Rare Rides: The 1983 Pontiac 2000 Sunbird Nobody Remembers


Today’s Rare Ride is an oft-forgotten little J-body, designed and built right at the end of the unfortunate Malaise Era. This excellent condition example also comes from a confused time in GM’s naming of Pontiac small cars.

Come along and explore 2000 Sunbird.

Those of you with keen memories will recall this isn’t the first Sunbird-branded vehicle featured here at Rare Rides. That honor goes to this Sunbird Safari Wagon from 1978, which is really worth checking out if you missed it the first time. The wagon comes from the first generation of the Sunbird, which was rear-drive and produced for the 1976-1980 model years. Said generation was not available as a cabriolet: Coupes, hatchbacks, and the wagon above were the only options for this generation. But all that changed for 1982.

That fateful year was the first for GM’s new front-drive J-body, bringing Cavalier and company to market. Body style options increased, and included a two-door coupe, convertible, three-door hatch, and a four- and five-door sedan and wagon. The Sunbird shrunk a little to become a subcompact, and was also no longer called a Sunbird. For ’82 only, all versions of Pontiac’s small car were known as J2000. Next year the “J” was dropped to help show consumers how the 2000 was 1/3 as good as its larger brother, the 6000. “Sunbird” returned to trunklids for ’83, but only on convertible versions of the 2000. In 1984, names were reshuffled again, and the entire lineup was called 2000 Sunbird. From 1985 to the model’s death in 1994, all versions wore a singular Sunbird name on them. At that time the little bird got lit, and called itself Sunfire.

A small list of engines powered Sunbirds over the years, all with 1.8 or 2.0 liters of displacement. Both sizes were offered with old school overhead valves or technology-centric cams, and in naturally aspirated or turbo guise. Manual transmissions had four or five speeds, but the automatics were all of the three-speed variety.

Today’s Sunbird has one of the more sophisticated overhead cam engines (with fuel injection!), which I’m going to guess is the 1.8-liter version. Mated to an automatic transmission, the owner(s) throughout history only saw fit to drive their bird about 27,000 miles. She’s well equipped with air conditioning and power windows, and still has the nice historical touch of faux-spoke wheel covers. Located in rural Pennsylvania, the present owner wants $10,000 for his little red bird.

[Images via seller]