Pontiac Firebird an American automobile was introduced in 1967. It has been produced and built till 2002 model years. Initially, it was designed as a pony car to compete with the Ford Mustang. During this period, GM’s Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mercury Cougar were also introduced to the public. Also, the first generation of Pontiac Firebird had the same characteristic of Coke Bottle Styling like Chevrolet Camaro.
Pontiac Firebird got fame from the TV series Knight Rider. It was a modified 1982 Trans Am Pontiac Firebird, also known as Knight Industries Two Thousand (KITT). In the TV series, their car was having a built-in computer to interact with the Knight.
Firebird Facts Every Car Enthusiast Should Know
Five Models of Pontiac Firebird
When Pontiac Firebird was launched, the company gave its customers five options of different models of Firebird. These models were different from one another not based on design but the basis of engine or horsepower under the hood. The lowest model was having a V6 engine that gave the driver a 165 bhp. The next six-cylinder model of Pontiac Firebird was having 215 bhp.
There were three options for the V8 engine for the Pontiac Firebird customers. These engines varied from one another on horsepowers such as 250 bhp, 285 bhp, and 325 bhp. These models were more expensive than Camaro.
Pontiac introduced a special performance package known as WS6 with the 1978 Trans Am. The cost of this vehicle was $325. The 15 x 7-inch wheels were replaced with 15 x 8-inch snowflake wheels that were wider tires than before. Also, a more robust rear stabilizer bar was introduced n this model. The optional handling and drive package remained for several years on the second and third generations of Pontiac Firebird.
Pontiac Firebird was known as a best American handling, performing vehicle with a pop culture reference. So, the handling package became the standard on Trans Am GTA and 1987 Formula. When Pontiac introduced the fourth generation, it was discontinued in the firebird 1992. The 1996 model came with a ram air engine and it remained until the last Firebird flew from Detroit in 2002.
First Four-Wheel Disc Brakes
The WS6 package was having four-wheel power disc brakes in 1979. It was an option that took the price of the package to $434. For $150, the customers were able to get four-wheel power disc brakes. The option code J-65 on Trans Am and Formulas with 301 cu in L-37 V8 and rear position.
First Giant Screaming Chicken
The sticker or decal nicknamed Screaming Chicken was created in 1970 by two engineers named Bill Porter and Norm Inouye. It was believed that Pontiac would start including this design on anything to make an effort to sell their cars. The Screaming Chicken decal was kept until 1973.
John Schinella, another designer at the company saw the artwork and demanded that they should start using it. It was believed by him that the world might lose it forever. Hence, it was added as an optional package. It was never expected that it would be a big hit for Pontiac.
First Aluminum Wheels
Pontiac’s first aluminum wheels were having an unusual 8-stud design. Along with this design, there was a steel rim and integrated brake drum. It was offered by Pontiac from 1960 to 1969. The aluminum wheels were offered in Firebird in only 1977. It was the time when Pontiac offered the standard 15 x 7-inch snowflake rims on the Trans Am. As a result, it replaced the honeycomb wheel and the Rally II standard wheels.
Known For Handling
The best thing about the Pontiac Firebird as compared to its competitor Camaro was handling. Camaro was having more power under the hood than Pontiac but when it comes to handling, Firebird was able to make driving fun again.
The low suspension, bigger tires, huge sway bars, made it possible for the Pontiac Firebird to shred the roadways. It was an inspiration for the other muscle cars in the market. Also, it paved the way for the future of muscle cars or sports cars in terms of performance.
Used Chevy, Oldsmobile, and Buick Engines
Since Pontiac Firebird was launched, the company used its engines. It was still the 1970s when started using the used engines of Chevy, Oldsmobile, and Buick. It was to provide the customers with the speed of horses running under the hood of their cars.
In 1970, Pontiac started using a chevy engine and used it till 1976. In the next year, Pontiac switched to the better engines of Oldsmobile and Buick. The Buick’s V6 engine was only having 105 horsepower. On the other hand, the Oldsmobile engine was having 185 horsepower. At that time, maybe this horsepower was enough for the Pontiac Firebird customers.
Firebird Broke 400 Horsepower
Chevrolet released several Camaros that topped 400 horsepower. It was of surprise that Pontiac Firebird did not even come close to 400 horsepower. The maxed-out power of Firebird in 1969 was 335 idle horsepower.
You would think that they would have made an effort to compete with the Camaros but Pontiac Firebird was known for design and handling. Even though it was not able to go beyond 400 horsepower, but it was having enough power to throw you back in the seat when the pedal was given to the engine.
50th Anniversary Limited Edition
On the 50th anniversary of the company, a limited-edition model of Pontiac Firebird was launched in 1976. It was designed by John R. Schinella to stand out from the average vehicles in the crowd. The black and gold paint job combined with the removable window and Hurst T-bar roof were the unique features introduced in the limited-edition model.
Due to leakage and other roof problems, only 643 models were made with the specialty roof. Also, it makes it one of the cars desired by the collectors.
First Firebird Had A White And Blue Paint Scheme
The world says the first Pontiac Firebird Trans Am in 1969. It was having a Ram Air Engine. It was an additional option or package that can be added to the customer’s demand. These special cars were having white and blue racing stripes on the side for a look. Also, you won’t find it anywhere in the world.
Also, there were customized intake valves on the hood that you can open or close at your will. It gave customers the ultimate experience. The white and blue paint scheme and customized intake valves increased the hype and desire among the buyers for these types of vehicles.
1978 Firebird Was the Most Popular
If you were a Firebird enthusiast, then 1978 was the time to be alive. In this year, the company made the most sales in the history of Pontiac Firebird. Until 1982, the company made a lot of profit when it was an iconic car of movies. Later on, the Hollywood appeal waned. The company continued the manufacturing of Pontiac Firebird till 2002.
It was the year when they launched their final model on the 35th anniversary of Pontiac Firebird. They believed that they would sell a lot of units on the 35th anniversary to make profits. But the customers were disappointed with the striking yellow color and a new design that strayed from the original look of Firebird. It was not the Pontiac Firebird that people had fallen in love with for many years before.
Pontiac Firebird – Interesting Facts for Firebird Enthusiasts
Pontiac Firebird, launched in 1967 had a competition with Camaro. Later on, it became one of the iconic cars of the 80s. Some people dubbed Pontiac Firebird as Knight Rider’s KITT. It was known for its handling and design. It got featured on different popular media platforms where it gained more popularity than before.
Pontiac and Camaro were in rivalry in the 20th century. To this date, people still rave about the impact of these cars on their lives and the magnificence of these cars.