Firebird and Trans AM (Enthusiast Color Series) by Bill Holder

72585519cb88366-261x350.jpg Author Bill Holder
Isbn 9780760311653
File size 15MB
Year 2002
Pages 96
Language English
File format PDF
Category engineering and technology


->*>* ,111111 3 1833 04254 DPT 8435 Wl IhUKAWN fife ^J ZT *Mr*ttr iter—~I~^^^^^^Bfc- ^tP^^ -«i2^ **-^"' Bill Holder and Phil Kunz w.^ I •* I First published in 2002 by Company, 380 Jackson Paul, St. MBI On Publishing the front cover: Although 20 years apart, each of these Trans Street, Suite 200, ATX 55101-3885 USA style for Ron and Carol © William Holder and Phillip Kunz, All rights reserved. With highlights the catchv is known. Owned bv model is in Lutterbie, a 1979 the foreground, backed by the 1998 version. 2002 On the exception of the frontispiece: hood scoops quoting brief passages for the purposes of review, Ams which the model no part of this publication may be says The it all on lettering on the 1975 Firebird, this indicating the presence of 400ci ram-air reproduced without prior written permission power under the hood from the Publisher. 345 horsepower. On The that is capable of information in this book is true and complete to the best of our knowledge. All recommendations are made without any possible to acquire the guarantee on the part of the author or beautiful 2002 model, carry aftermarket Publisher, who also disclaim any the title of the Trans page: Starting in 1992, Am. it was SLP Firehawk version Firehawks, including this performance, racing, and suspension upgrades. liability incurred in connection with the use of this On data or specific details. We recognize that some words, model names The 1970 Firebird received a new look and a consensus thumbs-up from the back cover: completely the buying public. Front-end changes included single and designations, for example, mentioned herein are the property of the trademark holder. We use The Formula 400 model shown them fiberglass an for identification purposes only. This is not headlights and a new-look hood and Endura body color here featured stylish scoops. When the ram-air identification was carried Publishing Company books are also hood scoops. available at discounts in bulk quantity for industrial or sales-promotional use. write to Special Sales Manager International Wholesalers & at For details Alotorbooks Edited by Chad Caruthers Designed by LeAnn Kulmann Distributors, 380 Jackson Street, Suite 200, 55101-3885 USA St. Paul, MX Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Available ISBX 0-7603-1 165-X Library" of a either of the ram-air engines were used with the 1970 Firebird, official publication. MBI grill. Printed in China on the front Contents Chapter One Acknowledgments 6 Foreword 6 by Paul Zazarine The Firebird and Trans Am 8 Chapter Two 1967-1969 16 Chapter Three 1970-1976 26 Chapter Four 1977-1981 40 Chapter Five 1982-1992 48 Chapter Six 1 993-2002 64 Chapter Seven The Race Connection 80 Index 95 Acknowledgments We would like to Thanks thank the following individ- uals for providing their cars as well to the following people for their for photo- contributions: Paul Zazarine, editor, Pontiac Enthusiast Ron and Carol Lutterbie, George Clark, Rod Montgomery, Jerry Minor, Dean Pringle, Jeff" Walker, Greg Jacobs, Al Bowman, David Pennington, Robert Blair, Lynn Hayworth, Shane Thompson, Charles Leavell, Jerry Beaumont, Steve Passwater, Joe Kidwell, Bob Jordan, Andy Magazine; Tony Sapienza, Lisa Gooth, and Jeff graphing: Allen, and Dave Logston. Romack, Pontiac Motor Division Public Relations; Jim Mattison, Pontiac Historical Services; Sarah Chandler, Performance Marketing; Fred Simmons, General Motors Drag Racing; Sue Emmel, Trans Am Club of America; Jody Messinger, SLP Engineering; David Tucker; and Darrell Willrath. Foreword Pontiac Firebird and Trans Am have The always been about image, and the past 35 for years they've represented performance with Pontiac's flair for combined sophistication. Right from the beginning, when Pontiac got the green light in 1965 to share the new F-body with Chevrolet, the Firebird was engineered with better suspension tuning, larger wheels and tires, and a more upscale interior trim than Camaro. its bow-tie cousin, the The Magnificent from packaging of the model an image of the European-imaged six to the muscular Firebird 400. Five Firebird lineup gave each sophistication, overhead-cam Pontiac's marketers and mystique were good at creating image —the GTO was proof of that—and they chose to apply the same strategy to the Firebird. It worked. Chevrolet and Bill Pontiac, General Harrison and Collins at Bill Motors management chose to keep the cars in production. draw attention That decision turned out to be one of the best management made in the 1970s. Sales slowly rose as the