30 Years After Its Theft, a 1983 Pontiac Firebird Was Found Drowned in a Lake and No One Knows How It Got There

Besides shining in the limelight as the high-tech chariot K.I.T.T. in the TV series Knight Rider, the early-’80s Pontiac Firebird was the pinnacle of cool cars. So it stands to reason that more than a few Firebirds ended up stolen thanks to their desirability.

But not all of those swiped rides mysteriously ended up at the bottom of a lake, and even fewer were uncovered 30 years later by chance. One was, though.

The story of the submerged Pontiac Firebird

A 1982 Pontiac Firebird parked on a street in December 1981
A 1982 Pontiac Firebird | Denver Post via Getty Images

The 1983 Pontiac Firebird was accidentally uncovered in August 2019. A homeowner’s association was draining a small lake near Atlanta, Georgia, for maintenance when the car emerged.

Though the situation sparked concern of foul play or worry of a missing person stuck in the vehicle, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Divers who investigated the car saw no signs of a driver, making this an odd event and not a tragedy, Motorious reported. 

Cars being abandoned on public roads happens, but how or why the Firebird ended up in the lake is unclear. The owner had reported the car stolen in 1989.

What did the car look like when they pulled it out of the water?

As you might imagine, the Pontiac Firebird was in bad shape once local authorities dragged it out of the water. Overall, it was mud-bogged and waterlogged, with the rear suspension bottomed out.

In addition to having mud piled on the hood and inside, the car was missing its windows and windshield. Despite all that, the tires still looked inflated. Don’t count on this one having started right up, though. 

Several decades of being submerged in the lake meant the Firebird would have little to salvage, with water in the engine and parts corroded or rotten. 

So there doesn’t seem to be a fairytale ending to this odd situation. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported it was unclear if the vehicle’s owner was contacted regarding the car’s recovery.

1983 Pontiac Firebird specs and features

The Pontiac Firebird has a fascinating history, complete with one concept boasting a Ferrari engine. The 1980s marked the car’s third generation for Pontiac, GM’s now-defunct performance division.

According to Muscle Car Facts, Pontiac had revamped the Firebird for 1982 and mostly kept the 1983 model year the same. A feather in the carmaker’s cap, the 1983 Trans Am was also the official pace car of the Daytona 500, adding to its cool cred. There were three trims available: a hatchback, the Firebird S/E, and the Trans Am.

Performance-wise, the base model had a 2.5-liter, inline-four engine producing a mere 90 hp. The Firebird S/E came standard with a 2.8-liter V6 making 125 hp. There were other options available, though, such as the 305 V8 harnessing 165 hp and sporting cold-air intakes on the hood.

As for features, the 1983 Firebird donned a T-handle gear shifter on the automatic transmission model. Buyers could also add extras like leather seats, and who can forget the fiery bird emblazoned on the hood of some Trans Am models? 

Pontiac also sold a replica version of the 1983 Daytona 500 Trans Am that included Recaro leather sport seats, 15-inch rims, and a red backlit instrument panel. The automaker produced about 2,500 examples, and some are still available on sites like AutoTrader.

RELATED: These 3 Cars Could Play KITT in the New ‘Knight Rider’ Movie