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 Pontiac Firebird



Introduction: Having watched first the Ford Mustang and then the Chevrolet Camaro enter into the pony car market, Pontiac finally got into the act in the middle of 1967. The Firebird was offered with both six and eight cylinder engines, like the Mustang and Camaro, and was based heavily on the Chevrolet Camaro chassis. Pontiac did try to make it their own and would create a European styled and mannered pony car that could hold its own against its more experienced competition.

1967 Pontiac Firebird

Comments: The Pontiac Firebird was released five months after the Chevrolet Camaro, and offered buyers choices of six and eight cylinder engines. Pontiac was able to use that additional time to create a unique identity for the Firebird, despite having to use the Camaro chassis. Initially, five different Firebirds were available, named after their respective engine choices. The top engine choice was the 400 V8 borrowed from the GTO. This engine was rated at 325 bhp, and was available with or without Ram Air (which suspiciously didn't affect the engine rating, hmm.) The Ram Air engine included a hotter cam, stronger valve springs, and made use of the otherwise decrorative hood scoops. A heavy-duty three speed was standard, a four speed manual and three speed automatic were optional. Performance axle ratios up to 4.33:1 were available as well as front disk brakes. Firebird prices were roughly $200 more than comprable Camaros and the Camaro outsold it two to one. But Pontiac's pony car had arrived.
Production: Hardtop Coupe: 67,032 Convertible: 15,526
Engines: 230 I6 165 bhp. 230 I6 215 bhp. 326 V8 250 bhp. 326 V8 285 bhp. 400 V8 325 bhp @ 4800 rpm, 410 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm. 400 V8 (Ram Air) 325 bhp @ 5200 rpm, 410 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm.
Performance: 400/325: 0-60 in 6.2 sec, 1/4 mile in 14.7 sec @ 98 mph.

1968 Pontiac Firebird

Comments: The Pontiac Firebird underwent minor changes for its second year. On the exterior, it lost its side vent windows and gained fender marker lights. The interior was revised and the rear suspension was refined. The big news was under the hood. The standard 400 engine gained 5 bhp to 330 while the Ram Air engine was rated at 335 bhp. In mid year, it was replaced by the 340 bhp Ram Air II. Newly available was a third 400 V8, named the HO (High Output) that was slotted between the two other engines. The 400 HO cam with free-flow exhausts and its own revised cam (when mated to the four speed manual). It too was rated at 335 bhp. On the lower side of the model line, the 230 I6 was replaced by a new 250 I6 and the 326 V8s were replaced by new 350 V8. Performance was definitely the key at Pontiac.
Production: Hardtop Coupe: 90,152 Convertible: 16,960
Engines: 250 I6 175 bhp. 250 I6 215 bhp. 250 I6 230 bhp. 350 V8 265 bhp. 350 V8 330 bhp. 400 V8 330 bhp @ 4800rpm, 430 lb-ft @ 3300 rpm. 400 V8 (HO) 335 bhp @ 5000 rpm, 430 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm. 400 V8 (Ram Air) 335 bhp @ 5300 rpm, 430 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm.
Performance: 400/335 (HO): 0-60 in 5.5 sec, 1/4 mile in 14.2 sec @ 100 mph.

1969 Pontiac Firebird

Comments: The Pontiac Firebird underwent a major restyling for the 1969 model year. The front end was redone and the rear end and interior were changed slightly. The redesign did not do well with customers, and sales fell, despite the fact that production lasted for 17 months, well into 1970 due to production problems with the 1970 model. The Ram Air 400 was renamed the Ram Air IV and had a slight increase in power. The 400 HO option was known as either the Ram Air, Ram Air II, or simply HO. It too received a slight increase in power. In March of 1969, Pontiac released a little publicized option package, the Trans Am Performance and Appearance Package. Offered as a $725 option, only 689 Firebird coupes and 8 convertibles (talk about a collectible) were built. Although not appearent at the time, the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, along with the Chevrolet Corvette, would be the only American high performance cars that would remain in continuous production since their inception. The Trans Am came standard with the HO engine with Ram Air (also called the Ram Air III). The only engine option was the 400 Ram Air IV, ordered on just 55 coupes and all 8 convertibles. All Trans Ams were Polar White with blue racing stripes, tail panel, and decals. The exclusive hood had functional air intakes which could be closed by the driver and functional fender scoops designed to vent the engine bay. A 60 inch rear foil (spoiler) was mounted on the trunk. Although the Trans Am was no faster than similarly equiped Firebirds, it represented the peak of Pontiac performance excitement.
Production: Hardtop Coupe: 76,059 Convertible: 11,649 Trans Am Hardtop Coupe: 689 Trans Am Convertible: 8
Engines: 250 I6 175 bhp. 250 I6 215 bhp. 250 I6 230 bhp. 350 V8 265 bhp. 350 V8 330 bhp. 400 V8 330 bhp @ 4800rpm, 430 lb-ft @ 3300 rpm. 400 V8 (HO) 335 bhp @ 5000rpm, 430 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm. 400 V8 (Ram Air II) 335 bhp @ 5000 rpm, 430 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm. 400 V8 (Ram Air IV) 345 bhp @ 5400 rpm, 430 lb-ft @ 3700 rpm.
Performance: 400/335 (RA IV): 0-60 in 6.3 sec, 1/4 mile in 14.1 sec @ 101 mph.

