1967 – 2002 All American Pontiac Firebird

1967 – 2002 Pontiac Firebird

The Pontiac Firebird is an American muscle car that was built by the Pontiac Motor Division of General Motors from 1967 to 2002.

It was unveiled on the 23rd of February 1967 alongside the Chevrolet Camaro. Both cars shared the same F body platform.  Pontiac Firebird and Chevrolet Camaro were developed to compete with the Ford Mustang and its upscale Mercury Cougar variant.

The Firebird name was used by GM for several concept cars before in the 1960s and early 1970s.

Pontiac originally planned to make a two-seat sports car based on the Banshee concept car, but GM fearing that this would result in lower Chevrolet Corvette sales, told the Pontiac Motor Division to create an upscale pony car based on the same F body platform as the Chevrolet Camaro.

First Generation Pontiac Firebird

1967 – 1969 Pontiac Firebird

1967 pontiac firebird convertible
1967 pontiac firebird convertible
1967 pontiac firebird rear
1967 pontiac firebird rear

The first Pontiac Firebird featured Coke bottle styling. Chevrolet Camaro also featured this Coke bottle styling. To comply with Pontiac’s design language, the front bumpers were integrated into the design of the front fascia. This resulted in a more streamlined look when compared to the Camaro.

 The rear slit-style taillights were a reference to the 1966 and 1967 Pontiac GTO.

1967 pontiac firebird rear slit taillights
1967 Pontiac firebird rear slit taillights

The 1967 model year’s base variant came equipped with a 3.8-liter (230 cu) single overhead cam inline-six engine. This engine was fitted with a single barrel carburetor and the total power output was 165 horsepower.

The Sprint trim variant came with the same 3.8-liter inline-six engine, but now it was mated with a four-barrel carburetor system. This resulted in a power delivery of 215 horsepower.

Optional V8 engines were as follows.

5.3-liter (326 cu) V8 with two-barrel carburetor system, producing 250 horsepower. The same 5.3-liter V8 with high output four-barrel carburetion, delivering  285 horsepower. The 6.6-liter (400 cu) V8 derived from the Pontiac GTO was also available.

All the 1967 and 1968 6.6-liter V8 engines had throttle restrictors that blocked the carburetor’s second barrels from fully opening.

RAM Air Induction package was also available. This came with a functioning hood scoop, higher flow heads with stronger valve springs, and a better camshaft.

1968 pontiac firebird 400 front
1968 Pontiac firebird 400 front
1968 pontiac firebird 400
1968 Pontiac firebird 400
1968 pontiac firebird
1968 Pontiac firebird
1968 pontiac firebirdside
1968 Pontiac firebird side
1967 pontiac firebird
1967 Pontiac Firebird
1968 Pontiac firebird 1
1968 Pontiac firebird 1
1968 Pontiac firebird 2
1968 Pontiac firebird 2
1968 pontiac firebird 400 convertible rear
1968 Pontiac firebird 400 convertible rear
1968 pontiac firebird rear
1968 Pontiac firebird rear

In 1968, the 3.8-liter inline-six engine was replaced with a Chevrolet 4.1 -liter (250 cu) engine. The 5.3-liter V8 was replaced with a Pontiac 5.7-liter (350 cu) V8 engine. This 5.3-liter V8 produced 265 horsepower with two-barrel carburetion. The High Output version of the 5.6-liter V8 came with a revised camshaft and developed 320 horsepower.

All the other engines were reworked to deliver slightly more power.

The 1968 model year received several styling changes such as federally mandated side marker lights for the front fascia, turn signals were now larger and extended to wrap around the edges of the car, the front door vent windows were replaced with a single pane of glass, and a fresh air inlet system.

The 1969 model year received a significant facelift with a new front fascia with the major difference being the lack of an Endura bumper which it shared with the GTO. The instrument cluster and the steering wheel were completely revised and the ignition switch was moved from the dashboard to the steering column with the introduction of GM’s new locking ignition switch and steering wheel. 

1969 pontiac firebird side
1969 pontiac firebird side
1969 pontiac firebird
1969 pontiac firebird

RAM Air IV package was made available for the 1969 model year.

1969 Pontiac Firebird 400 Ram Air IV

1969 pontiac firebird
1969 pontiac firebird
1969 pontiac firebird 400
1969 pontiac firebird 400

Only 157 Pontiac Firebird 400 Ram Air IV cars were made for the 1969 model year.

