Y85 Special Edition TRANS AM Info
NASCAR PACE CAR

1981

In 1981, Pontiac produced a Special Edition (Y85) Turbo Trans Am for Nascar. This Special Edition Firebird Trans Am paced the field of stock cars at the 1981 Daytona 500, as well as various Nascar races that year.

2,000 Daytona 500 Turbo Trans Am Special Editions where built in '81. These cars differed slightly from the Indy pace cars from the previous year.
They received an Oyster white paint job and black accents, rather than the gray ones from the year before.

On the inside, these cars came with Recaro bucket seats with black and red cloth, which was a sharp contrast to the white and black paint scheme on the exterior.

Pontiac used the name of one of the most successful names in motor racing; the NASCAR. Not just flashy graphics, but collectible and rated as a 5 stars car.

The Trans Am NASCAR edition came standard equipped with the turbo 4.9 liter V8 engine.
We have to give Pontiac an "A" grade for their efforts when it comes to the turbo 4.9 liter V8. The turbo 4.9’s 200 horsepower seemed like "the sky’s the limit" type horsepower by that time.

Pontiac did a fantastic job with pulling as much power as it could out of the 4.9 liter using the limited technology (of the period) while at the same time meeting stringent emissions regulations, providing good fuel economy, and good reliability. On all accounts Pontiac hit a home run.

The good news was the turbo 4.9 was standard on the NASCAR edition. The bad news was the turbo 4.9 was stuck with a mandatory 3-speed automatic transmission knowing that a manual transmission would have have improved performance.

Where the Trans Am was way ahead of its competition was in the area of handling. The NASCAR edition came standard with the Trans Am’s beefy WS6 suspension which included 4 wheel disc brakes a well tuned suspension and P225-70R15 performance radial tires which were mounted on the white 15×7.5 inch aluminum wheels.

The NASCAR edition may have seemed like a 10th Anniversary or a Indy Pace Edition with a different paint scheme however entering into the plush interior immediately gave one a feeling of this car being a lot different.

The familiar Trans Am metal dash and the Pontiac formula steering wheel were there on the NASCAR edition. The difference was the addition of new state-of-the-art Recaro seats.

These seats unlike previous Trans Am seats which were made to just look nice, these new front seats looked great but hugged every contour of the body.

No longer would a Trans Am driver or front passenger have the expected back and leg stiffness during long driving trips that previous Trans Am seats gave.

You couldn’t order a stripper version of the NASCAR edition to keep the price down – when you ordered the NASCAR option – Y85 package you got all standard goodies, none of which could be deleted. And who could blame Pontiac since only 2,000 NASCAR editions were produced.
They wanted to keep these cars special by having them leave the factory loaded with standard features and options.
The NASCAR edition was a hot seller, with many selling for well over sticker price. Unfortunately this success didn’t extend to the overall 1981 Trans Am production which had dropped to 33,313 units, a massive drop from the 116,535 units of the 1979.
It was the dated design and the fact that many buyers were waiting it out for the all-new third generation Trans Am which debuted in 1982, for the drop in sales.
Today the Trans Am is sorely missed, especially the second generation models like the 1981 Trans Am NASCAR edition which happened to be the last Trans Am with a Pontiac V8 – in other words the last Trans Am with a Pontiac soul. NASCAR Trans Am prices have been skyrocketing in recent years and it’s no small wonder since it’s the last of its kind.
 
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