversary cars, and was called upon to be the official pace vehicle for the 73rd running of the Indy 500. Among its numerous claims to fame was the fact that it was the first pace car to not require any significant modifications to maintain the necessary speed for leading the field – the only modifications the cars received were strobe lights and required safety equipment. Pace Cars were delivered to customers with the door graphics unmounted and in a separate box, and this example’s have never been adhered. They were all white and most came with saddle leather interiors, but some variations existed including the option to have a T-Top roof like this car.

Street Muscle magazine compiled a great write-up of these rare Trans Ams, and noted the following about its impressive performance: “The original boost level of 12psi from the GN was cranked up to 16.5 as well. The result of these changes actually produced 303 b.h.p., but since it was still a no-no to have a car in the GM line-up that produced more horsepower than the Corvette, we were stuck with the conservative advertised numbers instead – which matched those of the Corvette.” This was also the only V6 Trans Am up until that point, and the seller notes they were built by PAS, the same company responsible for the legendary hot-rod Typhoon and Sylcone trucks from GM. The interior looks phenomenal, as you’d expect for such a low mileage example.

Values have stayed respectable for these turbocharged Trans Ams, helped by their exclusivity, impressive performance and enthusiasts’ love affair with the GN. With impressive cosmetics, no alterations from stock and low mileage, there’s little reason to doubt that this car will hold its own as an investment, but there’s also enough miles on the clock that I’d feel safe adding 2,000-5,000 per year without hurting any future returns too seriously. The Trans Am is currently on display at the Miles Through Time Automotive Museum in Toccoa, GA should you want to check it out in person.

Comments

  1. flmikey

    I am thinking this car is a bargain…and I would not be afraid to drive this one, compared to an ultra-low mile example…btw, does anyone know if they built any of these with sticks?

    Like 5
    • Real men drive sticks

      It’s a girl car with an automatic 😂

      It’s a 1 of x with the special gas cap and 1 of 100000000 with air in the tires but those with the extra turn signal are really rare👀😂😳
      Now if you got the white wall tires installed on a Monday..

      Like 1
      • Steve

        This comment was edited, as it originally questioned whether the turbo TA was available with a manual trans or not. (Hence my reply that they were auto only). I find your comment that its a “girl’s car” unfounded. Everyone has a right to their opinion, (however wrong it is). LOL Thousands of people who find the GN, GNX, T Types and Turbo TA (among other automatic equipped muscelcars and supercars) desirable and collectible feel otherwise regarding it being a “girl’s car”. Have you ever driven or ridden in one? The desirability/ collectability lies in the fact that these cars were one of the few shining gems in a sea of forgettable, slow and generally undesirable cars of the era. I like a manual shift car, and own a few and have owned more. They are more fun, but I don’t feel all cars with auto trans should be “automatically” (pun intended) dismissed. In the 80’s my older brother had a friend with an L88 corvette with a TH400. That was’t a girl’s car. It scared the living hell out of me riding in it. Anything that has 500+ horsepower and bias ply tires demands a high level of skill, no matter the sex of the driver. I’m sure a few girls like Shirley Muldowney, Shirley Shahan as well as the Force girls, among others, could show us all a thing or two about how a girl drives…

        Like 0
    • Steve

      Nope. Auto trans only.

      Like 8
  2. Tim S.

    Another one of those where a lot of them were put away. These cars are too cool not to drive. If you’ve got the cash, get it. Conserve it and maintain it, but use it.

    Like 9
  3. Jack M.

    Jeff math was never one of my strongest subjects in school, but I’m still trying to figure out how this car went from one of 1,155 to one of 1,324? Still it’s a beautiful car that I would be proud to own.

    Like 2
    • jdjonesdr

      The ad says “This is a very rare car with only 1555 ever produced. Only 1324 in this configuration.” whatever that configuration is..

      Like 4
  4. 68custom

    Best of the third generation right here! To bad it has t-tops!

    Like 3
  5. Jack M.

    Thanks jdjonesdr. Guess that I should have finished that second cup of coffee before going near the keyboard!

