FAQ - Dmoz/Recreation/Autos/Makes and Models/Pontiac/Firebird/1970-1981

Archive-name:dmoz.org/Recreation/Autos/Makes and Models/Pontiac/Firebird/1970-1981
Last-modified:2008-07-03 18:18:44
URL:http://dmoz.org/faq/Recreation/Autos/Makes and Models/Pontiac/Firebird/1970-1981
Category:Recreation/Autos/Makes and Models/Pontiac/Firebird/1970-1981

Table of Contents

0.1  Information from f-body.org
What Firebird models were available?
What special edition Trans Ams were available?
What is a Firebird Esprit?
What was the WS6 special performance package?
What is the DKM Macho T/A?
What years was the Pontiac 455 available?
How was the 455 engine different from the Super Duty version?
How can I tell if a Super Duty 455 engine is genuine or not?
What is a Ram Air V engine?
10  How did the standard 400 and T/A 400 differ from 1977 - 1979?
11  What rearends were available for the Firebird?
12  What changes came with the RTS (Radial Tuned Suspension) in 1974?
13  What is the largest tire I can use?
14  When were rear disc brakes first offered on the Firebird?
15  What years did the Firebird have a hood scoop and was it functional?
16  Who gets the credit for the data above?

0.1   Q: Information from f-body.org
by badride5 at 2006-12-20 11:43:49
1   Q: What Firebird models were available?
A: Base, Esprit, Formula, and Trans Am models were available from 1970 1/2 thru 1981.
by badride5 at 2006-12-20 10:49:27
2   Q: What special edition Trans Ams were available?
A: The following special packages were offered:
      1976 Limited Edition   - 400/455   - black and gold - 15x7" honeycomb rims        (polycast plastic over steel)        Pontiac's 50th anniversary (643 Hurst T-Tops and 1,947 coupes)   1977 Special Edition   - 400       - black and gold - 15x7" snowflakes   1978 Special Edition   - 400       - black and gold - 15x8" snowflakes        Gold Edition      - 400       - gold           - 15x8" snowflakes   1979 10th Anniversary  - 400 4spd  - 2-tone silver  - 15x8" turbo rims        Special Edition   - 400 4spd  - black and gold                          - 400 auto   1980 Indy Pace Car     - 301 turbo - white          - 15x8" turbo rims        Special Edition   - 301 turbo - black and gold   1981 NASCAR Recaro T/A - 301 turbo - white/blk roof - 15x8" turbo rims        Special Edition   - 301 turbo - black and gold
by badride5 at 2006-12-20 11:08:56
3   Q: What is a Firebird Esprit?
A: The Esprit began with the 1970 model. It can be identified by a "T" as the second digit in the VIN. It was placed between the base model and the sporty Formula. The Esprit was the luxury Firebird. It came standard with the custom interior in either cloth or vinyl, simulated wood grain dash, added acoustical insulation, consealed wipers, windshield radio antenna, chrome wheel well trim, vinyl side moulding, and a 3-speed automatic transmission. Other popular options included power locks, power windows, AC, cruise control, tilt steering, remote trunk release, rear window defroster, 8-track tape player, and vinyl top. There were no spoilers, air deflectors or hood scoops on these cars.

In 1977 Pontiac introduced the Skybird, originally to be named after the 1976 show car called Bluebird, but that name was already used by Bluebird Body Company located in Georgia. The Skybird was coded W60. It consisted of a Lombard Blue two-tone paint scheme, coded #21 with an accent code of #58 (Bright Blue) for 1977 and a paint code of #30 (Lombard Blue) and the same accent paint code for 1978. It came with loads of blue stripes and a special "feathery" Skybird decal. Color matched grills, taillight bezels, snowflake 15" x 7" wheels (YJ8), white wall tires (OBW), color matched custom cloth (24B) or custom vinyl (24N) interior, including seatbelts (AK1), Formula steering wheel (NK3) and carpet. The Skybird was available with several engine combos from the Buick 231 V6 to the Olds 403 V8 engine, for smog and high altitude areas. Some of the models may have received a gold spoked steering wheel or Hurst t-tops. Total price for the Skybird package was an extra $342 with cloth interior and $315 with vinyl. In 1978 it was up to $461 with cloth interior and $430 with vinyl.

