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History Of The Pontiac Firebird

1967 - The Beginning

  It became official on February 23, 1967, about five months after the Camaro's debut. Like its Chevrolet counterpart, the 1967 Firebird was offered in both hardtop and convertible versions, but Pontiac put a slightly different twist on its launch by developing a quintet of models known as the “Magnificent Five,” each targeted at a different market segment. The entry-level $2666 Firebird was propelled by the sohc inline-6. Representing one of the few such engines built by an American automaker, the 230 cu-in. powerplant produced a credible 165 bhp-or 215 in high-output “Sprint” form that brought with it a tougher clutch, floor-shift for the 3-speed manual transmission and heavy-duty suspension.


   Next up was the 250-bhp Firebird 326 V-8, with a more appealing HO version just above it that pumped out a generous 285 bhp and announced its performance mission with racing stripes and twin exhausts. But the car that real enthusiasts found most interesting was the Firebird 400. Predating the “Super Duty” Firebirds, the 400 was rated at a conservative 325 bhp to stay within GM's existing 10-lb- per-bhp limits although enthusiasts knew its real output was considerably higher. What set the 400 off from other Firebirds were such things as a unique hood with twin (non-functioning) hood scoops, redline tires and dual exhausts. For about $200 more, the truly serious Firebird buyer could add the Ram Air option, which made the hood scoops functional and added more horsepower (though still rated at 325 bhp) with a hotter cam and larger, low-restriction exhaust manifolds.   


   Just 63 Ram Air coupes and two convertibles were built for 1967, making these, today, among the most sought-after early Firebirds. In 1967 buyers could have ordered cars, customizing them with a myriad of options. Pontiac saw its F-Body as slightly more sophisticated than its Chevrolet counterpart, and included such useful features as a rear-window defogger, fold-down rear seat and shoulder belts. However, performance was always Pontiac's core mission, and Pontiac catered to the speed-hungry public with its now-famous hood-mounted tachometer, hood retaining pins and adjustable Koni shocks.


 CONTINUE READING - 1968 Building Performance 


 Photo's Courtesy: The Premier Firebird Trans-Am Gallery.

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