Pontiac 389 – 400 Firebirds and GTOs. The standard four-barrel carburetor attached 400 or 400 HO engines provided strong street performance without the $500 extra Ram Air IV option. The Ram Air IV-powered cars ran fine on the street when comparing to the 426 Hemi offered by the Chrysler. 

The Pontiac Firebird 400 was released through the Royal Pontiac dealership in Royal Oak, Michigan. Royal Pontiac was the country’s premier high-performance Pontiac dealership. The Pontiac Motor Division and Jim Wangers, the marketing head at the Pontiac and the Milt Schornack, the high-performance division manager at Pontiac, all worked closely with the Royal Pontiac to build race cars and to set up special cars for magazine road tests and for promotional purposes.

The main reason for this factory backdoor race car production was due to the racing ban enforced by the American Automobile Manufacturers Association (AMA). To bypass the law the Pontiac Motor Division provided certain engines and performance packages as an option to a base car. This is where the Royal Pontiac comes to play as an aftermarket performance enhancer.

The 1969 Pontiac Firebird 400 Ram IV is capable of mid-13-second quarter-mile runs thanks to the Ram Air IV 400 cubic inch V8 engine. According to the official spec sheet, the Ram Air IV 400 cubic inch V8 engine is capable of delivering 345 horsepower at 3400 rpm and 430 lb-ft of torque at 3700 rpm max. The Firebird also came with a single four-barrel Quadrajet sitting on an all-aluminum intake manifold, Cam was a 308/320 stick hydraulic with functional hood scoops and a special air cleaner.

Optional features were the deluxe interior, power front disc brakes, power steering, tilt steering column, hood tach, and Rally II wheels.

The Firebird came with the excellent build quality. The Pontiac was capable of achieving mid 13 second quarter mile runs at 107 mph top speed, making it one of the fastest cars at the time.

In 1969, a special 5-liter (303 cu) engine was designed for SCCA road racing events and it was not available for road cars or production cars.

In March 1969, an optional handling package known as the Trans Am performance and appearance package was made available. This was a $1083 extra. A total of 689 hardtops and eight convertibles were made with this package.

During an engineering problem regarding the revised 1970 model year Firebird, the introduction of the new Firebird was delayed from the usual fall debut into the early months of 1970. This resulted in a longer production run of 1969 model year Pontiac Firebird.

The transmission systems were a two-speed automatic, a three-speed Turbo Hydramatic, a three-speed manual, and a four-speed manual.

A total of 82,560 cars were made for the 1967 model year, another 107,112 in 1968, and 87,708 cars in 1969. These 1969 model year cars produced in the early months of 1970 were listed in early Pontiac catalogs without model year identification.

Second Generation Pontiac Firebird

1970 – 1981 Pontiac Firebird

1970 pontiac fiirebird trans am
1974 Pontiac firebird trans am

The second generation of the Pontiac Firebird was unveiled on the 26th of February 1970. The delayed debut was due to the tooling and development issues.

Due to the delayed introduction, this car was designed as a 1970 mid-year model.

The convertible body variant wasn’t available for this new generation Firebird due to the lack of demand.

The trim variants were as follows. Firebird Base, Firebird Esprit, Firebird Formula, and a Firebird Trans Am.

1970 pontiac firebird 400 side profile
1970 Pontiac firebird 400 side profile
1970 pontiac firebird 400front profile
1970 Pontiac firebird 400 front profile
1971 pontiac firebird rear
1970 Pontiac firebird rear

The second-generation Pontiac Firebird featured a swoopy body style instead of the Coke bottle styling. Despite this, some traditional elements were retained. 

 1971 Pontiac Firebird TransAm

1970 Pontiac Trans Am Coupe 1
1970 Pontiac Trans Am Coupe 1
1970 Pontiac Trans Am Coupe 2
1970 Pontiac Trans Am Coupe 2
1970 pontiac trans am coupe
1970 Pontiac trans am coupe

The Pontiac 7.5-liter (455 cu) V8 first became available for the Firebird in 1971. This engine in the L75 version was delivering 325 horsepower. The High Output LS5 variant delivered 335 horsepower. This High Output variant included RAM Air induction.

The High Output LS5 7.5-liter V8 was the only available engine for the Pontiac Firebird TransAm.

In 1972, following the 1972 labor strike, the Firebird and the F body Chevrolet Camaro was almost discontinued by GM to cover up development costs.

The 7.5-liter LS5 was the only engine option for the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am.

According to the July 1973 Motor Trend Magazine, the Pontiac Firebird ran the quarter-mile in 15 seconds with a top speed of 98mph.