decade progressed. Even as per- to the Firebird lineup. It stood shoulder to shoul- formance cars disappeared, thanks to the movie When the Trans Am arrived in 1969, originally a "hype" designated to der with GTO Judge its it was cousin at Riverside for the automotive press to examine, and for the most message. The Trans and scoops and stripes, was a spoof on the musclecar movement, but it also had the hardware to back up its message of, "Hey, I might look silly, but I'll beat you on the street." The choice of the name Trans Am was a good one, even if in its production form the car didn't meet SCCA homologation rules. The incredible redesign of the 1970 Trans Am totally changed the car's image: it looked like it belonged on the part, the press didn't get the Am, with its racecourse. Trans spoil," spoiler Pontiac's advertising boasted the Am had "scoops that scoop and spoilers that and that ance sports car. it was now a legitimate performAnd with the lineage of 455 HO and Super Duty engines, the Trans Am's image was as solid as its quarter-mile performance. But the performance market was dying in the early 1970s, and when a United Auto Workers strike halted production and left 1972 models on the line unfinished even as the time drew near for the 1973 models, the Firebird and its Camaro cousin were facing the corporate ax. Sales were soft and it seemed wiser to eliminate the car. But thanks to impassioned pleas from Alex Mair at that GM Smokey and the Bandit, the Trans Am left an indeli- stamp on American culture. By the late 1970s there were only two performance cars available the Trans Am and the Corvette. One automotive ble magazine observed that "the Trans Am's screaming chicken now the most recognized car emblem in The Trans Am's halo effect sold hun- is the world." dreds of thousands of bread-and-butter Firebirds. The automotive marketplace has changed considerably since the 1970s, and the Trans became a victim of GM's inability to market dynamics. While the 2001 Trans Am is far superior to the continues to lag far behind in Am meet the WS6 Ram Air Mustang GT, sales. it There's no question that the market for rear-wheel-drive V-8 performance cars is large enough to support the F-car. The 35th anniversary edition that closes out the Firebird's ment on its model run is Pontiac's final state- long- running musclecar. The 10th, 20th, 25th, and 30th anniversary models were milestones, and to commemorate Firebird's lineage, the Trans Am the end of the has been desig- nated to carry the 35th anniversary package. —Paul Zazarine, editor, Pontiac Enthusiast magazine The Firebird Am and Trans Through the years, the Firebird and its Trans Am brother have been extremely popular sports cars that have attracted variety of buyers, boomers admirers, a wide and enthusiasts. From baby- to their children, people have been drawn to the Firebird's and the Firebird Trans Am's exhilarating power and pleasing design, which have helped both carve out a unique spot in American automo- bile history. As the sun setting fallen on rises on the new millennium, though, this distinct era of automobile. The it appears to be musclecar concept has out of favor, pulling aside for the more popular ideas of front- wheel-drive and sport utility vehicles. At present, it appears that the The evolution of the nose-to-nose. Many Firebird's front-end design is clearly shown when these then-and-now models are parked prefer the older design, but both have their proponents. 2002 Firebird and Trans final Am models will Evolution be the The version of this Pontiac muscle legend. What a pity for all, Am enthusiasts, particularly for the its competition that faced the Firebird upon introduction in 1967 was awesome. There was most of who would agree that the looks and performance of the current models are now about as stunning as the ultra-successful Ford Mustang, which had a can be achieved with a factory-built model. But wouldn't you know: The buying public's interest ble competition Firebird and Trans has turned a different Such direction. two model-year ful existence on The GTO of the Firebird and Trans Am Camaro. Both were formidaby anyone's standards. Motivations for the development of the Firebird were many, with the primary reason being the super-success of the Mustang, which proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the concept of a musclecar was a viable one. is will strong. design influence is clearly evident when you put competition from the similarly styled "progress." Nevertheless, the roaring and color- live lead, as well as the two 1968 front ends side by side. Note the similarities of the hood scoops and the distinctive front-end shaping of the two models. 