Turbo + Hatchback + Manual = Not as Great as it Sounds

Welcome to the mid-80s, when V8s were just getting back above 200 HP, domestic V6s were dogs and few performance enthusiasts (certainly not domestic US enthusiasts - look at SVO sales figures) were interested in four cylinders.  This is the Sunbird Turbo GT, with a 1.8-liter four cylinder putting out a silly-by-today's standards 150HP.  At the time, though, this out powered many a V6 and made for a lively little hatch.

These were offered in three-box, two- and four-door sedan forms, as well as a convertible and this hatchback.  The convertible is probably the hardest to find, but the hatch is rare, too, and has a certain cool factor.

The seller here claims one-family ownership.   The car looks complete and honest, but one quarter window was recently broken by vandals.  Hopefully, it hasn't been rained on too much.  The seller also points out that it needs a head gasket and one of the bolt holes may be stripped.  That should be fairly simple work for anyone thinking of buying an older car.  This car would be perfect for Lemons or Chumpcar racing - probably not incredibly competitive, but fun and different.  This would also make for a fun Cars and Coffee oddity with a little clean up and paint.  Hell, it might even be fun to drive!

Will cars at this performance level ever be collectible?  It's hard to picture, but maybe they will once the internal combustion engine is a novelty in and of itself.

Click for eBay ad
Albuquerque, NM, USA
$500  with zero bids and five hours to go

Yes, the 80s required large TURBO badges.  The wheels are also Firebird-inspired, but you already knew that.

Hood vents imply a top-mounted intercooler, but there isn't one.  Flip-up headlights are VERY Pontiac.

Rear end is pretty tidy from a design standpoint, but shows a bit of damage.

Interior is simple and functional and the seat might even have some lateral support.  Given this a mid-80s GM car, you can bet it's full of hard, creaky plastic.

This does have a decent rear seat for occasional use.

As with all hatchbacks, this has pretty good cargo space.  It looks like the rear seats fold down, too.

Here's the 1.8-liter, turbo four.  It's non-intercooled, as far as we know.

Ad text:

“Have had to replace a few things on the car over the years including: alternator, struts, tires, distributor cap etc. Unfortunately, recently a vandal broke out both windows on the drivers side. Will need a head gasket replaced as well as a thread insert put into the block for one of the head bolts.”

 Listed is a 1986 Pontiac Sunbird GT Turbo. Has been in my family since purchased new. As stated above the head gasket is blown on the car and will need a thread insert for the top right head bolt before the new gasket will take. Driver's side windows front and back were recently broken by a vandal, however everything else is fine on the vehicle. It is a pretty rare car, haven't seen any like it all in my time except for this one. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. Thanks for looking!


  1. When I saw the headline in my mailbox I thought to myself, "Please be a Sprint! Please be a Sprint!" And although no Sprint was forthcoming, this is pretty cool in it's own right. Love the two-tone, the hood vents, the flip up light...I miss the 80's.

    1. The Sprint would have been as exciting as it sounded!

  2. It was a really fun car. This was actually my Ebay ad, and I was surprised to see all of my pictures here! I enjoyed it a lot from when I was 16 until probably 20. I ended up selling it to a gentleman in Kentucky. Hopefully he is able to restore it!

  3. Parents had one that ended up being my first car back in the day. Can't remember what year it was but was told was one of a kind, never saw another of that year, was solid red hatchback manual turbo newer than the one in the photo. Would blow the doors off all stock v8's of that era in my town! Remember my dad having to rebuild the turbo a couple of times. Moved from that into a 79' trans am 6.6L that was not nearly as fun to drive.