Although the American V-8 performance car was virtually extinct by 1975 with even Chevrolet's Camaro Z/28 dropped that year, Pontiac's F-Body Firebird actually enjoyed growing popularity thanks to its powerful engines, outstanding handling, and bold styling.
Pontiac's reputation continued to grow with strong street performance and many racing victories. By 1979, the Firebird achieved all-time record sales.
For 1980, the Pontiac Firebird was available as a hardtop coupe, Esprit Coupe, Formula Coupe, and a Trans Am Coupe. Changes were minimal though they did receive changes to the engine. A new 265 cubic-inch V8 was optional along with the four-barrel, 301-CID V8. The Trans Am and the Formula models could be purchased with a new turbocharged 301-CID four-barrel. The base and Esprit models came standard with a three-speed manual while the Formula and Trans Am were given automatics.
The Turbocharged Firebirds had a unique hood with special bird decal. They had turbo graphics on the hood and deck lid spoiler. A new 'Yellow Bird' option package replaced the former Redbird package. New Trans Am graphics colors included bronze-and-burgundy and a red-and-gold combination.
New options included an electronic-tuned stereo radio with a four-speaker system, a new dark blue interior color, and new seating which came in five colors.
The iconic 1977 film Smokey and the Bandit starring Burt Reynolds, Sally Field and Jackie Gleason also starred a black and gold Special Edition Pontiac Trans Am. The movie was second only in gross receipts to the original Star Wars also released that year. The Pontiac Trans Am also became popular, so much so that the Bandit version of the Trans Am was offered by Pontiac for many years thereafter. The second Smokey and the Bandit movie was released in 1980, with the same stars but with a new Bandit car – a 1980 Special Edition Turbo Trans Am.
The 1980 Special Edition Trans Am was option code Y84 on the General Motors and Pontiac order sheet. It indicated special black paint, gold decal striping and a large firebird hood decal. It also included gold turbine wheels and removable T-Top roof hatches.
The 1980 Turbo Trans Am was offered that year because the larger displacement motors of the past had been obsoleted by General Motors. The most powerful engine available in a Trans Am or Firebird was a turbo powered car. The turbocharged version of the Pontiac 301 cubic-inch motor was rated at 210 horsepower and was about 8lbs of boost. The normally aspirated 4-barrel version of the 301 CID was rated at 170 horsepower.
The Trans Am was so popular that was chosen to pace the 1980 edition of the Indianapolis 500 race. Capitalizing on this promotional opportunity, Pontiac's product managers developed the Pace Car Replica Special Edition Trans Am, loaded with factory options.By Daniel Vaughan | Oct 2017