10 more like it should competing at the Indianapolis 500 as opposed to design looked been have cruising the streets. It featured a torpedo-style body and, had it been produced, may have provided more of a surprise in the industry than the 1953 Corvette Firebird, new a did. Had XP-833 actually become the the it could well have set direction for the sports car business. Things abruptly went another direction, however, Motors decided reasons, ic when General econom- that, for the Firebird would have to share sheet metal with the Camaro. Individual model This 1972 shows Firebird extremely popular during its macho front-end design, which was heyday. Without doubt, that look its be still remains popular today. Those classy hood scoops have returned to the modern Firebird/Trans Am design, with the 2001 model carrying damned — the styling almighty dollar would be saved with this arrange- ment. Pontiac took this decision as a slap in its design's face, a pair of very but the decision was final. Everyone similar scoops. knew right then that as the two designs evolved, there would be For Company big guns great certain, Pontiac's brass didn't like their faces being rubbed pony, so in the dirt it by that Ford Motor was time for many years action. Pontiac The competitor — and things moved a Alustang quickly. The Firebird was developed and built out of a need to prove that Pontiac could new compete in this arena. The legendary DeLorean made it very clear which could, in addition to standing alone, provide an economic alternative to the Corvette. Though didn't want the Firebird to compete against the company's star performer, DeLorean's point was taken. The XP-833 concept design was born. The XP-833 was a sleek beauty, its design far that he wanted a two-seater, —maybe a bit too far. come. It initial was clear that ceed, however: GM ahead of its time to between the Firebird and certainly proved to be the case for Camaro body lines were for the most part already defined, so there wasn't much room for input from the Pontiac boys. It was a squeeze-fit situation for Pontiac to incorporate its unique look with only the nose and tail areas to work with. Even the Camaro fenders had to be used. John DeLorean and Bunkie Knudson turned their attention to building similarities Camaro. That The one thing was critical to suc- Firebird could not simply reformed Camaro. Looking back, Pontiac engineers unquestionably did one heck of look like a ghing that first Firebird its own look. Even though there were great similarities between the two models that first year, each seemed to have its a job The concept own 11 distinctive stvle. and appearance and not necessarily by like power trains. The original era of the Firebird was essentially a combination of elements from the Camaro and GTO, of its plus some subtle yet distinct characteristics own. The 1970-1976 time period saw the models' shapes cleaned up, with the introduction of the Endura rubber a tapered grille, single There was tail. headlights, and certainly a race car look about these models. The 1977-1981 period saw a look for the Firebird and Trans more Am, a conservative look that went along with the reduced horsepower of the period. With Even as performance was dropping early 1970s, Pontiac came like a rock in the 1973 and 1974 model thing big. A sleek new front end that this was the of some- start really set it apart — —that was capable of almost unbelievable performance. This engine was available during the no doubt from previous Firebirds. The design period also applied space-age engineering and a less-beefy design. The final period of development commenced in 1992 and continues today for now. The styling took a giant step upward with curved styling and reinvigoration of the underthe-hood performance. forth with a full-race mill the 455 Super Duty power plant the introduction of the 1982 model, there was years. Design Viewing the initial Firebird front end, easy to discern that there was a lot of ence in place many down — that the to fit a whole GTO lot! It it The is GTO influ- actually appeared to has seen front end had been scaled ily the Firebird. But there was a classic Am designs of the Firebird and Trans have progressed through the years, many embraced faces and looks. The as the model Firebird fam- different characteristics to keep up with the times, adopting variations to create a with chrome circling the twin head- sports car aura, aggressive musclecar looks, big- and that distinctive split-grille design. The end also had a unique look. When you got right down to it, the Firebird was a little more highbrow than its Chevy sibling. block high performance under the hood, aerodynamic styling, and often, the look of a machine that belonged on the racetrack. look to it, lights rear Eras of Distinction While some break down the into four eras, others break The 1990s saw some sleek automotive designs, and the Firebird's reign it into Firebird five: and Trans Am were out 1967-1969, 1970-1976, 1977-1981, 1982-1992, and 1993-2002. There is really nothing sacred This factory photo about these time periods, and for the most part each era is based on similarities in design their sharp appearance, these Am doing its shows in front, in a bright yellow thing on a winding road. In many minds. 