The passing of the Clean Air Bill into law in 1970 saw the deconstruction of the muscle car era. It is commonly taken that the power built American heavy metal cars like the Firebird, built between the years ’64 and ’72 were within the definition. Three events launched the muscle car era and two sealed its fate.
The 1973 firebird
The post WWII era brought an expansion of the American middle class, and with that unprecedented prosperity. New highways were being built across America under the US Interstate Highway System and the demand for powerful cars rang clear with manufacturers. Each built their own version and competed amongst themselves fiercely. The Firebird, was Pontiac’s entrant into this competition.
Firebird or Camero
The ‘69 Firebird shared its platform with another classic legend, the Chevy Camaro. It was powered by either four, six or eight cylinder engines taken from across GM inventory. The original plan was for Pontiac to field its own design taken from its Banshee concept car. However, in concerns over the possible cannibalization of sales for the other two seater sports, the Corvette, GM decided to proceed with the Firebird.
Standard models for this American classic, packed and inline six cylinder fueled by a single barrel carburettor. However, the more popular variant chosen by the people was the V8 engine. The variation also accommodated two or four barrel carburettors and in later models the hood scoops functioned to direct ram air for higher RPM. The ’69 engines ranged from 250 cu in to the highest, 400 cu in Ram Air 2 V8.
The ’69 Firebird was also the recipient of a few facelifts. It sported a new bumper housing and headlights. And the major change included the repositioning of the ignition. That was the year, GM introduced steering column locks. The facelifts were considered major at the time and gave a new feel to the two models prior in the First Generation.
After the first two models, drivers were also treated to a package available in ’69. It was the Trans Am Performance and Appearance Package and cost just over $700. This package was a deemed a handling package in that is added a rear spoiler to the sleek rear.
The Firebird was part of the pillars that made the muscle car era what it is today. Thought the run was short and sweet, the aftermarket for these vehicles are something of a legend in themselves. Along with the other heavy metal thoroughbreds, the Firebird evoked and inspired a generation in its wake.
Writer David Hurd enjoys writing about muscle cars from the classic times. Have a look at showplates.net if you are into awesome cars at car shows.