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Greg's List: Pontiac Firebird
By Greg Warner

Classic Car Articles by Greg Warner The first generation Pontiac "Firebird" was produced from 1967 to 1969 in both 2-door, hardtop coupe and convertible models, all with front engine and rear-wheel drive configuration. This new vehicle offering from Pontiac, shared the new General Motors "F-Body" chassis with, it's also new for 1967, sibling, the Chevrolet "Camaro". The new "Firebird" was Pontiac's entry into the popular "Pony Car" arena. Like the Chevrolet "Camaro", the new Pontiac "Firebird" had a 108.1" wheelbase, weighed in the area of 3,000 lbs. and showed up on the scene some five months after the "Camaro" made its debut. This short delay, helped John DeLorean (who was, at the time, the youngest head of a division in GM's long history) and his team of Pontiac designers and engineers, put some nice touches on a vehicle which shared a majority of its sheet metal with the Chevrolet "Camaro". John DeLorean was a bit miffed the "Camaro" was released first, after all, the new "Firebird" was yet another of his "pet" project-vehicles while at Pontiac and came not long after his hugely successful launch of the Pontiac "GTO" in 1964 (which is commonly referred to as the first "Muscle Car" vehicle).

While there were some five different engines available (engine displacement also identified each model) for 1967 "Firebirds", which Pontiac referred to as their "Magnificent 5", you could start with the "base" model which had an innovative "overhead cam" (or "OHC") 230 c.i., in-line 6-cyl., with a 1-bbl carburetor and producing about 165 hp. Next up, was the "Sprint" model, which had a 230 c.i., in-line 6-cyl., with a 4-bbl carburetor producing about 215 hp. Either 6-cyl was available with a 3 or 4-speed manual transmission or a 2-speed, automatic transmission. If that wasn't enough to get your juices flowing, the "V8" model with a 326 c.i., V8 and 2-bbl carburetor, rated at about 250 hp, was available. Next came the "Firebird V8-H.O." (the H.O. stood for High Output) model which also contained the 326 c.i. V8 with a 4-bbl carburetor and rated at 285 hp. Top of the heap was the 400 c.i. V8 (borrowed from the "GTO") with 4-bbl carburetor and producing some (most would believe, under-rated) 325 hp, and also available was a 400 c.i., "Ram Air" option, which contained a "tuned" camshaft with heavier valve springs and made the otherwise non-functional hood scoops, functional (which, for some reason, did not reflect an increase in hp rating in any brochures, so was rarely ordered! Making it an "uber-rare" option in today's market!). All V8's came standard with the heavy-duty 3-speed manual transmission, with an optional 4-speed manual transmission and 2 or 3-speed automatic transmission.

The unique, and definitely "Pontiac" styled, split/pointed grille with incorporated chrome bumper and quad-headlamps, "beaked", grille-matching hood, three distinct, vertical, "split-gills" were set into the rear 1/4 panels just behind the door edge and slim-line, slotted, "slit-style" tail lights (also borrowed from the "GTO") made the "Firebird", stand-out in a crowd of new "Pony Cars". Many performance options and creature comforts were available including several different rear axle ratios, front disc brakes, power steering, full gauges, floor console and the "first-ever", hood-mounted tachometer.

The 1968 Pontiac "Firebirds" saw little change from 1967 models. Some noticeable differences were the loss of door vent-windows, some minor interior revisions were made and due to those ever-imposing, Federal mandates, styled "Pontiac Arrowhead", side-marker lights were added to the rear 1/4 panels, while the front turn signal/parking lamps were revised to curve around to the sides of the vehicle. Also, the rear shocks were staggered, one mounted to the front side of the axle and the other to the rear side of the axle, to help aid in performance and ride quality and the rear leaf-springs were now of the "multi-leaf" design, in order to reduce annoying "wheel-hop" upon quick acceleration. Most of the other changes, were in the available drivetrains, such as the "OHC" 6-cyl, grew from 230 to 250 c.i. and the 326 c.i. V8 grew to 350 c.i., all of which, enjoyed some horsepower increases and an "H.O." option was added, to the other two 400 c.i. motors previously offered, and all saw increased hp ratings.

For 1969, the Pontiac "Firebird" had a major facelift (similar to the new "GTO") with a new front, centered, chrome dual-grille surround and a body-color matching, "Endura" rubberized front area, housing the dual-headlamps on either side of the protruding, afore mentioned, dual-grille. Across the board was slight horsepower increases in mostly the same engine offerings as in 1968. The rear-end area was changed slightly, while the interior was again revised and an exciting new "Trans Am" performance and appearance package was now offered (as of March, 1969). The "Trans Am" name, which was borrowed from the SCCA racing series, also meant, that Pontiac had to pay the SCCA a license fee of $5.00 for every car sold, in order to use the "TransAm" name. All the "Trans Am" optioned vehicles produced in 1969 (only some 689 coupes and only 8 convertibles, again "uber-rare") were Polar White with Blue "racing stripes", the 60" long, trunk-lid mounted, low-profile spoiler, special decals and the exclusive hood with driver operated, functional intake "scoops", were included in the package. Also exclusive to the "Trans Am", were the front fender "scoops" or vents, which were intended to help evacuate captured, engine-bay air.

Please check out this fine, collectible, fully restored, beautiful 1967 Pontiac Firebird (an original rust-free AZ car) offered by KC Classic Auto of Lenexa, KS stock #T11-554 (call 888-378-2749 for more detailed info on this specific car) or any of the other fine vehicles they have to offer and also the thousands of vehicles right here on website, that are just waiting to find their new owner and drive 'em home! Drive safe, have fun and thanks for reading!

Quiz-of-the-week: Which large automotive manufacturer suffered a 65-day long, UAW strike during 1967? Hint . . . It wasn't Pontiac!

Answer: Ford Motor Co.

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