The 1970 Pontiac Firebird, Formula & Trans Am


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This stunning 1970 Formula is owned by Bill Marulis and it is a Concours show winner. Bill provided this information on the car:

Built: 3rd week of March
Manufacturer’s Plant: Norwood, Ohio
Highlights of the 70 Formula 400 model only:

  • No rear spoiler
  • Low back bucket seats with headrest
  • Only year of available low 3.73 rear axle

FEATURES of this car:

  • Paint: Lucerne Blue (Dupont Base Coat / Clear Coat)
  • Standard Interior
  • 400 CID Std Bore with No. 12 Heads
  • 3.73:1 Safe-T-Trac Rear Axle
  • 4 -Spd. Man. Close-Ratio Floor Shift
  • Ram Air III Induction System
  • Heavy Duty Radiator
  • 14 x 7"JJ Rally II Wheels Glass
  • Soft-Ray - All Windows
  • Mats, Floor - Front & Rear
  • Radio Delete
  • Rally Gauge Cluster & I.P. Tach
  • Space Saver Spare 7.75 x 14”
  • 1.125" Front and .625" Rear Sway Bars
  • Close Ratio Power Steering and Power Brakes
  • Gardner Systems Performance Dual Exhaust with NOS Chrome Tips
  • Restoration: 100% Completely Documented (Rotisserie) Frame-off, Nut and Bolt Restoration on an Original 53,500 mile car (Approx. 25 miles since completion), Numbers Matching
  • Drivetrain: Block, Heads, Radiator, Intake, Carburetor, Transmission, Rear End, Brakes and Body
  • Paint & Interior: Nyle Wing of Wings Auto Art, Ionia, Michigan (517) 855-2577 , Scott Tiemann of Supercar Specialties Inc. Portland, Michigan



Polar White Trans Am This frontal wide angle shot shows the aggressive looking front end and stylish body curves that made this model so popular. The low slung sleek euro-style provided one of the most exciting platforms on the market.



Polar White Trans Am The '70 Trans Am represented radical changes in the Firebird lineup in suspension technology as well as the new sleek streamlined body style. It was longer, lower, and heavier with a fastback looking style. This basic new body style would last for 11 years till the Trans Am underwent its next biggest radical change in 1982.

Chris Giles wrote in and provided the following about this image:

     "I have a bit of an interesting anecdote to go along with that photo. The car used to be owned by a friend of mine who bought it new in 1970. He was only 18 at the time and the protect-o-plate had his mother's name on it!
My friend owned the car until about the early 90s. I do not know where the car is today. In 1981 my friend was asked if the car could be used in an upcoming book about Firebirds as it was a stunning low-mile example (about 7k at the time).
The photo in question was taken by a gentleman named Roy Query for the book "Firebird! America's Premier Performance car" by Gary L. Witzenburg (see p. 211). The photo was taken in front of the K-mart world headquarters in Troy, MI and I was in attendance at the photo shoot. If you look close you will notice that the tail lights are illuminated. The photographer turned the parking lights on but the tail lights were still not bright enough. At his request I climbed inside the car and crouched on the passenger side footwell and reached across and applied the footbrake with my hand so that the brake lights would illuminate. So technically I am "in" the photograph!"

Chris Giles



Blue Formula This Formula belongs to John Wallace. Hopefully I'll be able to provide more info on this car soon...

John also owns a '70 Formula that he drag races (see the Drag Racing Firebirds Lot#1) and a '73 455 Trans Am that also sees some strip duty. He also hosts his own web site entitled Wallace Racing. Stop by for more info on his family's drag racing tradition.

E-mail: John Wallace



Polar White Trans Am Hot Rod magazine road tested a RAIII Trans Am like this one with a 4-speed and a 3:90 rear end. The 335hp engine was good for a reported pass of 13.9 @ 102mph in the mile. This was an incredibly fast time and the Hot Rod staff had to run the car four times at an average of 14 sec before they would believe it hadn't been a fluke.

                     Rich's Classic Pontiac Server
Photo courtesy of Rich's Classic Pontiac Server. 1998       
This is truly one of the best Pontiac sites on the web!!!



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Your help is requested in locating this car!!

I am posting this picture of this car as a special request to a gentleman who sent me an e-mail looking for help. His story follows and I'd appreciate it if you'd read it if you think you may know where the car depicted above is located.

