No Chicken Tax: 1981 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

It is both strange and kind of refreshing to see a Trans Am without a gigantic puking chicken on the hood. You can actually see the car instead of all the stuck on glitter. If you squint hard enough, you can almost make out what the designers intended in 1970 when this body style debuted. Find this clean, one owner 1981 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am here on craigslist in Fort Wayne, IN for $17,850.

Pretty cool to special order a car and keep it more than thirty-five years. This gentleman did it right: 305 Chevrolet V8 delete option, as opposed to a turbo or non-turbo Pontiac 301, four speed stick, cloth interior, great choice of blue on blue, rally wheels, no T-tops, wind up windows, tilt, AC, all the essentials without a lot of gingerbread. Maybe putting the time in to get what you want, as opposed to just picking a car on the lot, means you keep it longer? For some reason the AC isn’t hooked up and the car sports custom painted on pin stripes. Not a fan of either of those things but the overall condition makes up for those issues.

Said to run great, this was probably the fastest Trans Am you could buy in the last year for this body style. The turbo 4.9 only came in automatic and wasn’t known for winning any stop light battles. Owner states that only 3,500 were made with a 305 and a stick, and my research shows 7,038 T/As had the Chevy engine. Buyers overwhelmingly went for the turbo and non turbo Pontiac engine. Under the shaker hood, everything looks clean and orderly, and the AC compressor curiously still has a belt. Though a 305 won’t twitch like a 455, it’s still neat that this option box was ticked off since the 4.9 did not receive this set up.

Said to have some scratches and a ding or two, this Pontiac has aged well and doesn’t have fiberglass waviness like so many that were exposed to the elements. The interior looks brand new! I don’t see any stains, fading, or cracking. Might be a bit heavy on the Armor All, but I wouldn’t kick it out!  Not smoked in, never driven in winter, 43K miles, rust free, and not even a done up pace car or Bandit edition – just as refreshing as that blue paint. Owner states values are rising and he would be correct. I work as a contractor for a big auction house and a comparable Camaro doesn’t get nearly the interest or bids as a Firebird Trans Am. This one is on the cusp of store it away or take it to the streets. What would you do?


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  1. steve

    Very cool…..very cIean….I dig this car, BUT at 18K I feel they are off the mark, the market seems to be downish right now. at 12k it is a lock…… it home and max the credit cards out for a badd azz restomod with a high power modern engine, brakes, wheels, 4 link in the back. This car is cool………just needs to be a bit cooler

    • Scott Kosatka

      A nice car, but I’d rather have do many other cars.

  2. Rupert

    What kind of car guy mocks the Screaming Chicken?

    For shame!

    • T Mel

      A childish one?
      But I do like the way he assumes the Chevy engine is faster than the 4.9s w/out bothering to do any research or offer any actual performance numbers as evidence.
      Good write-up, real classy.

      • Steve R

        Does his analysis really matter, performance wise, both the 301 and the 305 were pigs. At least you could get a 4 speed with the 305 which dramatically improved the driving experience.

        Steve R

      • T Mel

        You could get a 4spd with the 301 as well. I’m not saying ones so much better than the other the writer is. I’m just saying he didn’t base that on anything or at least didn’t say what he based that on. Why make silly statements that aren’t based on anything? Yes that matters otherwise we’re just talking out of our rearends. What’s the point of that?

      • Will

        The 301 never came with a 4 speed. There were 2,866 305 4-speed cars made in 81. I have a car just like this except without the pinstripes and with turbo wheels

    • Rabbit

      I’ve always preferred the term “Belching Buzzard”. Not sure why…

      Like 1
      • LAB3

        “Choking chicken”

  3. jw454

    Very nice car. If I were in the market, this one would be on the short list. Nice colors.

  4. Teddy

    An LS engine swap attention to the suspension would make this a fine daily driver.

  5. craig m bryda

    Was deleting the screaming chicken an option ?

    • T Mel

      Yes you could delete bird or order sans bird on hood and it came rolled up in the trunk.

    • King Al

      I ordered both my 77 (400 – 4sp) and 79 (403 – auto) w/o the bird on hood. Very clean. Very sharp.

  6. Poncho pusher

    Pull the 305 shove a nice pontiac 400 or 455 with the man trans be a ton of fun

  7. JaxPontiacs

    That so called “puking chicken” is what sold thousands of these cars.
    And no deleting the bird was never an option.
    No such thing as ‘hood bird delete’

    • T Mel

      Sorry Jax, don’t mean to be one of those guys but I ordered mine that way it came rolled up in the trunk.

      • JaxPontiacs

        T Mel,

        I know. My mistake. Please read article in the Oct Smoke Signals on page 30.
        This tells of the story of our beloved ‘hood bird’.

