The 1979 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am and 10th Anniversary Trans Am received dramatic front-and-rear facelifts. That included a no-grille appearance in an elongated nose, flanked by inset quad rectangular headlamps. A urethane casting held the recessed head-lamps, with horizontal louvers below (at bumper level).
At the rear lurked a full-width taillamp, which seemed to disappear in daylight. Front and rear spoilers were installed, and wider fender skirts could encompass fatter tires.
Firebird Formulas carried Pontiac's small-block, two-barrel 301-cid V-8, packing 140 horsepower; Trans Ams used Oldsmobile's 403, rated at 185 bhp. Lower-rung Firebirds might have the Buick V-6, a 150-bhp four-barrel 301 V-8, or Chevrolet-built 305.
A final batch of 400-cid V-8s, good for 220 horsepower, was stuffed into engine compartments of 10th Anniversary Trans Ams, carrying a metric "6.6 Liter" designation. (Production had halted in 1978, but a few were saved for this limited-edition.)
Wearing silver/charcoal paint, silver hatch-roof panels, and matching silver leather upholstery, those Limited Editions sold for a whopping $10,620 -- the first Firebird to pass 10 grand -- yet 7,500 went to customers. That was in addition to 109,609 regular Trans Ams, accounting for more than half of Firebird output.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Never before (or since) have so many Firebirds entered customers' hands as in 1979, when 211,454 rolled off the assembly line.
Pontiac promoted the Trans Am as "Our best of breed," whether or not it flaunted a "screaming eagle decal." Brakes would receive more attention as the 1980s approached, and four-wheel discs became optional on Formulas and Trans Ams for the first time.