UR4 Option Mystery Solved!

Speed Demon USA July 2004
By: Patrick Smith

Observing the auctions over the last several months in the United States and Canada has been an interesting experience. The muscle car market has been busy and the prices are out of sight. A look at Meadowbrook and Houstonís Vintage cars and Motorboats show by RM illustrates the buying fever. The Houston event was small but concentrated and the sell ratio was very high. Of the 83 vehicles offered, only 9 did not sell. Of note was the 1969 Pontiac GTO Judge clone which sold for $12,650, a 1971 GTO ragtop that sold for $29,975, and a 1963 Catalina ragtop that sold for $16,775. An early muscle classic, the 1957 Bonneville convertible sold for $97,000. Strong prices indeed. Plymouth muscle did well with a 1970 340 cuda coupe for $18,975, a í70 Hemi Roadrunner for $85,800. ( hmmm, why not get two, theyíre so cheap..) and a í69 Dodge Superbee for $38,500.
Corvettes did well at Houston with a í67 427 coupe garnering $64,350 and a í75 ragtop hitting $19,850. The biggest eye opener was the í70 SS 396 Chevelle convertible that went for $65,450. That pushed some big block Ďvette prices by the wayside. It may seem unlikely until you understand the rarity of the 396 and convertible combination. When GM brought out the 454 that year, the 396 petered off in sales.
Meadowbrook had a 1957 Bonneville convertible for sale too and it grabbed $96,800 dollars. If you think thatís wild, wait until you see a í58 Bonneville with fuel injection cross the block. Right up there with the early Hemi 300 letter cars. With all the commotion about cable televised auctions driving the prices sky high, you may be thinking itís game over for the average collector. It isnít so. I attended a smaller venue advertised locally in a publication called Old Autos. Read on!
On the old Bandit chatroom, one topic that generated good debate was the availability of option UR4, the turbo boost lights. While it was promoted heavily in print and buff magazines, most of the 1980 turbo cars that had them were in fact Y85 Indy pace cars. Subsequent examination of members 1980 Turbo SE cars revealed that no gauges were installed as late as May 1980. Since it was listed as a mandatory option, this opened up a discussion on when the lights came onboard. Reinhart auctions fielded a car that provided a solid answer. Advertised as selling a number of 1970s Trans ams and Z28s, I attended the venue.
Three of them were pretty rusted out and usable for parts only. One was in good condition and it was a 1980 Indy Pace Car. Second owner, original paint on 90 percent of the body, original interior and engine with recent overhaul of the turbocharger and driveline. This car was certified. The minimum the owner wanted on the pace car TA was $6,000. About $8,000 in repairs and a new turbocharger were performed. The auction proceeded and the high bid on the pace car was $5,200. The owner rightfully declined the bid and last I heard he was negotiating with some of the bidders. The Trans Am needed a paint job and decals to make it like new. For an enthusiast, it was a fair price. This car was less than 20 minutes away from where I live. Iím pretty sure similar deals exist in a town near you.
Hereís the interesting part; the VIN is 2X87TAN138070. My 1980 SE turbo is 137769. Thatís just 301 units later than my car. The month/week build was 03D, which makes it the last week in March, same week my car was made. The pace car had the turbo lights being a true Y85 car where my turbo did not get the option. This particular car verifies that while turbo 4.9 engines were available after November 1979, the Indy Pace cars had priority over the turbo boost gauge (UR4) availability. It would be interesting to know how many 1980 Turbo SEs actually got boost lights. My guess is very few. That clears up one mystery but the same pace car adds another one. On the cowl tag is the code CR2. I canít locate this option anywhere. Anyone have a clue what it is? Reproduced below is the cowl tag as it appeared on this pace car.
80 03D 2FS87 N 1034
11L 11U L
A51 CC1 A31 Y85
CR2 320643