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Pro Street Past: 1980 Pontiac Sunbird

I don’t recall ever seeing a Pontiac Sunbird set up as a drag car, but here we are. This is a roller that was built to accommodate a small-block Chevy, which has since departed the chassis. The period graphics and faded paint make this Sunbird all sorts of old-school cool, and you can find it here on eBay with a $2,400 Buy-It-Now and the option to submit a best offer. 

The seller doesn’t elaborate on the Sunbird’s racing past, but the list of equipment indicates someone took their time at the drag strip seriously: full roll cage, fuel cell, ladder bar, Posi and a nine-inch rear end, Lakewood shocks, and a host of other “cost of entry” upgrades for building a competitive drag car. The tires are clearly vintage, so it’s doubtful this Sunbird has raced anytime recently.

Now, the tricky thing with old drag cars is they can sometimes be built to just the very edge of what’s necessary to compete. The torn up interior, missing dash, scattered wiring and very basic driver’s seat all may cast doubt that this Sunbird was ever built to be anything more than a cheap ticket to the drag strip. Then again, with the engine removed, it may have become a quasi-parts car in the years it wasn’t racing on the weekends.

Overall, I think most of us would agree that drag racers wearing their in-period livery are immensely attractive as cars to restore mechanically and leave untouched cosmetically. It gets even more interesting when the vehicle in question is a model not often seen done up for the 1/4 mile, such as an economy-box Sunbird. The price seems fair for a roller; do any of you have an SBC ready to drop in?


  1. edh

    Hell yeah!

    I’d hit the streets in that ugly beast.

  2. Madmatt

    I would like to see a Pontiac v8 powerplant,…
    but I have a 1967 -283 block that would make this
    quite the around town – light 2 light screamer…..I love
    period drag cars,especially strange ones
    ,and would try to leave outside alone,
    at least for awhile,….until everybody in our small town
    knew it was me , making all that noise..!then i’d have to move…LOL

  3. Steve R

    It’s not worth the money. It’s a used up old race car that only a beginner with stars in their eyes might try and tackle. Competitive turn key race cars can be found for around $10,000, grudge night bombers are even less. This car is even too expensive to be a viable parts car. It’s also too new and bland to make an interesting nostalgia race car. It’s a loser all the way down the line.

    Steve R

  4. Dennis Leask

    I went to high school with a guy who shoehorned a 455 rocket into one of these and other than a hole cut out of the hood for the air cleaner it looked stock, surprised a lot of Mustangs and was VERY hard on tires (and windshields until he put in posi).


    A 283 with Vortec heads, intake etc. would make this fast enough to have fun with on the street but not so fast to get in big trouble with.

  6. Metoo

    Visually speaking, allow me to quote Bart Simpson. “It’s Craptastic!”

  7. Dt1

    Maybe the sunbird been sitting in the Sun too long

  8. JW

    For $2400 bucks I would drop in Pontiac’s 389 / 4 speed, get the interior decent, get a nicer looking hood then paint hood & trunk lid to match the rest of the car and drive to cruise nights at our local AutoZone.

  9. Classic Steel

    Throw the sunfish back is not a keeper!

  10. Steve

    I wonder if Richard Rawlings from Ass Monkey Garage has seen it. It already has his tag line on the door! Whoo!


    First thing will be to cut out that roll cage. Look at the trunk shots on ebay ad. Not done properly.

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