It might be challenging to keep up with valuations for some of our favorite vintage cars in today’s quickly changing collector automobile market. Consider the Pontiac Firebird, which was built over five decades and spanned four versions. With almost 2,000,000 units produced between 1967 and 2002, there are still plenty of survivors to enjoy today.
Let’s take a closer look at Pontiac’s pony and find out about it.
The Pontiac Firebird is an American vehicle that was built and sold by Pontiac between 1967 and 2002. It was released on February 23, 1967, five months after GM’s Chevrolet division’s platform-sharing Camaro. It was designed as a pony car to compete with the Ford Mustang. The 1967 Mercury Cougar, Ford’s premium, platform-sharing version of the Mustang, was also released at the same time.
GM previously used the moniker “Firebird” for the General Motors Firebird concept cars in the 1950s and early 1960s.
Firebirds in Racing
In the 1960s and 1970s, Firebirds were used in the Trans-Am series. When the Firebird Trans Am was first introduced, there was some debate about the model’s potential to compete in the Trans-Am because the smallest available engine, at 400 cubic inches, was too big for the series (6.6 L). The name also sparked debate because it was used without the SCCA’s authorization, prompting threats of legal action.
GM reached an agreement with the SCCA by paying $5 for each car sold. The Firebirds from the model year 2002 were in use when the Trans-Am was last seen. From 1996 to 2006, the body style for the mechanically identical racing vehicles used in the International Race of Champions was a WS6 Trans Am coupe (IROC).
14-time Funny Car champion John Force used a Firebird body to replace the outmoded Oldsmobile Cutlass and Chevrolet Lumina bodywork he had been using since 1988 during the 1995, 1996, and 1997 NHRA seasons. He won the championship in each of the three seasons he utilized. Del Worsham, Tim Wilkerson, Frank Pedregon, and Jerry Toliver were among the drivers who used the Firebird.
In the pro stock class, the Firebird body replaced the Oldsmobile Cutlass in 1995, forcing drivers Warren Johnson, Jerry Eckman, and Mark Pawuk to switch body styles for the 1996 season. None of them would win with the Firebird body in its first year, but pro stock driver Jim Yates, a second-year driver, did with the Firebird body in his second year.
1967–1969 Pontiac Firebird, first generation
Because GM took out their prototype Banshee sports car to safeguard Chevy Corvette sales, the first-generation Pontiac Firebird was something of a consolation prize for the division. Pontiac was given permission by GM management to construct a muscle vehicle based on Chevrolet’s Camaro instead, giving the brand access to the burgeoning pony car market pioneered by the first-generation Ford Mustang only a few years before.
The final vehicle has similar lines to the Camaro, but with distinct stylistic elements like a one-piece grille/front bumper and segmented taillights reminiscent of Pontiac’s original GTO muscle car.
1970–1981 Pontiac Firebird, Second Generation
Following multiple production delays, the 1970 Pontiac Firebird arrived in dealerships in February of that year. The convertible option was dropped for this generation of Firebird, and it was only available as a coupe. During the second generation, the Firebird really came into its own, with a slew of special editions that became instant classics. Pontiac offered over 14 distinct engine options for the second-generation Firebird, including some of the best and worst engines GM had to offer at the time. Numerous 400 ci (6.6-liter) V8s, the renowned 455 ci (7.5-liter), and, in the early 1980s, a turbocharged 301 were all on the list.
Pontiac Firebird, third generation, 1982–1992.
A demand for improved fuel economy and lower pollutants nearly suffocated the third-generation Firebird. Many—if not most—performance nameplates were shadows of their former selves with low horsepower, slow-responding, smog-choked power plants at the time, which meant many—if not most—performance nameplates were shadows of their former selves with low horsepower, slow-responding, smog-choked power plants.
During these dismal times, Pontiac did its best to make the Firebird exciting by focusing on enhancing handling. Weight reduction was also used to increase performance, with the third-generation Firebird losing over 500 pounds over its predecessor. Hence, values for third-generation cars are not quite as high as for second and first generation examples, despite the fact that everything from the 1980s and 1990s is rapidly gaining in popularity. A third-generation Firebird currently has a median market price of just under $10,000.
1993–2002 Pontiac Firebird, 4th Generation
The fourth-generation Pontiac Firebird was a total overhaul of the preceding model, with only a portion of the old car’s rear end remaining. Real horsepower was finally back on the table after decades of research in the areas of pollution management and fuel injection. The standard Firebird had a 3.8-liter V6 engine that produced 200 horsepower, while performance models had a 5.7-liter V8 engine that produced roughly 300 horsepower depending on the year.
This final, fourth-generation Firebird is currently nearing the bottom of its value curve, yet, as previously said concerning the third-generation car, all things 1990s are hot and getting hotter. In fact, Rare Firehawk or WS6 performance vehicles in exceptionally well-preserved condition can fetch up to $50,000. That’s huge!