1982 Pontiac Firebird

1982 Pontiac Firebird

In 1967 General Motors, caught napping, finally produced its answer to the Ford Mustang. It was the F-body Camaro/Firebird. Although the Pontiac division wanted a car which aped the Chevrolet Corvette they were forced to accept a Comaro clone with a few cosmetic changes designed to give the car a somewhat distinctive appearance. It must have upset a number of Pontiac executives who felt that they, as creators of the Tempest and GTO, ought not to be following but leading in the performance car stakes.
To further rub salt into the wound the prototype two-seater based around the Corvette, which the Pontiac Division had secretly developed, appeared on the market at a later date with changes to the lighting and grille as the face-lifted Corvette for 1968.

Whilst it was slightly more expensive than either the Mustang or Camaro, the Firebird with the added option of a 6.55-litre V8 engine sold well. To reach 50,000 units within 10 weeks of its launch and top 113,000 units in 12 months, although behind the 200,000 plus Comaro’s sales, indicated good public acceptance.
Even though it was a more expensive car amongst the choice of muscle cars available to the American buyer Firebird was a fast, reliable and good handling car that got favourable mentions whenever the subject of magazine road-tests.

In 1968 the addition of a three-speed automatic transmission in place of the standard GM two-speed issue added further to its appeal. In 1969 the first major face-lift to this model was done. As well as a few centimetres increase in length and track measurements, the changes included a new engine with aluminium pistons, heavy-duty rockers, aluminium intake manifold and a new cam system.

As the GM ‘no race edict’ was still in force this car was not destined for the racetrack. But it still wasn’t the ultimate Firebird which was just around the corner. Pontiac had planned a completely new model – TransAm.

About Ewan Kennedy

Ewan Kennedy, a long-time car enthusiast, was Technical Research Librarian with the NRMA from 1970 until 1985. He worked part-time as a freelance motoring journalist from 1977 until 1985, when he took a full-time position as Technical Editor with Modern Motor magazine. Late in 1987 he left to set up a full-time business as a freelance motoring journalist. Ewan is an associate member of the Society of Automotive Engineers - International. An economy driving expert, he set the Guinness World Record for the greatest distance travelled in a standard road vehicle on a single fuel fill. He lists his hobbies as stage acting, travelling, boating and reading.
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