Car: Pontiac Firebird 400 Convertible
What makes it special: Designed as a Pony Car to compete with Ford’s Mustang, Pontiac’s Firebird was introduced in February 1967, the same model year as GM’s platform-sharing Chevrolet Camaro. This also coincided with the release of the 1967 Mercury Cougar, Ford’s upscale, platform-sharing version of the Mustang.
What made it famous: The first generation Firebird had characteristic “Coke-bottle” styling shared with the 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. Most buyers opted for one of three V8’s: the 250hp, 326 cu in with a 2-barrel carburetor, the 285hp, 4-barrel “HO” 326, or the 325 hp, 400 cu in from the GTO. All 1967–1968 400 CI engines had throttle restrictors that blocked the carburetors’ second barrels from fully opening. A “Ram Air” option was also available, providing functional hood scoops, higher flow heads with stronger valve springs, and a hotter camshaft. Power for the Ram Air package was the same as the conventional 400 HO, but peaked at 5,200 RPM.
Why I would want one: It’s the slightly more plush version of the Camaro, but still retains enough heat to make it a credible street performer.
Fun fact: Originally, the car was a “consolation prize” for Pontiac, which had desired to produce a two-seat sports car based on its original Banshee concept car. However, 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.