Is there was ever a car that absolutely demanded a Carter Mondale ’80 bumper sticker, this was probably it. That’s right, a first-generation Pontiac Sunbird. These were made from 1975 till 1980, right smack in the middle of a period we now refer to as…. uhh…. The Great Dejection? No, wait, that was in the thirties. The period I’m referring to was called The Languor…. right? Oh well, it’ll come to me eventually.
Based on the Chevy Vega, the Sunbird premiered as a 1976 model, sharing the H-body platform with a number of other small import fighters, or what were intended to be import fighters. The Vega and the Sunbird, among other offerings from the General, duked it out with what was arguably the first wave of widely successful Japanese automobiles on our shores. Honda and Toyota had of course been around for years before that, but it was really starting in the mid 1970s that they began a wholesale assault on the big three’s small cars.
The Sunbird came with a range of inline-4 engines all making under 100bhp, save for a Buick 3.8 liter V6 which squeezed out a respectable 110bhp. This Sunbird appeared to be in great condition inside and out. The color scheme here was just amazing, and appeared to have been treated to a decent repaint some years ago. It wasn’t quite concours quality, but rather what I’d imagine a 1975 Sunbird looked like in the year 1980. The chrome was in good shape, and the wheels appeared to be original. And the interior, as one would expect, was probably full of some sweet 8-track tapes.
While the Cosworth Vega of the same generation is starting to acquire a certain contrarian type of interest from collectors, the Pontiac Sunbird of the same generation seems largely forgotten. It’s probably fair to say that not even every regional Pontiac meet has one of these in attendance, with the muscle car craze and all. And that’s perhaps understandable: if one can afford to restore and maintain just one beloved Pontiac model, it probably isn’t going to be a first-gen Sunbird. But everyone and their dog has a GTO in some stage of (circle one) restoration/overrestoration/botched restoration. And that made seeing this original Sunbird a special treat.
When was the last time you’ve seen a first-gen Sunbird?
[Images: Copyright 2013 Hooniverse/Jay Ramey]