This Pontiac Firebird was actually a production car and was equipped with four-barrel Rochester Quadrajet carburetors. This car packed a total of 290 horsepower at 4000rpm and a maximum torque of 395 lb-ft at 3600rpm. The maximum performance of the engine was rated at 310 horsepower before according to the SAE net which was based on the emissions non-compliant pre-production engines. These pre-production engines barely passed the emission requirements mandated by the Federal emission regulations.

SD 455 powertrain option.

In 1973 and 1974, a special variant of the 7.5-liter V8 was made available. This variant was known as the Super Duty 455 or SD 455.

The main difference being the SD 455 consists of a strengthened cylinder block that included four-bolt main bearings and added material in various locations to improve strength. The original plan was to include a forged crankshaft, but the actual production SD 455 came with a nodular iron crankshaft with minor enhancements. However, forged rods and forged aluminum pistons were included along with the unique high flow cylinder heads.

Pontiac offered the SD 455 engine throughout the 1976 model year, despite the fact that this engine could not meet ever-tightening emission standards.

A total of 7100 cars were made with the SD 455 engine.

The 1974 model year Firebird went through many modifications such as the addition of many safety-related structural enhancements such as the new shock-absorbing bumpers. These new bumpers were developed to absorb the energy at a 5mph crash without deforming or damaging safety-related mechanical components such as headlights.

1974 pontiac firebird 2
1974 Pontiac firebird 2
1974 pontiac firebird 1
1974 Pontiac firebird 1
1974 pontiac firebird
1974 Pontiac firebird

This resulted in a significant weight increase which resulted in a total weight of 1746kg in the first year of production.

The 1974 model year car featured a redesigned front fascia and new wide slotted taillights.

The base engine was either a 4.1-liter (250 cu) inline-six delivering 100 horsepower or a 5.7-liter V8 delivering 155 horsepower.

An optional 6.6-liter (400 cu) V8 was available in either low output or higher output variations resulting in 175 to 335 horsepower.

 pontiac firebird 400 cu engine

Pontiac Firebird 400 cu engine

Additional 7.5-liter (455 cu) V8 was also available with a power output of 215 to 250 horsepower.

The SD 455 option delivered 290 horsepower. This engine was available for the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am alongside the 6.6-liter V8 and the 7.5-liter V8 for the 1974 model year.

The 1975 model year received a new wraparound rear window with a revised roofline to improve rear visibility. The turn signals were moved up from the valance panel to the grills.

The Super Duty 455 (SD 455), Muncie four-speed transmission, and the Turbo Hydramatic 400 automatic transmission were no longer available for the 1975 model year. The main reason for this was the use of catalytic converters starting in 1975.

The Hydramatic 400 would not fit alongside the catalytic converter underneath the vehicle.   The Turbo Hydramatic 350 automatic was considered as more than enough instead of the Turbo Hydramatric 400 automatic.

The Turbo Hydramatic 400 automatic was standard for the 1975 and 1976 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. The 7.5-liter engine was also available as an option for the 1975 and 1976 Trans Am.

 In 1976, Pontiac celebrated their 50th anniversary. To celebrate this event, Pontiac unveiled a new variant of the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. This was known as the Anniversary package for the Firebird Trans Am.

It was the first production black and gold special edition for a Pontiac.

A removable T-top roof with removable panels on each side of a rigid bar running from the center of one pillar to the other was available as an option. This T-top roof was developed by the Hurst. This T-top roof resulted in poor structural rigidity and many reliability concerns.

1976 model year marked as the last year to feature the 7.5-liter V8 engine. It was no longer viable to meet ever restricting emission regulations.

In the 1977 model year, the Pontiac Firebird received a facelift of sorts and now featured a slanted front fascia. The Pontiac Firebird now used four square headlamps, but the Chevrolet Camaro still retained the two round headlamps that had been shared by both second-generation Firebird and Chevrolet Camaro.

1977 pontiac firebird formula
1977 Pontiac firebird formula
1977 pontiac firebird trans am (1)
1977 Pontiac firebird trans am (1)
1977 pontiac firebird trans am (2)
1977 Pontiac firebird trans am (2)
1977 pontiac firebird trans am (3)
1977 Pontiac firebird trans am (3)
1977-pontiac-firebird-trans-am
1977-Pontiac-firebird-trans-am

Early 1977 models were supplied with an off-center hood scoop and a standard air cleaner.

 The base engine option was now a 6.6liter (400 cu) V8 delivering 180 horsepower.

