Daytona 500 Edition: 1981 Pontiac Trans Am Turbo

This car represents the last of the 2nd generation Trans Ams. Pontiac built 2,000 Special Edition Daytona 500 Trans Am in 1981 that were fully loaded and came with the turbocharged 4.9 liter V8. This was the first turbo V8 engine produced by a US manufacturer and the Daytona 500 Edition Trans Am came with special graphics and paint. This particular example is being sold here on eBay and is bid to $11,200.

The car is reported to have 80,000 miles and is being sold by a dealer in Reno, Nevada. Besides having the top engine that was available, this car has the WS6 suspension that came with 4 wheel disc brakes from 1979-1981. The Daytona 500 Pace Cars were equipped with Recaro Seats and matching red and black rear seats with an embroidered firebird. This is the only 2nd generation Trans Am that came from the factory with Recaro Seats.

Pontiac always seemed to offer a more powerful engine and better handling suspension in the Trans Am as compared to Camaros and Mustangs in the same era.  The turbo 4.9 liter V8 was introduced in 1980 in Trans Ams and Formulas as the top performance motor option. While not as powerful on the drag strip as the 1979 Trans Am equipped with a 4 speed and W72 400 engine, the 1981 Trans Am was respectable.  It had an onboard computer and was rated at 200 hp and torque to 340 lb-ft. The base 4-bbl 4.9 liter V8 had only 150 horsepower.

The 4.9 liter V8 was the last Pontiac engine installed in Trans Ams before 1982 after which GM homogenized all engines between their divisions and some of the uniqueness of GMs brands faded away.  There are now some aftermarket shops building bigger turbo downpipes and other aftermarket parts to boost the performance of these old birds.  Could this be your next street machine?

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Comments

  1. Chebby Staff

    This car IS Reno Nevada.

    Like 8
    • Big_Fun Member

      Nice, Chebby! I would give you several thumbs up for your comment if I could…

      Like 3
  2. Steve R

    It may be nice, but it doesn’t seem to have much appeal. This is the 5th time the seller has listed it on eBay, in its previous auctions the high bids have been between $7,800 and $14,500, but has never met reserve.

    Steve R

    Like 6
  3. Tom L

    Not the first turbocharged engine by a North American manufacturer by a long shot . 1962-63 Oldsmobile F 85 Jetfire had a turbocharger long before 1981.

  4. Zapp

    Note that the ’62-’63 Oldsmobile Jetfire had a turbo V8.

    Still an intriguing car, though. These were a rare sight even when new.

    Like 2
  5. Otis

    Nice car and desirable. Seller just needs to save it until January and take it to AZ. There are better places than Ebay for selling these.

    Like 6
  6. W72

    Bid to $12,300. Reserve not met

  7. JoeNYWF64

    Would be a nightmare to change a valve cover gasket.

    Like 1
  8. Fran

    Was not the first. 1980 trans am Indy pace car was.

    Like 2
  9. Mike

    I’ve been looking for a hood for one of these for years! I don’t even need the whole hood. I just want to cut the scoop out of one and graft it on to another, non F-body project of mine.

  10. Erk

    Love it!

  11. George Mattar

    Turbo not the top engine in 81. chevy 305 available and a far better choice than a 301 boat anchor. Beautiful car. Junk engine.

  12. TimM

    A buddy of mine has one of these with that offset hood snorkel and it’s pretty cool except for the fact he has a 454 built to the hill in his!!!

  13. Jerry C

    I had a ’80 TA Indy Pace Car. It was a blast until the turbo went out. At the time I couldn’t afford to fix it, so my dad was able to bypass it. It was so gutless.

  14. Tom l

    Wrong. Oldsmobile had a turbocharged v8 in 1963/4.

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