How Pontiac Works

By: the Auto Editors of Consumer Guide

1967, 1968, 1969 Pontiac Firebird

The 1968 Pontiac Firebird boasted a distinctive divided grille.

With Pontiac's performance image secure, division brass knew the Firebird "ponycar" had to be special -- particularly as it shared a 108.1-inch-wheelbase F-body structure with Chevrolet's new-for-'67 Camaro. But the Firebird was special, sporting a divided grille of the sort now expected on Pontiacs, and offering a "400" model with a 325-bhp V-8 of that size. The base-tune ohc six was initially standard; the optional Sprint version made for a sprightly, yet economical, Firebird Sprint.

Making its debut about five months behind Camaro, Firebird wasn't modified much for 1968. A change of engines made the 326 model a 350, and side-marker lights were added in accordance with a new government decree.


The '69s were restyled below the belt and gained a host of federally ordered safety items. Convertibles continued until "19701/2," when an all-new coupe-only second generation was introduced.

The hottest and most memorable early Firebird was the '69 Trans Am, a $725 option package announced in March. It was loosely inspired by the Firebirds then half-heartedly contesting the Sports Car Club of America's Trans-American road-racing series.

Special badges, white paint, twin blue dorsal racing stripes, and a decklid spoiler identified it. A 335-bhp Ram Air III 400 gave it great performance, and a heavily fortified chassis and brakes made for superb roadability. Only 697 of the '69s were built, including a mere eight convertibles and just nine cars with the optional 345-bhp "Ram Air IV" engine. But the T/A was destined for far greater sales very soon.

For more on the amazing Pontiac, old and new, see:

For more on the amazing Pontiac, old and new, see:

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