1993 Trans addition to modern models had great performance and handling. Pontiac 12 also 13 Firebird and Trans Am Indianapolis 500 and was have always had NASCAR pace a racing cars. a detailed-out Trans Am Even with those difficult initial The 1 image, and 989 Indy 500 it hanger-on, the Firebird and its down an own power would the Trans though, the Trans Am Firebird or a Trans Am, Am line. Through More horse- a relatively light car at a ton and you can believe that these models could really got it on! Things kept perking, though. The horsepower roared to 345 with the ram-air power plants. During the exciting performance era of the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Firebird model never seemed to assume a true musclecar image. 325 horses. With the years, become you that they have Am. Enough beginning. coming from big-block a half, has always been the has evolved to just the follow, personal- completely separate model. Most owners of classic line will tell of both engines, including the original 400, which put out a different direction to carve their top model in the Firebird number impressive 285 horses. But that was spot in American automobile history. Of course, a Am flashy Trans offshoot continued to take on their own in the form of the Twentieth Anniversary Trans exhausts, and a 10.5:1 compression ratio that put design con- and tough competition, the Firebird line has survived the vears and weathered numerous tough times along the way. Xo longer a Camaro and move in in with the race identification on the doors. Pontiac straints ity has best been manifested pacer, a this either a said! It's hard to understand why, because sions of both the Firebird and Trans many ver- Am certainly But most of the models that carried the muscle image were medium-size sedans, while the Performance qualified. Appearance has without question been a strong suit of the Firebird line, but performance was also immediately evident in the initial Firebird model. The power plant was a 326ci mill, which sported a four-barrel carburetor, dual Firebird models had more of a sports car image. Of course, no conversation about the Firebird and Trans Am's performance would be complete without mentioning the unforgettable Super 14 — Duty models of 1973 and 1974 a a time when, whole, the performance era declined. Duty engine was rated at a as The Super conservative 290 horsepower, which was obviously a joke. This was a pure race mill that was built These engine. SD like a competition models are considered to be some of the top Firebird collectibles. In a number of the ram-air models of of the 1969 and — tage —have serious collector appeal. 1960s specifically addition, the late 1970 vin- But with the exception of the Super Duty model years, the Firebird line experienced a plummet of power under the hood, like most other cars, during the gas-crunch days of the 1970s and even into the 1980s. The performance, however, did come back big time in the 1990s, with the LSI and later the LT-1 small-block which would see horsepower soar past the 300 mark, with the 2002 model reaching power plants, an awe-inspiring 325! Racing 'Til the End High performance is one reason that the Firebird line has always had a race connotation. With names like Formula (as in Formula Trans-Am (as in the SCCA Trans Am series), and with a race version 1) and racing of the Firebird competing in that latter race series, it's no wonder. During the 1 960s and running all the way into the 1980s, the sleek Firebird design was many In times selected as an oval track race performer. Race of Champions (IROC) actually In addition, the Firebird body style serves as identically as possible, the basis for the race car used in the International raced them Race of Champions (IROC) series. It has also been the Indy 500 Pace Car on a number of occasions, and has served as a NASCAR pacer at many the Trans The styling and performance of the Firebird and Trans Am have been at the forefront of the American automotive industry for 3 5 years, with a — and The Firebird, with high sales cars in the International were and the greatest drivers built as in the world four national races. Pontiac icons that represent the American road and race- power plants receiving from the buying public. top Formula model, and track in — its The through the years that are classics today. The Firebird and Trans Am. Two enduring designs and raves in series. advertising use of the be used Am, with high-tech models like the GTA, have had a number of special models tracks during the 1990s. number of the made huge the mid-1990s, Pontiac Firebird's selection as the vehicle to all its glory. Each has a history remembering, and they are chronicled pages to follow. 