RE: Pontiac Firebird: Spotted

RE: Pontiac Firebird: Spotted

Sunday 12th May

Pontiac Firebird: Spotted

The Mustang burned many a rival during America's pony car war; could this Firebird be ready to rise from the ashes?



Since Ford mastered the genre in the mid-60s there have been many pretenders to the Mustang’s pony car crown. Some have endured better than others, sure, but none have quite managed to match its success. So with a trip to the good ol’ US of A - and an opportunity to drive one of the cars that’s managed to stay the course - on the horizon, my thoughts have turned to those that have fallen by the wayside.

There have been dozens of them, far too many to list here; the majority produced by manufacturers which have long since folded, or been devoured by one of the Big Three. Noteworthy standouts include the Plymouth Barracuda - which, in making it to market two weeks before the Mustang, technically kick-started the pony car phenomenon -  the AMC Javelin and the Pontiac Firebird.


It’s the latter which is arguably the most culturally significant of those on this side of the pond, largely thanks to its star turn alongside the late, great, Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit. So, while not exactly the same as the 1977 model used for the film - 1976, technically, but we won’t get into that now - today’s Spotted carries with it an extra few cases of cool. As a 1981 car, it is more closely related to Smokey than most, however, with ‘81 being the final year of second generation production, before the styling took a decidedly 80s (read: worse) turn.

By the time our Spotted entered production, America’s fuel crisis had put an end to big displacement engines, the option of a 6.6-litre V8 having been phased out one year prior. This meant that the V8 in our Spotted had to make do with just the 5.0-litre unit. But while today’s muscle cars are locked in a seemingly never-ending power war, the manufacturers of the time seemed to be competing for a rather different accolade; going head-to-head to discover who could get the least power from the largest engine.

To that end Pontiac took those five litres and proceeded to eke a frankly appalling 150hp from them. Nonetheless, buyers received the easy pull and smooth burble of a V8 engine, four-speed manual transmission and pony car styling, all in a package which exuded the effortless cool of the Bandit himself. And now you can have it too.


Our Spotted looks to be in very reasonable condition for its 51,000 miles, the paint bright and bodywork clean. Of course, even if it was never refreshed by its single lady owner, that paint may not be entirely original. Due to strict pollution controls in California, Firebirds produced there were finished in water-based paint, while identical models built at Pontiac’s freely-polluting Ohio plant benefited from a lacquered emulsion. This bestowed the Californian cars with the unenviable trait of delamination, with Pontiac having to fork out for the costly in-warranty repair.

Other than that potential hiccup, this car looks to have enjoyed a relatively cushy life. And, having been garaged from new, never driven in the rain and coming complete with its original invoice and handbooks, is sure to find its way to an owner who’ll ensure that a similar level of care continues. The only question is, for £14,990, could it be you?

See the full ad here.

Author
Discussion

Gus265

Original Poster:

166 posts

74 months

Sunday 12th May
quotequote all
5 litre V8 and only 150bhp - that is amazing! I genuinely laughed out loud when I read that! Good job it’s a manual - I’m not sure the auto version would make it up the very gentle incline outside my house!

Always loved Bandit’s Trans Am.

defblade

5,195 posts

154 months

Sunday 12th May
quotequote all
Dafydd said:
It’s the latter which is arguably the most culturally significant of those on this side of the pond, largely thanks to its star turn alongside the late, great, Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit.
...with ‘81 being the final year of second generation production, before the styling took a decidedly 80s (read: worse) turn.
Not a KITT fan, then?

CS Garth

1,892 posts

46 months

Sunday 12th May
quotequote all
I achieve the same sensation by listening to Eastbound and Down by Jerry Lee at high volume and imaging the car behind is being driven by Buford T Justice. For added effect I have imaginary CB based conversations with truckers.

There have been complaints to the Variety club but fk em I say

XMified

139 posts

13 months

Sunday 12th May
quotequote all
Shame this is from the dark ages of this generation Firebird. By this time, what lay under the bonnet's "puking chicken" had been strangled by emissions regulations. Probably still has loads of torque though!


I never quite get the whole Smokey And The Bandit Trans Am obsession. To me it looks overwrought and a bit vulgar, though I concede that may be the point of it!

I always preferred the cleaner lines of the more simple Esprit model. Elegant enough to sit alongside European contemporaries.





Unashamed Rockford Files fan, yes. Give me James Garner's driving skills over Burt Reynolds any day. smile

XMified

139 posts

13 months

Sunday 12th May
quotequote all
CS Garth said:
I achieve the same sensation by listening to Eastbound and Down by Jerry Lee at high volume and imaging the car behind is being driven by Buford T Justice. For added effect I have imaginary CB based conversations with truckers.

