PONTIAC FIREBIRD AND TRANS AM FUN FACTS
If you enjoy learning about the Firebird’s history, you’ll appreciate understanding some of the car’s most important facts. When you attend a trivia night, you’ll be prepared to answer any question on the Firebird by familiarizing yourself with some of the following little-known facts about the Firebird:
- JOHN DELOREAN CREATED THE PONTIAC FIREBIRD
John DeLorean, most known for the car bearing his name, began his career as a Pontiac engineer. At the time, GM management desired a car to compete with the Mustang and Camaro, which prompted them to entrust DeLorean with the design.
2. THE TRANS AM APPEARED IN ADDITIONAL MOVIES AND TV SERIES
Casting agents spotted the Trans Am’s acting abilities following his appearance in Smokey and the Bandit. It later appeared in the 1979 film “Rocky II,” the 1984 film “Alphabet City,” and the “Smokey and the Bandit” cinematic universe, where it appeared in “Smokey and the Bandit II” and “Smokey and the Bandit III.” Recent episodes of the hit television comedy “The Office” featured the fictional character Dwight Schrute cruising around in his 1987 Trans Am.
- IT SERVED AS THE INDIANAPOLIS 500’S PACE CAR IN 1980.
The 1980 Indianapolis 500 pace vehicle was a 1980 Turbo Trans Am. It was driven by retired racer Johnnie Parsons. It is one of just four Pontiacs to serve as the Indianapolis 500 pace car.
4. THE CAR NEVER EXCEEDED 400 HP
Even though the vehicle was designed to compete with the Chevrolet Camaro, it was never able to match the rival car’s performance. While several Camaros have exceeded 400 horsepower, the Firebird has never exceeded 335. This deficiency in horsepower was most likely caused by the Firebird’s emphasis on handling.
5. “SMOKEY AND THE BANDIT” FEATURED THE TRANS AM
A customized Trans Am co-starred in the 1977 film “Smokey and the Bandit,” establishing it as a cultural classic. The Trans Am seen in the film was predominantly a 1976 model, although it also included a 1977 front end. The film garnered substantial publicity for the car, resulting in a significant rise in sales for Pontiac.
- IN 1973, THE SCREAMING CHICKEN DECAL ARRIVED
The Firebird’s decal, dubbed the “Screaming Chicken,” was one of the most recognizable features of its design. Though the design for the decal was produced in 1970, it remained hidden until 1973, when a Pontiac designer saw it and asked that it be placed on the car. Following 1973, it became an extremely popular feature on automobiles.
7. THE 1969 FIREBIRD HAD THE STRONGEST PERFORMANCE
Among the first Firebirds, one of the most powerful was also one of the earliest. The 1969 Firebird offered a WS4 performance option that included a Ram Air IV V8 engine. With this engine added, it produced 345 horsepower, more than any subsequent Firebird.
8. IT IS RECOGNIZED FOR ITS EXCELLENT HANDLING
The Camaro was faster than the Trans Am, but the Firebird made up ground with superior handling. The car’s huge tires, large sway bars, and low suspension aided in handling and added to the car’s fun factor.
9. THE 1978 FIREBIRD WAS THE MOST POPULAR MODEL.
The 1978 Firebird was so successful upon its release that it sold more units than any previous Firebird. Without a doubt, the 1977 release of the film “Smokey and the Bandit” contributed to the car’s popularity. This model retained its popularity years after its release, with many purchasers showing interest in it.
10. 1979 WAS THE TRANS AM’S MOST POPULAR YEAR
The late 1970s were the strongest years for sales of Firebirds and Trans Ams. The popular 1978 model was released, and the Trans Am’s appearance in cinema and television heightened customer interest. This resulted in 1979 being the best-selling year for all Firebirds, but particularly for Trans Ams. Trans Am sales hit 117,109 that year, while overall Firebird sales reached 211,454.
11. 1993 WAS THE LEAST POPULAR YEAR FOR FIREBIRDS.
While 1978 and 1979 were peak years for the automobile, sales began to fall in 1980, reaching a low point in 1993. Only 14,112 Pontiac Firebirds, Formula One cars, and Trans Ams were sold that year.
12. IN 1990, THE FIRST AIRBAG WAS AVAILABLE.
Not until 1990 did a Firebird receive an airbag. Pontiac decided to replace the radio control previously located on the steering wheel with an airbag during an interior redesign of the 1990 Trans Am.
13. THE FIREBIRD WITH THE WEAKEST ENGINE WAS THE 1985 4-CYLINDER MODEL.
There were a few Firebirds that lacked real power, most notably the 1985 4-cylinder variant. Its LQ9 2.5L engine provided drivers with only 88 horsepower.
14. THE ORIGINAL TRANS AM WAS PAINTED IN BLUE AND WHITE.
If you’re restoring an original Trans Am, you can boost its authenticity by having it painted in its original color scheme. The first Trans Am’s body was painted white and sported blue stripes.
15. THEY WEREN’T ALWAYS EQUIPPED WITH PONTIAC ENGINES
The Pontiac Firebird was not exclusively powered by Pontiac engines. A few years after the car’s production began, the Firebird began to diversify its engine lineup in order to boost its speed and power. Initially powered by Chevy engines, the firm switched to Oldsmobile and Buick engines in 1976.