Junkyard Find: 1989 Pontiac Sunbird GT Turbo

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
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junkyard find 1989 pontiac sunbird gt turbo

Since The General built cars on the J Platform from the 1982 through 2005 model years, I still see numerous examples of the J during my junkyard travels. Most of those are late-production Cavaliers and Sunfires — not so interesting — but today we’ve got a genuine high-performance Sunbird bearing one of the most important words of the 1980s: TURBO!

For 1989, the Sunbird Turbo had genuine power: 165 Garrett-blown horsepower out of a 2.0-liter SOHC Opel four. That gave the Sunbird Turbo pilot plenty of torque-steering, tire-squealing fun in a car that weighed just 2,422 pounds (about the same as a 2019 Toyota Yaris).

Most of these cars were ruined by a three-speed automatic transmission, but the original buyer of this one (wisely) selected the five-speed manual.

If you were going to sell turbocharged machine in 1989, you had to provide a brightly-colored BOOST gauge, preferably marked for pressure levels your engine would never see.

Pop-up headlights were all the rage as well. If we’re going to get nit-picky here, these retractable headlight eyebrows don’t really count as true pop-ups.

Mean-looking hood vents? Got ’em!

This one had more than 180,000 miles on the clock when it came to this place, and it’s good and rough. One of the indicators that a Colorado car is junkyard-bound in the very near future is the presence of stickers from cannabis dispensaries on the exterior; I’d say that a good 25 percent of cars in this yard feature such stickers (generally combined with brewery stickers).

Putting more heat on the street.

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Murilee Martin
Murilee Martin

Writer d'Elegance Brougham Landau.

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  • Theoldguard Theoldguard on Feb 18, 2019

    I had both Sunbird Turbo and Omni GLH. Both were exhilarating after what we had lived through the past ten years. Remember, not long before these turbos, there were 120hp V8 Mustangs and, help me here, a 165hp Corvette? With these turbos, and especially the new Mustang GT, cars were getting fun again.

    • Featherston Featherston on Feb 19, 2019

      "Both were exhilarating after what we had lived through the past ten years." Agreed. It's easy to criticize these cars 30+ years on, but they were a big improvement over cars of 10-15 years earlier. As referenced by Land Ark, headliners stand out as the one area where Detroit backslid. Other than that, give me an '80s EFI front driver over a '70s carbed rear driver.

  • Teddyc73 Teddyc73 on Feb 19, 2019


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  • 28-Cars-Later "But Assemblyman Phil Ting, the San Franciscan Democrat who wrote the electric school bus legislation, says this is all about the health and wellbeing of Golden State residents. In addition to the normal air pollution stemming from exhaust gasses, he believes children are being exposed to additional carcinogens by just being on a diesel bus."Phil is into real estate, he doesn't know jack sh!t about science or medicine and if media were real it would politely remind him his opinions are not qualified... if it were real. Another question if media were real is why is a very experienced real estate advisor and former tax assessor writing legislation on school busses? If you read the rest of his bio after 2014, his expertise seems to be applied but he gets into more and more things he's not qualified to speak to or legislate on - this isn't to say he isn't capable of doing more but just two years ago Communism™ kept reminding me Dr. Fauxi knew more about medicine than I did and I should die or something. So Uncle Phil just gets a pass with his unqualified opinions?Ting began his career as a real estate  financial adviser at  Arthur Andersen and  CBRE. He also previously served as the executive director of the  Asian Law Caucus, as the president of the Bay Area Assessors Association, and on the board of  Equality California. [url=https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Ting#cite_note-auto-1][1][/url][h3][/h3]In 2005, Ting was appointed San Francisco Assessor-Recorder in 2005 by Mayor  Gavin Newsom, becoming San Francisco’s highest-ranking  Chinese-American official at the time. He was then elected to the post in November 2005, garnering 58 percent of the vote.Ting was re-elected Assessor-Recorder in 2006 and 2010During his first term in the Assembly, Ting authored a law that helped set into motion the transformation of Piers 30-32 into what would become  Chase Center the home of the  Golden State Warriorshttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phil_Ting
  • RHD This looks like a lead balloon. You could buy a fantastic classic car for a hundred grand, or a Mercedes depreciationmobile. There isn't much reason to consider this over many other excellent vehicles that cost less. It's probably fast, but nothing else about it is in the least bit outstanding, except for the balance owed on the financing.
  • Jeff A bread van worthy of praise by Tassos.