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Up And Coming: 1985 Pontiac Trans AM

1985 Pontiac Trans AM

There are a few ’80s cars I’ve keenly been watching over the past couple years, as they have always interested me and I see them going up in value. While I’ve never really liked the looks of the ’80s Pontiac Firebirds, these cars have really been going up in value and I seem them being a future collectible. This ’85 Trans AM isn’t perfect, but has supposedly only seen 22k miles since new. The color combo is a bit unusual, but I think this one could grow on me. Those of us that only started driving in the last 20 years have fond memories of these cars, as they were cheap and relatively sporty. Sadly as a result, most of the ones that weren’t wrecked have been driven hard, modified and just plain abused. This one has some problems, but it doesn’t look to have ever been wrecked or modified. Find it here on eBay in Highland, California with an opening bid of $100.

1985 Pontiac Trans AM Interior

I’m going to guess the fact that this car is fitted with an automatic, one of the reasons it wasn’t too heavily abused. As you can see, the interior is looking sad. The front seats both need new upholstery and the dash cap has some cracks in it, which makes me believe the damage to the interior isn’t the result of a wild teenage driver, but the result of being left out in the heat or sun. The seller claims it’s a barn find, so it must have been one hot barn to make the seats come apart like this. Considering how popular these are starting to become, I’m sure finding new front upholstery will be an easy proposition. Now replacing the dash cap, might be a different problem.

1985 Pontiac Trans AM Engine

Under the hood looks clean, if not a little too clean. I think someone got a little crazy with the Armor All. It is a V8 car, but sadly it’s the 145 horsepower 305. The MSD sticker made me a bit nervous at first that someone has modified it, but then I realized the sticker says Heli Core which is the MSD brand of spark plug wires. I don’t see any signs of modification, but I do see enough hoses and wires to make anyone nervous.

1985 Pontiac Firebird Trans AM

While I’m sure there are other Trans Ams out there in better shape than this example, it has a lot going for it. Namely the price! If bidding stays reasonable, this could be a great buy. If it stays low enough, I could see this making an appearance at LeMons even! I would have to see it raced, but it would be the cheapest route! So do you guys see ’80s sports cars being the future barn finds we are all hunting for or do you think cars like this will be a short lived trend?


  1. RayT Member

    Firebirds — and other GM cars of this era — were, frankly, not very good. The engines were choked down to meet smog rules, so performance (especially with the auto. trans.) was not spectacular. Material and assembly quality were pretty poor as well.

    I drove several of these when they were new, and the only ones that came close to sparking my interest were the “Formulas” which were, essentially, stripped-down to the essentials (yes, I consider a/c “essential” and didn’t have the excessive body add-ons and interior trim.

    It was hard to muster up any enthusiasm even when I was PAID to. Wouldn’t even look at one now. Well, there was one: a Formula that had been massaged by GM engineers at their Arizona test facility before being sent to the press fleet. Several of us lined up to buy it when it was taken out of service. Rumor had it the car was crushed rather than passed to private hands, where it would have had to pass a smog check.

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  2. MountainMan

    A friend of mine had one of the Firebirds of this era with the GTA package. It had the cats removed and a aftermarket exhaust along with a few other mods. It was a fun car with the manual transmission and was reliable as a DD. That being said I’m not seeing much of a market for these but if I did want a Firebird of this era I don’t think this would be the one.

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  3. grant

    22k my butt.

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  4. Charles

    22K rough miles! It is probably more sun baked than anything else. Reproduction seat covers are $ 400.00. A dash pad will set you back from $200. 00 for a decent used one to $800.00 for a NOS part. Of course this one will need seat foam also. I have two of these, both low milage cream puffs. They are durable cars, and the sky is the limit for using one of these for the basis for a pro-touring, hot rod, drag car, or weekend cruiser. Aftermarket support is awesome.

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  5. Dan

    I have a 1990 IROC that I bought new, just turned 50,000 miles, yes the build quality was not the best and too much plastic, but mine has the 245 horse 350….it scoots along pretty good and I have owned a lot of old musclecars. No T-tops and I think the market is rising for good cars, I have had a few pretty tempting offers, but think I will let it go in the estate sale, unless someone makes a stupid offer….

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  6. Charles H.

    I thought by 1985 the 305 TPI, such as this one, had a little more than 145 HP?

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    • zipy

      They had 205 HP. Had one since new with 27000 original miles and still own it today. Rare Russet Metallic paint and interior.

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  7. Charles

    The 305 four barrel carb version developed 145 HP.

    TPI cars 190 HP with some variations making up to 210 HP.

    One of my cars has the 145HP version and the other has the 210 HP TPI engine. There is a huge difference in the performance of these two cars.

    If this car were not so far away, I would be interested in it, even if it were just to use it as a parts car.



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  8. Glen

    As older vehicles get more and more expensive, and harder to find, people will be forced to buy newer vehicles. Now is the time to buy, especially if it’s in good condition. Atleast that’s what I think.

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  9. the chucker

    The 20th Anniversary, ’89 Indy Pace Car Trans Am is the one to have. Yes, more money, but much more rare.

    This car earned every single one of those 22K miles.

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  10. Darren

    Pretty sure the tuned port 5.0 cars were 205hp. The picture of the engine bay shows a TPI engine not carb so should 205 hp not 145 . Agree with everyone else more like 122k with that interior looking the way it does. These cars were loads of fun to drive with great handling for the time period even if the were missing a little grunt!

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  11. piper62j

    ok…ok.. I’m not buying the mileage gig.. In addition, these particular models AND the Iroc Z of this year had electronic problems I.E. the engine quits for no reason.. GM could never figure it out. We had quite a few of these come in the dealership with performance and electrical problems.. Cracked dash boards and the lower valance panels cracking and falling off along with squeaks and rattles.

    I have to agree.. this is a low end beginner muscle car and IMHO worth about $1200 to $2200 bucks.. Parts are available….But it may not be worth much when finished.. Good daily driver..

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  12. kenzo

    why is this here….it is just another one of 10 thousand + + mediocre GM stuff. If it was a Barn
    ind the barn should have fallen in on this one….

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  13. Charles

    Many years later the bugs in the TPI cars have been worked out. With running issues, usually it is the 9th fuel injector which is used for cold starting. My 86 runs like a clock with 31K miles on it. The only part that has been replaced related to the fuel injection is the o2 sensor and air filter. Original plugs, wires, ignition parts all function well 29 years after the car was built. These cars don’t compare to 2016 technology, but for the time, they weren’t bad, and with the exception of some of the plastic are very durable. People are quick to criticize, however one needs to consider that these were the first American built production cars with electronic fuel injection. Everything on the road today are the results of years of research, and the 80’s cars were the prototypes.

    As for the seats rotted out, the sun is very unkind to the thin fabrics used on these models. I would have to access the car in person to decide if I will believe the 22K mileage claim. The 82’s had a 6 digit odometer, however the 83, some 84, and a few 85’s came with the five digit odometer. By 86 the six digit odometer became standard for the Firebird. The car sure looks well used up for 22K miles.

    It will be difficult for someone to purchase this car, restore it to factory specs and have any thing the resembles and investment. The original low mileage cars are the only thirdgen’s who’s values are increasing, and those cars are going through the roof. Restored cars and modified cars values remain flat, and considering that GM made 30 to 40K copies each year, that will not change soom.

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