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Restomod Beauty: 1980 Pontiac Trans Am Firebird

I’m not much one for $40,000 anything but I’ll make an exception for this 198o Pontiac Trans Am. And dare I say, it’s worth every penny? 1980 was the year Smokey and the Bandit had to use nitrous oxide to get the declining performance of Pontiac’s iconic muscle car up to where it needed to be because a turbocharged 301 certainly wasn’t going to cut it. That’s why this seller has opted to take the shorter path to 500 horsepower, courtesy of a 5.3 liter LS swap. That’s one of several upgrades the seller has made to create a gorgeous example of a Trans Am restomod. Find it here on craigslist in South Carolina for $42,900.

If I were to own a Trans Am of this generation, the first thing I’m doing is lowering it and buying these wheels. These are the oversized “Snowflake” wheels, designed to look like the original rolling stock that the Trans Am came with but in a size that’s much more appropriate for the era we find ourselves in. In the case of the Trans Am, the manufacturers got the specs absolutely perfect, because these wheels always look killer, no matter how ratty the car is. This one is not ratty, and it features working air conditioning and a 10-bolt rear end. The rear window louvers are quite period-correct.

Inside, the Trans Am features stock bucket seats in very good condition and what appears to be a crack-free dash. The door panels present well, but perhaps the most pleasing sight to behold is that T-56 six-speed manual conversion (this guy thought of everything.) The interior also features working air conditioning courtesy of Vintage Air, along with a custom center console, Dakota gauges, power windows and steering, tilt wheel, and a T-top roof freshened up with new seals and weatherstripping. Overall, there’s very little to complain about anywhere on the car, and the claims of low mileage of just over 46,000 seem validated by the car’s impressive cosmetic condition.

The heart of the beast is not an uncommon swap, but the seller has been quite thorough in his approach to vanquishing all memories of the malaise era Trans Am. In addition to the LS swap, the Trans Am also features long tube headers and an aluminum radiator and was tuned by DBR High Performance in Nashville, TN, to get even more power out of the tunable V8. The installation is quite clean, and in my opinion, the work was done to such a level that you could almost call it OEM-plus. The modifications are all a bit under the radar, aside from the wheels and the stance, and someone will gladly fork over the cash to be able to walk out to the garage and stare at this every day. Would you?


  1. Avatar photo Sam61

    Nice but it needs pin-stripe tape like the black/gold version.

    Black pin-stripe around: wheel openings, side scoops, t-tops, mirrors, rear wing, front air dam, headlights, etc, ect…..

    Like 7
  2. Avatar photo Jrdturbo

    Nice but any T/A enthusiast who knows his/her stuff will quickly see that the interior is a mish-mash: it has the base level door panels with the custom trim (optional) seats. A short cut that’s unforgivable in a $40k car.

    Like 8
    • Avatar photo JoeMac

      True, but nothing else is original on this car. Everything is a mish-mash. My guess regarding the price tag is the seller here is trying to recoup his / her drivetrain expenses. You’re not paying for originality here.

      Like 3
      • Avatar photo bry593

        I think the purple seats are a nice contrast….. \sarc

        Like 0
  3. Avatar photo JoeNYWF64

    All that money spent & you still got that front end. It deserves a ’70-3 one or at least a ’77-78.
    This motor belongs in a Camaro. A pontiac deserves a built 400 & functional shaker.

    Like 9
    • Avatar photo bry593

      True. Not sure why a 327 is cooler than a 400 backed by a late model Tremec TKO 5-speed. At least, that’s how I would have done it. Quadrajet, factory intake, shaker and all.

      Like 1
  4. Avatar photo Erik

    Shame polluting the engine bay of a Pontiac with a Chevy engine. And yes, it was even wrong when they came from the factory that way. Plus, you don’t need to swap out the 301 to make power. The issues that hurt the performance originally have long been sorted out by knowledgeable enthusiasts. Modern gas making a huge difference.

    Like 6
  5. Avatar photo Jeff Boyd

    Couldn’t agree more with your comment regarding power plants JoeyNYWF64. LS motors are Chevy not Pontiac. That said, it’s got to be a hoot to drive!

    Like 4
  6. Avatar photo John Oliveri

    Nah, I’m a Pontiac purist, Butler racing builds phenomenal 455 Pontiac motors, death before a Chevy in my Pontiac, those guys with the new? Trans Ams, hate me, they try saying GM is GM corporate etc, when we were kids, a Pontiac had a Pontiac in it , and vice versa, Pontiac died when they stopped building their own motors, that’s why they are gone

    Like 3
    • Avatar photo bry593

      Yep, Pontiac and Olds both died due to redundancy.

      Like 1
      • Avatar photo JoeNYWF64

        Oddly, Buick didn’t – well not yet – care to speculate? Today i “would NOT really rather have a Buick”! & it’s even harder to believe there is no Monte, Malibu, Riviera, Regal or even ONE domestic entry level $20K 2 door car for single people! Imagine if the car companies tried to pull that stunt of 4 door only/expensive-only loaded with options in the 60s/ridiculous “choice of colors” – back when EVERY SINGLE vehicle was avail as a 2 door!, including Blazers, Broncos, Caddies, etc., not to mention countless body variation/option combos/15 or more exterior color choices – even on the cheapest cars!!

        Like 1
  7. Avatar photo t-bone BOB

    Located in Greenville, SC

    Like 0

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