At $9,895, Could This Time Capsule 1980 Pontiac Sunbird Drive You Back To To The Seventies?

Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

Yesterday we looked at a well preserved car you might want. With today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe Pontiac, we give you another that you might not. That might not mean its price isn’t compelling, however.

Are you the reason people say ‘This is why we can’t have anything nice?’ I ask because 78-percent of you voted Crack Pipe on yesterday’s immaculate 1990 Mazda Miata at it’s $16,900 price. Admittedly, that was a lot of money, but it was also a really nice MX5. And now we can’t have it.


It feels like we don’t get to have anything nice these days . Our salads can give you the shits, a whole lot of entertainment stars are dicks, and simple pleas for functioning governments are being ignored everywhere.

That’s why finding this amazing 800-mile 1980 Pontiac Sunbird is like discovering a forgotten beer at the back of the fridge—it just starts the day off right. Well, I mean that is, should you be at all interested in an old H-body with an Iron Duke and a three-speed automatic, whatever its condition.

This car represents from the first generation of the Sunbird line, and a tragic era in auto making history. The hatchback is a derivation of the Chevy Monza, which itself was based on the accursed Vega. By the way, why do we say ‘Vay-guh’ for both the car and the star, but ‘Vee-gan’ for people who refuse to acknowledge meat’s satiating qualities? English truly is a confounding language.


Anyway, back to the car. These were available with a series of four, six, and V8 engines. The last of those was so tight a fit that changing the spark plugs required the removal of a wheel and the skill of a Cirque du Soleil performer. As I noted, this one sports the 2.5-litre, 85-horsepower shaker known far and wide as the Iron Duke.


As noted, the OHV four is backed up here by a three-speed automatic, and that is operated via a sporty console-mounted shifter. High-backed bucket seats bracket that, and the whole interior is awash in vinyl and plastic that’s all a shade of brown that speaks to its ‘70s origins. It’s all amazingly intact and seemingly in as-new shape.

The exterior, in red over a spattering of chrome, appears equally well preserved. The H-body hatchback looked a lot like the Ferrari 365 GTC/4 in profile, although it’s all Pontiac in the nose here. The back end has a nifty spoiler added to the rear lip of the hatch, and that tops big tri-color tail lamps and a chrome bumper. Remember chrome bumpers?


The ad claims this to be a ‘NEW CAR’ and why wouldn’t it be if it only did 800 miles and then was deemed to be too precious to drive? Why in fact, would someone squirrel away a car like this? I mean, admittedly there’s not much that could have gone wrong with it over those 38 years other than for all the seals to dry up, the freon in the A/C to escape and do battle with the ozone layer, and for Pontiac to go out of business. It’s almost like this car was the meek witness to a crime who then had to go into hiding until the last perpetrator died in jail.


I guess the more pressing question for the seller is: why would someone buy this car now? Maybe if you were a Hollywood prop master? Or maybe this is the next hot category for the hipster crowd who would drive it for its ironic effect. Maybe it’s because of its stellar fuel economy, as noted in this contemporary ad. Holy cow, who knew that the Rabbit got such poor mileage back in the day?!


Whatever the reason, Machiavellian or otherwise, the asking price to do so is $9,895. That’s more than twice what the car would have gone for new, but then there aren’t any new ones round any more—I mean, other than this one.


Would you go almost-new old school for that kind of cash? Or, is this Sunbird well past its twilight years?

You decide!


Dallas, TX Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to Kevin P. King for the hookup!

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About the author

Rob Emslie

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.