Here’s Why the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am Turbo was Only Made for 2 Years

Here’s Why the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am Turbo was Only Made for 2 Years

it’s time for show-off Sunday, where
everyone has a chance to show off their own car and here’s this week’s winner,
hey everyone this is Mitch grooms you can find my YouTube channel
under my name, this is my all original 1981 special edition Firebird turbo Trans
Am 4.9, she is original and her name is actually patina 2, she does have patina,
I purchased her from the guy that purchased her from the original owner, is
sat outside till 2007 until 2014, I bought her home, got her
running and now she’s a daily driver she runs perfect, she’s not that pretty,
but let’s give it to the girl, she’s doing pretty good at this age all right so what you’re getting ready
to see is original documentation that the owner received when he purchased
the car in 1981, right there in the very top, you’ll see the build sheet, we had to
replace the gas tank had holes in it right there next is the famous
advertisement Pontiac did on this model my car should look like that, it doesn’t at this point, the other stuff is what you would receive when
purchasing this car, up next is the window sticker, it’s very rare to see a
window sticker that people still have this is what sold me on the car, without
this I wouldn’t have purchase this car, I love original, your only
original once keep that in mind, to me it don’t have to be pretty, I like
original stuff, people always say, oh it’s ugly it’s ugly, well you know what it is,
that’s all right this is still running, coming up you’re
going to see the whopping price of this car when purchased, the grand total when
purchased twelve thousand four hundred and sixty three dollars and twenty three
cents, that has a lot of money for 1981 special editions always come with gold
bezels, but the Sun is bleached all this out, they actually made a total of 3050
of these cars that’s it, very rare and so actually very rare to find one of
these cars with the original turbo 301 inside, they always were run hard and put
up wet, they didn’t last very long Pontiac only made turbos in the 1980 to
1981 two years only, no cars in 80-81 were fast, the EPA and the emissions just killed
these cars what Pontiac did is to get by this to,
had to make this car survive for another couple years so what they did is, they
were before their time, they did the turbo, not really knowing what they did
but it kind of worked, it kept the car very interesting and it helped sell
the car for the next two years, GM killed the important big engines in
1979, but it wasn’t Pontiacs fault, they were strangled by the
emissions, and they had no choice to just do this, they did the best they could the 301 turbo produced 200 horsepower
and 340 pound-feet of torque, this car gets a bad rap because everybody says, oh
my god the car is not fast, no cars were fast in 81, this was the top dog on
the market in 1980- 81 turbo Trans Am has really
been unfairly bashed by Pontiac enthusiasts and Pontiac collectors across
the world, these cars were top dog back then, finally they’re getting the
recognition that they deserve, the technology that Pontiac had at the time,
Pontiac actually stood up to the plate and took control, they did an incredible
job so guys stop the bashing of these cars,
these cars are really incredible, thanks again for your time, I appreciate you
taking a ride with me, look for me on YouTube thank you, well that was this week’s
video, and remember to have your car video highlighted here on my channel,
check this out, so if you never want to miss another one
of my new car repair videos, remember to ring that Bell!

About the Author: Michael Flood


  1. *Check out Mitch on his YouTube channel:

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  2. Hi Mr. Scotty. We're all wondering. Will they do anything about the Smog laws soon? Are they bringing back the rolling cutoff??

  3. I had a 1978 TransAm that made only 190 HP with a 6.6 liter engine.  I currently own a V-6 Mustang that makes 300 HP; my Mustang would drive circles around my TransAm

  4. It's a shame that GM killed Pontiac. They were putting out some really cool stuff before they shut down and sad part is that it was so the Chevy sports cars wouldn't have competition internally. Pontiac was making plans for a new firebird model based which traditionally would have same base/chassis as a Camaro but would have a much more aggressive sporty look. There are companies that do conversion body work that looks the same as the concepts. Really nice. Shame it didn't come out, I would get one.

  5. Pontiac and Ford was in front. They tried turbocharging. The others was not good enough to make it work. Today most cars are turbocharged. So a failure, i don´t think so.

  6. Hey Scotty,  William here, im the guy that just bought the 1980 C-3 Corvette, but the water pump is going up the fan is wobbling and I can hear the bearings rolling around in it, what do you think is a decent labor charge to put my new water pump on would be ? I called one guy he said $ 160.00 dollars but im going to supply the water pump and all the parts needed I just want him to put it on for me, ill supply everything he,ll need to do the job whats a good labor charge, I know I should do it and it wont cost me nothing except for the parts,lol I know you would put it on yourself, that's for sure, but I have spinal stenosis, and its super painful there goes that bell again,lol thanks Scotty , William

  7. Notice he didn't jump on it because…………..THEY WERE SLOW! Back in the day, even a 79 403 TA gave the impression you were moving out when you hit it………..The turbos…..not so much.

