This 1979 Pontiac Firebird came in for some freshening up. we repaired some rust on the quarters and doors replaced the fenders, both the front and rear bumper covers and trunk lid. Reinstalled the Formula decals and sent the wheels out to be stripped and powder coated. The client choose to change the color form white to black with gold wheels and gold decal set. We installed new carpet, door panels, reupholstered the seats & painted all of the interior trim panels. The car turned out Great, the client loved it!
The Pontiac Firebird is an automobile that was built by Pontiac from the 1967 to the 2002 model years. The Firebird was introduced the same year as the automaker’s platform-sharing model, the Chevrolet Camaro. This coincided with the release of the 1967 Mercury Cougar, which shared its platform with another pony car, the Ford Mustang.
The second generation debut for the 1970 model year was delayed until February 26, 1970, because of tooling and engineering problems; thus, its popular designation as a 1970½ model, while leftover 1969s were listed in early Pontiac literature without a model-year identification. This generation of Firebirds were available in coupe form only; convertibles disappeared after the 1969 model year.
- Firebird Esprit
- Firebird Formula
- Firebird Trans-Am
- Firebird Trans-Am WS6
- Firebird Skybird
- Firebird Redbird
- Firebird Yellowbird
- Black Special Edition (often incorrectly called ‘Bandit’ editions), 1976-1981
- Gold Special Edition, 1978 only.
- Macho Trans-Am (Package offered only by the dealership Mecham Pontiac in Glendale, AZ).
- 1976 50th (Pontiac) Anniversary Edition (which was also a Black Special Edition)
- 1978 Firebird Formula LT Sport Edition (Pontiac)
- 1979 10th (Trans Am) Anniversary Limited Edition
- 1980 Pace Car Indy 500 Edition (Turbo Trans Am)
- 1981 NASCAR Edition (turbo Trans Am).
Replacing the “Coke bottle” styling was a more “swoopy” body style, while still retaining some traditional elements. The top of the rear window line going almost straight down to the lip of the trunk lid, a look that was to epitomize F-body styling for the longest period during the Firebird’s lifetime. The new design was initially characterized with a large C-pillar, until 1975 when the rear window was enlarged.
There were two Ram Air 400 cu in (6.6 L) engines for 1970: the 335 hp (250 kW) Ram Air III (366 hp (273 kW) in GTO) and the 345 hp (257 kW) Ram Air IV (370 hp (280 kW) in GTO) that were carried over from 1969. The difference between the GTO and Firebird engines was the secondary carburetor linkage which prevented the rear barrels from opening completely. Bending the linkage to allow full carburetor operation resulted in identical engine performance.
The 455 engine available in the second generation Firebird Trans Am was arguably the last high-performance engine of the original muscle car generation. The 455 cu in (7.5 L) engine made its first appearance in the Firebird in 1971 as the 455-HO, which continued through the 1972 model year. In 1973 and 1974, a special version of the 455, called the Super Duty 455 (SD-455), was offered. The SD-455 consisted of a strengthened cylinder block that included 4-bolt main bearings and added material in various locations for improved strength. Original plans called for a forged crankshaft, although actual production SD455s received nodular iron crankshafts with minor enhancements. Forged rods and forged aluminum pistons were specified, as were unique high-flow cylinder heads.
The 480737 code cam (identical grind to the RAIV “041” cam) was originally specified for the SD455 engine and was fitted into the “pre-production” test cars (source: former Pontiac Special Projects Engineer Skip McCully*), one of which was tested by both HOT ROD and CAR AND DRIVER magazines. However, actual production cars were fitted with the milder 493323 cam and 1.5:1 rocker ratios, due to the ever-tightening emissions standards of the era. This cam and rocker combination, combined with a low compression ratio of 8.4:1 advertised (7.9:1 actual) yielded 290 SAE net horsepower. It should also be noted that production SD455 cars did not have functional hood scoops, while the “pre-production” test cars did.*
Actual production cars yielded 1/4 mile results in the high 14 to 15.0 second/98 MPH range (sources: MOTOR TREND MAGAZINE, July ’73 and Roger Huntington’s book, AMERICAN SUPERCAR) – results that are consistent with a 3,850 pound car (plus driver) and the rated 290 SAE net horsepower figure. (An original rating of 310 SAE net horsepower had been assigned to the SD455, though that rating was based on the emissions non-compliant “pre-production” engines, as discussed above. That rating appeared in published 1973 model year Pontiac literature, which had been printed prior to the “pre-production” engines “barely passing*” emissions testing, and the last minute switch to what became the production engine. 1974 model year production literature listed the specifications of the production engine (290 SAE net horsepower).
A production line stock SD455 produced 253 rear wheel HP on a chassis dyno, as reported by HIGH PERFORMANCE PONTIAC magazine (January, 2007). This is also consistent with the 290 SAE Net horsepower factory rating (as measured at the crankshaft). Skip McCully verified that no production SD455s released to the public were fitted with the 480737 cam.* When asked about the compromises for the production SD455 engine, Mr. McCully responded, “Compression, camshaft, jetting, and vacuum advance.” He followed by stating that he would have preferred a compression ratio of 10.25:1, a camshaft with 041 valve timing, slightly richer carburetor jetting, and as much vacuum advance as the engine would tolerate.* (*May, 2005 issue of HIGH PERFORMANCE PONTIAC Magazine). Regrettably, that proved to be impossible due to the emissions regulations of the era.
During a 1972 strike, the Firebird (and the sister F-body Camaro) were nearly dropped. Pontiac offered the 455 through the 1976 model year, but tightening restrictions on vehicle emissions guaranteed its demise. Thus, the 1976 Trans Am was the last of the “Big Cube Birds,” with only 7,100 units produced with the 455 engine.
The front end was restyled in 1979. It also marked the 10th Anniversary of the Trans Am, and a special anniversary package was made available: silver paint with gray upper paint accents and a silver leather interior. The 10th Anniversary cars also featured a special Firebird hood decal, which extended off of the hood and onto the front fenders. Pontiac produced 7,500 10th Anniversary cars, of which 1,817 were equipped with the Pontiac 400 engine (and coupled with the four-speed Borg Warner Super T-10 transmission). The only option on these cars was the engine (the 400 was not certified for California, nor was cruise control available with it), which dictated the transmission and the gear ratio (3.23 on the 400 cars, 2.73 on the 403 cars). In 1979 Pontiac sold 116,535 Trans Ams, the highest sold in a year.
Up until the 1979 models, the performance of 400-equipped Firebirds could still be brought up to near pre-1970 levels by removing the catalytic converter and opening up the block off plate to make the hood scoop functional. Static compression ratios dropped in the early 70s which crippled horsepower and torque output.