1st Generation Pontiac Firebird: First Generation Firebird / 1967-1969
In the beginning it started with a necessity, GM needed a car more suited to combat the Ford Mustang in the pony class segment. Hence the birth of the Pontiac Firebird. Though similar to the Chevy Camaro in looks, it had refinement and accents that the Camaro lacked for the battle in such an arena. This was John DeLorean's vision. He knew the Chevy Camaro was a gorgeous car but was more designed as a half breed musclecar / Ponycar. It was an awesome formulation, but Mr. Delorean and his team also knew it needed a few more attributes. Rather then risk a car that sells well, he decided on a new model that at that time could be expendable incase of failure and which would be cheaper to build to not kill profit for all the extras added. But how?
Simple, Mr. DeLorean thought by using an old GM technique by sharing interchangeable parts and by using an existing assembly line, and by modifying an already proven design, he would save much on the design and the molds when it came to such a car. Similar to his earlier idea of the infamous GTO, it worked again, not only in sales but in customer satisfaction as well. Eventually, with such refinements as the elimination of vent windows and shortly after better drivetrains would also follow and open the door to the Trans-Am of 1969. By now the Firebird was proving that sexy and powerful can indeed go hand and hand.
In 1967 Pontiac introduced the Firebird as a direct competitor to the Ford Mustang. In 1967, the firebird was offered in 5 different flavors, the base model, sprint, 326, 326 H.O., and the 400. In 1968, not much changed for the firebird in regards to appearance, but the 326 cid engine was replaced with a 350 cid engine. The model line up for 1968 was the base pontiac firebird, firebird sprint, firebird 350, firebird 350 H.O., firebird 400, and the firebird ram air 400. In 1969, there were some minor appearance changes, such as the gas filler moved behind the rear license plate, front fender wind splints, etc. In 1969, pontiac introduced the trans am model of the firebird. In 1969, pontiac offered 8 different models of the firebird.
2nd Generation Pontiac Firebird: 1970 - 1981 Second Generation Firebird/ 1970- 1981
By now Firebird was a proven competitor and champion in the pony car class. But the once great and mighty Pontiac decided to go even further with the car. A totally new design would be introduced late in the year actually making every 1970 model technically a 1970 and a 1/2. With an all new complete Euro styled body and suspension mated to an All American drivetrain, and then highlighted with an interior design to die for, the Pontiac Firebird line was a vehicle ahead of its time.
With this all new design and the success of the 1969 Trans Am, and even the six cylinder Sprint cars, Pontiac decided on offering complete F-body model packages. This included your base sport coupe, the Esprit, the Formulas and of course the Trans Am. It also brought into play some serious drivetrains, like the new and improved HO's known as Ram Airs, and in a couple of years the 455 SD, while still offering the work horse 350 in a two barrel form. There were even Muncie manual transmissions in both close and wide ratios along with the Saginaws in later versions. Automatics still saw the 400 tbh and 350 tbh.
Midway in the second generations we saw the farewell to the chrome rear bumper, the end of the round headlight in 1976, and the introduction to the Hurst T-Top roof in 1976 with the hood bird and pinstripe. When 1977 rolled around, and with the movie called Smokey and the Bandit, there was an increase in sales and the introduction to a new SE model we have all come to love and associate with the Trans Am; along with three new package models known as a Yellow bird, the Red Bird and the Blue bird (also known as a Skybird). There was also the Golden Trans Am Edition. Earlier year sales of the 74-76 have been attributed to a popular tv series called "The Rockford Files". Remember him Jim Rockford the private eye, he would only drive Pontiac Firebirds and his dad loved Silverado 4x4's.
By now the question being asked of Trans Am owners was "is it a Pontiac motor or an Oldsmobile motor?" and in 1979 through 1981, we also seen a change in the endura bumper and taillights, but it was basically the same car with yet another new interior package and some new SE models, like the Silver Anniversary package and the Turbo Indy car. By far the second generation Firebird line was probably the most detailed and prettiest cars of the decade and also the most familiar to the eye.
