1971 Pontiac Firebird Formula

The 1971 Pontiac Firebird Formula marked the debut of Pontiac's famous honeycomb wheels. See more Pontiac Firebird pictures.
The 1971 Pontiac Firebird Formula marked the debut of Pontiac's famous honeycomb wheels. See more Pontiac Firebird pictures.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Because both the 350-and 400-cid V-8 engines were available this year, the 1971 Pontiac Firebird Formula model lost its "400" suffix. Only 7802 were built, despite a relatively moderate $3445 price.

Pontiac Firebird Image Gallery

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Biggest news was the big-block 455-cid V-8, introduced in Pontiac's GTO and full-size cars a year earlier. Standard in Trans Ams, the 455 HO delivered 335 horsepower, despite its modest (8.4:1) compression ratio. A 325 horsepower version was available in the Formula, with 8.2:1 compression (like the 400 V-8s).

Base Firebirds changed little, again powered by a standard Chevrolet-built six-cylinder engine with column shift, but high-back vinyl bucket seats added an impression of sportiness.

Only for this year did front fenders contain louvers -- but simulated, unlike the Trans Am's functional air extractors. Esprit continued as the posher step-up model, and Trans Ams wore modified graphics.

Options for '71 included a rear console and rechargeable flashlight. No other domestic car offered a cassette tape player.

New camshafts went into the 350-and 400-cid two-barrel engines, for greater low-end and peak torque. Secondary air valves in four-barrel carburetors opened sooner than before, for faster response.

The 1971 Firebird Formula outsold the Trans Am four-to-one.
The 1971 Firebird Formula outsold the Trans Am four-to-one.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Trans Ams again were loaded with performance gear, including a four-speed floor shift, variable-ratio power steering, power front disc brakes, and a rear-facing Ram Air inlet with throttle-operated valve.

The Trans Am's firm ride/handling package included high-rate rear springs and thicker stabilizer bars. Trans Ams rode F60x15 white-letter tires on honeycomb wheels (also optional in lesser Firebirds), but special engine and exhaust trim was deleted this year.

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To learn more about muscle cars, see:

  • Pontiac Firebird Reviews by Consumer Guide
  • Muscle Cars

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