Pontiac Firebird

From Academic Kids

Missing image
1967 Pontiac Firebird convertible

The Pontiac Firebird was a sporty compact car built by the Pontiac Motor Division of General Motors and was manufactured from 1967 until 2002. Available in both coupe and convertible body styles, the Firebird was characterized by its aggressive styling and affordable muscle car performance. The car shared the same General Motors "F-Body" platform as the Chevrolet Camaro, also introduced in 1967. Production of both cars ceased in 2002.

The vehicles were, for the most part, powered by various V8 motors of different GM divisions. While primarily Pontiac-powered until 1981, Firebirds were built with several different engines from nearly every GM division.

All Firebirds have always included solid rear axles, also referred to as live axles. Pontiac switched to a coil spring/torque arm rear suspension design in 1982, which brought about a healthy but not overwhelming improvement over the pre-1981 Firebirds' excellent leaf spring/staggered shock arrangement.


First generation (1967–9)

The first-generation Firebirds had a characteristic "coke-bottle" styling. Unlike the Camaro, its bumpers were integrated into the design of the front end and its rear "slit" taillights were inspired by the Pontiac GTO. Both a two-door hardtop and a convertible were offered until the 1969 model year.

It was released five months after its Camaro twin and usually cost around $500 more. Unsurprisingly, the Firebird was outsold by the Camaro.

The base model had a 230 in³ (3.8 L) OHC six-cylinder, single-barrel carburetor motor developing 165 bhp (123 kW). The next model, the Sprint, had a four-barrel carburetor, developing 215 bhp (160 kW). Most buyers opted for the V8s: the 326 in³ (5.3 L) two-barrel 250 bhp (186 kW, the 'H.O.' (High Output) engine of the same size but with a four-barrel carburetor 285 bhp (213 kW), or the 400 in³ (6.6 L) from the GTO 325 bhp (242 kW). A Ram Air option was available, with hood scoops and stronger valve springs. The 230 in³ (3.8 L) engines were replaced by 250 in³ (4.1 L) ones, developing 175 bhp (130 kW) single barrel, and 215 bhp (160 kW) four-barrel. An H.O. version of the 400 in³ (6.6 L) was offered from 1968, with a revised cam, and developed 330 bhp (246 kW), while power output on the other engines increased marginally. In 1969, a $725 optional handling package called the Trans Am Performance and Appearance Package was introduced, with GM paying $5 to the SCCA for every car sold. Of these first Trans Ams, 689 hardtops and eight convertibles were made. There was an additional Ram Air IV engine option for the 400 in³ that year to complement the Ram Air II; these generated 335 and 330 bhp (250 and 246 kW) respectively.

Despite the 1969 model year being the last of this generation, production in fact went into 1970, totalling 17 months, due to problems with the 1970s.

Second generation (1970–81)

The second generation appeared for the 1970 model year. Replacing the coke bottle was a more swoopy body style, with the top of the rear window line going almost straight down to the lip of the trunk lid. This body style was the longest-serving, initially with a large C-pillar until 1974; from that year, the rear window was enlarged. A substantial slant-nose facelift came in 1977, redone in 1979.

By this time, the Firebird was appearing more anachronistic against its more modern Ford Mustang rival. Therefore, the third-generation model, from 1982, was more of a departure, with pop-up headlamps and a rear liftgate.

The Firebird Trans Am with the 455 motor was the last high-performance muscle motor of the original muscle car generation. The 455 motor first made its appearance in 1971 as the 455-HO. In 1972, the 455 was altered internally and rebadged the 455-SD. [1] (http://www.iwaynet.net/~gl&lisk/1973ta.html) Pontiac offered the 455 for a few more years, but tightening restrictions on vehicle emissions guaranteed its demise. The 1976 Trans Am was the last of the "Big Cube Birds" with only 7,100 units made with the 455 engine. [2] (http://www.iwaynet.net/~gl&lisk/1976ta.html)

In 1974, Pontiac started offering smaller engines in the Trans Am. The 400 engine was the only other option in the 1974, 1975, and 1976 models. In 1977, Pontiac offered the 400 as the "high performance" option with the Olds 403 as the standard engine for the Trans Am. [3] (http://www.iwaynet.net/~gl&lisk/1977ta.html) The 400/403 options were available until 1980 when, because of the still ever increasing emissions restrictions, Pontiac dropped all of its large displacement motors.

1980 saw the biggest engine changes for the Firebird. The 301, offered in 1979 as an option, was now the standard engine. Options included a turbocharged 301 or the Chevrolet 305 small block. [4] (http://www.iwaynet.net/~gl&lisk/1980ta.html)

The final year of the second generation Trans Am, 1981, still used the same engines as the previous year with no changes.

Third generation (1982–92)

The third-generation F-body was quite a bit lighter than its predecessor. GM's CCC ("Computer Command Control") engine control system continued to evolve, raising performance and fuel economy while simultaneously lowering emissions.


  • 1982-1983 LU5 5.0 L V8, 165-175 hp and 240-250 ft.lbf
  • 1982-1984 LC1 2.8 L V6, 102-107 hp and 142-145 ft.lbf
  • 1982-1985 LQ8 2.5 L I4, 88-92 hp and 132-134 ft.lbf
  • 1982-1987 LG4 5.0 L V8, 145-170 hp and 240-250 ft.lbf
  • 1983-1984 LL1 2.8 L V6, 125 hp and 145 ft.lbf
  • 1983-1986 L69 5.0 L V8, 190 hp and 240 ft.lbf
  • 1985-1989 LB8 2.8 L V6, 135 hp and 165 ft.lbf
  • 1985-1992 LB9 5.0 L V8, 190-230 hp and 275-300 ft.lbf
  • 1987-1992 L98 5.7 L V8, 225-240 hp and 330-340 ft.lbf
  • 1988-1992 L03 5.0 L V8, 170 hp and 255 ft.lbf
  • 1989-1989 LC2 3.8 L V6, 250 hp and 340 ft.lbf
  • 1990-1992 LH0 3.1 L V6, 140 hp and 180 ft.lbf

Fourth generation (1993–2002)

The fourth generation Firebird continued the previous generation's aerodynamic formula, but while a desirable sports car, it was victim to the falling sales of pony cars as younger buyers turned to imports. The final model year, 2002, featured a distinctive 35th anniversary edition, based on that year's Trans Am.

Firebirds on the screen

One of the best-known Firebirds was on television, in the James Garner series The Rockford Files. Garner's character drove a gold 1974 Firebird Esprit 400, updated each year of the series.

The Ponch character on 1970s television series CHiPs drove a gold Firebird while off-duty, again updated to the model year of the episode.

Three black Firebird Trans Ams featured in the Smokey and the Bandit movies, each of the model year in which the film was made.

The series Knight Rider also employed black Trans Ams, during its original run from 1982 to 1986.Plus, the 1969 model in the pilot. Even a brief look at a 1979 and a baby blue 1982 in one episode.

In the movie McQ starring John Wayne when he drives the 1973 Trans Am.

Actor Roy Scheider drove a 1979 Trans Am in Blue Thunder. So did Steve McQueen in The Hunter. And Sylvester Stallone in Rocky II.

Also, The Trans Am was seen in the movie Corvette Summer starring Mark Hamill.

The last appearance of the Firebird was in the movie The Last Ride. It was a grey 2002 convertible model.sv:Pontiac Firebird


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