Car: Pontiac Firebird Convertible
What makes it special: Designed as a pony car to compete with the Ford Mustang, Pontiac’s Firebird was introduced February 23, 1967, the same model year as GM’s Chevrolet division platform-sharing Camaro. This also coincided with the release of the 1967 Mercury Cougar, Ford’s upscale, platform-sharing version of the Mustang. The first generation Firebird had characteristic Coke bottle styling shared with its cousin, the Chevrolet Camaro. Announcing a Pontiac styling trend, the Firebird’s bumpers were integrated into the design of the front end, giving it a more streamlined look than the Camaro. The Firebird’s rear “slit” taillights were inspired by the 1966–1967 Pontiac GTO. Both a two-door hardtop and a convertible were offered through the 1969 model year.
What made it famous: The 1969 model received a major facelift with a new front end design but unlike the GTO, it did not have the Endura bumper. The instrument panel and steering wheel were revised. The ignition switch was moved from the dashboard to the steering column with the introduction of GM’s new locking ignition switch/steering wheel. Due to engineering problems that delayed the introduction of the all-new 1970 Firebird beyond the usual fall debut, Pontiac continued production of 1969 model Firebirds into the early months of the 1970 model year. while the other 1970 Pontiac models had been introduced on September 18, 1969. By late spring of 1969, Pontiac had deleted all model-year references on Firebird literature and promotional materials, anticipating the extended production run of the then-current 1969 models. There was an additional Ram Air IV option for the 400 cu in V8 engines during 1969, complementing the Ram Air III; these generated 345 hp at 5000 rpm and 430 lb⋅ft of torque at 3400 rpm, and 335 hp respectively. The 350 cu in HO engine was revised again with a different cam and cylinder heads resulting in 325 hp. During 1969 a special 303 cu in engine was designed for SCCA road racing applications that was not available in production cars.
Why I would want one: It’s the more “luxurious” Pony-car offering from GM. Perfect for those who wanted performance and looks, but a few more added creature comforts as well.
Fun fact: Originally, the Firebird was a “consolation prize” for Pontiac, which had desired to produce a two-seat sports car based on its original Banshee concept car. GM feared this would cut into Chevrolet Corvette sales, and gave Pontiac a piece of the “pony car” market through sharing the F-body platform with Chevrolet.