    Like 4
  6. Steve

    I would trade all of my junk for this! Someone needs to scoop this up. If the car is as nice as it as represented as being, it is a steal if a baragin! The value is only going to go up! If i wasnt in the market for a new house right now…

    Like 4
  7. Carol

    We are lucky enough to have one.

    Like 15
  8. Stephen Thor Member

    A V-6 in a firebird, while understandable in a “regular” model, is unthinkable for the t/a, as well as in a formula (a sleeper that looks like a regular firebird). Equally disturbing was using the station wagon big blocks in the 2nd generation trans-am, having a 455 branded on a fake, blocked-off hoodscoop on a 10th anniversary t/a that has less than 200 h.p. was a disgrace. I have a 2000 ls1 motor formula, about 320 hp from a 350 ci motor was just the bill back in 1999. works for me. So how is it that the government, not exactly known for letting people have a good time unhindered, now allows non-turbo-needed 300+ hp for midblocks and getting 15 m.p.g. or more at the same time? here is an airbrushed (not a sticker) of the hood of my ws6, as a tribute throwback to the huge firebird decals back in the day.

    Like 2
    • Michael

      I’ll take the good-looking GN powered GTA. Hopefully your hood looks better in person. We already know how your interior looks so no need for any pics of that.

      Like 5
      • Daved

        Michael 🤣👍🏼

        Like 0
    • Buck

      Doesn’t sound like you know much about engines. Electronics has come a long way since the 455. Not too mention all the smog-era crap they were playing with at the time as well as terrible cylinder heads and crappy carbs.
      What is this midblock you’re talking about? You mean small-block? Lol. 🤣
      Come on man, learn about what you’re talking about.
      Also, don’t rag on the Buick V-6. A GNX from that time would spank your LS1. 😉
      Lastly, the airbrushing is horrible man. I feel sorry for your hood.

      Like 1
    • Steve

      Are you aware that this is not a “regular” v6 in this TA? If you weren’t around during the time the car in the feature was new, it was the best GM could manage. Like it or not, it was what it was. Same way with the weak smog motors. All car manufacturers had rested on the same formula of big cubic inches and high compression ratios for so long, that when the feds pulled the rug out from under them in 1973, it look them nearly twenty years to recover. As for the government “allowing” anything, it’s the other way around. (Not sure what a “midblock” is either…) As long as their standards are met, anything is “allowed. My daily driver is a 16 Malibu with a turbo 2.0 litre that puts out nearly 300 hp. Not sure what your point is…As for the airbrushed screaming chicken on your newer TA, it’s not my cup of tea, but everyone has right to their opinion, (no matter how wrong it is LOL.)

      Like 0
  9. Stephen Thor Member

    I have the original factory propaganda for my car, and in part the engine is described that “air is force-fed into the motor” (“ram” air). how they got away with that is unknown to me. the air going thru the ws6 hood air opening has to go thru a restrictive air filter. ram air my rear end. fresh air is much more accurate.

    Like 3
  10. The Chucker

    These are the best of the best for the 3rd gen F-body IMO. The 1LE IROCs are close, but don’t carry the swagger.

    Like 3
  11. Poseur Member

    ‘86 Corvette convertible was first unmodified pace car. But these were faster

    Like 2
  12. DayDreamBeliever Alan (Michigan)

    Pull and stash the original motor and transmission, replace them with a tweaked GN-X and better gearbox (manual, if you must).
    Then play games with the car. Yep.

    Like 0
  13. Lawrence Morello

    Mine LIVED in the shop. EVERYTHING went wrong with it, except the fab Buick motor. It was a nightmare, and I had to part with it in two years.

    Like 0
  14. Reid Hall

    If you are going have a collectible car of this era,other than the camaro pace car,and some of iroc camaros,maybe some of corvettes this by far this is the one to have,don’t know how say it but maybe this is the holy grail.They are saying 30-40k maybe it’s worth it, although if I were to buy it l would pay 5-15k.

    Like 0
    • Steve

      I’m not aware of any Camaro of the era, IROC (even 1LE), pace car or otherwise that I would choose over this…Please elaborate…

      Like 1

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