     In 1969 when Pontiac first published a picture of the not yet released Formula 400 Firebird I "fell in LOVE!".   At the time I had a nearly new 1969 GTO Convertible which was less than a year old and very pampered. But, I headed to the local Pontiac dealership  ( Manly Pontiac, Abilene Texas to inquire about purchasing one of the new birds).  I was told by the salesman  the 70.5 Firebirds would be allocated as one TransAm and One Formula 400 to each dealership and although he would take orders, the first cars would be kept as floor displays.  Not dismayed , I sat down and filled out a special order for the car. The car was ordered in Bermuda Blue, 400w 4BBL carb, triple tint glass, Black knit interior, 8track AM/FM Radio, Rally gauges, Tach in the dash, CLOSE RATIO 4spd, Air, Rally Wheels, Trim in the wheel wheels, drip rails and the rocker
panel, PWR Steering and brakes, and low ration rear end.  The factory BI**HED about the order for quite some time as I was violating the warranty (no close ratio 4spds or low rear end ratios with Air) I signed a release and the car came to Abilene in Feb. of 1970.   IN FACT MY BIRD PRECEDED ALL OF THE DEALERS FLOOR SAMPLES!  The dealer was bound and determined to keep me from knowing the car had arrived , but my future brother in law worked in the shop and called the day it arrived.
     I was there within the hour! My near new GOAT CONVERT seemed to be a lesser car and I happily traded the GTO to the dealer as "PART" payment for the BIRD. I drove the BIRD for about 2 years ( I also got my one and only speeding ticket in that car 100 MPH in a 70 MPH posted area - Interstate 20 between Ranger Texas and Abilene.. Cost me $1.00 per mile!).  In January 1972 I received orders ( I was in the US Air Force stationed at Abilene Texas) to move to Omaha Nebraska. At the time the car was paid for and a ready source of needed cash to make the move.  So I sold the car to an airman assigned to Dyess AFB taking his restored 1957 2dr Belair Chevy in partial trade. The airman was originally from Mississippi and I lost track of the car the week I sold it!
     The picture of the car attached displays the 1970 Texas plates which were on the car when first registered.  DJM-583 // possibly someone has the capability to cross old registration plates to auto type and serial numbers? At any rate, I would like to locate this car if it is possible. If I find the car I intend to repurchase.  

Thank you for indulging my dream. 
Kenneth Cates
E-mail: Kenneth Cates



White Trans Am The front air dam that runs from the front of one wheel down under the front end and ends at the top of the other wheel was reported as providing 50lbs of down force at high speeds, when this car was first released. This all new design proved to be a popular one. Four times as many TAs were sold for a total production run of 3,196. 

Photo courtesy of Mark Allbaugh.



Green Firebird Esprit

Green Firebird Esprit

1971 400

1971 400

1971 400
Phil Boylan owns this nice looking Firebird Esprit. Phil writes:

