The first choice for the Pontiac division of GM was a two-seat sports car, but GM was afraid it would hurt Corvette sales. Therefore, the second prize from GM management was the Pontiac Firebird, which would compete with the other pony cars. Pontiac made the Firebird from 1967 until 2002 with built many of the engines. But from the vast array of four-, six-, and eight-cylinder engines offered over the years in the Firebird, there are representative engines from all divisions of GM.
© Mybaitshop | Dreamstime.com 1967 Pontiac Firebird Front View
The first-generation Firebird had a Coke bottle body style, bumpers integrated into the body and horizontal, slit-style taillights. The car came in two-door hard-top and convertible models only. In 1968, the Firebird’s front signal lights and taillights wrapped around the bumper to create marker lights and signals visible from the side in keeping with new federal safety laws. Also in 1968, the vent or no-draft windows disappeared, replaced by a one-piece front door window.
© Mybaitshop | Dreamstime.com 1968 Pontiac Firebird
© Clewisleake | Dreamstime.com – Classic 1968 Pontiac Firebird
The 1969 model got two new style chrome bumpers capable of withstanding 5 mph impact without damage, again to conform to new U.S. federal safety laws. Inside the 1969 Firebird, the instrument panel and steering wheel changed; the ignition switch was now on the steering column. Pontiac produced the 1969 Bird well into 1970 since the Pontiac engineers had design and manufacturing problems with the new second-generation models.
© Steirus | Dreamstime.com – 1969 Pontiac Firebird Coupe Photo
The entry-level Firebird came with an inline overhead cam six powered by a one-barrel carburetor. One step up, the Sprint had the same six with a four-barrel producing 215hp (169 kW), but most customers opted for a V8 and the base eight-cylinder engine was a 326-cubic-inch (5.3L) power plant with a two-barrel, which developed 250 hp (186 kW). The next step up was the same engine with a four-barrel producing 285hp (213 kW), this was the H.O. (high output) option. The high-performance engine choice is the 400-cubic-inch (6.6L) V8 producing 325hp (242 kW). With this engine, a Ram Air option was also available that included functional hood scoops, high flow heads with stronger valve springs, and an upgraded camshaft. The Ram Air engine offered the same horsepower but peaked at a higher RPM giving the car more torque.
In 1968, the six-cylinder engine changed to a 250-cubic-inch (4.1L) with the same carburetor options as in ’67. A 350-cubic-inch (5.7L) replaced the starter V8. The H.O. version with the hotter cam developed 320hp (240 kW). The other engines had a marginal increase in horsepower ratings.
The year 1969 saw the introduction of “The Trans Am Performance and Appearance Package.” Included in this package was a rear spoiler, with 689 hard-tops and eight convertibles, so equipped. Also in 1969, there was an additional Ram Air IV engine option for the 400-cubic-inch, developing 345hp, with the older style Ram Air III developing 335hp (250 kW). The 350 H.O. engine got a different cam and cylinder heads giving it a boost to 330hp (250 kW).
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