1970 Pontiac Firebird

Comments: An all new Pontiac Firebird was introduced for 1970 and represented a new high for Pontiac styling. The front bumper and grille were molded out of Endura rubber and were painted the same color as the car. The sides sported full wheel cut outs without any extra trim. The suspension was revised and a rear stabilizer bar was added. Sadly, the convertible was eliminated. The Firebird lineup was reduced from six to four and once again the Trans Am was the top choice. The Trans Am was fitted with air dams across the bottom of the front and in front of the wheels. A large decklip lip and small spoilers in front of the rear wheels completed the package. These aero pieces were claimed to generate 50 pounds of downforce on the front and rear of the car at highway speeds. Trans Ams also received a rear facing shaker hood scope to feed the standard Ram Air II engine. Optional on the Trans Am was the Ram Air IV engine, whose output had increased to 370 bhp due to bigger ports, better heads, swirl-polished valves, and an aluminum instake manifold. Only 88 copies were made. Rarer still was the Ram Air V, an over-the-counter, special order engine that included solid lifters and tunnel port heads and made up to 500 bhp. Inside, complete instrumentation, including a tach turned on its side to red line at 12 o'clock just like a race car, completed the performance image. The Trans Am was now available in either blue or white, with contrasting stripes. A four speed Hurst shifter was standard, but a three speed Turbo Hydra-matic automatic was available.
Production: Formula 400: 7,708 Trans Am: 3,196
Engines: 250 I6 155 bhp. 350 V8 255 bhp. 400 V8 265 bhp. 400 V8 330 bhp @ 4800rpm, 430 lb-ft @ 3000 rpm. 400 V8 (HO) 335 bhp @ 5000rpm, 430 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm. 400 V8 (Ram Air II) 345 bhp @ 5000 rpm, 430 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm. 400 V8 (Ram Air IV) 370 bhp @ 5500 rpm, 445 lb-ft @ 3900 rpm. 400 V8 (Ram Air V) 500bhp.
Performance: 400/370 (RA IV): 0-60 in 5.6 sec, 1/4 mile in 13.9 sec @ 102 mph.

1971 Pontiac Firebird

Comments: 1971 saw little styling change for the Pontiac Firebird. Rather, the major changes were under the hood. In order to satisfy General Motors decree that all engines had to run on unleaded gasoline to meet federal emission standards, the engine options were significantly alter. A new 400 V8 w/ 300 bhp was added, but both 400 Ram Air engines were dropped. In their place were two new 455 V8s, rated at 325 bhp and 335 bhp. The 455 HO engine was only available in the Trans Am and borrowed the cylinder heads from the 1970 Ram Air II and the intake manifold from the 1970 Ram Air IV. The Trans Am continued with its blue and white paint scheme, functional rear facing engine shaker hood scoops, and aero body pieces. Although the 455's available in the Trans Am were less powerful than the 1970 Ram Air II and IV engines, its 480 lb-ft of torque and less tempermental nature made it easier to drive on the street and was one of the high points in a time when performance was on the decline.
Production: Formula: 7,802 Trans Am: 2,116
Engines: 400 V8 300 bhp @ 4800rpm, 400 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm. 455 V8 325 bhp @ 4400 rpm, 455 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm. 455 V8 (HO) 335 bhp @ 4800 rpm, 480 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm.
Performance: 455/335 (HO): 0-60 in 5.9 sec, 1/4 mile in 13.9 sec @ 103 mph.

