1970 Pontiac Firebird
2dr Hardtop Coupe
8-cyl. 350cid/255hp 2bbl
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
For 1970, the new Pontiac Firebird was delayed until February thanks to tooling troubles and a strike at GM. Meanwhile, insurance rates soared for high-horsepower cars and there was a crackdown on performance advertising. None of this boded well for Pontiac, which was a performance brand.
It was little consolation that the new 1970 Pontiac Firebird, when it finally appeared, was a significant improvement over the previous model. Its clean and elegant lines would also remain in production for 12 years. The SD 455 models would be the last really fast car in the GM stable, as the Malaise Era gripped the industry in 1974.
The new model was available only as a hardtop coupe, but the line was now refined as four distinct models – base Firebird, Firebird Esprit, Firebird Formula 400, and Trans Am. There would be numerous minor variations through the decade, but these would be the main lines.
The new design was smooth and practically European, with minimal brightwork, a bold Endura twin-grille nose, single headlights, and fastback tail. It was lower and wider, with improved front suspension and steering, standard front disc brakes, double paneled roof, new multi-leaf rear springs and front and rear sway bars on some models.
Base engine was now a Chevrolet six-cylinder, while the 255-bhp 350-cid V-8 was optional on the base car and standard on the Esprit model. The Formula 400 could be recognized by its twin hood scoops and was fitted with the 265-bhp 400-cid V-8. Meanwhile, the Trans Am boasted the 335-bhp L74 Ram Air III 400-cid engine or an optional-345 bhp cold air induction Ram Air IV unit.
The 1970 Firebird Trans Am is easily recognized by the shaker hood, side air extractor, rear spoiler, and leading edge wheel arch spoilers. Inside, it has an engine-turned dashboard, full rally gauges, and bucket seats.
The 1970 production year was very short – basically from March through August – and leftover 1969 models filled the September-February gap. Of the new 1970 Pontiac Firebirds, 18,874 were base hardtops, with only 3134 six-cylinders. There were 18,961 Firebird Esprits, 7708 Formula 400s, and a mere 3196 Trans Ams, of which only 88 were Ram Air IVs.
The sales total was down 45 percent from 1969. Starting prices were $2875 for the base Firebird, $3241 for the Esprit, $3370 for the Firebird 400 and $4305 for the Trans Am.
As before, options could add $1,000 to the cost of a new car. Common add-ons included air-conditioning ($376), power brakes ($42), power steering ($105), power windows ($105), rally gauge cluster with clock ($47.99), rally gauge cluster with tachometer ($94.79), tilt wheel ($42.13), console with bucket seats and floor shift ($53.71), cruise control ($58), remote control trunk lid ($15), reclining right hand seat ($84), AM/FM radio ($134), AM/FM stereo ($239), stereo tape player ($128), tilt steering ($45.19), 3-speed with floor shift ($42), 3-speed synchromesh ($84),wide- or close-ratio 4-speed manual ($195.36), 2-speed automatic ($163), 3-speed automatic transmission ($227), wire wheel discs ($52.66), Rally II wheels ($63-$84), and vinyl roof ($89).
Pontiac offered 22 exterior paint colors on the 1970 Firebird, including Starlight Black (A), Palomino Copper (B), Polar White (C), Bermuda Blue (D), Atoll Blue (E), Lucerne Blue (F), Baja Gold (G), Palisade Green (H), Castilian Bronze (J), Mint Turquoise (K), Keylime Green (L), Pepper Green (M), Burgundy (N), Palladium Silver (P), Verdoro Green (Q), Cardinal Red (R ), Coronado Gold (S), Orbit Orange (T), Carousel Red (V), Goldenrod Yellow (W), Sierra Yellow (Y), and Granada Gold (Z).
Thanks to the strike and production problems Pontiac, which had been hoping for a million sales, managed only 690,593 and slipped to fourth place in the sales race.