Written by Louis J. Calabrese (RamAirThree)
3rd Generation Firebird: Third Generation Firebird, 1982- 1992
The third generation Pontiac Firebird popped up on the scene with some reluctant and shocked consumers who were use to their second generation acquired tastes; but after a little time, sales increased quite rapidly and the F-body was on a roll once again. Especially after the popular 80's T.V. show "Knight Rider" aired with a dreamy car named K.I.T.T, the final Smokey and the Bandit movie, and a movie called "Alphabet City" featuring one of the 1984 15th anniversary white and blue Trans Ams. The body was the sleekest yet, the interior even more futuristic, and now Pontiac was playing with new hood types as the shaker scoop was all but history and gave way to an offset hood scoop. Along with that change came ground effect sideskirts that were the added introduction to the Trans Am.
The new design was all about aerodynamics and low coefficient of drag. Unfortunately the Cross-Fire injected 5.0 fell from favor and by now it was apparent that the Pontiac block was history. A Chevy engine and drivetrain would now power the birds of prey.
The 80's were definitely a decade of much ups and downs for the F-body, but still a generation that is held dear to many. The PMD interior in the earlier models and the 5.7 TPI drivetrains in the later ones.
By 1987 we had said goodbye to the carburetor and hello to some much needed horsepower to compete against the Mustang GT and favorable LX. In 1990 we had the arrival of the 1LE Performance Package and the car also seen a change in the nose of the 1991 and 1992 model years. But three very welcomed editions to the F-body line was the 1989 20th Anniversary Turbo Trans Am, the GTA, and the Firehawk. These third generation birds were the pioneers into the fourth generation as reasoning stands with all the changes through the years of the 3rd generation firebirds, everywhere from the decals to the rims the cars sat on, it was all about improved design and advantage through aerodynamics.
Written by Louis J. Calabrese (RamAirThree)
4th Generation Pontiac Firebird: 1993 - 2002 Fourth Generation Pontiac Firebird, 1993 - 2002
In 1993 the Pontiac Firebird introduced the 4th generation Pontiac Firebird with all new sheet metal and fiberglass which was 90% different then its predecessor. All firebirds had composite body panels that were resistant to minor impacts and rust. In addition, a new engine called LT1 was introduced, which was a 5.7L 350 ci engine and had been used in earlier Corvettes. The LT1 was a reverse coolant flow engine with a trigger operated distributor called the optispark. Due to the reverse flow cooling system and location of the distributor, the 4th gen lt1 is not interchangeable with prior small blocks.
The 1993 firebird relied upon a speed density system which changed to a MAF metering system in 1994 and was rated at 270 hp. In addition, the drop top was back in 1994. 1995 saw the addition of a vented opti-spark, which is known as one of the major issues with the LT1, and the horsepower was bumped up to 275. In 1996, the WS6 performance package was introduced for the trans am coupes which included a Ram Air Hood, and a handling and performance package. The WS6 was also an option on the Formula, and the WS6 package included functional ram air, 17 inch five spoke aluminum wheels, and dual exhausts. The horsepower was again bumped up to 285 @ 5000 RPM on the standard LT1 and 305 hp @ 5000 RPM on the Ram Air LT1. Not much changed in 1997, the car had the same HP and torque numbers and appearance. The models offered between 1993 and 1997 were the firebird, formula, trans am, and a 300 hp SLP firehawk which covered the 1/4 mile in 13.53 seconds at 103.5 mph and went from 0 to 60 in 4.9 seconds. Between 1993 and 1997, GM sold over 167,000 firebirds. Four wheel disc brakes were standard on all Formula and trans ams.
In 1998, the firebird changed once again with a much more menacing and aggressive appearance. Another major change for the firebird was the LS1 engine, which was an all aluminum 305 hp engine. The 1998 ram air offered 320 hp to the driver, and torque also increased from 325 ft lbs to 345 ft lbs of torque from 1997 to 1998.
1999 was the 30th anniversary of the Trans am and Pontiac released a special edition which came with special paint, graphics, interior, and each was individually numbered. Not much changed in regards to appearance or performance in 2000. On Sept. 25th 2002, General Motors announced the fact that the Firebird and Camaro would be dropped after 2002, which they termed a "hiatus". In 2002, we seen the last of the breed and a sad year for those who had grown to love the power, performance, and handling of the pontiac firebird.
