1980 Firebirds

1980 Firebird Esprit
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.

With the new Turbocharged 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.
980 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 liter (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

Manual Automatic Total
Esprit (Non SE) 0 14,750 14,750
Yellow Bird 0 3,850 3,850
Total 0 17,277 17,277

1980 Formula Production

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

1980 Trans Am Production

Trim Manual Automatic Total
Trans Am Coupe (non-SE) 0 22,254 22,254
Trans Am T-Top (non-SE) 0 16,764 16,764
Trans Am Black SE Coupe 0 187 187
Trans Am Black 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 by Engine Option

Trim Manual Automatic Total
Trans Am Coupe Non-SE
L37 and W72 301 0 14,866 14,866
LG4 305 0 1,635 1,635
LU8 301 Turbo 0 5,753 5,753
Trans Am T-Top (non-SE)
L37 and W72 301 0 8,692 8,692
LG4 305 0 896 896
LU8 301 Turbo 0 7,176 7,176
Trans Am Black SE Coupe
L37 and W72 301 0 72 72
LG4 305 0 12 12
LU8 301 Turbo 0 103 103
Trans Am Black SE T-Top
L37 and W72 301 0 2,084 2,084
LG4 305 0 463 463
LU8 301 Turbo 0 3,444 3,444
Indy Pace Car
LU8 301 Turbo 0 5,700 5,700
Total 0 50,896 50,896

1980 Firebird Optional Equipment

V-8 Engine53,670*50
V-8 Engine, Turbocharged23,400*21.8
6 Cylinder Engine30,270*28.2
Transmission-3 Speed0*0
Power Brakes105,620*98.4
Front Wheel Disc Brakes75,780*70.6
Four Wheel Disc Brakes29,840*27.8
Limited Slip Differential54,960*51.2
Power Steering107,340*100
Power Windows49,270*45.9
Air Conditioning86,520*80.6
Adjustable Steering Column67,840*63.2
Vinyl Roof0*0
Cruise Control42,080*39.2
Radial Tires107,340*100

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
Examples shown on this page consist of scanned images or reproduction artwork that can not be faithfully reproduced on a computer screen. Illustrations are for example only. Consult with your vendors offerring reproduction parts for their historical accuracy.