Styling for the 1993 Pontiac Firebird was greatly influenced by the dramatic Banshee IV, which toured auto shows in 1988, and also by the "California Camaro" that had been created by the Advanced Concepts Center. Chief designer John R. Folden later explained that Chuck Jordan, GM's now-retired head of styling, advised the staff to "Be brave."
In a startling departure from conventional practice, head Camaro designer John A. Cafaro Jr. met regularly with Folden to exchange ideas. Old rivalries wouldn't be allowed to stand in the way of progress. Engineering development was credited to teams under Ted Robertson, Harvey Bell, and Norm Fugate.
Brave they all were, but practical as well. The curvaceous new body was half an inch longer, two inches wider, and two inches taller than its '92 predecessor. Interior dimensions remained virtually identical, with a touch more headroom in both front and back. A steeply raked (68-degree) windshield served as a focal point. Rear spoilers-standard even on the base model-held a built-in high-mounted stop lamp.
Pinpointing the coupe's squarish wheel arches and pointed snout, Road & Track claimed that it ranked closer in kinship to the first-generation Firebird than to its immediate predecessors. In any case, with such an assertive, eye-grabbing profile, there was little more need for garish decals and doodads.
Since the beginning, Firebirds had been made strictly of steel. Not anymore. Rust-, ding-, and dent-resistant composite material was employed for most outer body panels, except the rear fenders and hood. Body stiffness was claimed to be 20 percent better, allowing fewer squeaks and rattles -- a common complaint against older Firebirds.
MacPherson struts departed from the front suspension, supplanted by a short-/long-arm configuration, with standard De Carbon gas-charged shock absorbers. Suspensions were thus softened somewhat to glide more easily over bumps, yet managed to retain their legendary handling prowess. The switch also permitted a lower cowl and hood. Power rack-and-pinion steering ousted the old-fashioned recirculating-ball setup, producing more precise control and "feel."
Inside, a reworked dashboard with domed instrument panel made the full analog gauges easy to see, and radio/climate controls more convenient to reach. Rear seat space grew a bit, but remained a sore spot-literally so for adults. Cargo space also grew, but can charitably be described only as scant. Standard fittings included a low-oil warning.
If you want to learn more about muscle cars and Firebirds, check out these pages:
- Firebird Reviews by Consumer Guide
- Muscle Cars