Pontiac also offered a T/A 6.6-liter (400 cu) V8 engine with a single four-barrel Rochester Quadrajet carburetor RPO W72. This engine delivered 200 horsepower at 2400rpm. 

The T/A 6.6-liter V8 engine was equipped with chrome valve covers, while the base 6.6-liter V8 came with painted valve covers.

The cars sold in California and higher altitude markets were equipped with Olds 403 V8 engine with a slightly higher compression ratio and a more usable torque band than the Pontiac engines of 1977.

For the 1978 model year, slight stylist changes were made. The honeycomb grille was replaced with a crosshatch pattern grille.

1978 Pontiac firebird t top
1979 Pontiac firebird t-top

In 1978, the Pontiac introduced the Special Edition Firebird.

The Pontiac Firebird Formula LT Sport Edition featured a Chevrolet 305 V8 engine with a revised 10% raised compression ratio, delivering 155 horsepower. This setup was derived from the 1977 Chevrolet Monza Mirage. This engine was mated to a floor center console-mounted four-speed manual T-10 BW transmission unit mated to a limited-slip differential final drive.

This Limited Touring (LT) package included a unique cabin roof, door fender, and hood graphics.

The Trans Am sports handling package with HD gas shocks, modular alloy wheels, SE Trans Am rear deck spoiler with Formula lettered graphic.

The Hurst T-top roof configuration unveiled in 1976 proved to be too problematic and was replaced with General Motor’s Fisher units in the mid-1978 model year.

Red Bird package was also available for the Pontiac Firebird Espirit for the 1978 model year. This appearance package featured a Roman Red exterior paint job with matching red interior and gold pinstripe with Red Bird graphics on the b-pillars. A Trans Am style steering wheel and dashboard with gold spokes and gold dash face were also included.

Pontiac engineers revised the compression ratio of the 6.6-liter (400 cu) engine through the installation of different cylinder heads with smaller combustion chambers. The engines had 350cu heads instead of the 400cu heads bolted to the 400 blocks. This head configuration was known as the 6x-4 and was derived from the Pontiac 350cu engine. This ended up with a total power increase of 10%.

The 403 V8 and 400 V8 engines were offered until 1979.  The 6.6-liter (400 cu) V8 was available with a four-speed transmission only.

The 1979 model year saw a redesign of the front fascia.

1979 pontiac firebird trans am (4)
1979 pontiac firebird trans am (4)
1979 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am coupe and T top
1979 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am coupe and T top

10th Anniversary Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

 

To celebrate the 10th anniversary of the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am, a limited-edition anniversary package was unveiled for the 1979 model year. This package featured a platinum silver paint with charcoal gray upper paint accents and mirrored T-tops. The interior was done in silver leather seats with custom embroidered Firebird emblems and aircraft-inspired red lightings for the gauges. Another unique stylist feature was the hood decal that extended off the hood and onto the front fenders.

A total of 7500 10th Anniversary Pontiac Firebird Trans Am cars were made.

1817 of these were equipped with the high output Pontiac T/A 6.6-liter W72 V8 engines. These engines were mated to four-speed Borg Warner Super T-10 manual transmission units. These had a gear ratio of 3.23. The power output of this setup is rated at 260 to 280 horsepower according to the National Hot Rod Association.

Cars marketed in higher altitude regions such as California were equipped with Oldsmobile 403 engine and the Turbo Hydramatic 350 automatic transmission.  The gear ratio was 2.73.

Two 10th Anniversary Pontiac Firebird Trans Am cars were used as the pace cars for the 1979 Daytona 500.

Car and Driver magazine concluded that the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am with the W26 performance package is the best handling car of the year.

In 1979, Pontiac sold 116,535 Firebird Trans Am cars, the highest sold in a year.

1980 pontiac firebird trans am
1980 Pontiac firebird trans am
1980 pontiac firebird
1980 Pontiac Firebird

1980 model year saw many changes in terms of performance. This was mainly to meet the ever-strict emission restrictions.

Pontiac dropped all of its larger displacement engines. This resulted in many changes across the Pontiac model lineup.

The 4.9-liter (301 cu) V8 was now standard for the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. A turbocharged variant of the 301 V8 engine was also available as an option. A Chevrolet 305 was made available as an option.

The turbocharged 4.9-liter (301 cu) V8 used a Garrett TB305 turbo forcing air through a single Rochester Quadrajet four-barrel carburetor. This setup was too out of date to take full advantage of the forced air from the turbocharging system. The low octane fuels would have led to severe detonation if it wasn’t for the ECU, which resulted in significant power loss.