    • DG

      Yes, the hood bird was never standard on TransAm. I think it was a $49 option that most ordered.

  8. Steve R

    Nice car. It does look better without the chicken on the hood. That being said, I’d have a hard time getting to $18,000 for a 305 car even though it’s a 4 speed. If it was a year or two earlier and had the Pontiac 400 and a 4 speed the asking price would be cheap. This is one of those cases where rare does not equate to added value.

    Steve R

  9. T Mel

    It’s a phoenix not a chicken, just sayin.

  10. RoKo

    I’m of the opinion that T/A decals are gaudy and reek of puffery. This is a really nice example of less being more.

  11. William

    Decent on gas,great looking car,perfect to show and drive for the next 20 or so summers

  12. Bo Darville

    In 1981, the way to go was with the 301 turbo. I just wish the turbo would have been available with the 4 speed. This car has no t-tops so it’s dead to me unless the owner let’s it go for about half the asking price. Also, the screaming or pukeing chicken stuff is getting old… the fire breathing phoenix is awesome and comands respect! Specially when it’s gold and placed on a black turbo hood. Check out my project…

  13. Bo Darville

    1981 Bandit

  14. Keith

    I have a car just like this in gray 79 with 400 6.6 in it if anyone needs parts to restore there’s . Factory 4speed ,tach ,big 10 posi rear end .

    • Joe

      Keith, are you saying that your gray 79 is a parts car?If so where are you located? Always looking for parts for my 79 red 400 with 4spd.
      Thanks Joe.

      • Keith

        Joe , yes my car is a parts car with a new rebuilt 400 engine , body panels are all in sealer primer , I have all flares , hood and scoop , lights , bumpers etc. North Carolina east coast .

    • Lildragon

      I Have a 400 swapped formula that desperately needs the 4- speed…

  15. gbvette62

    Nice TA, but personally I would prefer the “screaming chicken”, to the various stripes that have been added to that car’s bumpers, spoiler, body sides, etc.

    I’m a life long fan of the small block Chevy, but the 305 smog motor was not one of the better small blocks ever offered. The only advantage of the 305, over the two Pontiac 301’s, was that it could be ordered with a 4 speed (the 301’s required the automatic). Both 301’s produced more horse power and torque, than the 305, and even with an automatic behind it, the turbo 301, outran the 4 speed 305. It’s my understanding that the 301’s were dropped mid year, leaving the Chevy 305 as the only Trans Am engine available, for the latter half of 81 production.

    • T Mel

      Are you just referring to the ’81 model year? Because, one of my T/As was a ’79 with the 301 and 4spd.

  16. Superdessucke

    No t-tops too! Sweet. As to the 305, its at least an SBC. Throw in a cam and dual exhaust and it would be much peppier. Or throw in a 350 crate motor and really have a blast. I like this car (though I think the price is optimistic).

    • Butter

      L79 327/350 horse would be a perfect replacement
      Gives the Pontiac 400 fits

  17. Chuck

    Crate 350 and a ’70-73 endura bumper and matching hood and shaker and you’d be all set. It’s all bolt in so save the original parts for originality’s sake.

  18. Nova Scotian

    I prefer the blue hood decal. Nice car either way.

  19. Crazyhawk

    To me, this is a car you had to have some kind of direct connection with when they were newer to want one and pay that amount of money. I remember these being on every street corner and at least 2 or 3 in every trailer park in the 80s and 90s. Just can’t get excited about them. Better looking than a lot of cars though..

  20. JW

    I agree with the no decals as I like solid colors on my cars, it’s what’s under the hood that matters. I have a neighbor who bought a new 2008 Blue Shelby GT500 with stripe delete and the only way you knew it was a Shelby was the little Cobra emblems on the front fenders. He said he likes the sleeper look which is why we get along so well. I like the featured car and would like it more if the interior were black or white and the price was little lower.

  21. irocrobb

    I like it in blue with no dumb bird on the hood. Air cond and a 4 speed big bonus to me. In the 1980s the autotrader would have a couple trans ams on every page.

  22. JaxPontiacs

    T Mel,

    I know. My mistake. Please read article in the Oct Smoke Signals on page 30.
    This tells of the story of our beloved ‘hood bird’.

  23. Troy S

    Has a more serious look to it ,which I like, with out the hood decal even if it doesn’t have anything under the hood all that special. But it is true that all those boy racer graphics like the big hood decal are what sold them: the old rule “if you can’t make it go fast make it look fast”.

  24. Brian

    I had a 1979 Trans Am with the non-turbo 301and automatic transmission. Why he ordered it that way is beyond me. It was dark blue with the rally wheels.

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