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60k Miles: One-Owner 1980 Pontiac Firebird Formula

Sales of the Pontiac Firebird got a huge kick in 1977 after the release of the first Smokey & The Bandit movie. But they had peaked two years later when production down nearly half in 1980 from the year before. They were beautiful cars, but not nearly as fast as before, which may have limited sales interest. This 1980 Firebird has the Formula option package, making it almost as stylish as the more well-known Trans Am. It’s been extremely well-maintained and likely to be as nice a 40-year-old car as you’d find anywhere. It’s located in Elwood Park, Illinois and available here on craigslist for $18,500. Thanks, Ikey Heyman, for more of your sleuthing efforts!

The second generation of the Firebird would be built for 12 model years, 1970-81. Along the way, most of the changes were cosmetic. Because of increasing emissions restrictions, the variety of powerplants in the Firebird had been parred back by 1980. Gone was the 455 in the Firebird, with a 301 cubic inch V8 being standard, with a turbocharger as an option.  Even with the turbo, the cars were noticeably sluggish compared to just a couple of years earlier. 1980 Turbo Trans Am’s were used in the second Smokey movie and had to be fitted with nitrous oxide tanks because the producers couldn’t get what they needed out of the turbo alone. Sources: Wikipedia and TransAmWorld.

Putting the performance issues aside, this 1980 Firebird with the Formula Package (W66 on the order form) is a stunning piece of era automobilia. It has just 60,000 miles and looks to have been babied all along its one-owner journey. The ‘Bird is numbers-matching meaning that the 301-4V (140 hp) is what it left the factory with, along with an automatic transmission. It’s one of 8,111 Firebirds built that year with the W66 offering.

The silver paint job looks fabulous along with the black and red striping. The seller says there is no rust and dents, although there may be one small ding over the passenger side rear wheel well, but it could be the lighting. We’re told the car’s habitat has been a climate-controlled garage and that certainly shows, given the harsh winters of Chicago that the car is said to never have been driven in.

This Firebird was decked out when new, with all the goodies including air conditioning; power steering, brakes, and windows; and those ever-popular honeycomb alloy wheels. Part of this stuff came with the Formula package, including the decals and specially tuned suspension. If you like red, this has to be the reddest interior I’ve ever seen. It really pops against the silver paint, so I like it! As long as the whiplash-engaging speed isn’t your bag, this car is a beautiful Plan B to a Trans Am. And at the seller’s asking price, less than you’d have to spring for the Bandit-style car from the same year in the same condition.


  1. Doug from MD.

    Seems to be a well kept bird but no getting around the fact these were all show and no go. Glwts.

    Like 4
  2. Steve R

    Nice car, but it would be hard to pay $18,500 for any Firebird with a 301.

    Steve R

    Like 13
  3. Bultaco

    A friend had a “79 version of this Formula during the 80s. His had the Olds 403 engine, and with some carb and ignition tweaks, it was surprisingly fast. Another friend had a ‘79 or ‘80 Trans Am with the Pontiac 301 non-turbo, and the car was just way too heavy for that little motor to move around with any authority.

    This car is just beautiful, regardless of the small engine.

    Like 6
  4. Skorzeny

    I usually don’t like the front end on these, but this looks good with that black and silver. I think if someone is looking for one of these, this is a prime candidate for a mild (at least) LS swap. I would add a 5 speed. That 301 is nothing but a boat anchor.

    Like 2
    • The_Driver

      LS Swap, better brakes and the 5 speed would absolutely trnasform this car… But $18K is a lot of asking to go that route!

      Like 4
  5. JoeNYWF64

    Homemade headliner? Wonder what adhesive was used.
    Bright red steering wheel, especially, might be too much of a distraction while driving. & possibly more suited for a female.

    Like 0
  6. Ron

    was on facebook a week ago for 7500

    Like 0
  7. Barry Sheppard

    I ordered me a 79 Formula, White on White with gold trim. $7,700 brand new. Loves the car but it a a water leak issue that they never got solved in over a year. Traded it in on a 80 charcoal gray with white interior.

    Like 1
    • Ted-M

      Ordered mine in 79 & all I could get was the 301 4B, a fun car to drive! Paid just over $8,000.

      Like 0
  8. Stan Marks

    It seems when a beauty, like this, comes across BF, the big criticism is the power plant. How about the fact that this Formula is in mint condition & regardless of the small V8, would be enjoyable to drive. We aren’t hot rod kids, any longer. At least, at 76, I’m not. Also, if you notice, $18,5K is the ASKING price. It’s not etched in stone. Naturally, sellers would like to get top $. You always start high & work your way down. You start low, you have no where to go.
    When you’re selling a used car, people would ask what it’s worth.I would tell them, whatever both the seller & buyer agree upon. That’s what its worth..

    Like 9
  9. K. R. V.

    Oh do I miss the daze of colorful interiors! I had more than one Chevy SUV or truck with a beautiful bright red interior of sort. Or a nice Dodge Ram with TRI tone blue with nice looking fake wood. But today, all we see are multiple shades of black, grey, beige and browns, in most msss produced vehicles. My Dad had a beautiful 78 Town Car. With matching baby blue paint, top and the softest leather interior! I had a 67 LeMans, with beautiful turquoise body and interior, with bucket seats an wood grain dash an console, that was the nicest car I had, wishing to this day I never sold it, because to find one today, just like it with a 325/4 brl 4 speed dual exhaust, would command well over 20k! Forget about a GTO, in those colors.

    Like 0
  10. martinsane

    Id pay 18k for this need nothing and enjoy runner, than 35k for a roached out piece of yard art.

    Like 0

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