Daytona 500 Tribute: 1983 Pontiac Trans Am

Domestic muscle in the early 1980s was somewhat of an oxymoron, and bright spots hard to find. This 1983 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am is a reminder that any “performance” car from the Big 3 capable of knocking of 0-60 in under ten seconds was worthy of celebration. This car is part of a limited production release of a special commemorative edition recognizing the company’s long-term tenure as the pace car of the Daytona 500. Find it here on eBay with an opening bid of $1,855.

Total production of these tribute cars was around 2,500, so they don’t pop up all that often. Rarer still is the manual transmission-equipped model, of which only about 500 were reported made. The other add-ons for the Daytona 500 models included a set of ground effects, finned “Turbo-style” wheels, a Recaro interior, the WS6 suspension, and two engine options.

The Recaro interior has seen better days, but I’m fairly confident this style seat did duty in other domestics; you could certainly find a seat similar enough in style to fool most onlookers if the cost to reupholster proved prohibitive. The Trans Am’s location in California suggests the damage we see here has been caused by the sun pouring in through the T-top roof panels.

This example is fitted with the “Crossfire” 305, which means this example comes with the quicker of the two engine options (as tested by Autoweek when new.) The seller says the Pontiac will start up and run and that the automatic transmission also works well; however, you’ll need to grab some new vacuum lines to get idle to settle down. Seems cheap enough to me.



    Putting out garbage like this starting in the 80’s…is the reason Pontiac is no longer with us.It’s like GM went out and found Russian designers…and let them loose on that 1st gen CAD software.Not even gonna get into the choked-off horsepower situation.

    Like 5
    • Dave

      Beginning with the 1972 model cars, performance was no longer a sales tool. First gen CAD software gave us the music video for “Money for Nothing” and led to today’s CGI movies.

      Like 7
    • Mike leyshon

      The reason why Pontiac and Olds are no longer with us is simply because GM was building too many of the same cars under different brand names. Essentially competing against itself.

      Buick Skylark, Olds Cutlass, Chevy Malibu, Pontiac Le’Mans…

      Ford no longer has Mercury
      Chrysler no Plymouth brand.

      Is what it is…

      Like 6
  2. TimS Member

    I like these, but then I like all Firebirds/Trans Ams. In this case one that’s already sorted is preferable to a project.

    Like 4
  3. Rosco

    Nice looking when new, but you would spend more making this a nice, presentable driver than it will ever be worth. As far as the previous comment regarding the “choked-off horsepower situation”, were there any high horsepower cars built in the U.S. in ’83?

    Like 4
    • Mike leyshon

      All relative for the time. Liked the GM look of Camaro/Vette and Firebird. The 5.0 4bbl Ford Mustang/Mercury Capri kicked the stuffing out of them !

      Like 3
      • Capriest

        Yeah, I’ll take my 83 capri rs over this any day. Pontiac didn’t get the look right on the 3rd gen till 85-86. The 82-84 just always looked whack to me. Whereas with the camaro you can barely tell the difference 82-90.

  4. irocrobb

    Bash Pontiac all you want. In 40 years of driving I have owned many Pontiacs and had great luck. I still think the 3800 6 cylinder was one of the best engines ever manufactured. I had 3 with over 200,000 miles with no major problems.
    I think these years of Trans Ams are better to be bought in excellent shape as they are still reasonable and a person can get upside down pretty quick restoring one.

    Like 9
    • Jack M.

      I hate to be the one to have to break the news to you Rob, the 3800 is a Buick engine used in a number of different GM vehicles. Those wheel covers were nicknamed bowling ball covers. Most owners tossed them within the 1st year. The finned wheel underneath them looks much better on it’s own.

      Like 7
  5. Brian Scott

    A buddy’s dad had one of these with the 5.0L in ’85, and he kept talking smack about how fast it was. Keep in mind that back then, there wasn’t much to compete with because things like the Hurst Olds and Mustang 5.0L were comfortably under 200 hp. But I told him there was zero chance he could take my Rabbit GTI on the 10 mi. canyon roads. It wasn’t much more than a half mile before he was out of view in my rearview mirror. Gone. All whopping 90 hp of bunny power ruled the day!

  6. stillrunners stillrunners Member

    Still – in the day – these were chick magnets….what did they know….and still the style was good against most…..power wasn’t so much an issue after another gas crises.

  7. JDSport

    It’s funny how many slam the American car companies in this era. I understand that it was a pitiful time for american cars, but when I think back at what the rest of the world was putting out there…Oh wait…those cars cars were so bad that I can barely think of one interesting enough to mention!

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