7,700 Mile Turbo! 1981 Pontiac Trans Am SE

The owner of this 1981 Pontiac Trans Am describes the car as being original and flawless, and with a mere 7,700 miles under its belt, that probably isn’t that surprising. Everywhere you look you are confronted with spotless presentation, making this car a pretty special treat. If you have always had a desire to own a Trans Am like this, Then you will find this one located in Miami, Florida, and listed for sale here on eBay. When it comes to the price you might need to take a deep breath because the BIN has been set at $75,000. There is also the option available to make an offer.

No matter what your initial reaction has been to the price of this Trans Am, you really have to admit that it presents beautifully. This was the final year of production for this generation of the Firebird, and even though so much of the model’s performance had been lost during the 1970s, Pontiac was still able to get the car to exude style and class. The Starlight Black paint has an amazing shine and depth to it, while the iconic gold graphics look perfect. The car also features the glass T-Top, along with those distinctive “Turbo” wheels. There really isn’t a lot to be negative about when it comes to the external presentation of the car.

When I first looked at the interior shots of the Trans Am, I was really disappointed. I initially thought that there were a number of nasty marks and stains on the door trims and the carpet. However, it appears that there is actually something odd with the photos themselves because what appear to be some nasty black marks from one angle, seem to completely disappear from others. Anyway, the Tan Deluxe interior upholstery really does look quite amazing, and it is completely original. The factory 8-track player is still taking pride of place in the dash, and the factory instructional 8-track cartridge is also included. You don’t see many of those these days! Of course, the Trans Am does come fully loaded. You get air conditioning, power windows, power locks, the previously mentioned 8-track player, cruise control, Soft Ray tinted glass, a tilt wheel, and a rear defogger.

Pontiac was nothing if not adventurous, and the 301ci turbocharged engine under the hood of this Trans Am would certainly seem to confirm this. At this point in time, turbocharging was one of those great automotive “black arts,” and some examples from this era were better than others. One of the greatest hindrances to performance when considering turbocharged production engines of this era was the lack of electronic fuel injection, and electronic engine management systems. Without these two elements, turbocharged engines could certainly deliver some pretty impressive performance figures, but consistent performance was difficult to achieve, and turbo lag could be quite horrendous. The Turbo Trans Am does feature an Electronic Spark Control, which was a precursor to current engine management systems, and better fuel quality today compared to when these cars rolled off the line means that performance today is actually better than it would’ve been in 1981. The other disappointment for many potential owners of the Turbo Trans Am in 1981 was the fact that it was only available with a 3-speed automatic transmission, and while it also featured a Posi rear end, the tall final drive ratio resulted in a car that was more aimed towards open-road cruising with low emissions, rather than outright performance. The engine bay on this car presents really well, and in addition to the drive-train as described, the car is fitted with power steering, and power 4-wheel disc brakes.

This 1981 Trans Am Turbo SE is by no means a cheap car, and I’m not going to try to convince you otherwise. However, it is a spotlessly clean, low-mileage survivor. It comes with a pile of documentation, including the original Build Sheet, Manuals, Invoices, and full documentation from the PHS. There is no denying that it is an amazing car, so is it one that you would park in your driveway?


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  1. Mustang Bama

    I wonder if anyone has ever tried to change to a larger turbo and build the 301 to not be such a dog. Great body style, terrible performance….

    Like 3
  2. rpol35

    No denying its apparent excellent condition; still at $75 large, it seems like a lack of true sincerity and desire to really sell this car.

    Like 12
  3. Keith

    Absolutely no way on this great earth I would pay 75k for this Pontiac because: 1) The 81 Trans-Am is a slug with the 301 turbo that is smogged down with emissions. 2) The 81 is not a highly desired production year. 3) It’s definitely not a SD 455 or 400. 4) Too many miles for the asking price, should be zero mile! etc. etc. etc.

    Like 9
  4. Keith

    Trans-Am specialties out of Miami is selling this 1981 Trans-Am which explains the high asking price. They are a high dollar dealership and have lot’s of rich south Florida residents willing to pay for one of these cars. Not sure why they have it on eBay when they can easily sell it locally. Maybe because it’s a lame 1981 301 turbo…….just saying?

    Like 7
  5. Tony Primo

    For over 50 years people have been bashing the Chevrolet 307 V-8 for being a weak performer, when it’s role has always been as a base engine. It was never even offered with a 4 barrel carburetor. The 301 Pontiac has always been a total embarrassment weather in normally aspirated or turbocharged form. This is a beautiful Trans Am, but with that 301 engine in it it will be lucky to hit even $50,000.

    Like 5
  6. Brian Scott

    Umm, seventy five? What’s Chong’s opinion? Definitely cool, and I love the rare wheels, but for this price a guy can get a nice classic pick-up, air-cooled 911, sport bike, show winning ’67 Beetle. Oh, and I have plenty left over. Pass.

    Like 5
    • TimS Member

      Agreed. I love all Trans Ams but for that asking price I can pretty much get any driver-quality classic car I’d want, plus build a pretty nice shed to store it in.

      Like 2
  7. Joe M

    Nice car but, I always thought the 77 was a better looking car, the big front bumper with four squares looks off.

    Like 2
  8. Steve R

    When it comes to second generation Trans Ams, there are many better choices for that amount of money.

    I’d bet this car winds up in Europe.

    Steve R

    Like 2
    • Ike Onick

      Is there a big demand for cartooned, ultra-low performance, GM build quality cars where petrol is $10 per gallon?

      Like 4
    • Rosco

      Not for $75k!

      Like 1
  9. TimM

    It’s a nice low miles car but not $75K nice!! I’ll keep my money thank you very much!!


    😲i have a good padded dash 4 1😎

  11. ACZ

    How much?!?!

  12. CanuckCarGuy

    Someone will snatch it up, and park it in their hermetically sealed garage between their Grand National and Corvette pace car.

  13. canadainmarkseh Member

    This car was at the height of the transition from carbs to feed back carbs with primitive computers which of course was the prelude to EFI. compression ratios were at a low not seen since the flat head engines. The reason for low compression was to reduce NOX NITROUS OXIDES at the tail pipe. NOX is what caused the big smog clouds over major cities. so the turbo was added to try to get the compression ratios back up under certain conditions but the clincher was they still had to meet emissions so the waist gates were set to slow to allow the boost to occur more quickly. Further to add to the problem EGR valves were added to recycle exhaust gas back into the combustion chamber thus cooling down the burn also to alter the chemistry coming out of the tail pipe. How fast could we run if we were forced to eat our own crap while running. Finally we had the catalytic converter which typically pugged up with unburied fuel from the sickened engine and it low compression. the auto makers had to scramble to keep up with the government goons and there laws that’s why this car is a turd. Since then lots can be done to liven up the performance. It’s your government that was the cause not GM and in that sense they represent a historic change in technology.

    Like 3
  14. canadainmarkseh Member

    Foot note low compression flathead engine back before 1940 were gutless too in their day the solution was to make bigger and bigger engine until you got enough power to pull the car effectively. So for the last hundred year the car has suffered growing pains and still is.

  15. Bob McK Member

    At first I was so excited because this is so close to home, but then I saw the price. Classic car dealers always inflate prices, but this price is beyond crazy. I wonder if the dealer owns it or if it is consigned.

  16. Arthell64 Member

    Maybe if it was a 1979 w72 car I could see 50k but the 301 turbo was a gutless engine. Could be one of the few cars a 78 corvette pace car can out run.

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