The Pontiac Firebird is one of the iconic cars in history. It's a classic American muscle car that is especially known for its Trans-Am sports package. This addition boosted the power and “oomph” of the car, making it so popular, that most Firebirds were Trans Am. Their broad hoods and sides were perfect for customization and decals so simple that a Google search can reveal several very cool examples. Featured in T.V. shows and movies, the Pontiac Firebird achieved a high level of fame in its 35-year run. Here are ten examples of these cars that stand out amongst the pack.
10 1967 Pontiac Firebird
It's only natural to start at the beginning. Production of what turns out to be an essential example of American muscle began in Lordstown, Ohio on February 23, 1967. It was offered as a two-door coupe or as a convertible with an F-body. The design is quite similar to the ever-popular Chevrolet Camaro with a few adjustments for a sleeker, meaner look.
The standard model was capable of 165 horsepower and was offered with more powerful options. Originally, General Motors was unsure about putting this new car in the spotlight and gave it a bit part as a pony car. Little did they know about the coming success the Firebird would bring.
9 1969 Pontiac Firebird
This edition was the last model year in what’s considered to be the First Generation of the Pontiac Firebird. Generally speaking, cars improve throughout the years and the 1969 was no different. It had to get stronger and tougher especially considering the competition.
The 1969 Dodge Charger roared its way onto the muscle scene and was well on its way to running away with the industry. Determined not to be beat, the 1969 Firebird’s base horsepower was 175 horsepower and the various upgrades could bring that number as high as 345 horsepower. It too was released with a convertible option as well as a few design changes.
8 1969 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am
In the year 1969, at the end of the Firebird’s First Generation, Pontiac released the first set of Pontiac Firebirds with their Trans-Am sport package. The Trans-Am has a different look than the main line but it still came in hardtop and convertible. Due to the risk involved in releasing this package and having no idea how well it would sell, General Motors made a strikingly small number of cars. There were just under 700 hardtop cars made and a mere eight convertibles! If you lived back in 1969, you would have been pretty lucky to get your hands on this car.
7 1970 Pontiac Firebird
This model marked the beginning of the Firebird’s Second Generation. The manufacturing for this group would remain in Ohio and expand to factories in California. It remained close in appearance to its sister car, the Chevrolet Camaro, which also entered into its second generation.
It had a shaky start at life by facing some engineering issues that delayed its rollout by several months. It got another change in design slightly and an interesting choice they made was to inlay the radio antenna into the glass windshield instead of having it spring about in the wind. This incarnation did not come with a convertible option and it would not return for several years.
6 1981 Pontiac Firebird
The last model in the Second Generation finishes off in a strong way. Its base engine provided 140 horsepower and its strongest option gave the car 200 horsepower. An interesting factoid about these cars is that any of them around today, most likely are not supporting their original coat of paint, especially if they were manufactured in California.
The state of California has always been a progressive, planet conscious state and the '80s were no different. As such, they required all cars manufactured there to be painted with an environmentally friendly, water-based paint. While better for the planet, cars with this had to be repainted again and again.
5 1981 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am NASCAR Turbo Pace Car
The Trans Am package quickly took off in popularity and arguably could be a big part of the reason the Firebird is so highly regarded to begin with. At the end of the Second Generation, the Trans Am production went from less than 700 in the First Generation, to over 30,000 of them in the span of 12 years!
A true hallmark of how famous this car had become came when NASCAR nominated the vehicle and its sports package as the official pace car for the races in 1981. Two thousand of these cars were specially made for NASCAR and if you can locate one of them with the proper identification paperwork, it's worth quite a pretty penny.
4 1982 Pontiac Firebird
The Firebird’s Third generation kicked off in 1982 with a bang. The third generation featured an entire design overhaul brought on by not one, but two gas and oil crises going on at the time. The price of gas was sky high and muscle cars aren’t exactly known for being fuel-efficient. So to hang on to sales, General Motors directed their research and development to reduce weight and improved aerodynamics. Their efforts paid off in spades as they were able to produce a car that was still competitively powerful, but it's handling was superior thanks to its lightweight and it got 34-miles a gallon which is still great even by today’s standards. In addition, the convertible option returned in this generation.
3 Pontiac Firebird Special Edition: Firehawk
This special version of the Firebird was first released in 1993 at the start of the Fourth, and final, Generation and had a few different iterations until the end of production in 2002. Marketed as an extra performance car, it put out 300 horsepower, had 17-inch tires, and gained several small changes to increase aerodynamics and performance.
By the end of its run, it had a stunning 345 horsepower! It came in a convertible as well as a hardtop and for its tenth anniversary, they released a special version of the vehicle that was all black with gold stripes, wheels, and tailpipes.
2 1999 Pontiac Firebird 30th Anniversary Trans Am
The year 1999 marked the 30th anniversary of the package that launched the Pontiac Firebird into stardom: the Trans Am. So to celebrate, Pontiac released a special vehicle. It has the standard stats from the 1999 model, including the new, larger fuel tank. It also had a six-speed manual transmission, and power steering for better handling.
The look of the car was rather similar to the 25th Anniversary celebration. It was a white convertible or coupe and two dark blue stripes, whereas the 25th car had only one. The interior was white leather and the 17-inch wheels were blue-anodized five spokes.
1 2002 Pontiac Firebird Collector’s Edition Trans Am
Last but certainly not least, the 2002 Pontiac Firebird Collector’s Edition Trans Am. The curtain call for Pontiac and their star vehicle was 2002 so as a last hurrah, they released this special car. It came with the fancier features that were making their way into cars such as power mirrors and antennas, while losing the antiquated tape players in exchange for the more modern CD players. This particular release came in coupe or convertible with a bright yellow body. It's got two black stripes across the top, black trim, and all black wheels. This stylish car was a fantastic send off for a legendary car.