Parked In 1991: 1981 Pontiac Trans Am Turbo

For its tenth birthday, this 1981 Pontiac Trans Am Turbo was parked on a concrete driveway, and that is where it sat until very recently. That has given it 28-years to develop a weathered look, but it appears that it may have avoided the rust issues that can plague these cars. It is located in Diamond, Ohio, and is listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding on the Trans Am has now reached $4,150, but the reserve hasn’t been met.

As you can see, decades of exposure to the elements has taken a toll on the paint. This is especially true of the paint on the external plastic components and the horizontal surfaces such as the hood and trunk lid. The Pontiac features a glass T-Top, and it would appear that this has not leaked in all of this time. Still, I would be inclined to check the seals, because now that the top has been disturbed, that’s a real recipe for leaking problems. The original Turbo wheels are present, although the discoloration suggests that they would benefit from restoration.

The heart of the Trans Am was the turbocharged 301ci V8 engine, and this one is said to run okay. I always keep in the back of my mind the fact that this engine has been sitting for decades, so I would be very inclined to give it a thorough check before I drove it any distance. In particular, I would have someone who knows their stuff check the turbo and its bearings because turbo failure could be an expensive experience. Sending the turbo engine’s 200hp to the rear wheels is a TH350 automatic transmission, while the car also features power steering and 4-wheel power disc brakes. The current owner has managed to kick the Trans Am back into life, and he said that it drove well on its short trip around the block. As I said, I would be giving it a more thorough check before I drove it any distance.

The unrelenting sun has also taken its toll on the interior trim, so there is some work ahead for the next owner of the Trans Am. The dash pad has accumulated a great collection of cracks, while the seats would benefit from new covers. The carpet and door trims look like they would respond to a clean, while the original radio is missing from the dash. The car does come with a few nice features, including air conditioning, power windows, power locks, a tilt wheel, and a remote exterior mirror on the driver’s side.

When they were new, the Trans Am Turbo was a lucky-dip when it came to performance. Achieving consistency was difficult at that point in time, but technological improvements today can greatly assist in this area. These cars represent a true attempt by Pontiac to regain some of the performance that had been lost through tightening emission requirements. For this reason, they are a car that deserves some respect. That might also explain why values have begun to increase slowly but surely in recent years.


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  1. art

    “Run hard and put away wet.”
    Boggles the mind how some folks just give up on a car then park it to let it self destruct.

    Like 8
  2. Arthell64 Member

    If someone wanted a black trans am project that’s still complete and didn’t want to spend mega bucks buying the thing this car may work.

    Like 4
  3. Troy s

    That engine looks like loads of fun to work on.

    Like 1
    • Marko

      I can attest to that. Had to change the turbo on my 1980, at about 55.000 miles in 1988. What a knuckle buster. Almost bled to death.
      Front two spark plugs under the a/c compressor were pure joy too. Way easier to get at by taking the front right wheel off, and going thru the wheel well, than taking off the crossover pipe and doing them from the top.

      Like 3
      • JoeNYWF64

        What if the turbo was still good, but the passenger side valve cover gasket was leaking? lol
        Could even changing the pcv valve here be a nitemare?
        I can’t believe they sold even 1 of these after a test drive & after looking under the hood – especially if one owned an earlier bird with no a/c, no turbo & no air pump. Plus they MADE you buy a/c with this engine.

        Like 1
  4. LARRY

    I’d love to have it and it doesn’t look too bad…and the turbo 301 wasn’t very hard to work on or make decent power. It didn’t have much boost from the factory but that’s a fairly easy fix

    Like 1
  5. UK Paul 🇬🇧

    I want something like this. Bad timing right now, but soon I hope.

    Like 1
  6. 86_Vette_Convertible

    Maybe it’s just me but sure looks like the trunk lid is buggered up, bent on both sides.

    Like 6
  7. Desert rat

    Ok, with all the Firebirds listed lately, did I miss the memo about November being the official firebird month? Always thought November was turkey month…

    Like 5
  8. David Ulrey

    Not the worst I’d ever seen and almost bought one brand new, even had a willing co-signer, but I was young and the commitment of payments scared me. It honestly seems like the seller ought to take the bid that was mentioned and call it a good day.

  9. TimM

    I drove one of these when new backin the day!! It was tons of fun and pretty quick!!

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