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My first car- airbags question

Hello guys. First time posting here. I had a quick question. Before I start, I want to let you know I’m 17, so please don’t be so harsh on my question, it’s probably a stupid question. But anyway, I’m getting my first car this June, sometime in the summer. Well, I’ve had my eye on the 1982-83 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. Now I know it does not come with airbags, does come with seatbelts obviously. It’s in great condition, price is around 18000-19000 roughly as of current. My parents are fine with it but slightly worried about there being no airbag. They’re not completely forcing me to get a different car, but do you guys think it 100% matters if there is an airbag or not? Again, I’m only a teenager so I’m probably not thinking straight or not, but I just wanted to know. Thanks!

You may like this car, but it is 35 years old. Despite the good condition, all the rubber and metal parts are 35 years old, so expect a fair amount of repairs and some trouble finding parts. If your parents are willing to spend 19k then get something within the past 10 years. For that much you will find something faster, safer, more fun and way more reliable.


Nineteen THOUSAND for an '83 Trans Am? Was this the actual car used to film Knight Rider or something? To get me to pay that much for a 35 year old car, it would have to be something absurdly special, like the DeLorean from Back to the Future.

Look, you’re 17. This means that unless you come from lots of money, you’re by definition broke. There isn’t a 35 year old car on the planet that’s reliable, and it’s hard to find parts for a lot of them. I have a fun car that’s 10 years newer than the one you’re looking at, and it costs me vastly more money to keep running than my 10 year old luxury car. Airbags or not, if you’re a typical high school student, this car is going to financially ruin you.

To directly answer the question, ordinarily when people natter about airbags on a special old car they want, I tell them not to worry. However, you’re 17. In addition to being broke, this means you suck at driving. That’s not an insult - everyone sucked at driving when they were 17. I almost managed to kill myself in my dad’s minivan when I was your age, which is pretty impressive for a vehicle that took about a month to do 0-60. :wink:

Statistically, you’re very likely to get in a wreck. Over a quarter million teenagers wreck each year. Six teenagers die every day from wrecks, and 75% of those wrecks are caused by bad driving on the part of the teenager. In other words, you’re bad at driving right now because you haven’t done it very much, you’re likely to get into a wreck, and you’d be much more likely to survive if your car had more modern safety features. Sadly, the 80’s Trans Ams, cool as they look, do not fit that bill.

Get something fun but practical that’s a lot newer (you can easily get a Civic that’s only a few years old for that price, and they’re very enjoyable to drive), do well in school, graduate, get a good job, make lots of money, and practice driving (run some autocrosses - they’re insanely fun and do a great job at teaching car control while being very safe because there’s only one car on track at any given time). Then, when you’re more financially stable and you’re a better driver, you can more safely start looking at the cool old collector cars.


If you were my child and I was going to be spending nearly 20k on a car, I wouldn’t be buying a 35 year old car. Teenagers are, inherently, among the least safe drivers on the road. I’d rather you be in something much newer with modern safety features, like ABS, air bags, side curtain air bags, etc. That doesn’t even take into account that a car that’s 35 years old is going to have so many problems due to it’s age

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Yep, you’re probably not going to like our answers. Driving a car as a teen male is probably the riskiest thing you will do in your life. An old Trans Am makes it much worse, because it has very poor crash protection and very GREAT crash creation. You’re not wanting one because it was a slow, boring car, right? I was a teen, I drove like an idiot, luckily I had maybe 100 hp out of a small 6 to deal with.

Your parents are right to be worried about this car.


If I had a 17 year old, I would not let him buy this car with his money, let alone mine.

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Even for drivers with years of experience can have close calls in these cars, A co-worker found out what a 90’s Camaro Z28 can do in the rain at freeway speeds, good thing there was no traffic when she did a 360 spin at 50-60mph.

Something like a Scion TC might be an option.

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I’m with the others. $19K for a car that age is way, way, way too high. And Kolby and others also made some good points about its age.

My recommendation for $19K is to shop for a new car of a lesser status. You’ll do far, far better, have all the latest safety features, a warranty, and be able to break the car in yourself.


