Rare Project Car: 1981 Pontiac Turbo Formula

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This 1981 Pontiac Turbo Formula is located in Alpine, California near San Diego but apparently spent some of its life in Virginia. This Formula represents that last year of the 2nd generation Firebird body style and very few Turbo Formulas were built and sold in 1981. There is less than 16 hours left in the auction for this rare bird and the car is currently bid to $2,150. The listing can be seen here on eBay and the car is definitely a project with over 120k miles.

The red interior shows that the car was equipped with a number of options when new include the deluxe velour interior. Surprisingly the car has a large clock instead of a tachometer which we are used to seeing in comparably equipped Trans Ams. The seats and door panels are dirty but not torn up. The console will need to be cleaned and redyed as it is starting to get a white chalky film on it. The car is equipped with air conditioning, cruise control, power windows, power locks and still has the original AM/FM cassette player installed in the dash.

While there are no pictures of the engine, the Formula was optioned with the turbocharged 301 cubic inch V8 engine. In 1981, Pontiac rated this engine at 200 horsepower which was down from 210 horsepower in 1980. Subsequent dyno tests indicate that both these ratings were generous. This car is also optioned with the famous WS6 performance suspension package. This package came with 15×8 aluminum, special shocks, and larger sway bars.

The exterior of the black Formula is in poor condition. The car was parked in 1991 because the engine was smoking. The transmission was rebuilt many years ago but it has sat a long time. This Formula is going to need some work and while the market for these cars is improving, it might be a labor of love to get this car back on the road. TTA Performance specializes in rebuilding Turbo Trans Ams/Formulas and improving their performance. One of their latest modified Turbo Trans Ams ran a 13.8 at the strip.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Vin_in_NJ

    The plate sums it up PoniYAK

    Like 6
  2. ACZ

    Good luck finding a replacement turbo or center rotating assembly.

    Like 0
  3. Bultaco

    A friend who worked for GM had a new one of these but it was the Trans Am version. It was very nice but just painfully slow. Depending on whether an original turbo will have any future value, I’d think about putting a nicely built Pontiac 400 or 455 in this car.

    Like 0
  4. bry593

    It is quite rare. This is only the second one I’ve ever seen for sale. Anyone know the production numbers?

    Like 1
  5. Turbo

    rare and desirable are two different things. some cars are both…..this car is one of the two different things

    Like 0
  6. PRA4SNW

    SOLD for $3,050.

    Like 1

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