1969 Pontiac Firebird 400 Ram Air IV
8-cyl. 400cid/345hp 4bbl Ram Air IV
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
The big news for the 1969 Pontiac Firebird was the introduction of the limited-production, high-performance Trans Am model in March. The 1969 model was carried over into mid-1970 since the succeeding model was late, and surplus units had backed up.
The 1969 Firebird underwent a similar redesign as the Chevrolet Camaro. There were flatter wheel openings, a lower roofline, sculptured body sides, and a new front end with twin square grilles and separate Endura pods for two headlights on each side. The gas cap moved behind the rear license plate and front fenders were reshaped with wind-split edges. The wheelbase remained 108 inches and the track 60 inches, though overall length increased slightly to 191.6 inches.
Sales for the 1969 Firebird sales dropped to 87,709 units. The hardtop remained most popular with 75,362 new owners, followed by a mere 11,649 convertibles. Prices began at $2831 for the hardtop and $3045 for the convertible. Most (66,868) Firebirds had Turbo Hydra-Matic transmissions while 20,840 had manual gearboxes. Base gearbox was a 3-speed but close and wide ratio 4-speeds were optional.
Four basic Firebirds were offered – Base, Sprint, 350, 350 HO and 400. The 400 could be bought with HO or Ram Air options. The Firebird 350 had a 265-bhp, 350-cid V-8 ($111), while the 350 L-76 HO V-8 sported a 4-barrel carburetor and 10.5:1 compression dual exhaust and 325 bhp ($199).
The Firebird 400 package featured a 330-bhp 400-cid WS6 V-8 with 10.75:1 compression and non-functional hood scoops ($331-$347 – 4-speed engines were hotter). The Firebird 400 Ram Air III featured the 330-bhp 400-cid V-8 with de-clutching fan and functional hood scoops ($351-$435). The Firebird 400 Ram Air IV featured the same cold-air intake but the engine featured a special high-lift cam, big valves with indented flat top pistons and was good for 345 bhp. Cost was $831 extra. The Trans Am option cost ($724.60). Only 697 Firebird Trans Ams sold in 1969, with 689 Hardtops and a mere eight convertibles.
Pontiac offered a total of 21 exterior paint colors on the 1969 Firebird, including Starlight Black (A), Expresso Brown (B), Cameo White (C), Warwick Blue (D), Liberty Blue (E), Windward Blue (F), Antique Gold (G), Limelight Green (H), Castilian Bronze (J), Crystal Turquoise (K), Claret Red (L), Midnight Green (M), Burgundy (N), Palladium Silver (P), Verduro Green (Q), Matador Red (R ), Champagne (S), Carousel Red (T), Nocturne Blue (V), Goldenrod Yellow (W), and Mayfair Maize (Y).
Magazines tested various power combinations but the most impressive was the Ram Air IV, which could do 0-60 in under 6 seconds and turned a quarter-mile in 14 seconds at 101 mph. Fans of Trans Am might wonder how Pontiac got to use the name, since the division didn’t have a suitable engine to compete in the series (not counting the Chevy powered Canadian model, campaigned by Jerry Titus with a Canadian partner). The answer was that Pontiac paid Trans Am a fee for each car built.