Classic car history: Pontiac Firebird

Paul Lines By Paul Lines, 4th Nov 2010 | Follow this author | RSS Feed | Short URL
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>Transport>Cars

Classic muscle cars will forever live in the hearts and minds of many motoring enthusiasts, perhaps none more so than the Pontiac Firebird

1967: Birth of a new muscle car

In 1967 came a new muscle kid on the block. Sleek lines on a coupe styled body, with the choice of a four or eight cylinder engine, this kid oozed muscle. The flaming bird motif that covered the whole of the hood area made a statement. This wasn't a kid who would be satisfied just being part of the gang; this kid wanted to be the leader. This kid was the new Pontiac Firebird.

Having seen the success that Ford and Chevrolet were having with their new pony cars, Pontiac took a deep breath and launched the Firebird in 1967 with the intention of showing these others what a real pony car could do.

The distinctive split front grill and rear styling let you know that the Firebird was a Pontiac brand, but the gentle roar told its own story, that this was a pony car to be reckoned with. With a choice of five engines under the hood, 0-60 in less than seven seconds, the firebird was within reach of most pockets.

1969 to 1982

In 1969 the front end of the Firebird took on a completely new look. Although the split grill remained, it had moved with the time creating a sleek modern version of what by then had become a firm favourite with automobile lovers.

1970 saw the second generation evolve and this was the decade where the Firebird took its rightful place as the leader of the pack. In fact, in 1975 it stood out alone at the head of the pack as the Camaro, Barracuda and Challenger were all discontinued. The 1970's saw a flurry of styling developments with the Firebird, particularly at the front end which changed from its vertical split grill to a sloping one that housed four rectangular headlights. Additionally, in keeping with its tradition, under the hood the engine configuration changed so often in this decade that one had to keep checking to see which configuration rested in their own car.

1982 to a indelible place in motoring history

Firebird generation three was born in 1982. The car had been completely restyled in what was the most dramatic change of its life. With a new unibody, the Firebird 3 set the style for pony cars of this era. However, although the engine changes continued and a new, more aggressive nose was added in the early 1990's, in many ways this was the least exciting of the Firebird generations.

Another major overhaul of styling and power occurred with the introduction of the fourth generation in 1993 and with this version, albeit the last, the kid was back on top. Firebird had returned to its winning ways with looks, power and speed being on top of the agenda. Although it was to be discontinued in 2002, this kid was not going to go out with a whimper, but a roar.

As expected the engines continued to change and the final firebirds boasted a 5.7 litre V8. With the return of more graceful curves, the convertible back in force, the Firebird in its final clothing was to leave the automobile world a permanent reminder of how great a kid this real muscle and pony car really was. The Firebird took its final bow with a special 35th anniversary Trans Am model, which was livered in brilliant yellow and heavily laden with graphic. Sadly, thus ended another exciting era for the motoring enthusiast.


Classic cars - knowing the basics

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Automobile, Automobiles, Car, Classic Cars, Collectables, Muscle Car, Pontiac Firebird

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author avatar Paul Lines
Having spent a large part of my working life as a business consultant, I am now a full time freelance writer offering content for on-line and print publishers, as well as focusing on creative writing

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author avatar Denise O
5th Nov 2010 (#)

I was just telling James, I am a 70's kind of gal.
Good job! I love the pictures!
Thank you for sharing.:)

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author avatar Paul Lines
5th Nov 2010 (#)

Despite being from the UK, I have a yearning for muscle cars Denise

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author avatar Jerry Walch
5th Nov 2010 (#)

I love restoring old muscle cars and usually have a project car in my car barn at all times. I keep some and sell others. I did a 1972 Firebird a few years ago and gave that one to my son for a birthday present.

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author avatar Paul Lines
5th Nov 2010 (#)

Guess that is one lucky son Jerry

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