An American action-comedy movie called Smokey and the Bandit II featured a 1980 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. Due to the lack of performance to achieve the desired performance, the cars used for filming were modified with nitrous oxide tank systems.

1980 model year also saw a significant sale drop as well with selling only 107,340 Pontiac Firebirds, comparing to the 211,453 Pontiac Firebirds sold in 1979.

1981 pontiac firebird trans am turbo
1981 pontiac firebird trans am turbo
1981 pontiac firebird
1981 pontiac firebird

1981 model year was the final year of the second-generation Pontiac Firebird.

The Pontiac Firebird Trans Am still used the same engines as it had in the previous model year. The only significant change was the addition of a new electronic carburetion system to increase efficiency.

To comply with Californian pollution regulations, Pontiac had to paint the California bound cars with water-based paint instead of the lacquer-based paints that they use normally. This water-based paint turned out to be problematic and often failed and delaminated during the warranty period. Pontiac had to repaint all the affected cars.

In 1981, the sales dropped to 70,899 cars.

Third Generation Pontiac Firebird

1982 – 1992 Pontiac Firebird

1982 pontiac firebird rear
1982 Pontiac firebird as K.I.T.T rear
1982 pontiac firebird
1982 Pontiac Firebird as K.I.T.T

GM as a whole was facing this widespread issue all across its model lineups. Their answer was the development of the all-new F body development.  

Initially, the F-body layout shared by the Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird were proposed as possible front-wheel-drive platforms, but it was canceled.

ECU or computerized engine management was in its infancy. With fuel efficiency being the primary focus, it wasn’t possible to achieve higher horsepower outputs or higher torque outputs.

The lack of demand for the 1980 and 1981 model year Pontiac Firebird and the lackluster performance forced Pontiac engineers to accommodate better weight saving and better fuel-efficient engineering methodologies.

Pontiac engineers managed to reduce some weight from the overall structure to achieve better acceleration and higher top speed than the 1981 models did.

The fuel efficiency was improved with the introduction of a new four-cylinder engine as the base powertrain option. This engine was a 2.5-liter (151 cu) Pontiac inline-four engine which was capable of achieving 34mpg (6.9 liters/100 km).

GM management also decided to spend resources on improving aerodynamics as well as developing a modern platform to accommodate modern powertrains and suspension systems. These developments resulted in a well-balanced platform with acceleration, handling, braking, and aerodynamics without any compromises.

The Pontiac Firebird and Chevrolet Camaro were completely redesigned for the 1982 model year because they were now based on the newer F-body platform. 

The windshield rake angle was now set at 62 degrees, which is steeper than anything GM had ever developed before. The rear hatch was made out of large glass panels, and it required no metal structure to support it.

The headlights were of popup style, a popular design element incorporated by the supercars of the 1980s. Popup headlamps meant that the front fascia was even sleeker and more aerodynamic than ever when the headlamps are retracted. This was also the first time an F-body car came with pop-up headlights.

The lightweight construction methodologies and use of lightweight construction materials resulted in a weight savings of 230kg when compared to the previous generation Pontiac Firebird.

1983 pontiac firebird
1983 Pontiac Firebird
1984 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am side
1984 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am side
1984 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am
1984 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

The third-generation Pontiac Firebird was also the most aerodynamic product GM had ever released. The finned aluminum wheels with smooth hubcaps and a functional rear spoiler were also added to the package to make it even more aerodynamic.

The trim variants were the base, S/E, Formula, and the Trans Am.

The powertrain options were either one of these below,

An inline-four 2.5-liter (151 cu) Pontiac inline-four engine, a 2.8-liter (173 cu) GM 60 degrees V6, 3.1-liter (191 cu) GM 60 degrees V6, a 3.8-liter (231 cu) Buick Turbo V6, a 5.0-liter (305 cu) Chevrolet V8, or a 5.7-liter (350 cu) Chevrolet V8.

Transmission options were either a three-speed or a four-speed automatic, or a four-speed or five-speed manual.

1985 Pontiac Firebird trans am convertible
1985 Pontiac Firebird trans am convertible
1986 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am convertible H.O
1986 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am convertible H.O
1987 pontiac firebird kitt
1987 Pontiac firebird kitt
1987 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am GTA 1
1987 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am GTA 1

Firebird base model and the S/E were offered with either a 2.5-liter (151 cu) Pontiac inline-four engine, 2.8-liter (173 cu) 60 degrees

 V6, or a 5.0-liter (305 cu) Chevrolet V8.  From 1986 onwards, the inline-four option was dropped.