There have been complaints to the Variety club but fk em I say
OT- Haha, yeah never mind the Trans Am- Buford T Justice is a legend.
Advertisement

Augustus Windsock

1,671 posts

96 months

Sunday 12th May
quotequote all
‘77/‘78 Firebird?
Yes please.
This one?
Hmmm,
Looks like;


But goes like;

BrassMan

1,241 posts

130 months

Sunday 12th May
quotequote all
Needs energy weapons, but beware the psychic warriors with their weaponised funk.

Augustus Windsock

1,671 posts

96 months

Sunday 12th May
quotequote all
XMified said:
Shame this is from the dark ages of this generation Firebird. By this time, what lay under the bonnet's "puking chicken" had been strangled by emissions regulations. Probably still has loads of torque though!


I never quite get the whole Smokey And The Bandit Trans Am obsession. To me it looks overwrought and a bit vulgar, though I concede that may be the point of it!

I always preferred the cleaner lines of the more simple Esprit model. Elegant enough to sit alongside European contemporaries.





Unashamed Rockford Files fan, yes. Give me James Garner's driving skills over Burt Reynolds any day. smile
As above, the Rockford Files car was an Esprit model
Or not.
“The cars in the show were badged as lower-tier Esprit models, but in reality were Formulas with the twin-scoop hood replaced with a scoopless one. Another hint was the twin exhausts and rear anti-roll bars that were not used on Esprit”.
To be fair I always liked the Bandit cars, and original low miles ones are between $77k and $99k
There’s currently a 16k from new one for sale at $120k, autographed, with photo evidence, by Burt Reynolds himself...
In fact the original car used in the official brochures is also for sale at the same specialist in Florida; POA.

Jimmy Recard

15,492 posts

120 months

Sunday 12th May
quotequote all
Gus265 said:
5 litre V8 and only 150bhp - that is amazing! I genuinely laughed out loud when I read that! Good job it’s a manual - I’m not sure the auto version would make it up the very gentle incline outside my house!

Always loved Bandit’s Trans Am.
Is it amazing?

What would you expect from that era with US emissions controls?
In 1976 a US-spec XJ12 would’ve only had about 240 horsepower, and I’m guessing that would’ve been Jaguar’s claim for gross power, while Pontiac quoted net.

cib24

732 posts

94 months

Sunday 12th May
quotequote all
Lovely car. Do an LS swap and it will be perfect.

bozzy.

133 posts

19 months

Sunday 12th May
quotequote all
Outrageously pessimistic speedometer laugh

s m

17,370 posts

144 months

Sunday 12th May
quotequote all
One of these for me instead


Mr E

18,550 posts

200 months

Sunday 12th May
quotequote all
Didn’t they turbocharge these at some point?

OpulentBob

10,606 posts

121 months

Sunday 12th May
quotequote all
bozzy. said:
Outrageously pessimistic speedometer laugh
hehe

samoht

905 posts

87 months

Sunday 12th May
quotequote all
bozzy. said:
Outrageously pessimistic speedometer laugh
In case anyone doesn't know why the speedo ends at 85mph: http://www.classic-car-history.com/85-mph-speedo.h...
(presumably also the reason behind 88mph becoming the critical speed for time travel)


AmosMoses

3,219 posts

106 months

Sunday 12th May
quotequote all
Mr E said:
Didn’t they turbocharge these at some point?
Yes they did and it had a whopping 210bhp laugh

MuscleSaloon

768 posts

116 months

Sunday 12th May
quotequote all
s m said:
One of these for me instead

The bull-nose cars are much nicer IMO and I have a soft spot for the shovel-nose cars up to '74 before they enlarged the rear window.

Regarding the power figures - sure they looked grim through the worst times after the muscle years - but look at your average UK car of the same era. I've seen 1.6 OHC Fords with the VV carb putting down about 50bhp on the rollers - and people thought they were brilliant !

CDP

5,662 posts

195 months

Sunday 12th May
quotequote all
samoht said:
bozzy. said:
Outrageously pessimistic speedometer laugh
In case anyone doesn't know why the speedo ends at 85mph: http://www.classic-car-history.com/85-mph-speedo.h...
(presumably also the reason behind 88mph becoming the critical speed for time travel)
With JDM stuff the speedo runs out at 110 mph. You know you're motoring when you hit the rev limiter in top...

993kimbo

1,914 posts

126 months

Sunday 12th May
quotequote all
I had a 350ci Esprit in the 70s and also a Trans Am,both autos.
Couldn’t chirp the tyres in either of them from a standing start.


s m

17,370 posts

144 months

Sunday 12th May
quotequote all
MuscleSaloon said:
s m said:
One of these for me instead

The bull-nose cars are much nicer IMO and I have a soft spot for the shovel-nose cars up to '74 before they enlarged the rear window.

Regarding the power figures - sure they looked grim through the worst times after the muscle years - but look at your average UK car of the same era. I've seen 1.6 OHC Fords with the VV carb putting down about 50bhp on the rollers - and people thought they were brilliant !
Yep, for me a 73 SD455 was the best

Proper muscle car to end the era

60mph in 5.4

13.8 second quarter