Written by Bob
Over the years Pontiac has decided to throw a little branded Excitement at the public, here are a few prime examples of option packages made available to consumers who crave that extra performance:
Package: 3rd gen 1LE Performance package available for Camaros and Firebirds Years Available: 1988 - 1992 Production Numbers for the 1LE Trans Am:
* 1988 - 3
* 1989 - 26
* 1990 - 4
* 1991 - 62
* 1992 - 9
In 1988 this option first became available, although not many knew about it as only 3 were produced. 1989 came and the option became a little more known only to see its production number drop back down to 4. The option saw its best days in 1991 having 62 1LE models produced.
3rd Generation 1LE models started life as: * 5.0 TPI engine with 5 speed or 5.7 TPI engine * Optional axle ratio (G92) (305/3.45, 350/3.27) and its required options * Air conditioning delete (C41) (standard heater) 1988 - 3 1989 - 26 1990 - 4 1991 - 62 1992 - 9 3rd Generation 1LE models started life as: 1988 - 3 1989 - 26 1990 - 4 1991 - 62 1992 - 9
Fog lamp delete Aluminum driveshaft (JG1) (part # 10085375) Performance exhaust system (N10) (dual catalytic converters) Special deflected disc shocks * Aluminum spare wheel with smaller spare tire (N64) Lower control arms (part # 10164151) Larger (11.86 inch) front rotors (part # 18016035) Larger front spindles (part #'s 18016737 / 18016738) PBR front, dual-piston aluminum calipers (part #'s 10132827 / 10132828) Special swinging fuel pickup in gas tank and special 18 gallon baffled fuel tank for fuel pickup down to .5 gallon reserve to prevent fuel starvation in hard cornering Some came with special 16 x 8 light alloy mesh wheels (XWL) Package:
4th gen 1LE performance package for Camaros and Firebirds, and in 2001 and 2002 for the Firehawk Years Available:
1993-2002 Production Numbers for the 1LE Firebird/Firehawk:
* 1993 - 3
* 1994 - 0
* 1995 - 2
* 1996 - 10
* 1997 - 14
* 1998 - 14
* 1999 - 20
* 2000 - not available
* 2001 - 60
* 2002 - 0
4th Generation 1LE's started life as either Camaro Z28's or Firebird Formula's with these options:
Basic option group (FZAB/1SA) A/C delete (until 1996 when A/C became standard) 6-speed tranny or performance rear axle with the automatic (GU5/G92) Z-rated tires w/ 150 speedo (QLC/QLC) Base stereo The 4th generation 1LE package: Higher rate front springs (360 lbs/in for mid-1994 and after) Variable rate rear springs (130-180 lbs/in for mid-1994 and after) Stiffer front and rear shocks (Koni double adjustable for 1996 and after) Harder bushings (front upper/lower and rear control arms) Larger diameter anti-sway bars (32mm front, 21mm/19mm rear) Increased cooling (for 1995 and after) Engine oil cooler (1993 - 1995) The 1993 1LE's had the same springs and deCarbon shocks, but stiffer as the stock Z28s and Formulas. The first 1994 1LE cars received the same set-up, but sometime between December 1994 and March 1995 the 1LE's received stiffer springs.
From the change to the spring rate, came thinner sway bar, the same sway bar used on the stock Z28's and Formula's. Starting in 1996, Koni double adjustable shocks became standard on the 1LE cars. A better cooling system was introduced in 1995 continued through to other models. This was accomplished by the addition of an air conditioning radiator baffle even though no AC was available in 1995. Air conditioning became part of the package in 1996. Also, after 1995, in order to get the 1LE on the Firebird or Trans Am you had to order the WS6 package. Package: 4th generation WS6 performance package for Firebird Trans Ams and Formulas from 1997-2000 Years Available:
1996-2002 Production Numbers:
* 1996 - 2,051
* 1997 - 3,804
* 1998 - 2,835
* 1999 - 3,397
* 1999 30th Ann. WS6 - 1,600
* 2000 - 8,424
* 2001 - 7,869
* 2002 - not available
Another performance package, much more popular, and more widely produced: Ram Air hood and air intake (like that of the Firehawk) Freer flowing exhaust system Higher rate front springs (360 lbs/in) Variable rate rear springs (130-180 lbs/in) Stiffer front and rear shocks Harder bushings Larger diameter front anti-sway bar (32mm) Increased cooling 17 inch wheels with 275/40ZR/17 tires The intake and exhaust add an 30 extra HP giving WS6 cars a total 305 HP