Under The Hood

1978 Pontiac show car found on Duluth street

Old Cars Weekly reader Steve Isola was minding his own business, walking through Duluth, Minn., Aug. 10 when he stumbled upon this little silver Pontiac. Most people would have just assumed it was a regular ol’ Sunbird with the fancy paint package, but Isola knew it was different. The Pontiac’s “concept” license plates verified his suspicion this was a special Sunbird. The 1978 Pontiac Sunbird Special, in fact.

The 1978 Sunbird Isola found was one of two styling exercises displayed by Pontiac at the 1978 Chicago Auto Show, the other being the Grand Am CA.  The Sunbird Special was a notchback coupe with a large roof opening, pearlescent white paint, Trans Am-style wheels and unique C-pillar treatment.

The 1978 Pontiac Sunbird Special, a styling exercise displayed at the 1978 Chicago Auto Show, as recently discovered on a Duluth, Minn., street.

Isola was busy assessing the car’s condition and didn’t speak to the new Duluth owner. However, he did learn it was recently purchased from an individual in Illinois.

“[The] car is complete and intact, but showing a lot of signs of wear,” he said. “Original paint is showing under peeling paint. You can see the seams where the custom top with the retractable sunroof and retractable rear window were built into [it].”

1978 Pontiac Sunbird Special

1978 Pontiac Sunbird Special from the rear. Note the retractable rear window, special rear roof treatment, unique open roof and rear spoiler.


1978 Pontiac Sunbird Special roof

The roof opening of the unique 1978 Pontiac Sunbird Special.

Let’s hope the new brings this unique Pontiac back to show car status.

Related Resources

Learn about the cars of Pontiac in “The Standard Catalog of Pontiac, 1926-2002.”

Put Pontiacs on your wall with Michael Irvine’s work “The Goat Farmer.”

8 thoughts on “1978 Pontiac show car found on Duluth street

  1. D. Reilly

    Yea,if he has any sense at all and happens to see this article,he should auction it off to the highest bidder,though he must know what he has because of the license plate.Which makes even less sense that he has let it fall into the condition that it’s in.

  2. zippy

    look at the thing closely. It screams design by feel. Just another example of bizarre GM styling. And you wonder why the buying public turned their backs on baseball, hot dogs, apple pie & chevrolet and bought a toyota. Yes, I agree to restoration. It would be the shining example to ugly that GM said you like it cause we said so…


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