The 1979 Pontiac Firebird, Formula & Trans Am
||I found this Formula while surfing the net. The Formula's standard equipment was to change in '79. The rear spoiler became an option instead of standard equipment. The "formula" steering wheel was back as standard equipment replacing the luxury wheel used in '78. The Rally gauge cluster became standard and the engine-turned dash panel replaced the wood-grain panel installed in previous year models. Standard tires also changed to 225/70R15 on rally II rims.|
This diagram was provided to me by Phil Pollard. Its a graphical representation of how the
Formula hood evolved from 1969 to 1981. A recent discussion about which hood was correct
for what year model on the Pontiac E-Mail List proved that several people were somewhat
confused as to which hood WAS appropriate for what year. As a result Phil drew up this
diagram and forwarded it to me to display for you. Thanks Phil...
Diagram courtesy of Phil Pollard.
| This gold Special Edition Trans Am belongs to
Steve Buttita. As you can see it underwent a complete restoration in 1991. He purchased it
in 1989 from the original owner for $3450. Its equipped with the factory original 4.9L 301
4bbl engine. According to Steve even though the car had been in Wisconsin for ten years it
had never been driven during the winter. Despite the good care the car received the paint
Pontiac used during these years was defective and the original owner had it repainted by
the dealer. The paint job was less than stellar and the hood bird was not replaced. The
first year he owned the car Steve installed a complete set of Goodyear Eagle ST
P245/60R15s. He also went to the local Pontiac dealer and purchased a complete set of
decals that he was able to pick up at cost through a friend, including the hood bird, for
$375. Shortly thereafter the car was sent to the body shop where all the spoilers and
flares were removed and the body was stripped to bare metal. Amazingly no rust was found
during the process. The project took only a month to complete at a cost of $4,000. Fred
"I was proud to bring home the car you see here. I still own this car, and it currently has 90,000 miles on it. This car does not leave the garage on cloudy days, has only been rained on one time since I had it redone, and gets washed with a hose only once a year to get the winter dust off. During the months that the car is off jack stands, I clean it with McGuire's Detail Spray and cloth diapers. I believe that the dryer your car stays, the less likely for rust to develop anywhere on it, not just the parts you see."
|This cool Trans Am is owned by Tom Woody. The original engine has been transplanted with a 400 mill from a '78 Trans Am. Transmission of choice is a rebuilt TH400. Note the chrome side pipes that have been installed. A fairly common modification several years ago.|
||This midnight blue Trans Am is owned by
Clay Benoit. Clay writes,
"I bought this car in February of 1993 for $1500 dollars. I didn't have my license at the time, so it was quite a bore to watch the car sit in the driveway for 4 months. But June finally rolled around and I was tearing up the streets of Hillsborough in my hot rod. My car, unknown to me at the time, had a lot of problems. I needed to have the transmission and rear rebuilt before the end of the summer of '93, the paint was in horrible shape, and little things were starting to break. To date, I have spent almost $3500 on my car, but it has been well worth it."
Clay's TA has the Olds 403 mill installed in the engine bay and is basically stock with a Rochester 4bbl carburetor. Clay intends to install a different engine in the future. The tranny is also the stock unit; a TH350 that has been rebuilt. Clay has also installed a B&M shift kit, a worked valve body, and a new converter with a 2500rpm stall speed. A Hurst V-Matic ratchet shifter handles the shifting duties. Out back resides a beefy Dana 60 10 bolt posi-trac rear that had been installed by the previous owner complete with 3:73 gears. The tires motivating this Firebird are Goodyear Eagle ST 255/60X15s. Other installed goodies include a set chrome Lakewood traction bars, a true dual exhaust, and front disc brakes. According to Clay the car has run in the 15s.
||This interesting car was a concept car built by Pontiac Motor Division. It was labeled as the "K" car for Kammaback. The car never saw production but two models were specially constructed in Italy for GM's Design vice president David Holls. The concept was to put out a Firebird station wagon that would provide a performance car to the public. The write-up that is the fourth picture gives a good description of the origin of the car. As I found out more information on these unique cars it will be posted here. Pontiac repeated the attempt with another "K" car in 1986. You can see it on the '86 Firebirds Lot#1.|
Chris and Diane Beckwith own this cool Trans Am. Chris writes:
"My name is Chris Beckwith. I am 37 years old and I am from a northern suburb of Pittsburgh, PA. My wife, Diane, and I are complete Firebird Fanatics.I would love to add our three Firebirds to your gallery, plus my father-in-law's."
