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Dan’s 1989 Pontiac Trans Am Turbo

1989 Pontiac Trans Am Turbo

Reader Dan D needs your help! He recently purchased this 1989 Trans Am Turbo and has been busy getting it running again, but he isn’t sure how much money to put in it. He wants to make it a nice driver, but doesn’t want to be completely upside down on it. Here is more info about it in his own words – I recently picked up this 1989 Pontiac Turbo Trans Am Indy Pace Car. It has been sitting in a warehouse collection for years and I recently got it running again. It’s got 34K miles and the interior was redone several years ago.

1989 Pontiac Trans Am Turbo 2

I’m debating on what to do with it and can’t seem to figure out what it’s worth  I see them on eBay for between $20-40K! Big spread! I need to figure out how much work to put into it and at what point to stop spending.

Pontiac Trans Am Turbo

I just got it back from the mechanic and took a few photos so you guys can see it. The interior is 80% new. It still has an oil leak and a driver quality paint job. I’m just wondering what it’s worth as I’ve sunk too much money into it already haha. Any suggestions on a way to value it?

1989 Pontiac Trans Am Turbo 3

This Trans Am looks great and it sounds like Dan has already done most of the heavy lifting. As for values, well they seem to be all over the place, but most of the ones I’ve seen are going for around $15k, with a few exceptional cars going as high as $40k. What do you think this one might be worth in today’s market and how much more work would you do if it were yours?


  1. Avatar photo Marcello

    With the way it looks , it’s a beautiful car, can’t abandon it now , my opinion? Keep fixing till it’s finished it’ll only go up in value they are rare, especially turbo ones

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    • Avatar photo Jim Harlan

      Dan D.. the question also is —why did you buy the car? I have a 1987 Trans Am GTA with 40,000 miles.It’s totally original. It’s my show car only. I keep it nicely waxed & if thing need be I replace them—new alternator, new head liner, etc. Your turbo is worth more because of the engine. Either sell it now for what the market will pay or keep it in good condition as it’s value will likely appreciate over time. That would probably be a slow lengthy app. however. The demand is still strongest for 1972 & older vehicles.

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  2. Avatar photo dj

    Shame the interior has been redone. With the original interior, the value would have been more. It’s amazing what Pontiac did with the GN engine and how much extra hp they got of them. The low mile examples with all the paperwork bring lots of money. I’d keep this one and enjoy driving it.

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  3. Avatar photo Rich

    Dan, I’d fix it up and hang on to it and drive it for awhile. There weren’t many of these made and even though it doesn’t have the original interior it’s bound to continue to appreciate.

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  4. Avatar photo Herman

    Do you want to enjoy it and drive it? If you aren’t selling it, and plan on keeping it, what the market says its worth doesn’t matter.

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  5. Avatar photo rdc

    Why would the interior have been redone? Deterioration, damage by sun or water? Seems odd.

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    • Avatar photo jaygryph

      80’s Camaro/Firebird interiors are garbage. They are cheap plastic, cheap foam, and cheap fabrics and vinyl. The dash pads crack at the corners and around the defroster vents and speaker grills, the seat back release mechanism breaks, the carpet on the raised trans tunnel is high enough to get badly faded if the car ever spent time in the sun. These are basically the same interior as you’d find in a Chevy Celebrity as far as build quality and materials go. The higher end models may have had better seat coverings, but I imagine the rest is identical to the lower trim cars.

      I’ve owned about 5 of these (loved the way the Trans Am GTA I had looked with the louvered hood and fenders) and every one had an interior broken in various ways, even the oddball 4cylinder 5 speed one that had relatively few miles on it.

      Cheaply built cars that tend to fall apart in my experience, but a heck of a lot of fun to drive and throw about. :)

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      • Avatar photo rdc

        Thank you. Eye opening info. Now I know. :)

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      • Avatar photo dj

        Actually that car would have had leather in it.

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    • Avatar photo Dan

      The leather was dried out from the sun so previous owner had new leather installed. I believe it is original type reproduction stuff. Headliner is new as well as t top sun shades. I’m having the door decals and windshield banner installed soon.

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  6. Avatar photo roger

    I would spend as much I wanted.
    There are plenty of people like me who love third generation camaro`s and trans am`s.
    I am currently looking for a Third generation one myself.
    They were the last good looking F bodies.
    The fourth generation camaro`s looks like a cheese wedge.
    And the new one`s look fat and out of proportion.
    Enjoy your 3 generation F body and have fun.
    I plan to when I finally find my IROC Z

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    • Avatar photo Dan

      Funny comment… I was actually trying to find another IROC 5 speed when I found this covered in dust.

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  7. Avatar photo DirtyHarry

    I would think the driver quality paint job “dooms” this to a price point of 15k or less. I would not spend more than that in total. These are fun cars, but the only ones that bring big money, are ultra-low mileage original perfect cars that need nothing.

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  8. Avatar photo Mr. TKD

    I say put it together so you can enjoy it, unless selling it soon is your goal. Then you have to consider what you can realistically get for it.

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  9. Avatar photo Dan

    Thanks for the comments so far! The headliner is new and the seat leather from drying out.

    I wonder about value because my wife is bugging me to shrink the herd so to speak haha. Don’t wanna lose a lot of money if push comes to shove.

    Really rare cars though!

