Wednesday, November 27, 2013

San Francisco Street Sighting - 1977 Pontiac Sunbird Sport Coupe

If you think '1977 Pontiac', there's probably a 90% chance you think of the black Trans-Am Burt Reynolds drove in Smokey and the Bandit. Admit it, that's what you thought.

Pretty much everything else Pontiac made back then was less interesting. At the bottom of the food chain was this, the Sunbird. It was built on the GM H-platform shared with the Chevy Monza, Buick Skyhawk and Oldsmobile Starfire, all of which were based on the old Chevy Vega and Pontiac Astre. The Sunbird Sport Coupe evolved from the Monza Towne Coupe and in 1977 could be had with a 2.5 liter Iron Duke four only - except in California and high-altitude areas, which got the old Vega 2.3. A fastback-styled hatchback was new for 1977. Two more powerful V6 and V8 engines would be added for 1978. The old Astre wagon continued as a Sunbird Safari for a couple more years. These little cars were available with some interesting appearance and mild performance packages, including Trams-Am-inspired sport touches like 'snowflake' cast aluminum wheels, sport steering wheel and body striping. A Sunbird Formula was a pretty cool little package for what it was.

This Sunbird is a rough example of a base Sport Coupe that appears to be a daily driver. Living on the coast as it does, it's been subject to a lot of salt air which translates to rust. I always thought the grille shell on these cars was fiberglass, but it turns out to be sheetmetal judging by the rust-through on the passenger side. I can't figure out what color the body was originally; I'm guessing Buckskin Metallic, the color of the famous Rockford Files Trans-Am. The doors appear to be replacements in Firethorn Metallic. I'm not sure how much longer for this world it is, because the roof has some serious rust holes around the cowl, windshield and rear window. All the more reason why I felt the need to document this little Pontiac now before it disappears forever.

Edit 5/28/20: This car was scrapped in January 2018.
(Photo courtesy Row52)


  1. There is virtually nothing like this left in my area of up state New York that I know of. seems most of these little econo-cars from the late 70's early 80's are GONE!

  2. just saw it the Pick and Pull junkyard in san jose ca

    1. Thanks for the update. I'm sorry to hear it, but I can't say I'm surprised they finally gave up on it almost five years later.