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Autotrader Find: 1981 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am With 13,400 Miles

Most cars — even “exciting” ones — from the 1970s and early 1980s have not reached “collectible” status, and there’s a theory among car enthusiasts that vehicles from this, the so-called Malaise Era, never will. This 1981 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am might just be proof of that, as it’s one of the most exciting cars to come out of the Malaise Era — and yet, this perfect example is offered for just $26,998. See the 1981 Pontiac Firebird models for sale near you

That’s right: This is a perfect 1981 Trans Am for just $26,998 — and by perfect, I truly mean perfect. It’s offered by Law Auto Group in the Chicago suburb of Bensenville, Illinois, and it’s traveled just 13,381 miles in its lifetime, making it one of the nicest, least-used examples around. It’s also finished in white with a red interior, which may actually be its biggest drawback: This car was popularized by the movie “Smokey and the Bandit,” and their version was black, meaning many would likely consider this the “wrong color.”

Still, this might just be the nicest example of an ’81 Trans Am you’ll find — but if you dig a little deeper, you’ll start to see why these aren’t highly prized on the collectible market. The primary reason is performance: Despite the bold styling and the famous “Screaming Chicken” graphic on the hood, this Trans Am — with its 5.0-liter V8 — makes just 150 horsepower. There was a version with a turbocharged 4.9-liter V8 that made all of 220 horses, but this isn’t that, and the 5.0-liter V8 didn’t make for especially impressive performance.

As for the low mileage, the Carfax report details that this car had traveled only 8,000 miles by 1992, when it was already 11 years old. In 2013, it had just 11,500 miles, meaning many owners likely preserved this one, assuming values would shoot up. But, as the current asking price shows, they never really did — though that’s good news for anyone who’s ever wanted a Trans Am from this era. Find a 1981 Pontiac Firebird for sale

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Doug Demuro
Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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    • It’s ironic that all of these classic cars and very recent classics get severely dinged if they are automatics yet for new cars, manuals are a quickly dying breed with manufacturers stating that ‘no one wants them’.

  1. I wonder how a mustang of the same vintage fared in the power department?  I always remembered the Fox body with the 5.0 liter to have gobs of power.

  2. Instead of removing the EPA restrictions, perhaps a modern LS swap instead, leaving the original engine in storage for when you want to sell it? Far more practical and cost-effective, IMHO. Not to mention you’d still be able to pass emissions testing for inspection. Perhaps an Overdrive transmission swap as well, to increase what would most likely be horrendous MPG from the original drivetrain.

  3. With these 70s V8s that barely make any power, can you remove all of the EPA restrictions to make power gains? I can’t imagine a 5.0 V8 still only making 150 without strict emissions BS…

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