The Redbird option replaced the Skybird midyear in 1978. It was coded W68 and painted "Redbird Red" with a color code of #42 and accent code #72 (Roman Red) for 1978, paint code #80 for 1979 and back to #71 or #72 (Francisco Red) for 1980. The Redbird option consisted of the same options as the Skybird, except the base color was Red and the stripes were gold. The custom interior was available in vinyl (74N) or cloth (74B). The Redbird option continued until midyear 1980. Some of the 1979 models received the gold steering wheel, dash, and front arrowhead emblem just like the Special Edition Trans Am's. Engines available for 1978 and 1979 were the 3.8 Buick V6 to the Olds 403 V8 powerplant. In 1980, the Redbird was available with the 3.8 Buick V6 to the 5.0 Chevy 305. Total cost for the Redbird package in 1978 was $465 with cloth interior and $430 with vinyl interior. In 1979, it was up to $491 with cloth interior and $449 with vinyl.

In mid-1980 the Yellowbird was introduced. It was the third and last color change for the Firebird Esprit Appearance Packages. The Yellowbirds were coded W73 with a paint color code of #56 with an accent color code of #37. They also consisted of the same options as the Sky/Redbird, including the the Redbird's gold stripes. The Yellowbird came with the camel tan (62B) custom cloth or custom vinyl (62N) interior and had blacked out taillights with yellow horizontal ribs rather than the usual color matched section. Most of the Yellowbirds received the gold steering wheel and dash. The Yellowbirds could also be ordered with an extra-cost rear spoiler (D98) for $58. Total price for the Yellowbird option was $550 with cloth interior and $505 with vinyl interior.

by badride5 at 2006-12-20 11:10:31
4   Q: What was the WS6 special performance package?
A: The WS6 package was first officially offered by Pontiac in 1978. Although rumor says that it began in '77 as a mid-year addition. It included:
  • 15" X 8.0" aluminum wheels shod with 225/70R-15 Goodyears
  • 1.25" front anti-roll bar with hard plastic bushings
  • .75" rear anti-roll bar
  • Stiffer rear springs
  • Stiffer rear shackle bushings
  • Firmer shock valving
  • Closer ratio steering
  • Lower control arm supports
The 1979 (possibly even the 1978) WS6 package added rear disc brakes and a 14:1 constant ratio steering box in place of the 15:1-13:1 variable ratio unit.

The lower control arm support is not really on the control arm, but about that area on the curved part of the sub-frame that was on the WS6 cars. This support is small and relatively thin. It is about the size and length of a big pencil connecting frame to frame for the inside of the curve.

by badride5 at 2006-12-20 11:11:28
5   Q: What is the DKM Macho T/A?
A: DKM stands for Dennis and Kyle Mecham who worked at their father's Pontiac dealership in Glendale, AZ (Mecham Pontiac). In 1977, DKM started modifying stock Trans Ams which were sold to other Pontiac dealerships around the US. These "Macho T/A's" start out as factory Trans Am with the high performance engine/suspension package and custom cloth interior. The car got special DKM paint, accents, and graphics (including a console plate and MACHO T/A rocker panel and rear spoiler decals). Each car is uniquely numbered on the console plate, front fender, and rear spoiler. A "Plain Jane" version was available with just colored paint accents, no large MACHO T/A on the rocker panel, or Trans Am decals. The "bird" on the hood was either a full-hood style or smaller style (like that of early 70's) on the nose.

Cars could receive 4-speed Borg-Warner or 5-speed Doug Nash transmission. Automatic trannies were reprogrammed for quicker shifts and powered by the Old's 403 ci smog engine. A Hurst shifter and various handles were also available. Available on the engine were Hooker or Headman headers, dual exhaust with crossover, dual cats, and no mufflers. The shaker hood scoop was made functional, and the carb and distributor were rebuilt and tuned to each car. A Rayjay 301E turbo (7 lbs.) option was made available late in '78. The boost gauge was cut into the dash or the console. An aluminum air cleaner sealed against the carburetor to force all the air from the turbo down into the engine. Turbo cars also got TURBO in big letters on the trunk and fenders (in place of the "Trans Am"), a trunk mounted battery, water injection with anti-knock unit, oil pressure restorer, Hurst Competition- Plus shifter, and Goodyear GT radial tires. Only eight are rumored to have been built in '78 and only 22 in '79.

On the suspension, the WS6 package was added (if not originally ordered from the factory). Four wheel disc brakes were an option on the later '78 Macho and became standard with the '79 WS6. Front springs were compressed and retampered making the front 1.5" lower. Koni shocks were also added on all corners. Some cars got a 1" rear swaybar. 8" Monocoque or American Specialty wheels or 9" wheels were all available options with Goodyear radials. Plus any rear gear ratio could be had.