15 worth in the num.- 1967 The first three Firebirds and the initial Trans Am came on like gangbusters and really caught the fancy of the buying public. That was just the beginning of things to come. 1967 This Firebird fleet. year's car is For was the inaugural model. And as such, the 1967 1/2 considered to be one of the most valuable of the Firebird a first-year automobile, there was an amazing selection of models, power plants, and options. Buyers could choose from a flood of interior options, three different types of wheel discs and a pair of Rally wheels, a trend that many types of power assists, and air conditioning. would continue with Firebirds through succeeding 16 It was years. Even though Pontiac was forced to adhere to already-existing Camaro sheet metal, the inaugural Firebird managed its own distinct look. The characteristic split front-end design, along with the black-out hood, gave it a unique look. overhead-cam six-cylinder that had surprising performance. Road & Track magazine tested the bottom-end model at an impressive 15.4 second Obviously, the public liked what it saw, and it bought more than 82,000 units of that first Firebird. It was a significant sales accomplishment considering that the model had a monstrously late February introduction! quarter-mile clocking. The first Firebird also featured big performThe initial big-power engine was a 326ci Pontiac used the Firebird's great option selec- ance. HO version), which sported a tion with an advertising blitz that asked potential mill (in the sporty buyers, "WTiich Firebird Is for You?" Pontiac also four-barrel carburetor, dual exhausts, and a 10.5:1 model from its obvimarketed the Firebird as power, which was merely a starting point for the compression tried its best to divorce the Camaro ous heritage. It on-its-own sports a distinctive, on the ularly the styling The made the model a became one of the most desirable of the early Firebirds. It cost an extra S280 to acquire those increased ponies, but it was worth the monev. Performance with the 326 mill was optional 326 engine real rocket, When you viewed the model from the side, that Camaro look was undeniably present. But in the front and rear treatments, Pontiac engiestablished an could put out 285 horse- big blocks to come. car, hitting partic- and performance aspects of new model. neers ratio. It and it elegant appearance, including the Pontiac GTO-style front with mounted lights horizontally resting within the recesses of the distinctive black-out grille. WTien you remember that all had to be accomplished within tight design constraints, the result was truly amazing. It wasn't how Pontiac had wanted to do it, but there's no arguing that the results were outstanding. Aft body treatment was also distinctive with four (two on each corner) horizontal tailthis design lights. The Pontiac identifica- tion was carried in the lower center of the rear deck. There HO was also the body style, which carried the model identification in a The body-length stripe. Although the Firebird is usually known as a performance machine, the model that was in place the first model year also baseline 3.8-liter straight-six engine certainly didn't start off that way. gained with a four-barrel, but Sprint a attention lot of appreciative with an economical Horsepower was only 115 with 400ci V-8s were the if way you a two-barrel carburetor. really More punch came wanted performance, the 326 and to go. 18

Author Bill Holder Isbn 9780760311653 File size 15MB Year 2002 Pages 96 Language English File format PDF Category Engineering and Technology Book Description: FacebookTwitterGoogle+TumblrDiggMySpaceShare This full-color history chronicles Pontiac’s Firebird and Trans Am from 1967 to today. The Firebird hit the market as a response to the Ford Mustang and Mercury Cougar. Firebirds became an extremely popular car, but then the Trans Am came along offering more horsepower, more performance, a better package, and a “bad” look. For more than 30 years, both models headed Pontiac’s performance list; they still attract a lot of attention. Enthusiast Color Series.     Download (15MB) Ford Mustang (Enthusiast Color Series) Roads Were Not Built for Cars Modern American Muscle (Enthusiast Color Series) Learjets (Enthusiast Color Series) Modern American Farm Tractors (Enthusiast Color Series) Load more posts

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