Cheap Poncho: 1980 Pontiac Firebird Esprit

1980 was a tough year for the Firebird. The large displacement engines were gone leaving the largest engine (by displacement) as the Chevy 305. The Buick 231 6-cylinder was available as well as the Pontiac 265, 301 and a turbo-charged 301. This red Esprit has either a 265 or 301 V8 and an automatic transmission with some sweet turbine wheels but the real surprise is hiding inside. If you like red on red cars then take a trip to Las Vegas, Nevada to snatch this one off of craigslist for $1,900.

Someone out there has to know if the pattern is original! I couldn’t find any pictures of similar fabric for these cars but the upholstery work looks factory! Is it possible that this is a factory pattern? We can assume that the dash is cracked with that cloth over the top of the dash and check out the speakers in the doors! I usually appreciate a set of good speakers installed in the doors but these have the ugliest grills I’ve ever seen!

And there’s the 265/301 with some additional wires and braided fuel lines with pressure regulator. The seller says that it runs well with good compression on all cylinders and the transmission shifts well. It has a Holley carburetor installed. They also state that the car is 95% complete and just needs some love and a tune-up. Would you go get this car or since it happens to be in Vegas should it stay in Vegas?


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  1. Miguel

    It always bothers me when people remove the A/C stuff.

    It is especially stupid being that the car is in Las Vegas.

    • Matt Member

      then avoid it, buy something that never had it, then turn on your 270 air….

      • Miguel

        You completely missed the point.

  2. flmikey

    …looks like someone turned this car into some sort of street racer…notice the gauges on the dash…love red on red, but not on this thing…

    • Miguel

      The gauges might also be an attempt to not overheat the engine in las Vegas and their 120 degree heat.

    • Steve R

      I don’t think it was put together as some sort of street racer. It still has the stock cast iron intake and exhaust manifolds. Dual feed Holley carbs can be found for very little money, especially if it’s a 4010/4011 series. The braided fuel line and fuel pressure regulator look like quality parts, but the installation is hack work. I’d say it was thrown together by someone with parts lying around rather than a serious attempt to build power.

      Steve R

  3. Alan

    I always Hate it when I see Non original hot roded vintage cars. Even if the engine has only 50hp I like keep it original as saying goes ‘ its only original once’!

  4. Little_Cars Alexander Member

    Looks like stock upholstery if you hold the bong close to your mouth and inhale. If someone on BF buys this car, I have a new OEM red armrest lid to go on top of the center tunnel console.

  5. ccrvtt

    ’79-’81 Trans Ams are among my favorites and the body on this one looks solid. All the gauges under the hood and that huge 5″ something or other to the left of the steering wheel give this car a steampunk vibe.

    Which is not good.

    • Poppapork

      I think it is the best deal ive seen on barn finds so far! 1900 bucks (asking!) For a trans am with no rust, running and driving and the seler even verified cylinder compression? You guys complaining about Air and gauges are insane, you cant buy a 1995 hundai running and driving with good compression and no rust for double or tripple that price!

      Ps. I would love to park.this next to my 79 vette, the only two cars that managed to look good thru the 70ties….

      Like 1
  6. Beatnik Bedouin

    Remember, guys, that the Esprit model was supposed to be a ‘lady’s car’ (GM’s Marketing Department’s idea).

    I’m guessing that the upholstery is original (excepting those wonder speaker grilles in the doors!) for the market segment this particular Firebird was targeted towards, and that the car has kind of ‘evolved’ over the last 38 years, as it’s gone from someone’s pride ‘n’ joy to being ‘just an old car’.

    As a runner, it’s probably good buying and could be a fun project for a Firebird fan. Just don’t expect to get rich with the results…

    Like 1
    • Miguel

      I don’t think Pontiac ever put anything like that in a car, even an Esprit.

  7. Pa Tina

    Put a poncho on the Poncho.

  8. Chebby Staff

    That velour looks like Tijuana special upholstery, but the stitch pattern appears to match factory seats. I don’t know what two gauges UNDER the hood do, but I doubt someone would put stuff like that on the base motor. Hopefully a transplanted 350 or bigger with some performance mods.

  9. Doyler

    That interior.


  10. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    I found this on-line.
    Espirit came with vinyl seating as standard, with “hobnail” (velour with little dots on it) cloth as optional.
    This car has either a 265, 301, or 305 if it started life in CA.

    With no rust and the asking price, this could be a start to a very nice project.

  11. Jose Delgadillo

    I think that it is a pretty good buy for 1,900 bucks. This is not a car that you would want to invest big bucks in and restore. Clean it up, fix (most) of what it needs, 500.00 paint job and enjoy. It isn’t a Trans Am, It an Espirit, the Jim Rockford special. Still, it’s a straight, complete running car. I’ll bet all the emission stuff is gone, just like the a/c compressor. This would make it a real headache to register in California. Trying to find all those little hoses, valves and fittings to make it pass the bi annual smog check would be a real challenge. Still for the price…

  12. Barry L Klotz

    I would love to own this Firebird, but I live in Maryland. Don’t know how much it would cost to ship. I’d buy it in a heartbeat. Could give me some idea as to how much it would cost? Thanks, Barry L. KLOTZ

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