1980 Firebirds

The 80's decade began with $1 gasoline and the death of the big block in domestic production sports cars but Pontiac was willing to shake things up by turbocharging the popular 301 V8 and making it available in Formula and Trans Am. Sales were down by almost half in a great part due to the anticipated release of the next generation Firebird announced for the 1982 model year. Pontiac still sold more than 100,000 Firebirds and new editions appeared on the scene. The big news was the introduction of the Indianapolis Pace Car Edition to commemorate Pontiac's Turbo V8 being chosen to pace the Indy race this year. The car was decked out in White to stand out among the race cars on the track but had a special charcoal gray two tome treatment similar to the 1979 Tenth Anniversary Trans Am. Pontiac sold 5700 of the Pace Cars, all delivered with a model specific Oyster Hobnail interior, special striping, and mirrored T-Tops. The Esprit introduced the Yellowbird model replacing the Redbird and featured a yellow exterior with dark yellow accents and a tan interior. Yellow wheels and a yellow accented brake light completed the picture. Ironically yellow would be dropped from the Firebird line after a brief production run to be replaced by Nightwatch Blue so if you wanted a yellow Firebird the Yellowbird was your car. All other 1980 yellow Firebirds are extremely rare.
1980 Firebird Esprit
With the new Trubocharged 4.9 liter engine the design required an asymmetric look with the air cleaner on the right and and the turbo on the left. This required a new asymmetric hood design for Formulas and Trans Ams equipped with this engine. The turbo could also be ordered with Turbo Boost Guages (option UR4), lights that would light up in order as more boost was applied by the turbo. These guages were standard on the Indy Pace car, optional on others. Cloth inserts, called Sparta Cloth inserts for the standard interior were introduced mid year, available in Camel Tan or Blue. A new seek and scan radio with digital clock (UM7), Halogen headlights (TT5), and dual front speakers (UP8 or with UQ1 stereo) made the option list for the first time.
1980 Indianpolis pace Car Edition
Pontiac managed to release another new V8 for 1980, a fuel efficient 265 cubic inch that would be optional for Base Firebird and Esprit. Still standard in those models was the Buick V6. The Pontiac 4.9 Litre (301) 2 bbl was also available and was the standard powerplant for Formula. Another 4.9 Liter version, the W72 with electronic engine control was available in Formula and standard in Trans Am. The new Turbo 301 was optional in Formula and Trans Am. In California buyers could not order any of the 301's or the new 265 V8 and were left with the Chevrolet 305 as the only optional V8 and the only engine available in Trans Am (the only Trans Am that ever came with a 2 bbl carburator). All 1980 Firebirds had automatic transmissions, none could pass the strict EPA laws with 4 speeds this year.
Identifying a 1980 from a '79 is very difficult without looking at the VIN. The standard seats had a smooth upper section versus '79's vertical ribs. Trans Am graphics were changed slightly with the Gold decals replaced by a darker gold, Red Orange replaced by Red/Dark Red, and two new color decals added: Bronze (for Bronze cars) and Burgundy for burgundy cars. The silver and blue decals were unaltered except for the addition of a Turbo version. All '81 Firebirds had a bird inset into the rear tail panel, distinguishing those from the '79 and '80.

1980 Production Numbers

  Firebird (Base) 29,811
  Esprit 17,277
  Formula 9,356
  Trans Am 50,896
  Total 107,340

1980 Base Firebird Production

  Engine Manual Automatic Total
  All engines 0 29,811 29,811

1980 Esprit Production

    Transmission    
    Manual Automatic Total  
  All engines 0 17,277 17,277  

1980 Formula Production

    Transmission  
    Manual Automatic Total
  LU8 301 Turbo 0 1,245 1,245
  All other engines 0 8,111 8,111
  Total 0 9,356 9,356
Source: High Performance Pontiac, July 2007 issue. Original source is unknown and therefore unverified. An approximate can be obtained from subtracting total turbocharged engine (given as a percentage) and subtracting Trans Am Turbo production which suggests 1224 Tyurbo Formulas were produced.

1980 Trans Am Production

Summary
   
Transmission
  Engine Option
Manual
Automatic
Total
  Trans Am Coupe 0 22,254 22,254
  Trans Am T-Top
0
16,764
16,764
  Trans Am SE Coupe
0
187
187
  Trans Am SE T-Top
0
5,991
5,991
  Indianapolis Pace Car
0
5,700
5,700
  Total 0 50,896 50,896

1980 Trans Am Breakdown

   
Transmission
  Engine Option
Manual
Automatic
Total
  Trans Am Coupe      
 

W72 301 4bbl

0 14,866 14,866
 
LG4 305 4bbl
0 1,635 1,635
 
LU8 301 Turbo
0 5,753 5,753
  Trans Am T-Top      
 

W72 301 4bbl

0 8,692 8,692
 
LG4 305 4bbl
0 896 896
 
LU8 301 Turbo
0 7,176 7,176
  Trans Am Y84 Coupe      
 

W72 301 4bbl

0 72 72
 
LG4 305 4bbl
0 12 12
 
LU8 301 Turbo
0 103 103
  Trans Am Y84 T-Top      
 

W72 301 4bbl

0 2,084 2,084
 
LG4 305 4bbl
0 463 463
 
LU8 301 Turbo
0 3,444 3,444
  Indy Pace Car, 301 Turbo 0 5,700 5,700
  Total 0 50,896 50,896

Firebird Optional Equipment

  Option Total
Percent
  V-8 Engine 53,670* 50.0
  V-8 Engine, Turbocharged 23,400* 21.8
  6 Cylinder Engine 30,270* 28.2
  Transmission-Automatic 107,340* 100.0
  Transmission-4Speed 0* 0.0
  Transmission-3 Speed 0* 0.0
  Power Brakes 105,620* 98.4
  Front Wheel Disc Brakes 75,780* 70.6
  Four Wheel Disc Brakes 29,840* 27.8
  Limited Slip Differential 54,960* 51.2
  Power Steering 107,340* 100.0
  Power Windows 49,270* 45.9
  Air Conditioning 86,520* 80.6
  Adjustable Steering Column 67,840* 63.2
  Vinyl Roof 0* 0.0
  Cruise Control 42,080* 39.2
  Radial Tires 107,340* 100.0
Source: Firebird! America's Premiere Performance Car by Gary Witzenburg
*Source: Estimated based on percentages published in Witzenburg's Firebird!
1980 Firebird Formula 400
1980 Trans Am

What else was happening in 1980

John Lennon assassinated in New York, December 8
The Empire Strkes Back
Pac Man makes its first appearance
Mount St. Helens erupts
Magnum P.I. on television
Ted turner founds CNN
Smokey and the Bandit II
Airplane takes corny humor to the greatest heights imaginable
Tom Hanks makes his debut on ABC's Bossom Buddies