Disco Dilemma: 1980 Pontiac Turbo Trans Am Indy 500 Pace Car Edition – SOLD!

by | Nov 2023 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Malaise Monday

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December 3, 2023, Update – We confirmed the seller of this “Classifind” deleted their listing, so we’re now able to call this one “SOLD!” While this one got away, please reach out either by email or call us directly if you’d like to be informed when we come across something similar.

November 17, 2023 Update – The seller of this 60K-Mile 1980 Pontiac Turbo Trans Am decided to replace their two-week-old Craigslist ad with a fresh listing.  The pictures, description, and asking price all remain the same.

For the 1980 model year, Pontiac marketers faced a dilemma with their strongest-selling model, the Firebird Trans Am.  For the three model years (1977-1979) prior, Trans Ams became wildly popular thanks to the Smoky and the Bandit movie franchise.  Before 1980, Pontiac offered its own 400 cubic inch V8 for 4-speed-equipped cars or a 403 cubic inch mill sourced from Oldsmobile for automatic examples.  While emissions controls lowered horsepower, these big block V8s still produced respectable torque.  The party ended after 1979 as both big block V8s went out of production.

In a desperate attempt to keep performance levels somewhat on par for 1980, Pontiac engineers developed a turbocharged version of the brand’s 301 cubic inch small block V8.  On paper, the 301 cubic inch turbo motor was on par with the outgoing big blocks, achieving 210 net horsepower and 345 lb-ft of torque. However, the Turbocharger didn’t kick in until higher in the rev range. Consequently, the 1980 Turbo Trans Am was slower off the line than the cars it replaced.

That didn’t stop Pontiac marketers from hyping the Turbo Trans Am.  Pontiac secured the coveted Indianapolis 500 pace car slot for 1980 and touted that their new 301 cubic inch turbocharged engine required only slight modifications for pace car use.  Not surprisingly, the ultimate Trans Am Turbo for 1980 was the Indianapolis 500 Pace Car replica. Pontiac originally planned to build 6,300 editions. However, slow sales cut the actual number to 5,700.

1980 Turbo Trans Am Pace Car replica are essentially a Trans Am with the turbo engine and every available Firebird option, including a T-top roof, air conditioning, limited-slip differential, white-painted alloy wheels, a whole load of convenience features, and the WS6 Performance Handling Package (which included four-wheel disc brakes and stiffer suspension components). Pace Car replicas were available only in Cameo White with gray accents and a unique hood decal even more dramatic than the normal Firebird’s.  The Pace Car carried a daunting $11,194 sticker price compared to the $7,529 base price of a regular Trans Am with the turbo engine.

This Cameo White 1980 Pontiac Turbo Trans Am Indy 500 Pace Car Replica for sale, last spotted in November 2023 on Craigslist in Bennett, Colorado, is one of the 5,700 examples produced. As is the case for many pace cars and special editions of the period, many buyers purchased the cars on speculation they would rise in value.  Consequently, most of the 5,700 examples produced remain survivor-quality cars with very low mileage.  With just a few ticks under 60K miles, this example is one of the highest mileage 1980 Indy Pace Car Replicas we have come across.

Last offered for $29,995, Classic.com, the analytics and search engine for the collector car market, confirms the ask is at the lower end of this guide’s six-month rolling results trend for all 1980 Pontiac Firebird Trans Ams sold at auction.  By clicking on the green dots in the graph below, you can get a sense of what comparable examples sold for recently:

As a second data point, the  Collector Car Market Review Online Tool reveals the seller’s ask falls between this guide’s #2 Very Good” estimate of $20,200 and its #1 “Excellent” appraisal of $30,800 before making adjustments for the optional turbocharged engine (10%), air conditioning (10%), power windows (3%), and T-Tops (15%).

The 1980 Pontiac Turbo Trans Am Indy 500 Pace Car Edition is an iconic American muscle car that pays homage to the rich history of the Indianapolis 500 race. This limited-edition Trans Am, known for its distinctive design, powerful performance, and exclusivity, holds a special place in the hearts of automotive enthusiasts and collectors. Let’s delve into the details of this remarkable vehicle and understand why it remains a symbol of speed and style.

