The Pontiac Firebird is a muscle car that debuted for the 1967 model year. The vehicle was originally a platform clone of another GM vehicle – the Chevrolet Camaro. After four generations of body design, the car was discontinued following the 2002 model year. In its last years, the Firebird competed directly with vehicles such as the Acura RSX, Ford Mustang and Toyota Celica.
Pontiac Firebird Styling
The 4th-generation Pontiac Firebird was introduced for the 1993 model year. The design was virtually all-new, but retained a sleek, aerodynamic exterior. The Firebird's famous pop-up headlights also remained. A minor facelift in 1998 upgraded the front-end of the vehicle. Final dimensions for the vehicle include a length of 193.3 inches, width of 74.4 inches and 51.8 inches (51.2 inches on the coupe).
Inside, the Firebird is filled with plastic details and a straightforward, stylish design. The low roof and high doorsill resulted in a cramped feeling for many passengers. The rear seat, with 35.2 inches of headroom and 28.8 inches of maximum legroom, was small even for a muscle car. Total cargo room for the Firebird was 33.7 inches (12.9 inches for the convertible).
Pontiac Firebird Trim Levels
When unveiled in 1993, the Pontiac Firebird was available in a base, Formula and Trans Am trim. A convertible body style was introduced for the 1994 model year. At the end of its lifespan, the base Firebird came standard with air conditioning, cruise control, power steering, full power accessories, stereo system with CD player, rear defogger, automatic headlights, fog lights, rear spoiler and 16-inch alloy wheels.
The convertible model featured additional standard items, including leather-wrapped steering wheel with radio controls, upgraded sound system, 6-way power driver's seat and remote keyless entry. The Formula and Trans Am added mostly performance features.
Pontiac Firebird Performance
The base engine for the 4th-generation Firebird started out as a 3.4-liter V6 engine that delivered 160 horsepower and 200 lb-ft. of torque. In 1995, this was swapped out for a 3.8-liter V6 that brought performance up to 200 horsepower and 225 lb-ft. of torque.
Formula and Trans Am models were outfitted with a 5.7-liter V8 engine that initially output 275 horsepower and 325 lb-ft. of torque. Minor upgrades and a Ram Air option brought total power up to 310 horsepower and 340 lb-ft. of torque. In 1998, a new 5.7-liter V8 was introduced and delivered up to 320 horsepower and 350 lb-ft. of torque (305 horsepower without Ram Air).
Initial transmission options were a 5-speed manual and 4-speed automatic. A 6-speed manual transmission was added in 1998. EPA-estimated fuel efficiency for the 5-speed manual is 19 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway. The 6-speed manual delivers 19 mpg in the city and 28 mpg on the highway. The 4-speed automatic promises 19 mpg city and 30 mpg highway for base models. Formula and Trans Am models earn 18 mpg city and 26 mpg highway.
Pontiac Firebird Safety
Safety features available on the Firebird included dual front airbags, antilock 4-wheel disc brakes, traction control and daytime running lights. In crash tests performed by the NHTSA, the Firebird earned a perfect 5-star rating in the category of passenger front impact. Four stars were awarded for driver front impact and rear passenger side impact. Three stars were awarded for driver side impact.
Special Edition Pontiac Firebirds
From 1993 to 2002, Pontiac created several special edition Firebird models. The first was a 1994 25th Anniversary Edition Trans Am that featured a white paintjob with a single blue stripe down the center of the vehicle. A 30th Anniversary Edition would also be released in 1999, this time features two blue stripes.
1997 saw the release of a Firehawk LT4 model that was developed by SLP Performance Parts. The vehicle featured performance upgrades that delivered 330 horsepower and 340 lb-ft. of torque. A yellow Collector's Edition Trans Am model was also released in 2002 to mark the vehicle's final year of production.