The Pontiac Firebird ASC convertible was available with either a V6 or a V8 engine, from 1986 to 1989

The Pontiac Firebird Formula was available with only a V8 powerplant, from 1987 to 1992.

Pontiac Firebird Trans Am was available with a V8 from 1982 to 1992. Trans Am ASC convertible was powered with a V8 engine and was produced from 1986 to 1989.

Pontiac Firebird Trans Am GTA

1988-Pontiac-Firebird-Formula-350
1988-Pontiac-Firebird-Formula-350
1988 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am GTA notchback
1988 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am GTA notchback
1988 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am GTA notchback
1988 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am GTA notchback

In 1988, the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am GTA was unveiled. It was equipped with a 5.7-liter (350 cu) V8 engine as standard.

The T-Top style roof with removable roof panels was also available for extra money. However, if a customer chose this option, they could only opt for the 5.0-liter (305 cu) V8 engine because the T-top roof would not have supported the extra torque of the 5.7-liter V8.

Another unique stylish option available for the 1988 model year Pontiac Firebird Trans Am GTA was the Notchback. This replaced the standard long and larger rear hatch with a special fiberglass rear deck lid and a short vertical rear window. This Notchback style resembled the looks of a Ferrari 288 GTO.

Around 700 of these Notchback Trans-Am cars were made in 1988.

1989 20th anniversary Pontiac firebird trans am turbo
1989 20th anniversary Pontiac firebird trans am turbo
1989 pontiac trans am GTA
1989 pontiac trans am GTA
1991-1992-firehawk-formula-wheels.
1991-1992-firehawk-formula-wheels.
1991-1992-Pontiac-Firebird-Formula-firehawk
1991-1992-Pontiac-Firebird-Formula-firehawk
1991 Pontiac firebird rear
1991 Pontiac firebird rear
1991 Pontiac firebird t top 2
1991 Pontiac firebird t top 2
1991 Pontiac firebird t top 3
1991 Pontiac firebird t top 3
1991 Pontiac firebird t top 4
1991 Pontiac firebird t top 4
1991 Pontiac firebird t top 5
1991 Pontiac firebird t top 5
1991 Pontiac firebird t top 6
1991 Pontiac firebird t top 6
1991 Pontiac firebird t top
1991 Pontiac firebird t top
1991 pontiac firebird trans am
1991 pontiac firebird trans am

However, this design was problematic as the manufacturing firm behind the Notchback conversion, Auto Fab, was notorious for the incorrect fitting of the Notchbacks to the GTAs which resulted in delays of several months for buyers who were requesting this option.

Quality control issues were also significant. Many customers who bought themselves a Notchback were disappointed to find out that large defects like rippling and deformed fiberglass rear deck.

This resulted in Pontiac being forced to sanding down the imperfections and repainting them, only to get more complaints regarding the same issues within mere weeks.   

The Notchback was discontinued for the 1989 model year, the 20th Anniversary Turbo Trans Am cars. But less than a dozen were made under special orders.

Fourth Generation Pontiac Firebird

1993-2002 Pontiac Firebird

Pontiac used the aerodynamic styling cues initiated by the previous generation when developing the fourth-generation Pontiac Firebird.

Ninety percent of the mechanical components of the car were all new according to the Pontiac.

The styling of the car was influenced by the Banshee IV concept car.

Just like the Chevrolet Camaro, the Pontiac Firebird came with many safety features as standard. The dual airbags, four-wheel anti-lock brakes, 16-inch wheels, rack, and pinion power steering, short and long arm front suspension setup, and several non-rusting body panels made out of composites.

The base trim Pontiac Firebird was powered with a 3.4-liter (207 cu) V6.

Formula and Trans Am variants were V8-powered.

Standard manual transmissions were the T5 five-speed manual for the V6 engines, Borg-Warner T56 six-speed manual for the V8 engines.

A four-speed automatic was optional for both V6 and V8 engines in 1993, which evolved to the 4L60E with built-in electronic controls in 1994.

1993 – 1997 Pontiac Firebird

1993 to 1997 Pontiac Firebird
1993 to 1997 Pontiac Firebird
1993 to 1997 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am convertible
1993 to 1997 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am convertible
1993 to 1997 Pontiac Firebird rear
1993 to 1997 Pontiac Firebird rear

The non-California cars were equipped with a 3.4-liter V6 engine delivering 160 horsepower from 1993 to 1995. This engine was a larger displacement variant of the previous generation’s 3.1-liter V6. From the mid-1995 model year, the 3.8-liter V6 became the only engine option for the Pontiac Firebird base variant. This engine delivered 200 horsepower.

