Rare Bird: 1980 Pontiac Firebird Yellow Bird

Pontiac’s “color Bird” series, and especially its final version, the Yellow Bird, was firmly aimed at the female segment of the potential buyer market. This is not a claim that I make simply as a writer, but is one that is backed by Pontiac’s own internal Sales Information Bulletins, which are now available to view by the general public. The biggest problem with the Yellow Bird, and it is a common trait that is shared by the previous Sky Bird and Red Bird, is that no-one knows exactly how many cars were actually produced. However, numerous sources do agree that the Yellow Bird had by far the lowest total. This Yellow Bird is a tidy and clean example, and it is a car that is looking for a new home. Located in Hauppauge, New York, it has been listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding on the Pontiac has reached $5,100, and with the reserve now met, it is a classic that is set to head to that new home.

We’ve all heard those tired old stories about classic cars that have only had one elderly lady owner, and many of these turn out to be tales of the tallest variety. It seems that the claim might actually be true for this Firebird. The original owner purchased the car new in 1980, at the age of 61-years. She owned and used the car right through until she passed away in 2004, at which time it came into the possession of its current owner. The original owner had a very unusual and distinctive name, and this appears on the original dealer Bill of Sale that is included with the car. The current owner says that it is merely a matter of typing her name into Google to verify her details, which provides a solid link to the Pontiac. Anyway, back to the car. The Yellow Bird was a UPC (Code W73) option available exclusively on the Firebird Esprit. It featured a distinctive two-tone Yellow paint scheme, along with color-coded Snowflake wheels. One of the most distinctive visual features was the tail-light treatment. The lenses were blacked-out and featured Yellow horizontal highlights. All of those features remain intact on this “Bird,” although it has received a repaint in its original colors under the stewardship of the current owner. In addition, all of the original stripes and graphics were replaced, and the car now presents extremely well. Those graphics are interesting in themselves because while the car features a bird on each of the rear roof pillars, they are not the iconic Screaming Chicken. Pontiac commissioned a new version for the “color Birds,” and this is of a far softer design that they felt would appeal more to their female customer base. If you look through the gallery at the bottom of this article, you will see an example of this.

The interior of the Yellow Bird was available in any color that you liked…along as it was Camel Tan. However, potential owners could choose whether the seats were upholstered in vinyl or cloth. Given the fact that cloth added a mere $45 to the cost of the package, that is what most buyers chose. Other distinctive features included the gold machine-turned instrument bezel which as borrowed from the Trans Am Special Edition, along with the matching shifter plate. Initially, the wheel was a Tan item complete with gold spokes. However, with Pontiac discontinuing the gold-spoked wheel from November 20th, 1979, later cars utilized the Tan wheel with Black spokes. The interior of the Firebird is generally very good, with only some very minor wear and discoloring showing on the front seats themselves. The remaining trim is in nearly flawless condition. Thankfully, it does remain completely original, which means that the factory stereo AM/FM radio still occupies its rightful spot in the dash. Apart from the radio, the only optional extra fitted to this car is air conditioning, but that’s a pretty nice option to have.

The vast majority of Yellow Birds came equipped with the 3.8-liter V6 under the hood, so it is a pleasant surprise to find that this one features the 301ci V8. The rest of the drivetrain includes a 3-speed automatic transmission, power steering, and power brakes. Producing 150hp, this motor provided a useful performance gain over the V6, but the Firebird was still no fireball. However, this car is numbers-matching, and apart from a recent rebuild of the original carburetor, it remains well maintained, but largely untouched. The owner says that the Yellow Bird runs and drives nicely, with the transmission shifting smoothly. He also claims that the vehicle has covered a genuine 44,000 miles, but doesn’t indicate what evidence he may hold to verify this. One thing that I will say is that I find the presentation of the engine bay to be quite disappointing. I am aware that this is a 40-year-old car, but I expected better from a low-mileage example such as this. I’m also a bit worried about what looks like yellow overspray in spots, which gives the impression that the painter wasn’t that careful in his masking before applying the new paint.

For someone hunting for a Firebird, but looking for something a bit different to a Trans Am, this 1980 Yellow Bird might be a pretty decent sort of option. The car is a relatively rare beast, but just how rare remains an unknown factor. Placing a value on a Yellow Bird can be quite difficult because they simply don’t come onto the market that often. However, a good guide is that a Yellow Bird will generally command a premium of between 5% and 10% over a similarly-equipped standard Firebird Esprit. That means that figures of between $15,000 and $20,000 are generally in the ballpark. I would expect that this one might sell for somewhere in the upper reaches of that price bracket, but if a buyer can secure it for less, then it might be a pretty fair buy.

