30k Original Miles: 1980 Pontiac Trans Am Turbo Pace Car

By 1980, forced-induction engines were making their presence felt in many spheres of motorsport. Manufacturers could see the benefit of this technology in their production models, as it allowed engines to produce considerably more power without significantly compromising fuel economy or breaching emission regulations. Pontiac saw the light in 1980, introducing a turbocharged V8 to its Trans Am range. It coincided with the model being selected as the Official Pace Car for the Indianapolis 500, allowing the company to display its new offering to a wide audience. Pontiac produced 5,700 Pace Car replicas, and our feature vehicle is one of those cars. It has a genuine 30,000 miles on the clock, and finding faults will prove challenging. It is listed for sale here on Craigslist in Apex, North Carolina. Simply handing the seller $25,000 could see you drive away in a car guaranteed to turn heads. I must thank Barn Finder T.J for spotting this stunning survivor.

Considering the color palette Pontiac offered Trans Am buyers in 1980, Cameo White looks relatively restrained and conservative. However, the company ensured that the Indy Pace Car wouldn’t look dull. The Charcoal accents and graphics provide a striking contrast and tie the exterior with the interior trim combination. It was also a wise choice because a more flamboyant shade may not have fitted with the vision of race organizers. This car presents superbly, with the paint shining beautifully and the graphics and signage looking crisp and free from problems. There is no evidence of rust, and the seller doesn’t mention any problems in their listing. One of the defining exterior features is the stunning alloy wheels. They aren’t merely there to look good because the design draws air past the brakes to improve cooling and efficiency. They look flawless, as do the tinted glass and T-Top. I’m not sure if I can describe the car’s appearance as showroom fresh, but it is one of the tidiest I’ve seen in this price range.

Pontiac had a history steeped in adventurous design and engineering and was willing to boldly go where others feared to tread. Buyers in 1980 could order a Trans Am equipped with a 301ci V8 producing 170hp. It offered reasonable performance for the time, but it would hardly set pulses racing. The company decided that some additional engineering refinement could make turbocharging the V8 possible, so they pressed ahead with development. By the time the first example rolled off the production line, buyers had 210hp under their right foot. Regardless of which Trans Am version you ordered, shifting duties fell to a three-speed Hydramatic transmission. However, it fed the turbo power to a limited-slip rear end, while four-wheel power disc brakes were a standard part of this package. The ¼-mile ET of 16.1 seconds may not sound that impressive, but it should be placed in context. Nineteen-eighty was not a great time for performance car enthusiasts, and a normally-aspirated Trans Am struggled to break the 18-second barrier. That this car could shave two seconds off that figure was an achievement worth celebrating. This car is in excellent mechanical health, and the owner holds documentation confirming the odometer reading of 30,670 miles is genuine. They also have other significant paperwork, including the original Window Sticker, Owner’s Manual, Warranty Book, and the original dealership paperwork. The buyer will slip behind a wheel of a classic where there will be no questions about its originality or heritage.

The original owner didn’t hold back when they chose the interior appointments for this classic, and the buyer is set to reap the benefits. They will receive air conditioning, power windows, power locks, cruise control, a leather-wrapped tilt wheel, a rear defogger, and an AM/FM radio/tape player with a power antenna. The interior presents as beautifully as the exterior, with no wear or evidence of abuse. The distinctive Oyster vinyl and cloth trim ties the interior and exterior together perfectly and adds a touch of class. The carpet is spotless, as are the dash and console. The machine-turned gauge fascia shows none of the wear or discoloring that is a common sight on older Trans Ams. This is another aspect of this classic that would receive nothing but positive comments at a Cars & Coffee.

There’s no denying the 1980 Trans Am Turbo was not the most refined production car featuring forced induction. However, it is worth remembering that American manufacturers were treading relatively new ground with this technology, and Pontiac was on the cutting edge with this model. After all, turbocharged models weren’t rushing off local production lines in enormous quantities at the start of the 1980s. It is also worth noting that the Trans Am Turbo Indy Pace Car is one of a number of classics from this era that are developing a strong following in the classic market. Prices well over $40,000 are typical for pristine examples, while a low-mile example recently sold for $65,000. This car isn’t in that league, but its preservation level and odometer reading lift it above mere mortals. The asking price looks highly competitive, and that’s why you may need to act quickly to secure this classic.


  1. Claudio

    The only option missing on this baby is the recaro seats

    Like 2
    • RH

      Recaro seats not available in the 1980 Indy Pace cars.

  2. Burt

    I could never understand why anybody would buy something so silly, “Official Pace Car” written on the side. It just seems like something a four year old would put on his tricycle. And to pay EXTRA money for the silliness?

    Like 6
    • Ed Casala

      Still kicking myself for not picking up a 69 Camaro convertible Indy Pace car ten years ago for 15K that needed nothing. So, Burt, I am that guy who would of driven a Pace Car Replica.

      Like 5
    • Michelle Rand Staff

      True the motors were terrible, but they didn’t make very many Pace Car replicas – at least by American standards – and they were mostly fully loaded. For this one, low miles are in its favor, as well as the fact that collectors often seek the unusual.

      Like 2
  3. Tom

    Sold. No big surprise there…

    Like 2

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