Pontiac TRANS AM 301 Turbo

America's first production turbocharged V-8

3y ago


The Pontiac 301 Turbo is an engine that Pontiac produced for the 1980 and 1981 Trans Ams. It was a V8 engine with a displacement of 301 cubic inch which produced an officially factory rated 210 hp (157 kW) and 345 ft·lb (468 N·m) of torque in 1980. In 1981 it underwent some changes and offered a conservatively rated 200 hp (149 kW) and 340 ft·lb (460 N·m) of torque.

The Turbo Trans Am was first added to the Pontiac model lineup in 1979 as a 1980 model year, and was the first production Pontiac V8 engine to utilize forced induction i.e. a turbo charging system. It was only available for two years, in the 1980 & 1981 model year, which were also the last two years of this body style of the Trans Am, before it was succeeded by an all-new model.


The 301 Turbo was unique in that it had a stronger block with thicker cylinder walls made from reinforced materials compared to the '77-'81 301 naturally aspirated unit, and featured a lower compression ratio (lower compression due to the increased pressure created by the turbo system).

Further it had newly developed internals such as forged pistons, a relatively mild camshaft, a high pressure oil pump (60 psi) to ensure adequate oil to the oil-cooled Garrett TBO-305 Turbocharger, a rolled fillet crankshaft with 2 instead of 5 counterbalances, a fully baffled oil pan, and a high pressure fuel pump (10 psi), a unique single plane intake, side and turbo-specific exhaust manifolds, and an Electronic Spark Controller(ESC) using a knock sensor to retard timing when detonation is detected.

The M4ME (E4ME for 1981) 800 cfm Rochester Quadrajet, unique to the 301 Turbo, had super rich "DX" secondary metering rods and a remote vacuum source for the primary metering rod enrichment circuit; the "PEVR" or Power Enrichment Valve Regulator. Boost was waste gate had a standard factory limited to 9 psi (+/- 1 psi), although factory default settings ranged from 7 on low, to 10 psi on high, and could be adjusted to much higher psi.

The 301 Turbo package (RPO code LU8) utilized air conditioning (C60) due to the turbo-specific heater core box, and automatic transmission (TH350 (non-lockup) for 1980, and THM350C (lock-up) for 1981) and 3.08 positraction rear axle ratio (G80).

Photo Courtesy Jeff Koch 1980-'81 Pontiac Turbo Trans Am.

Tags: #pontiac #classic-cars #americancars


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