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  10. Avatar photo HeadMaster1

    I had one of these about 7 years ago (#233 of the 1500 or so made). Fast cars in a straight line, handling of the chassis is good, but the power-band is like an on/off switch, boost comes on hard, and if mid turn over steer is eminent. The transmissions are very weak, mine lost 2nd gear at 30k TH200/R4. With redone interior and paint, use it as a fun driver. The cloth seat “parade cars” actually used at the Indy race are worth more than the leather cars. I actually got invited to Indy for the first “Pace Car Reunion” and trailered mine back, getting to drive one lap on the track(not at speed though)…..Wouldn’t mind having another some day.

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  11. Avatar photo HeadMaster1

    I don’t know if they still have the Pace Car Reunions, but if they do, get yourself to it, it’s during speedweek, right before the 500. The Indy people will treat you like VIPs…There were 3 other 89TAs when I was there, including the actual pace car used for the race in 89, owned by INDY

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  12. Avatar photo Bobsmyuncle

    What are your options? Or rather what are you considering? There isn’t much you can do that can’t be undone.

    It’s hardly a blue chip investment. If you can’t flip it now for money you won’t likely do so in the future.

    It’s easy to think that a vehicle will be an investment but if you consider all the time and money you will put into storage and maintenance, inevitable scratches, dings, mileage any interest on the money borrowed etc you really don’t come out on top often.

    And it’s worse if you aren’t driving it and at least enjoying it.

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    • Avatar photo Mark S

      So true very few get rich doing this hobby.

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  13. Avatar photo Nick Maher

    It’s a rare oddball, keep it that way. These cars were a nice package of drive train and suspension upgrades not just a GN engine dropped in a T/A. As long as the interior is still Tan (as they all were) it should be OK. A primo example should fetch 40K I would think, they are not going to lose value.

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  14. Avatar photo Charles

    The turbo TA’s are the most valuable of all of the thirdgen’s. The car looks awesome in the pictures. A friend of mine has one of these that is all original and looks like it has been stored in a big Zip Lock bag. Resale price depends a lot on the condition of the individual car.

    Unless you are only concerned about resale value, the car should continue to increase in value slowly. Besides, a car is a terrible investment anyway, and unless you are like Wayne C., on Chasing Classic Cars always looking for that next 2 million dollar exotic, there probably are no big paychecks pending.

    I’d like to know more about why the interior needed to be redone? I have two thirdgens, and 82 TA and an 86 TA. Both cars have the cloth interiors, both are original and both look like they day they came off of the assembly line. No fade, rot, or cracks anywhere. Of course one car has 25K actual miles on it and the other has 31 actual miles on it. Both are garage kept originals, and both have multiple first place show wins in the stock class. These cars do suffer from the typical 80’s cheapness that plagued all 80’s cars, however if they are well cared for they will last a long time.

    The leather optioned cars will deteriorate faster than the base cloth cars, and that may be the case? If the interior has been re-done back to factory specs, then no harm, no foul. If it has some sort of custom job, then you will probably take a hit on the resale, since the stock unmolested form of these cars are the only ones bringing the good resale prices.

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  15. Avatar photo DENIS

    Sand n buff paint and make a nice driver out of it. These were a helluva car with the Grand National motor and quick as hell…don’t spend a fortune-just have fun with it and leave it to me in your will….

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  16. Avatar photo HeadMaster1

    Dan, it’s a $13-17k car. Prices on ebay are what people want/wish they could get for them. These are rare cars, but they aren’t worth much (yet). I made nothing when I sold my mine, but I had a great time owning it….Depending on what else is in your herd, these are fun cars….

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  17. Avatar photo Dan

    It’s original leather just re done it seems. Thanks for all the replies! Not a lot of dollar figures thrown out though? Is 34k miles low enough or more driver status now?

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    • Avatar photo HeadMaster1

      34k miles is a collectible driver ;-) Low enough to be a special car, but high enough to be used and maintained (hopefully)…..We all know the cars with a couple hundred miles will never be drivers, and at 26years old 34k shows a car that was just a pleasure use vehicle. Obviously you found it in a just left in storage condition it seems. Hopefully you’re not into too far. Do you know what number it is of the 1551 produced? Do you have the “owners kit”? Those are items that add value to the car. you can PM me and we can chat about it if you like, as I did own one myself…..

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      • Avatar photo Dan

        Thank you Headmaster! :) I will shoot you an email soon.

        I have the original sales brochure, window sticker, PHS documentation and keychain. I am missing the owners kit though.

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  18. Avatar photo Dale

    These were special cars. They were the first car to pace Indy that required no further modifications to meet Indy’s requirements for speed/acceleration etc. Chevrolet had an internal memo to all selling dealers stating they were not to divulge the fact these were faster accelerating and higher top end than the flagship Corvette. It’s worth what someone will pay for it. Documentation certainly will help the value. If you’re going to keep it, value isn’t that critical anyway, is it?

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  19. Avatar photo Tom Neri

    This is my recent 1 owner Barn Find. Only registered in 89 and 90, then put away. 5,600 miles. This is a t top, cloth interior festival car. Number 33 .

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  20. Avatar photo Andrew

    Maybe my did might like it but he does not have enough money to buy the car unfortunately but over all it is an awesome car and me and my dad might love the car but then again we do not have enough money to buy it.😟😭😞

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