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

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author photo by Doug DeMuro October 2017

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.

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.

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This image is a stock photo and is not an exact representation of any vehicle offered for sale. Advertised vehicles of this model may have styling, trim levels, colors and optional equipment that differ from the stock photo.
Autotrader Find: 1981 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am With 13,400 Miles - Autotrader