Turbo Coupe: 1980 Pontiac Trans Am Pace Car

This Pontiac Trans Am Turbo Pace Car is said to be one of 5,700 made. Recently removed from storage, it shows signs of rust and a very tired interior, but is claimed to be numbers matching and a running/driving example. The turbocharged mill has always been a bit of a redheaded stepchild in the Trans Am family tree, but it still looks killer on those finned Turbo wheels. Find the Trans Am here on eBay with a $6,500 Buy-It-Now or the option to submit a best offer.

Body damage is evident on the passenger rear quarter, and there is rust visible inside the back corners of the door jambs on both sides. The rear window louvers are a must-have for a Trans Am made during the Bandit era, but the rear spoiler is cracked and missing and the taillight panel damaged. The original graphics are faded but still present; the 1980 models are famous for receiving only minor modifications before pacing the Indy 500 field.

Inside is where the car begins to emerge as a bigger project, with moldy seats, cracked dash pad and sagging door panels. The seats are fairly tattered as well, but I’d take this as an excuse to upgrade to the OEM Recaro interior. 1980 models were standard automatics as manual transmissions weren’t offered on any of the 1980 Trans Ams. Surprisingly, the back seat is just as soiled and tired as the front seats.

The turbocharged (but not intercooled) 4.9L V8 put out a paltry 210 b.h.p. but did crank up good torque numbers, rated at 345 lb. ft. at a low 2,000 RPMs. This era of Trans Am has always had a hard time winning over enthusiasts with its restrictive emissions equipment and unconventional turbocharged recipe. The Pace Car example seen here needs almost every box checked, from rust repair to a brake job, as recommended by the seller. Still – it’s hard to find this much cool for less than $10K.


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  1. Metoo

    Wow! There are another 6,999 that are just as ugly?

  2. Henry Drake

    Cut the price in half, then maybe. That thing is ragged out.

    • Gregwnc

      Agreed. Too many decent examples out there for under 20k. Decent, not concourse. At 3k, you’d have to put another 15k in it, and that’s conservative. Been down that road too many times.Nope.

  3. Beatnik Bedouin

    I remember a jerk who turned up at one of the late Tom Senter’s annual BBQs in one of these when the car was new.

    He tried to impress everyone by attempting a huge burnout when he left, but the car couldn’t break traction. Needless to say, we were all unimpressed by both the lack of performance on the part of the T/A and the attitude of its owner.

  4. Vegas Vic

    Decent body style, nifty wheels, fun interior, good braking and slow, slow, slow…. canceling out those goodies

  5. JW

    This is a sad example of a Pace Car. It was driven hard and put away wet.

  6. ccrvtt

    One of my all-time favorite cars, but this one’s trashed. Have to agree with Beatnik Bedouin’s assessment of the typical Trans Am drivers of the era.

    Come to think of it, maybe I WAS that guy…

    • Beatnik Bedouin

      Were you a friend of Tom’s, ccrvtt? Those BBQs used to attract some amazing folk.

  7. Curt k

    Its looks like it had an engine fire at one time.just the way the paint is gone and rusted just over the carb..or maybe its just me..

  8. Mike B

    Passed for cool in the Malaise Years.

  9. Mark B

    Not worthy of a total resto and I’m a Firebird guy

  10. Adam T45 Staff

    I tend to agree with Curt K that there are indications of an engine fire on this one. There are some nice parts to be salvaged from this, but not enough to justify the price. Those wheels are a case of an item that encompasses both form and function. Not only do they look nice, but they were originally designed to extract hot air from the brakes to improve stopping power.

  11. Fiete T.

    Still ugly

  12. elrod

    Unfortunately, these were sad versions of a once attractive design. With age, they are – even sadder. A highly original model may attract some attention because they are “old” or “sporty”, but they were a yawn when new, and as a clapped out wreck, will need another 50 years before anyone deems them worthy. RIP Pontiac – It was great once…

  13. Classic Steel

    Wow, I thought Burt R. was still on the wagon but man this bandit must of ran blocker for an angry trucker that kept hitting the TA for going to Slow and swerving all over the road ! 🤣

  14. irocrobb

    When I was buying these cars in the 90s this one would of been for parts and a maximum 500 dollars

  15. Dt1

    What a mess

  16. Dovi65

    Very typical of 80s styling; a lot of added-on plastic body mods. Lots of ‘show’, very little ‘go’. Still … I can look past all that plastic, and the tired body and see a nice vintage cruiser. $6500 is hopelessly optimistic. Ask $3500, settle for $2500

  17. jaymes

    wow, undeserving owner

  18. carsofchaos

    Somebody bought it. I test drove one of these way back in 2001 when I was trying to find a car I could drive cross country (yeah…I know…but I’m like that…I ended up with a 67 Plymouth Belvedere). Anyway, I thought it was a kind of cool car, definitely different. But then it started overheating. Badly. So I had to pass.

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