Inside, the dash got a 160 MPH speedo and a 8000+ RPM tach. Audio Mobile, Concord, or your choice of aftermarket AM/FM/Stereo tape player, speakers, and power booster were available. Some Macho's had three dials cut into the console for the sound system. A power moon roof was also an option. Recaro LS or Scheel 410S seats were options and the rear seats could be upholstered to match either the Recaro or Scheel seats. Chrome black, or interior-color keyed roll bars were also available. Outside, a fiberglass lift-off or a lift-off/tilt hood was optional (saving 60 pounds).

When Pontiac dropped the 400 ci (6.6L) engine during 1979, DKM decided to transplant a H-O turbocharged Chevy 350 under the hood. These cars were known as Tallon Super Tourers. Also added were hooker headers, a dual exhaust system, Doug Nash street 5-speed with Hurst linkage, American alloy wheels (15" x 9.5" / 15" x 11") and Perrelli tires, gold Moto-lite steering wheel, matching dash insert, trunk mounted battery, and Macho T/A handling package. Plus the hood, fender flairs, front fenders and air dam were all replaced with fiberglass pieces from American Fiberglass. Power was rated at 457 HP @ 6800 RPM and 410 ft-lbs torque. It's unknown how many Tallons were actually built.

by badride5 at 2006-12-20 11:14:02
6   Q: What years was the Pontiac 455 available?
A: Although some sources say the 455 was available in 1970, it officially made its debut in 1971. Pontiac was keeping up with the Joneses as everybody else was running 450+ cubes, so they had to. The only problem was the early 455 was a relatively tame engine. Although it had 500 ft-lbs of torque at 2700 RPM and 360 HP at 4300 RPM (gross ratings), these revs were much too low for real performance. All the real performance remained in the form of the Ram Air III and IV 400 ci engines. They had power and they revved. The 455's 1/4 mile times were in the low to mid 15s at 95 MPH, while the Ram Air 400's were pulling low to mid 14 second times at 100 MPH. But for the non- racer-types, it was a deal. An H.O. version was also available on the Trans Am with some performance gains over the standard 455. It wasn't until 1973 when the 455 SD (Super Duty) came around (see details below) where the 455 really shined. The 455 remained through 1976, however like the early ones, after 1974, they were low on performance again due to the various economical and ecological factors.
by badride5 at 2006-12-20 11:17:19
7   Q: How was the 455 engine different from the Super Duty version?
A: The Super Duty engine had the following:
  • Forged steel crank or nodular iron instead of cast
  • Forged connecting rods
  • High volume/pressure oil pump
  • Forged pistons
  • Hotter camshaft
  • Better heads
by badride5 at 2006-12-20 11:18:51
8   Q: How can I tell if a Super Duty 455 engine is genuine or not?
A: The Super Duty (SD) 455 was offered by Pontiac in 1973 and 1974. The fifth digit/letter of the vehicle identification number is an 'X'. A 1973 SD block is stamped on front right (passenger) side with either 'Z8' (manual) or 'X8' (automatic). The 1974 blocks are stamped with 'W8' (manual) or 'Y8' (automatic). The heads have a casting of '16'. Be careful, the 1968 heads were also casted with a 16 but the chamber volume is 72cc (D-port) vs. 111cc (round port) for the SD. Also, the SD 4 barrel iron intake casting numbers are 494405 or 494419 (1973) and 495107 (1974). An aluminum version (casting 485640) was designed, but didn't make it into production.
by badride5 at 2006-12-20 11:20:02
9   Q: What is a Ram Air V engine?
A: The Tunnel Port Ram Air V engine had the potential for unseating the top dog Chevy. Unfortunately, very few of these engines ever reached the public. It was only briefly offered as a crate engine through Pontiac dealers in the early 70's.

The Ram Air V could have put Pontiac into the big time at the track. Their Special Projects Group had developed 3 versions of the Ram Air V by 1968: a 303-cid intended for use in the SCCA Trans-Am series, a 366-cid intended for NASCAR competition, and a 400-cid for street/strip use. Conservative corporate attitudes and small budgets killed the 303 version. The 366 version was used in some of the smaller NASCAR divisions, but never made it to the Grand National circuit. But the 400 version would be the closest to making it under the hoods of the GTOs and Trans Ams. Although it never became an official option, people with some inside knowledge could have got a Ram Air V 400 for $2000 in their 1970 1/2 Trans Am. It's believed about 200 of these engines were sold, but many made their way into GTOs and other Pontiacs, as well as others being delivered by crate. But corporate HQ would ultimately cave in to safety-conscious legislators and insurance companies. Thus the Ram Air V was deemed powerful for street use and soon disappeared. The Ram Air 400 was designed with tunnel port heads, manifolding and a solid lifter cam. While this engine utilizes a basic 400 Pontiac block, there are some bonus points worth noting.