1972 Pontiac Firebird

Comments: 1972 was a disasterous year for the Firebird. GM executives considered dropping the Firebird altogether as sales fell drastically as the muscle car market collapsed, which was worsened by a crippling 174 day strike at the only plant that produced Firebirds. Pontiac executives were able to eventually save the Firebird and it continued, with very little change from 1971 except that its engines were now rated in net SAE numbers.
Production: Formula: 5,249 Trans Am: 1,286
Engines: 400 V8 250 bhp @ 4400rpm, 325 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm. 455 V8 300 bhp @ 4000 rpm, 415 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm.

1973 Pontiac Firebird

Comments: 1973 saw some significant new changes to the Firebird, and the revision of the front bumper. A new Super Duty (SD) 455 V8 was made available, which re-established Pontiac as the performance manufacturer during the dark days of the 1970s. The Super Duty engine (the name was used on high performance Pontiac engines in the early 1960s) were all hand assembled and put out an impressive 310 bhp and 390 lb-ft, in an era when other manufacturer's engines' output were falling dramatically. Also available on the Trans Am was a new Firebird decal, which was quickly named "the screaming chicken" which added to the excitement and popularity of the entire Firebird lineup. Sales of the Firebird and Trans Am were up dramatically, ensuring their survival until the present day.
Production: Formula: 10,166 Trans Am: 4,802
Engines: 400 V8 230 bhp @ 4400rpm, 325 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm. 455 V8 250 bhp @ 4000 rpm, 370 lb-ft @ 2800 rpm. 455 (SD) V8 310 bhp @ 4000 rpm, 390 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm.

1974 Pontiac Firebird

Comments: 1974 was a difficult year for the Firebird. Gone was the Endura bumper, replaced by new, Federally mandated, fiberglass front end and rubber covered 5 mph bumpers. The chrome rear bumper was also gone, replaced by those pesky rubber bumpers. The base engine on Trans Am's was the 225 bhp 400 V8. But for a mere $57, buyers could order the 250 bhp 455 V8, which received a 10 lb-ft boost to 380 lb-ft, but came only with an automatic transmission. The mighty Super Duty 455 V8 was also available for an additional $578 and were unchanged from the year before. All V8s included true dual exhausts, which made their last appearance on the Firebird. Also available for the last time on the 1974 Firebirds were the Muncie 4-speed manual transmission and the TurboHydramatic 400 automatic transmission. The lower output of the 1975 engines would make those heavyduty transmissions unnecessary.
Production: Formula: Trans Am: 10,255 Super Duty 455: 943
Engines: 400 V8 225 bhp @ 4000 rpm, 330 lb-ft @ 2800 rpm. 455 V8 250 bhp @ 4000 rpm, 380 lb-ft @ 2800 rpm. 455 (SD) V8 310 bhp @ 4000 rpm, 390 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm.
Performance: SD455/310: 1/4 mile in 13.5 seconds @ 104 mph

1975 Pontiac Firebird

Comments: In what had been a sea of pony car competitors, the Pontiac Firebird was all alone for 1975. The Camaro Z28, AMC Javelin, Plymouth Barracuda, and Dodge Challenger all were discontinued. The Ford Mustang was now offered on a Pinto platform and boasted a top engine offering of a 105 bhp 2.8 liter V6! The 1975 Firebird featured a new front end (it's third in three years) and a much improved rear window, which greatly improved visibility. The instrument panel stayed the same, but the old 160 mph speedometer was replaced by a new 100 mph unit, to reflect the new times. The base 400 cid V8 Trans Am engine put out a pitiful 185 bhp, but still cranked out 310 lb-ft of torque. But the big news was what was lost: No Super Duty 455 engine, no Turbo-Hydramatic 400 automatic transmission, no Muncie Four-Speed Manual Transmission, no true dual exhausts. The main culprit: the new Federally mandated Catalytic Converters. The 455 V8 continued in "H.O." guise, but it was just the 455 engine from the Bonneville and produced only 200 bhp. 
Production: Formula: Trans Am: 27,274
Engines: 400 V8 185 bhp, 310 lb-ft. 455 V8 200 bhp @ 3800 rpm, 330 lb-ft @ 2000 rpm. 455 (SD) V8 310 bhp @ 4000 rpm, 390 lb-ft @ 3600 rpm.
Performance: 455/200: 1/4 mile in 16.1 seconds @ 89 mph

History from: www.musclecarclub.com