V6 and a 4-Speed: 30K Mile ’78 Olds Starfire

It’s amazing to think how the second generation Starfire could be so different from its forebearer, but it also represented the time in which it was made. Fuel economy was suddenly top priority for the Big 3, and the Starfire and its Monza twin were the General’s answer to those pesky foreign imports. This 1978 Olds Starfire here on eBay sports less than 30,000 miles from new and is in excellent condition with the desirable manual transmission.

Both outside and in, the Starfire presents as you’d expect a low-mileage car to do. A great-looking cockpit with uncracked dash and seating surfaces, along with a dare-we-say sexy gear shift gives the impression of this being a far more sporting car than it actually is. Still, if you had to spec one of these out the best way possible, a manual transmission with the 3.8L Buick V6 would be the way to go.

The body presents well from stem to stern, with minimal blemishes to find as faults. There’s some paint cracking on the roof and a minor spot of bubbling, but we’re guessing its original home in Colorado means it spent plenty of time in the dry mountain air. Bumper trim is faded and the remnants of a bumper sticker can be seen on the left side, but these are incredibly minor faults.

The backseat appears practically unused, and the light tan carpets are unstained – an impressive feat in a modern car much less an economy car from the 1970s. The Starfire is a nice change of pace from the more common Monza, though both cars are becoming harder to find in clean condition. The seller has listed the Starfire at no reserve, and bidding is currently under $3K. At anything before $5K, this looks like a fun project to use and then move along when something more interesting appears.


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  1. Vegaman_Dan

    Had one, peppy, okay, reliable, but not exciting to drive. That body just does not excite a person.

    Go look at a Pontiac Sunbird coupe with same drive train. That can be fun.

    • DweezilAZ

      Just the combo Motor Trend had as a long term tester, Vegaman. Plus it got great fuel mileage for the period.

      That was one of GM’s better styled cars of the 70s, IMHO.

  2. Howard A Member

    My ex-wife had the V8 Monza equivalent to this, which was too much for this car. I always thought the V6 would make more sense, but I heard that wasn’t the case. This car was made when 55 was the speed limit, and 4 speeds were fine, but today, a 5 speed really would be the way to go. IDK about the mileage, doesn’t look clean enough, and without seeing the underside or engine, it’s hard to tell. Still, to see one at all like this, is truly amazing.

  3. Jay

    I owned the Buick Skyhawk version of this car, a 1976 model. It was fun to drive.

  4. Vince H

    When I was selling cars I had a 76 Monza with a 5speed as a demo. It was okay but with the 4 it was a fancy Vega. Before the Monza I had Vega the same color with a 4speed.

  5. mike D

    being from the Northeast, this looks like an excellent example, and I feel the 29K miles is accurate , I agree that the Buick turbo v/6 would be an excellent swap, with the 5 speed … fool everybody… stock mufflers which would quiet the ” rumble” then watch it, hot foot !!

  6. Francisco

    There’s just no way to get beyond that ’70’s American cheap plastic interior look.

  7. John C Cargill

    The only negative is that was an odd firing v6.

  8. 68 custom

    Well speaking as an owner of a 78 Monza with the 3.8 and a four speed while the engine had adequate power the clunky shifter and cable operated clutch made for a hard car to hot rod. when it the stars aligned and you were able to row through the gears quickly it did provide decent acceleration but it took a lot of skill. I did and still do like the looks of this body style though. the giant rear hatch was also cumbersome and squeaked alot on most any road but they are decent looking cars.

    • Sam

      I like these as well. One neighbor had a yellow Monza with a 350…another had the “notch” roof with vinyl top snd 4 banger.

      What if GM had a wagon/kamback version of this…think Volvo…would be a classic!

      • Mike H. Mike H

        GM did offer a wagon version of this. The Chevrolet Monza, Oldsmobile Starfire, and the Pontiac Sunbird/Astre were all based on the Chevrolet Vega, and in the early years the Monza was sold as a wagon/Kammback. Really poor sellers, which is why you rarely see them.

    • DweezilAZ

      68 Custom: that is exactly what Motor Trend found in it’s long term Pontiac Sunbird coupe test. The shifter let it down.

  9. Rustytech Member

    I like this little car, unlike most of the boxey cars available in the 70’s, these still look stylish today. It wasn’t many years before this that everyone one was clambering for a 4 speed. Now suddenly that’s not good enough? Was the shifter a little clunky? Yes. But that’s what made them fun. In my opinion today’s cars are too easy, it doesn’t take any skill to drive them. Personally I would be proud to drive this thing.

  10. ROTAG999

    This is the even fire V-6 (1977and up) that 5 speed is light duty the saginaw 4 speed is a much stronger unit.

  11. stillrunners lawrence Member

    like…..the 32 of that decade…….

  12. DRH

    This is my listing. Thanks for the notice! Correct year is 1976 however.

    Like 1
  13. Alan Wilcox

    That’s not a 1978. It’s a 1975 or 1976. Wrong front end for a ’78.

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