The main-bearing web areas are beefed, with four bolt main caps and a strengthening rib down the right side similar to the 455 SD block, also similar are strengthening ribs in the lifter gallery. A forged steel (SAE 4615) crank was used and was cross-drilled for superior lube qualities. The rods were a radical new design forged from SAE 4340 material and specially braced in the beam and cap areas. They tapered from the small-end to a point almost as wide as the big-end opening and used an aircraft-style 12 point bolt that passed through the cap and threaded directly into the rod.

For a piston choice, Pontiac went to a TRW forging, similar in design to the one Chevrolet was using in the 302 (Z-28) Camaro. The pop-up configuration is different however, for an approximate 11:1 compression ratio. The forgings were of cam-ground slipper design with a tin-plated exterior. The tin-plateing can be removed, however. At the top there is a 3/32 moly-coated ring, followed by the conventional Pontiac setup.

Back then the magic word in performance was tunnel-port as demonstrated by the killer 427 Fords, big-block Chevys and Hemis. Pontiac's version of this design sported machined combustion chambers free of any rough areas that might cause hot-spots and huge, tennis-ball sized ports. The intake ports are slightly oval in shape at the head manifold area then flow into a circular shape for a direct shot at the center-line of the pistons. The valves are chrome-plated, hollow-stemmed, tulip-shaped affairs, measuring 2.19 inches at the intake and 1.77 at the exhaust. They're super-light which contributes to the revability of the engine. The pushrods pass directly through the center of the intake ports similar to the 455 SD, however, instead of the round tube as on the SD, the Ram Air V head employs a wide, tapered airfoil to direct air-flow around it. Overall flow was said to be extremely good due to the lack of low-pressure buildup under the valves.

When it came to the cam the engineers combined the best of two worlds. They chose the timing specifications of the successful Mark IV Ram Air cam (308 degrees intake duration, 320 degrees exhaust duration, .520 inch lift at zero lash) but added solid lifters for faultless super-high-rpm operation. This is extremely important because of the design of the intake manifold and the huge tunnel ports. This is a *high* rpm engine.

Pontiac put the old boggy QuadraJet to rest as far as the Ram Air V was concerned in favor of the 800 CFM Holley. You have to come off the line hard as the engine doesn't start to make power until 4000 rpm and the manifold is tuned for max power from 5000 rpm and up. I have seen pictures of two styles of cast-iron exhaust headers with the spread-port R.A. V pattern. One design is similar to the Ram Air III D-Port manifolds and the other is a "shorty" version with heat shields.

There were never any specific horsepower and torque output figures available on the R.A. V or the 303 version (designed by Traco). Speculation was 1.15 HP per cubic inch on the Mark V in the dyno room which should work out to something like 375 to 390 advertised horsepower. Other published claims put the 303 SCCA version up at 430 hp, the 366 NASCAR version at 585 hp, and the 400 street version as high as 500 hp. No one knows for sure. But while seeing such a beast with a Ram Air V was, and is now even more so, a rare sight - it wasn't difficult to get these cars into the 12-second range with some simple tricks and slicks.