The 1980 Pontiac Turbo Trans Am Indy 500 Pace Car Edition stands out for its unique appearance, capturing the essence of 1980s automotive design trends. It sports a stunning two-tone paint scheme featuring a white body with bold charcoal gray accents. The striking graphic design on the hood and sides pays homage to the Indy 500, highlighting its role as a pace car for the legendary race. A large bird decal, a signature feature of the Trans Am series, embellishes the hood, and “Turbo Trans Am” lettering adds a touch of class to the car’s overall look.

The vehicle’s T-top roof, a popular feature during the era, adds a sense of freedom and open-air driving that complements the spirited nature of the Trans Am. To complete the package, a set of alloy wheels with gold accents and Goodyear tires provide the necessary grip and a sporty touch. This combination of design elements makes the 1980 Pontiac Turbo Trans Am Indy 500 Pace Car Edition instantly recognizable and sets it apart from other muscle cars of the era.

Under the hood, this Trans Am edition boasts a powerful 4.9-liter turbocharged V8 engine, known for its ability to produce a significant amount of horsepower and torque. It was rated at 210 horsepower, but it’s important to note that this figure was likely conservative due to emissions and fuel economy considerations of the time. The true power of this engine is often estimated to be closer to 300 horsepower, making it one of the most potent engines of the era.

This high-performance engine is paired with a three-speed automatic transmission, which allows for smooth and effortless acceleration. The turbocharger provides that signature power surge when the driver demands it, ensuring exhilarating bursts of speed. The 1980 Pontiac Turbo Trans Am Indy 500 Pace Car Edition was capable of reaching 60 mph in just under 7 seconds, a remarkable feat for a car of its time.

The handling and suspension of the Turbo Trans Am are equally impressive. The car features a special WS6 handling package, which includes heavy-duty suspension components, wider tires, and sway bars. This results in precise and responsive steering, excellent grip in corners, and a smooth ride even on less-than-perfect road surfaces. The 1980 Trans Am delivers a balanced combination of power, control, and comfort that makes it a pleasure to drive.

Only 5,700 units of the 1980 Pontiac Turbo Trans Am Indy 500 Pace Car Edition were produced, adding to its exclusivity. This limited production run contributes to the vehicle’s desirability among collectors, and well-preserved examples can fetch a premium on the market. The historical significance of serving as the pace car for the Indianapolis 500 further elevates the car’s status and appeal.

In addition to its rarity, the 1980 Trans Am Pace Car Edition stands as a symbol of the era’s fascination with muscle cars and high-performance vehicles. This makes it a cherished piece of automotive history and a desirable addition to any collection of classic American cars.

The 1980 Pontiac Turbo Trans Am Indy 500 Pace Car Edition is a remarkable vehicle that combines striking design, powerful performance, and a sense of exclusivity. Its unique appearance, potent turbocharged V8 engine, and limited production run make it a timeless classic that continues to captivate the hearts of car enthusiasts and collectors alike. Whether on the open road or proudly displayed at automotive shows, this Trans Am serves as a symbol of speed, style, and the enduring appeal of American muscle cars.

The robotsea2009 YouTube Channel features this 1980 Pontiac commercial launching the new 4.9 Liter Turbo Trans Am:

With just a couple of clicks under 60,000 miles, this 1980 Pontiac Turbo Trans Am is a well-optioned classic preserved nicely and has all the proper documentation.  If you are willing to trade off having a screaming chicken on your car’s hood rather than the outright performance of Trans Am models just a few model years newer, then this may be the Pontiac for you.

If you are serious about buying this Turbo Trans Am, you can start the conversation by using the contact information provided by the seller in their Craigslist ad.  When you connect, please mention that you saw their Indy 500 Pace Car replica featured here on GuysWithRides.com. Good luck with the purchase!

Here’s the seller’s description:

“1980 Pontiac Turbo Trans Am Indianapolis 500 Pace Car Edition. This T/A is fully documented by its original build sheet and window sticker. There are only 59,978 actual miles. She is fully loaded with every factory option, including the very rare WS6 option and 4-wheel power disc brakes and T-tops. The original space saver spare tire and air pressure can are unused. This is the original #s matching V8 turbo,4 barrel carb, dual exhaust, automatic turbo 400 transmission. The grey-cloth interior is in awesome shape. The exterior is a sharp-looking gloss white with only a few chips. All the glass is in great shape. Tires and brakes are 80% plus. This very rare T/A is in fantastic condition, runs drives, and handles great. CALLS ONLY PLEASE!!!!

Show or go: what would you do with this 1980 Pontiac Turbo Trans Am Indy Pace Car Edition for sale? Please comment below and let us know!


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