The Pontiac Firebird Formula and Trans Am were equipped with a 5.7-liter LT1 V8 from 1993 to 1997. This engine was derived from the C4 Corvette with the only difference being the addition of more flow restrictive intake and exhaust systems.

From 1994 onwards, the convertible variant of the Firebird was offered. These cars had a glass rear window with a built-in electric defroster as standard.

In 1995, traction control was available for the LT1 powered Formula and Trans-Am cars. This was accessible via a switch on the console.

All the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am cars received new 155mph speedometers and Z-rated tires. A vented version of the Opti Spark distributors was added as standard from the 1995 model year onwards to address the mechanical faults with the LT1 engines. The 1995 model year cars used the OBD-1 onboard diagnostic computer system, the last year of any American car to use the OBD-1.

The Trans Am GT variant was not available for the 1995 model year. 

1996 pontiac firebird formula coupe
1996 pontiac firebird formula coupe

1996 model year saw performance improvements, and now the base engine was the 3.8-liter V6 which packs 200 horsepower.

The LT1 V8 engine delivered 285 horsepower due to the addition of a new dual catalytic converter exhaust system.

The 1996 model year used the OBD-II computer system.

Additional performance enhancements such as the four-wheel disc brakes, faster response steering, limited-slip rear differential, and dual exhaust system were available for extra money.

Pontiac Firebird Trans Am and Formula models came with functional dual inlet Ram Air hoods when opted for the WS6 performance package. This Ram Air induction increased the horsepower ratings from 285 to 305. The torque was now 335 lb-ft instead of the 325 lb-ft. WS6 package further included 17×9 alloy wheels with 275/40ZR17 tires, oval dual tailpipe tips, suspension improvements, and Bilstein shocks.

The 1997 model year cars came with standard air conditioning, daytime running lamps, and digital odometers.

The WS6 performance package except the 17-inch alloys was now optional for the Formula and Trans Am convertibles for the first time

A total of 41 Pontiac Firebird Formula convertibles and 463 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am convertibles were made with the WS6 package.

1998 – 2002 Pontiac Firebird

Alongside the Camaro mid-cycle refresh, Pontiac Firebird also received the mid-cycle refresh for the 1998 model year.

Major changes such as a new hood, a new front fascia, dual intakes, lower fender air vents, retracting quad halogen headlights, circular turn signals, and fog lamps, a honeycomb rear light panel with circular reverse lamps distinguished the 1998 model year from the previous year’s car.

Pontiac Firebird Formula and the Trans Am were now equipped with a Corvette 5.7-liter V8 derived from the LS1 V8 unit of the C5 Corvette. The LT4 and LT1 V8 engines were discontinued.

The LS 1 V8-equipped PontiacFirebird cars were also equipped with an aluminum driveshaft instead of the previous model year car’s steel variant.

Pontiac Firebird Formula convertible was not available anymore.

All the Pontiac Firebird trim variants received four-wheel disc brakes with dual-piston front calipers and larger rotors at each wheel as standard. This setup also included a solenoid-based Bosch anti-lock system.

To increase the potential traveling range, the fuel tank capacity was increased and now it could hold 16.8 gallons.

The GM’s own ASR traction control was only available for some V8 engine-powered cars, but in the 1998 and 1999 model years, the V6 engines were also eligible for this additional paid extra.

The LS1 V8 and Y86 V6 equipped Pontiac Firebirds received a Zexel Torsen II slip reduction rear axle, an electronic brake force distribution system instead of the old hydraulic proportioning valve to improve braking, enhanced senses, and diagnostic module.

This diagnostic module could read and store details such as the vehicle speed, engine rpm levels, throttle position, and braking usage in the last five seconds before airbag deployment.

1999 Pontiac Firebird T top 1
1999 Pontiac Firebird T top 1
1999 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am
1999 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

For the 1999 model year, a Hurst shifter for Pontiac Firebird variants with a six-speed manual and a power steering cooler were also available as options for the LS1 V8 powered cars.

The WS6 performance package was only available for the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am coupe and convertible for the 2000 model year.

2002 pontiac trans am
2002 Pontiac trans am

In the 2002 model year, power mirrors and power antenna were added as standard equipment.  