by badride5 at 2006-12-20 11:20:30
10   Q: How did the standard 400 and T/A 400 differ from 1977 - 1979?
A: The standard 400 (L78) had 180 HP and 325 lb/ft torque. But the T/A, also had the following engine options:
   1977 T/A 400 (W72/L78) - 200 HP        Better power curve        Different camshaft        Higher compression ratio (96cc 6X heads down from 101cc) 8.1:1 from 7.7        Carburetor recalibration        Different spark advance curve        Low backpressure muffler   1978 T/A 400 (W72) - 220 HP and 320 lb/ft torque        Different camshaft        More agressive spark advance curve        Windage tray        Dual resonator exhaust with single catalytic converter   1979 T/A 400 (W72) - 220 HP        1978 shelf motor - only available with 4 speed, 2485 made
The standard 400's had a decal callout, when present, of "6.6 Litre" while the T/A 400's had a decal callout, when present, of "T/A 6.6". The T/A 400 also had chrome valve covers.
by badride5 at 2006-12-20 11:20:57
11   Q: What rearends were available for the Firebird?
A: The following lists the ratios that were available (with O=open and P=posi):
    1971       2.73o (GZG), 2.73p (CAG), 3.08o (GXG), 3.08p (GYG), 3.42o (CKG),       3.42p (CJG), 3.73p (CGG), 4.10p (CBG)    1972       2.73o (GZG), 2.73p (CAG), 3.08o (GXG), 3.08p (GYG), 3.42o (CKG),       3.42p (CJG), 3.73p (CGG)           1973       2.73o (GZG), 2.73p (CAG), 3.08o (GXG), 3.08p (GYG), 3.42o (CLG),       3.42p (CMG)    1974       2.73o (GZG), 2.73p (CAG), 3.08o (GXG), 3.08p (GYG), 3.42o (CLG),       3.42p (CMG)    1975       2.56o (PGG), 2.56p (PTG), 2.73o (PAG), 2.73p (PUG), 3.08o (PCG),       3.08p (PWG)    1976       2.41o (PJG), 2.41p (PSG), 2.73o (PAG), 2.73p (PUG), 3.08o (PCG),       3.08p (PWG), 3.23p (LDG)    1977       2.41o (PJG), 2.41p (PSG), 2.56o (PHG), 2.56p (PTG), 3.08o (PCG),       3.08p (PWG), 3.23o (PDG), 3.23p (PXG)    1978       2.41o (2PJG), 2.41p (2PSG), 2.56o (2PHG), 2.56p (2PTG), 3.08o (2PCG),       3.08p (2PWG), 3.23o (2PDG), 3.23p (2PXG), 3.42o (2PEG), 3.42p (2PYG)    1979       2.41o (2PJG), 2.41p (2PSG), 2.56o (2PHG), 2.56p (2PTG), 3.08o (2PCG),       3.08p (2PWG), 3.23o (2PDG), 3.23p (2PXG), 3.32p (2PPG), 3.42o (2PEG),       3.42p (2PYG), 3.42p (2POG)    1980       2.41o (2PJG), 2.41p (2PSG), 2.41p (5PVG), 2.56o (2PHG), 2.56p (2PTG),       3.08o (2PCG), 3.08p (2PWG), 3.23o (2PDG), 3.23p (2PXG), 3.32p (5PQG),       3.42o (2PEG), 3.42p (2PYG), 3.42p (5PMG)
by badride5 at 2006-12-20 11:22:18
12   Q: What changes came with the RTS (Radial Tuned Suspension) in 1974?
A: It included the following:
  • GR-70-15 radial tires
  • Front anti-roll bar diameter shrank on the Trans Am from 1.25" and grew on the base model from 1" both to 1.125".
  • Rear anti-roll bar diameter also shrank on the T/A from .875" and grew on the base model from .625" to .75".
  • Stiffer springs - 330in/lb fronts and 125in/lb rears up from 300/100
  • Heavy-duty, revalved shocks
  • Altered bushing durometers
by badride5 at 2006-12-20 11:23:01
13   Q: What is the largest tire I can use?
A: Without any modifications, 15" x 8.5" wheels (front and back) with 4.5" backspacing and P245/60R15 tires will fit. For 16" x 10" (front) and 16" x 10.5" (rear) with 5.375" backspacing and P255/50R16 tires, the inner lip of the fenders will have to folded under. Also the control arm (near the upper ball joint) may have to be grinded up front and shock mount clearance should be checked in the rear. For 17" x 11" (front) and 17" x 12" (rear) with 6" backspacing and P275/40R17 (front) / P315/35R17 (rear), the same changes as above are required plus notching of the lower control arm up front may be required.
by badride5 at 2006-12-20 11:23:51
14   Q: When were rear disc brakes first offered on the Firebird?
A: In 1979 as part of the WS6 Performance Package.
by badride5 at 2006-12-20 11:24:10
15   Q: What years did the Firebird have a hood scoop and was it functional?
A: The Formulas and Trans Ams had hood scoops from 1970 through 1981. In 1970 through 1972, it was a giberglass Hood with raised scoops at the leading edge. It could be open or closed depending upon if the car came from the factory with the Ram Air option. If it did, it had the dual snorkel air cleaner with the rubber boots that mate to the hood. From 1973 through 1975, it was the same fiberglass hood, but the scoops were blocked on all models. In 1976, it was a steel hood with raised scoops set further back and closed on all models. From 1977 through 1981, it was the same steel hood with flattened scoops set low into the hood, and functional on some models.
by badride5 at 2006-12-20 11:24:53
16   Q: Who gets the credit for the data above?
A: http://www.f-body.org/
by badride5 at 2006-12-20 11:28:23

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