     "The VIN (224870N107877) reveals that it was originally a 1970 Firebird Esprit, 350 2bbl V8, TH350 trans, A/C, power brakes, power windows, custom interior, and vinyl top. I purchased it for $800 from my younger brother in 1984. He found it languishing at a small used car dealership in Rome Georgia. He couldn't afford it, but bought it anyway, then talked me into buying it three weeks later so he could pay the rent. When she heard the story, his wife put it on the short list of things he will NEVER be forgiven for...
     It had just over 100K on the odometer when we bought it. The original paint color was the light green that was popular in the early 70's (not sure what GM's name for this shade was), combined with a dark green vinyl top and interior. The interior color has been maintained, but I removed the peeling vinyl top and repainted the car about 8 years ago. The new color is "GM pepper green" (also an early '70s color). It could very well be the same color code as Pontiac's "Brewster green", but I'm not sure.
     It's my daily driver. It now has approximately 230K miles on the chassis. I'm a consulting nuclear engineer, and I drive it all over the back roads of the Southeast going to power plant sites. Some weeks I'll put 600-700 miles on it. The "restoration" as such is therefore a continuing effort. You'll observe that it has the wrong wheels for a 1970 model. This was a compromise necessitated by it's daily driver status. The original Rally-II's (now in storage) were getting beat up by bad roads and potholes, so I switched to the cast aluminum gold snowflakes for strength reasons.
     Because the Esprit V8 was the most plentiful of the 1970 models, and hence would not be of particular interest on the concours show circuit, I decided to gradually convert it to be the car I wanted to drive. In the late '80s I swapped out the original engine and trans and replaced it with a 1971 400V8 and TH400 trans. Late model 6X heads milled .060" with 1.77" exhaust valves, screw-in rocker studs, and Teflon seals were used. Carburetion was a Quadrajet modified with the HO racing performance kit, mounted atop a 69 GTO manifold. Head/block machine work and balancing was done by Dave McIntosh of Roswell GA. Engine cooling was improved with a HD 4-core radiator, HD fan clutch, and hi flow aluminum water pump. A Rancho stage III suspension with poly bushings and fully adjustable front and rear anti-sway bars was also added during this period. The Formula 400 fender badges were added at about this time out of sense of honesty. ;^)
     Last year began a second round of major mechanical changes, stimulated by a dismal 1st-ever 1/4 mile run of 16.3 seconds on street tires. The original open 2.73 rear-end was replaced with a 3.42 safe-T-track. The Quadrajet (which was showing signs of severe age) was replaced with the Edelbrock performer rpm carb and performer manifold. An MSD-6AL ignition, Blaster-3 coil, Mallory Unilite distributor, and Taylor wires improved the ignition. Times improved, but not significantly. It was clear I was badly under cammed. The cam was replaced with the Edelbrock performer rpm, which has the same .050" specs as the factory RA-IV cam. After head CC'ing, another .030" was milled off the heads to bring the true compression ratio up to 9.5:1. The heads were ported per HO racing instructions. Reproduction Ram Air III exhaust manifolds were added, and a fresh dual exhaust system featuring Walker Dynomax super turbos with a crossover was installed. A B&M shifter, Formula steering wheel, C&P racing converter, shift kit, and trans governor programming kit completed this round of mods. The cam improvement and head work did the trick. 1/4 mile times at our Atlanta F-body shootout last October were down to 14.15 sec. This was respectable, being close to the published times for 1970 RA-III production Firebirds.
     More mods were completed for the Memphis-98 F-body show on May 14-17. These included intake manifold port matching, Rhoads lifters, a beefed up valve train (Comp Cam magnum roller tip rockers, 7/16 studs with poly locks, and chrome-moly pushrods), trans cooler, mono-leaf rear springs, full factory rally gauge package, and a PowerMaster hi-torque mini-starter. Mods which didn't make it to Memphis and are still in the box include a Mallory Comp 140 electric fuel pump & regulator, and RA-IV oil pump and shaft.
     Finally, a Ram-Air Formula hood sits in the garage waiting to be painted and installed. Diagrams of the rare 70-72 RA-IV air cleaner and snorkels are on my computer waiting to be converted into fabrication drawings for the sheet metal shop. A sub-frame (courtesy of MadMike Maciolek) hides in my back yard waiting to be sand blasted and painted with POR-15. It will be installed with poly A-arm bushings. Sub-frame connectors will be added coincident with the frame swap.

My goal is to still be driving this car when I retire. I'm 41 now... :^)"



Yellow Formula A 1970 Formula in yellow feathers! A distinguishing characteristic of the '70 Formulas over the '71 to '73s is the emblem installed on the fender. In 1970 two were installed: "Firebird" and then "Formula 400" or "Formula 455" immediately below it. They were installed just under the body line and midway between the fender-whell and where the fender meets the door. From 1971 to 1975 this was changed and only one decal was installed: "Formula 400" or "Formula 455". Thanks to Chris Giles for pointing this out and helping me to make the site that much more accurate!



Blue Formula (80856 bytes) This beautiful Formula is owned by Matt Turner. Matt writes:

     "I have a '70 Formula 400 which I bought in '88. I did some work (rebuilt stock engine, new paint, new interior, changed from TH400 to 4-speed) over the following 2 years and drove it daily for six years. Now, courtesy of New England winters, the original body panels are going, so the car waits in the driveway for its next rebirth. The attached picture (very large) shows the car just after painting in '89.
I love your site. I have made a screen saver full of '70-'73 birds from it. For your international section, I don't have any pictures, but I saw a nice '70 - '73 in the north part of London. It looked like it was set up for race/show only, but I could only see it from the street in a fenced yard. It was nice to see a car similar to mine while I was so far from home."



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