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Turbocharged Convertible: 1981 Pontiac Trans Am

This 1981 Pontiac Trans Am Turbo is one of the relatively few examples wherein a Pontiac customer chose to have it sent to an aftermarket vendor to convert it to a droptop. This example is not only rare for the soft top option but also for its paint code, as the seller notes it’s a rarely-seen shade known as “Montreux Maroon”, a color that certainly seems somewhat obscure compared to other GM colors of the era, especially among Trans Am models. This car sports the somewhat unloved turbocharged 4.9 V8, which is numbers matching and still has the “turbocharged” meter in the hood scoop. Find it here on craigslist in South Florida for $42,500.

When it comes to aftermarket convertibles, many of us are leery about the end results. For one thing, the cars just usually look better if they come from the factory that way, and aftermarket companies don’t always have the resources at their disposal to make the structure as robust as the OEMs can. You see this no better than with aftermarket sunroof vendors, which don’t have the same kind of quality controls as a major manufacturer (some, not all). In the case of this Trans Am, however, I am pleasantly surprised by the end result. It looks pretty tidy, and a previous writeup on another one of these conversions noted that a company called American Convertible Corporation did the work.

The Firethorn Red interior is said to be all original, and man, does it look stunning. The cloth seats have not at all perished from years of sun exposure, and if that is in fact original upholstery, someone clearly loved this car. Of course, that much is likely obvious considering the first owner would have had to pony up a fair amount of cash by the standards of the day to buy not only a loaded Trans Am, but one that was then converted to a convertible. The dashboard shows no cracks, the door panels appear undamaged, and even the factory rubber floor mats appear to be in good shape.

Now, the 4.9L wasn’t exactly a home run. It promised much but didn’t deliver the kind of performance muscle car fans had come to expect from a car like the Trans Am. That said, the torque numbers were respectable, a positive side effect of turbocharging, but it didn’t do much to change the course of the 4.9L turbocharged from becoming much more than a curious footnote in the muscle car archives. The seller shares photos of the Trans Am riding on the original wheels that came on the car, which is how it will be delivered; he will sell that sweet staggered “Snowflakes” that it currently rides on for an additional price. Thanks to Barn Finds reader T.J. for the find.


  1. RoughDiamond Member

    While this is an awesome looking ’81 T/A convertible, I don’t think it will ever bring that amount of money with the 4.9L turbo motor. You cannot blame the Seller for trying to put additional money in his or her pocket, but I would rather see the car listed with a price that includes both the non-factory wheels on the car and the factory original wheels as well. IMO the original wheels look better anyway.

    Like 7
  2. Big Bear 🇺🇸

    That’s a cool looking TA! The 4.9 turbo can be work over to make some great horse power if you know how. I have mixed feelings about the snow flake wheels. They look good but the turbo rims look better. I wonder if the frame was reinforced and the dash area. With convertibles this needs to be done. Good luck to the next owner. 🐻🇺🇸

    Like 4
  3. W72WW3

    Can you say cowl flex? I can!!!

    Like 2
  4. Jim in FL

    This was on barnfinds a month or two ago, it’s near me. Cool car, not going to reiterate the other comments. Maybe the owner is broadening the reach.

  5. FireAxeGXP

    This IS barn finds dude. HelLO??

    • Jim in FL

      April 9, 2022 with the turbo wheels. Hello yourself, internet tough guy.

      Like 1
    • Jim in FL

      April 9, 2022. Uh duh.

      Like 2

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