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Comments

  1. Vin_in_NJ

    Rear spoiler must have been an option. All of the “Color Birds” I’ve seen had one.

    https://autopolis.wordpress.com/2013/03/30/1977-1980-pontiac-firebird-esprit-special-editions-birds-of-a-different-color/

    Like 2
    • Jack M.

      The rear spoiler was a $62.00 option on 1980 Camaros and Berlinettas. Firebirds were probably very similar.

      Like 5
  2. FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

    A clean car for sure but I just couldn’t live with that butt-ugly front end. The colors are attractive and the condition is outstanding but I wonder how much it will sell for considering it’s a “girl’s car.”

    Like 5
  3. jwzg

    Being a New York car, I’d be suspicious of rust, especially with a repaint. However, the car does appear to be straight and clean, and the interior is in remarkable shape for a 2nd gen F-Body.

    Verify the body condition, and it’s a very good deal at the reserve price.

    Like 5
    • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

      The sun shining on the passenger side seems to reveal some filler or repair to the back of the front fender, forward edge of the passenger door, and some work just behind the door. It may just be my old eyes. I wouldn’t be surprised as these areas received no rustproofing at the factory and Firebirds of this vintage often rusted in those exact places within a few years. I’d look in the trunk too.

      Like 1
      • Phil D

        The car appears to have been rustproofed by the dealer, which may have helped some, given that the vehicle has lived it’s life in the salt-happy northeast.

  4. AndyinMA

    Almost bought the light blue sky bird back in the day. Glad I didn’t.

  5. Marko

    In regards to production numbers being unavailable for the Color Birds, would Pontiac Historical Services, not have these records ?

    Not a lot of these around anymore. In the small town of just over 5000 people I lived in, there were at least 3 of these Firebirds, in town, and all were lady owned. And I even remember two of their names.

    Like 3
    • stan

      Marko, I own a Yellow Bird and PHS could not help very much, as I was told records for the Color Birds were not well kept.
      I am the second owner, mileage 43K. Mine does have the rear spolier along with rear window defogger, a/c, pb, ps. automatic, am/fm radio,pw, hidden radio ant, and snowflake yellow rims
      It may not be a T/A, but I like it just the same. Don’t see many Color Birds.

      • Jeff Diettert

        I also am a second owner of a yellowbird bought with 900+ miles. I have redone the car twice from front to rear inside out. I also have rear defrost and spoiler. I have seen docs.stating different numbers, but they made a few of them. No small block big block with pontiac, one size block. The 301 suffered in the valve train section but they still put a turbo on the TA 301. This car is a handling dream with the RTS.

  6. Steve

    Okay, so I’m slightly confused here. I took the seller’s advice and Googled this lady. She was living in West Virginia when she passed. The car is now in New York; BUT if you look at the eBay photos, it has New Hampshire plates on it. For a two-owner little old lady grocery car, that thing sure got around! Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lovely car and I’m sure it will make a great ride for someone, but I’d LOVE to see the paper trail with it!!

    Like 1
  7. Superdessucke

    This may be the first time I’ve heard “301 V-8” and “pleasant surprise” mentioned in the same sentence! But I guess appropriate if the other choice was the odd-fire 3.8 in this heavy car.

    Like 4
  8. J Paul Member

    This triggered a funny memory—these “Yellow Birds” were available as Florida rental cars when new, and my stepfather wound up getting one on a trip to visit my grandparents. As a seven year old kid, I thought that Firebird was so cool that I actually hand-washed it—a rental car, mind you!—every day in my grandparents’ driveway.

    I don’t feel the same way so many years later, but it’s cool to see.

    Like 3
  9. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Current bid of $5,300 sounds like a great deal.

    Like 1
  10. Cncbny

    One word critique…”Eeeeeewwww!”

  11. Jeff Diettert

    Yellowbird Esprit came with options like t-tops, spoilers,power windows,two configurations on dash setup,etc… I have had one for 40 years, orignally bought for my girlfriend turned wife. Since have added several cars to the collection but the yellowbird is special. It will be hard to part with it. Have added a 455 SD with drive train hp items,9″ rearend and complete interior redone. The interior is of special interest with the hobnail and machined dash. All original items have been saved and stored!

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