  8. Im from the state of Michigan where we have to deal with road salt, any old school with out rust is in immaculate condition.
    I think competition from Japanese Straight 6's have made Americans rethink their views on Forced induction

  9. Honestly GM could have had the 301 go the 231 V6 route and with that GM could dominated the turbo market and by the mid to late 80's been been kicking mercdes and BMW's asses with improved computer intetcooled V6's and V8's especially in a 81 Trans Am. Also with the improved tech aftermarket would taken off plus many owners would have just upgraded the the 80-81 Turbo Trans Am to really make power and unleash their full potential

  10. There was also a 1989 Turbo Trans Am.  It was also a limited run, and it was the 20th anniversary edition.  They gave it the 3.8 Turbo from a Buick Grand National.  it ran 13's in the 1/4 mile in stock form

  11. I had a friend in high school who got one of these for his graduation present. Blew his doors off with a stock F-100 six cylinder with 3 speed manual on the column. They sure looked good though.

  12. Patina? If you polish It will still be “original” paint. Do the car a favor and put a dual action buffer to your “patina”. That paint looks like hell.

  13. It's not original, it might be unrestored, but aint original. The car has been used and has a 35 years of wear & tear and is nothing like when it was bought original.
    This whole "original" misnomer is one of my pet peeves of the car hobby>
    Unrestored, Survivor- yes
    Original- NO! not even close.

  14. I have this same car, bought it back in "1989" for $4,500 completely stock.I spun a rod bearing racing it on the highway (the engine was nothing special) I pulled the 301 turbo and installed a 1968 RAM AIR III 400CI engine. The car flies now, I also changed out the 3:08 gears in the rear with a Richmond 3:90 posi and put a 2,800 torque converter in it with a ratchet shifter and rebuilt the turbo 350 trani. Its been sitting in my garage for nearly 23 years now. Had it out once in 2004 but it needed a carb rebuild. I hope to someday bring the old girl back on the road.

  15. Thanks for saving this Trans-Am,and not letting it rot! I own a (darn near MINT) 1979 Solar Gold T/A with a 301 in it. It may not be the FASTEST car on the road,but I LOVE IT! I think your Turbo T/A is AWESOME! If you ever want to sell it….look me up! This car would be AMAZING completely restored. 😎

  16. van Nuys cars were junk bud it being sold in michigan it should have come out of Norwood. ohio the home of the camaro I remember now they had to shut down six months the 82 models were started in June and they closed and January and they reopen I believe it was mayonnaise started producing them in June for the 82 model year in 1981 so fantastic over all the production that's right I remember that now my bad Norwood built 90% of all Camaro production throughout the years Van Nuys was a s*** plant build s*** cars though

  17. "You're only original once. You don't have to be pretty". Yep…that's what I tell myself as I go to sleep at night.

  18. I L O V E this Cars.
    But serious Question. Was it really nessesery to put a Turbo on a 5.0 Engine to get 200HP out of it ???

  19. Turbo technology must have really sucked back then . My ecoboost V6 F150 would easily out run that car .

  20. The 2nd gen were the best handling cars ever built, I had a 75 Formula 350, and a 80 TA w the 301 both underpowered smog engines !

  21. Power dosent mater ! Those cars are dam gourgous 👍 I own a 79 trans am an I get more looks than any new car 😝on the road period 😎

  22. 0-60 in 5.7 seconds was a fantastic time in 1981, so the Turbo charged bird was really flying!! No other muscle car came close to those numbers……even the Corvette was slower.

  23. Just picked up a 81 turbo trans am daytona 500 pace car. 1 of 2000. They made roughly 15 and a half thousand turbo 301 firebirds and trans ams. Only 2000 pace cars. And they came fully optioned out. They all had recaro seats, ttops, power windows, ect…. originally they where slugs. But someone swapped a 455 th400 and 4.10 gears in it and its pretty swift.

    I bought it from my friend who got it with the 455. His dad has a 1980 turbo trans am indy pace car hes owned since new.

    The 301 could have been just as good of not better than the 3.8 buick if pontiac was given enough time to develope it.

  24. This was my first vehicle, I bought one in the summer of 1991 as a present to myself after graduating high school. I only had it for a year as i could not afford the upkeep. It was awesome and it broke my heart to sell it. I swore I would own one again, hopefully i will fulfill that promise to myself and own one again.. AWESOME video, thank you for helping me relive the summer of 91!!!!!!!!

  25. I have found that the Turtle Wax kit for black car’s works wonders … the wax is black … it would be wrong to paint a car with the name PATENA ! 🙄

  26. I have a 77 Firebird, owned it 33 years. Funny, I got bashed for buying a GM car from my Ford and Dodge buddies. Their cars had awesome engines and paint jobs. Yes, I used the word had! lol. Now, the old bird is getting interest when I cruise the town. Back in the day, they where just another car to beat the crap out of it and then throw it away.

  27. I'd take a 1981 Camaro Z/28 over that Turbo Trans Am all day, everyday. The Camaro had a 350 V8, a much more durable engine, parts are available every where, and it is much easier to work on and hop up, AND the car was available with a 4 speed manual.

  28. scotty kilmer looks A LOT like my old highschool woodshop teacher that HAPPENED to be named 'mr. scott'
    makes me wonder sometimes…

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