1993 Pontiac Firebird marketing was all about up-selling. Starting at $13,995, the base Firebird ranked as a veritable bargain by 1993 standards. Another $4,000 bought a Formula edition, while the Trans Am package sent the total to $21,395. Throw in a few accessories, of course, and those figures could easily jump by several thousand dollars.
Like other automakers, Pontiac had specific target markets for each model. Base Firebirds aimed at college-educated singles, mostly female, with incomes over $35,000. In short, people who might otherwise choose a Ford Mustang LX, Nissan 240SX, Ford Probe, or Dodge Stealth. Single men were the top prospects for the Formula. With options like high-performance tires and an alternative axle ratio, a Formula Firebird could deliver "as much muscle as the Trans Am without as muscular a price." And, swapping understated, minimalist subtlety for pretentious pizzazz, it lacked the aero add-ons that attracted more attention than some owners preferred.
Trans Am buyers would be mostly male (as before). For their extra dollars, they'd receive what Pontiac described as "[u]nprecedented performance, control and excitement with a bold muscular appearance and features required in a high performance sports car for the 90s." Trans Ams displayed a pedestal-mounted rear spoiler and aero side skirts, as well as an extended snout with integrated foglamps.
Jack Folden, Exterior Studio II design chief, explained that the restyled Firebird had "an international design flavor to it, and yet it very much says, 'I'm an American and proud of it.'" Considering that long-standing "all-American" image, some customers may have been surprised to learn that the latest Firebirds (and Camaros) hailed from Canada, built at Ste. Therese, Quebec, instead of in California.
Fuel economy never had been a big selling point for ponycars of any stripe. Even so, the V-8's EPA rating of 17 mpg in the city and 25 mpg on the highway could be equalled in real-world driving-providing that one's foot didn't lean too heavily on the gas pedal.
"Driving excitement" continued as the theme in Pontiac ads, but evolving to "embrace '90s sensibilities." Most ads featured the $17,995 Formula. Even so, the base coupe led in sales volume, offering "spirited V6 performance with styling that's head-turning yet sophisticated and appealing to both import and domestic intenders of sporty cars."
"Pontiacs are bold, purposeful, athletic, and personal," insisted the division's general manager, John Middlebrook, as the '93 Firebird debuted. He noted the car's "aggressive exterior, driver-oriented interior, powerful powertrains and precise handling suspension systems."
By the time the first new Firebirds went on sale, SLP Engineering was readying a souped-up Firehawk edition, just as they'd done for the last of the third generation. This time, the price was a lot more modest ($24,244); but packing 300 horses, a Firehawk could run the 0-60 dash in 4.9 seconds and devour the quarter-mile in 13.5 (reaching 103.5 mph). Few drivers needed to achieve such velocities, of course; but it was nice to know that such feats were possible.
If you want to learn more about muscle cars and Firebirds, check out these pages:
- Firebird Reviews by Consumer Guide
- Muscle Cars