Debuting the previous year in the “special edition” Trans Am Indy Pace Car, the turbo 4.9 liter V8 was Pontiac’s top performance engine. Rated at 210 net horsepower and 345 lb-ft of torque, figures which exceed those of both the Camaro Z28 and Ford Mustang of the same year. 1981 added an onboard computer and horsepower dropped to 200, and torque to 340 lb-ft and the only available transmission choice was the three speed automatic, mated to a standard 3.08 rear axle ratio.
In similar fashion to the two preceding “special editions”; the 1979 10th Anniversary and 1980 Indy Pace Car, the NASCAR edition had a two-tone paint scheme with wild decals and pinstripes. The 1981 NASCAR version was an exact replica of the Trans Am that paced the 1981 Daytona 500 race, missing only were yellow strobe lights mounted on the roof and official race flags.
From a styling perspective, the 1981 NASCAR introduces a new configuration bird emblem on the hood, between the two large rear taillight assemblies, and carrying thorough to the embroidery on the interior door panels, etc. Also new, was the cue of “black out trim” offset by the Turbo unique, white 15×7.cast aluminum wheels.
Power for the 1981 Trans Am NASCAR edition was delivered by Pontiac’s turbo 4.9 liter V8. Given the context of the time period, performance was impressive as the turbo 4.9 powered the over 3,500 lbs NASCAR Trans Am to 0-60 mph times in mid-8 seconds and the 1/4 mile in mid-16 second range. A considerable improvement over the normal 4-bbl 4.9 liter V8 and most comparable performance cars of this era. Not to mention of course, the addictive urge to light all three lamps in the “power bulge” reverse hood scoop that noted “Turbo Charge”!
Suspension and braking were also Pontiac standouts, with the NASCAR edition Trans AM being delivered standard with the impressive WS6 suspension, inclusive of four wheel disc brakes, “Radial Tuned Suspension” settings, complemented with Goodyear Polysteel P225-70R15 performance radial tires.
Of course, the dynamic Recaro interior is the most distinctive element of the 1981 NASCAR edition. With retina blinding red velour with black accents, the seat upgrade alone was most responsible for the performance statement made immediately upon entering the cockpit. Add the corresponding red carpet, unique door panel treatments and of course the requisite red digital readout on the radio dial, and the statement made by this outlandish interior was instantly the rage and envy of “cruise nights” across America.
As one would expect, the NASCAR edition Trans Am was a “standard package” and little if any additional options could be added or deleted. Well-equipped also translated to “expensive” and as a result, only 2000 editions were produced, creating an exclusive, highly coveted collectable from introduction on day one.
The example presented for sale here is a well-documented “survivor” sporting original paint with a scant few 37,000 original miles showing on the odometer, supported by it’s impeccable condition throughout. Retaining all the authentic factory drivetrain, decals, paint and all related factory sales literature, owners manuals and window sticker, this special edition Trans Am exemplifies collector pride of ownership through museum environment care, “as new” driving characteristics with attention to exacting proper details such as the brand new, correct Polysteel radial Goodyear tires!
From the T-tops to the eye searing red Recaro interior, the NASCAR edition Trans Am delivered the ultimate in style and performance for the final edition of the legendary body style which spanned eleven years of production. The final “special edition” Trans Am most certainly did not disappoint, with the instantly recognizable, exterior graphic package, Turbo enhanced power plant and distinctive interior, restorations of these models prove to be insanely expensive. Many parts, simply are unavailable – so finding a true “survivor” in ORIGINAL, pristine condition offers a rare chance to acquire the signature vehicle of an entire generation.