Dxxx. You’re right. I don’t like these answers. But you make good points. I’m going to have to put aside the Trans Am for now and get something more reliable, and cheaper. But I still want a car that’s Manual transmission, too many people here in the US use Auto and I don’t want to be like them. :smiley:


He might have meant $1,900 which is OK or QX (Lensman Series by E.E. Smith). Air Bags schmear bags are not necessary. You can’t eliminate all risk. They don’t stop bullets or crowbars when the car breaks down in the middle of anywhere. The age of the car would be a concern except for newer cars can quit for almost no reason.

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Oh man…bad typo, you’re right I meant $1900. sorry for the misunderstanding. I see trans am go for 1000s to 3000s, but there are some crazy prices I’ve seen, like 20000! Wow. But either way, I guess it isn’t the right choice for me at the moment anyway. It sure would be nice if the car was a bit earlier but that’s the way it is I guess. Maybe in a couple years I’ll get it, just leave it in my garage and drive it around for a small while every now and then. I do know how to repair most cars, as my dad is an engineer and my uncle is too, they both have even designed and built engines for cars in the past. So even if I was to get it, the repairs that I know it would need fairly often I wouldn’t mind doing at all, I love repairing cars all the time in my garage with music all the time. But it would be an issue when it happens on the road of course. But anyway, thanks guys, I’ll look into my other options.

This is something most people would keep as a 2nd car as a hobby. Even if it’s restored, it’s going to require a lot of upkeep due to the age. You’ll be be much happier with something newer.

I personally wouldn’t let my kids drive something that fast for a 1st car. Too dangerous, start out with something safe and reliable. I wrecked 2 cars when I was your age, I was lucky nobody was injured. I think having a manual trans is fine, might even be safer than an automatic for a young driver.

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Yup, I totally understand. Just called the guy selling it and asked how practical it would be for someone like me to be driving it. His answer was similar to yours, not at all practical.

Which leads me to another question, is there a similar Pontiac or Trans Am of the sort that I can buy that is safer and more practical for me? I still very much love the Trans Ams themselvers, no matter what generation. If not, that’s fine, I’ll find a newer car to better suit my untuned driving skills right now, but just wondering.

One more thing, when would it be fine to be able to own and drive the Trans Am I inquired about today? It’s a street legal race car, so probably around 30 something years, I suppose?

Huge red flag about the car. Huge. There is no such thing as a street legal race car. Is is one of those BS phrases people that have no clue use to pump up their street cars hoping the unsuspecting will buy them. Red Flag! I owned and raced an 84 Camaro that was a RACE car, not a STREET car. There is a big difference between the 2.

There are LOTS of Red Flags about this car besides that. 3rd generation Trans Ams were quality nightmares especially in the first 2 years. $1900 for a modded 35 year old car? Too little money means too much like junk, too hard to fix the car when the mods go to junk. The safety part enters because it will rarely run.

Considering your auto insurance will be rather high until you are about 25, avoid the performance car categories until age 26 or so or until you get a job that pays very good money.

You can race what might be considered boring (cheap insurance) cars safely at SCCA autocrosses or bracket race at your local drag strip. Classes for all types of cars, slow and fast race you against similar cars. You can have a blast autocrossing something like a Scion Xc or a Honda Fit. Sliding around corners on a parking lot is fun and a low cost form of racing. Look up SCCA, Solo 2 and autocross.

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The parents need some education about the accident statistics of teenage drivers apparently.

The other thought is the $1900.00 Transam might be safe because it is going to be broke most of time.


Oh sorry about that, that’s the phrase the guy on the phone used so I ended up using it too. I’ll keep your points in mind from now on.

Some other guy is selling a 97 Pontiac Formula. Looks okay, anyone here own one? Or is it still a crap choice for me? This one happens to be 10k, I don’t know about that. Opinions?

That was actually pretty funny. Haha!

While your use of Dxxx and Dxxxxx is not terribly offensive as a young person now is the time to learn that proper writing on an open web site will help you later in life.

Give up on the old muscle type vehicles for now.

I didn’t write anything offensive?..

A Gen 4 F car is much better than the Gen 3 but $10K for one is about twice to 3 times what Kelly Blue Book thinks its worth. It has airbags and ABS brakes and is generally a better car but it IS still 20 years old.

BTW a 1998 model is a better choice as it has the 5.7 liter LS1 V8 rather than the problematic LT-1.