auto / moto mix.

Friday, 17 August 2018

Pontiac Firebird

Pontiac Firebird

The first 'Firebird' flew onto the automotive scene in the 1960s. The Chevrolet Camaro was a clear influence. Probably the most iconic of the early 'Birds was '69's 'Trans Am'. The 'Trans-American' was a road-race - organised by The Sports Car Club of America. The Pontiac Trans Am was a star turn! Complete with rear spoiler, beefed-up chassis, and 'Ram Air' power delivery, it was a 'muscle car' par excellence. Blue and white livery set it off to a tee. Its split-grille nose became the stuff of legend. The Firebird would be a flagship for the Pontiac brand for years to come.

The Firebird entered its second phase in 1970. Restyled for the new decade, it was now that the car came into its own. In '78, Pontiac sold more than 93,000 of the new Trans Am. Customers could choose from standard, luxury 'Esprit', and 'Formula' models. The Firebird was spreading its wings! Mind you, it was lucky to have fledged at all. GM had considered pulling the plug on the Firebird - in '72. They were far from sure that performance cars were the way to go. Thankfully, the Firebird was given the benefit of the doubt. GM would be solidly re-imbursed, for their faith!

A third generation of Firebirds arrived for the 1980s. That well-worn nose had had plastic surgery. It was now more finely-hewn - and sported cowled headlamps. 1987's 'GTA' came with a 350 cu in V8. This top-of-the-range model was good for 125mph - hitting 60 in just 5.4s. Design-wise, though, the Firebird was beginning to look a tad dowdy ... especially next to hot foreign competitors! Sales were starting to suffer, as a result. '90s Firebirds were treated to a bit of a face-lift. No passage of time, though, could take away the glamour of its youth. One of the great American cars, the Pontiac Firebird blazed a phoenix-like trail ... and never even needed to rise from the ashes!

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