Here is what we have:
1979 Trans Am, fully restored frame-off, but not matching and not "100% factory". We just bought her at the end of September, 2001. We had just negotiated on a 2002 White V6 'Bird with t-tops, Sport Appearance Package, V6 Performance Package, Monsoon CD player, and all goodies except leather. It was to be Diane's good weather commuter car. She wanted to stripe it with 30th Anniversary type stripes from Phoenix Graphix, and I wanted to send the wheels out to be powder coated white. We were planning on buying in the spring, but we had seen a commercial that Saturday morning announcing GM's "Keep America Rolling" 0% financing deal... Anyway, we negotiated a great deal (They had won big-time on my 2000 Ram Air TA) and they wanted us to complete the paperwork so they could locate and trade for the car. Diane, being an accountant, has difficulty with "emotional purchases" and wanted to sleep on it. We were headed to what was supposed to be a good classic car show in our community of Cranberry Township, PA. It was September 22, just the second weekend after the 11th. People needed to get out and get on with life again, and proceeds were being donated to the Red Cross 911 fund. Needless to say, the turnout was HUGE. About 500 cars were expected - over 1200 showed up! We saw this beauty and were ogling her when I spied the "for sale" sign on the dash. After seeing what a 2002 V6 was going for, this TA was a sheer bargain!
The skinny: 1979 Hardtop, 403 Olds with 350TH auto, 3.73 posi rear end, 15x8" Snowflake wheels, power windows. NO A/C! (I love that - you can work on the engine so much easier!). The shaker hood is functional - even to the point of removing the air intake hose and welding the air box closed. Braided stainless hose reinforcement, chrome valve covers and performance breathers, chromed 4bbl carb, etc. Immaculate job! The interior is two-tone cloth, not factory but in my opinion better. Cloth upper dash and console cover. New carpet. Full gauges - including aftermarket temp, voltage, oil pressure and vacuum. It is striped in the Special Edition style, although she is not an SE and has the Olds engine rather than the Pontiac. But the striping is great, and he did a fantastic job on the Chicken!
With the 3.73 rear and the 350TH tranny, she has lots of get-up-and-go off the line, but not much high end speed. We are considering changing it to a 3.08 posi. We do not want to have to trailer her. She is a show car first and foremost, but she will be driven! Pennsylvania Classic Vehicle plate. Attached are some pictures from the night before we transferred the title. The emergency brake release handle has been re-attached! This is Diane's baby. Her first car was a brand new medium blue base '79 'Bird with a 305 Chevy engine. It was waiting for her when she turned 16 in February of 1980... She has always had a special place in her heart for the 1979's!
They own two other Firebirds that can be seen here at the Gallery:
1987 Firebird located in '87 Trans Ams Lot#1
2000 Ram Air Trans Am located in '00 Trans Ams Lot#1
You can also see Diane's father's awesome 20th Anniversary Turbo TA at Anniversary Edition Trans Ams Lot#3
1979 also marked the biggest sales year ever for the
Firebird. Apparently the public welcomed all the design changes incorporated into the new
Firebird with a total sales of 211,454. Interestingly '79 was the first year a 4-barrel
version of the V-6 was offered in the Firebird, along with the usual 2-barrel version.
This particular Formula as well as the one below show that, despite the physical change in
appearance, the special W50 Formula Appearance Package, was still available.
Photo courtesy of Mark Allbaugh.
| Despite the emissions
choked engines that now
resided in the engine compartment the Formula still received some performance options
which included a heavy-duty suspension and four-wheel power disc brakes which were also
part of the WS6 Special Performance Package. The Trans Am rear spoiler, however, changed
from a standard feature to an option.
Photo courtesy of Mark Allbaugh.
| Although a Pontiac 400 was
still available in '79 it was an option. The Olds 403 was the standard power plant
year model Trans Am. If you opted for the W72 400 you got an M-21 4-speed to go with it.
This was the only transmission available with the 400. The red offered in '79 was called
Mayan Red, although I can't say for sure if this car is the correct color or some other
Photo courtesy of Mark Allbaugh.