Every year I do a retro CD for the holidays that goes to friends and family. Whatever expertise in popular music that I do have is from the eighties, so I go forward one year in that decade—that means that this year I’m doing 1988. There’s a story behind every year’s CD, and this one involved a 1985 Trans Am. So, I decided to draw a 1985 Trans Am dashboard and thus this blog post.
“The most serious piece of machinery we put on the road.”
Updates for the 1985 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am included a restyled nose with built-in fog lamps, new taillights, fake hood louvers replacing the traditional power bulge, and full rocker and quarter panel extensions. A new WS6 suspension package was made available for the Trans Am, which included gas pressurized shocks, four-wheel disk brakes, and 16-inch wheels with P245/50VR16 Goodyear “Gatorback” tires for a $664 price tag. Inside, all gages now had graph patterned backgrounds, and a new UT4 “Touch-Control” optional stereo was available.
For 1985, the standard Trans Am powertrain was the LG4 165 bhp 5.0 liter/305 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor paired with a five-speed manual transmission. The top-of-the-line engine was the $695 LB9 fuel injected 5.0 liter/305 ci V8, with 205 bhp—but that was only available with a $425 four-speed automatic transmission, yielding a zero to sixty time of about 7.5 seconds. If you wanted the five-speed manual transmission, the best engine choice available on the Trans Am was the 190 bhp L69 H.O. 5.0 liter/305 ci V8 with a four-barrel carburetor.
Mileage with the standard powertrain was 15 city/24 highway by the day’s standards (14/22 by 2022 standards). With a 15.9-gallon fuel tank, a Trans Am owner could expect a range of between 255 and 280 miles with a 10% fuel reserve.
Standard exterior and mechanical equipment on the $11,569 Trans Am (about $31,200 in today’s dollars and close to what a 2022 Camaro 3LT coupe costs) included power brakes (front disc/rear drum), hidden electronically-controlled halogen headlamps, dual sport mirrors, an all-glass rear hatch, a rear deck lid spoiler, and P215/65R15 steel-belted radial tires (still a readily available size) on “deep-dish” 15 x 7 wheels. Inside, reclining front bucket seats, a Formula steering wheel, full gages, and side window defoggers were included.
Options & Production Numbers
Options included T-tops ($875), a louvered rear sunshield ($210), four wheel disc brakes ($179), electric rear window defogger ($145), air conditioning ($750), Luxury Trim Group ($359), tilt steering wheel ($115), cruise control ($175), and a series of five stereos. In something you rarely see in the current day, Pontiac offered two completely different optional front seats—Lear Siegler Custom adjustable bucket seats and Recaro bucket seats (which were not available with six-way power driver’s seat).
The 1985 Trans Am sold reasonably well, with 44,028 sold—about 46% of total Firebird sales. In Pontiac showrooms, only the Sunbird and the 6000 outsold the Firebird in the 1985 model year.
The View From 2022
Third-generation Firebirds have a strong following, and 1985 Trans Ams make regular appearances in the Hemming’s Motor News classifieds, on eBay Motors, and at online auctions such as Bring a Trailer that cater to the eighties car market. As I update this post in March 2022, there’s a Blaze Red 1985 with 6,700 miles for sale on Hemmings for $29,500.
According to Hagerty’s valuation tools, all the money for a 1985 Trans Am with the LB9 in #1/Concours condition is $23,800, with a far more typical #3/Good car going for $9,500.
Make mine Black, please—I think.
Updated March 2022.