1993 – 2002 Pontiac Firehawk

The Firehawk was a special edition extra performance package for the Pontiac Firebird Formula cars from 1993 to 2002 and for both Formula and Trans Am cars from 1999 to 2002 model years.

The Firehawk came equipped with Firestone 17-inch alloy wheels with 275/40ZR17 tires.

A functional twin inlet hood above a specific air cleaner box was also available as standard.

The total power output was now rated at 300 horsepower and maximum torque of 330 lb-ft.

201 Firehawk cars were made in 1993.

For the 1994 model year, the Firehawk package now included options for a suspension upgrade and a larger diameter exhaust system to increase maximum power output to 315 horsepower.

From 1995 model year onwards, the T-top coupes and convertible variants of the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am and Formula could be ordered with the Firehawk configuration. 

The 1996 and 1997 model year Firehawk got a Trans Am derived elevated rear wing. It also received rectangular driving lights fitted inside the front scoops except for the convertibles.

In 1997 the LT4 engine-powered Firehawk delivered 330 horsepower. This LT4 engine was derived from the LT4 V8 unit found in a manual transmission-equipped 1996 Corvette.

Only 29 LT4 engine-equipped cars were made.

For the 1999 model year, the LS1 V8 was reworked to deliver 327 horsepower. This same engine delivered 330 horsepower in 2000, 335 horsepower in 2001, and 345 horsepower in 2002.

The 10th anniversary of the Firehawk was celebrated in 2001 with the release of the 10th Anniversary Pontiac Firehawk. All the cars featured a black paint job and gold vinyl strips on the hood and spoiler. All the cars were equipped with gold 17-inch wheels and gold exhaust tips.

123 Trans Am coupes and 16 convertibles were made with this configuration.

1994 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am GT

The Pontiac Firebird Trans Am GT was available only for the 1994 model year. These did not feature any unique graphics, or badging and looked identical to the ordinary Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. It could be ordered as a coupe, a T-top, or a convertible.

The Pontiac Firebird Trans Am GT also included 245/50ZR16 tires and a 155mph speedometer. In comparison, the non-GT variant came with a 115mph speedometer and 235/55R16 tires.

The T43 up-level spoiler was available as an extra paid option for this package.

All the 1994 Trans Am GT package equipment were included in the Trans Am package from 1995 to 2002 as standard. The GT package wasn’t available from 1995 onwards due to this reason.

1994 25th Anniversary Trans Am

20th anniversary Pontiac firebird trans am turbo
20th anniversary Pontiac firebird trans am turbo
pontiac firebird trans am 20th anniversary edition
pontiac firebird trans am 20th-anniversary edition

The 25th Anniversary Pontiac Firebird Trans Am was painted in white and a single dark blue stripe down the center of the vehicle. This paint scheme was a reference to the 1970 Trans Am. This car also came equipped with white painted five-spoke 16-inch alloys. The seats were done in white leather seats and door trim. The 25th Anniversary Trans Am was available in a coupe and convertible variants.

1999 30th Anniversary Trans Am

30th anniversary Trans Am
30th anniversary Trans Am

This car featured a white paint job with twin dark blue stripes from the hood to the tail of the car. A unique blue anodized five-spoke 17-inch A mold alloy wheels were also included as standard.

The interior was done in white leather seats and door trim.

This package was available for WS6 convertibles or WS6 coupes.

 2001 75th Anniversary Package

To mark the 75th Anniversary of the Pontiac Motor Division, a new performance and appearance package was available for the L36 equipped Firebird variants and Formula variants.

This package included power door locks, retained accessory power, power windows, dual power sport mirrors, power antenna, stereo radio with a CD player with 10 speaker premium Monsoon 500-watt sound system, leather-wrapped steering wheel with controls for the sound system, six-way power seat for the driver.

This package also included the security package as standard. This included a theft-deterrent system and remote keyless entry.

16-inch chromed aluminum wheels with 233/55/16 tires, 3.42 gears with Zexel Torsen T2 limited-slip differential, four-wheel disc brakes, dual mufflers, and an LS1 steering rack with 14.4:1 ratio were also included as standard to improve the handling of the car.

239 Firebird Formula L36 Firehawk cars, 231 Firebird Formula W66 coupes, 5 Formula Firehawks, and 2 Trans-Am cars came with this package installed, bringing the total up to 472 cars.

 2002 Collector’s Edition Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

This special edition variant was released for the Firebird final year. This was either available as a yellow WS6 convertible or a WS6 T-top coupe with twin black stripes from hood to tail.

This package also included black-color five-spoke alloy wheels and black trimmed body details. 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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