1973 Pontiac Firebird Formula 400
2dr Hardtop Coupe
8-cyl. 400cid/230hp 4bbl
With an experienced team and a lot of data.
The 1973 Pontiac Firebird narrowly escaped cancellation after a strike stranded 1100 half-built 1972 cars on the production line. They did not meet 1973 crash standards and had to be destroyed. A heated argument over the Firebird’s fate followed, but buoyed by stronger Camaro results, the Firebird was spared. The year would turn out to be a landmark for Pontiac with 919,872 cars delivered, including the 16 millionth Pontiac.
Pontiac overhauled its intermediate lines this year, standardizing them on a 116-inch wheelbase. Federal regulations required a 5-mph impact bumper in front and 2.5-inch impact in the rear and it was accomplished with hydraulic bumper shocks, or in the Firebird’s case an Endura flexible nose. As a result, 1973 Firebirds looked much the same but the grille now had an egg-crate pattern and cold-air intakes were closed on Formula and Trans Am models.
Firebird still offered four distinct lines – base hardtop, Esprit, Formula, and Trans Am, totaling 46,313 sales. Of those, 14,096 buyers opted for the Base Firebird but only 1,370 ordered a six-cylinder engine. 17,249 bought the Esprit, 10,123 chose the Formula, 43 bought the Formula SD-455, 4,550 chose the Trans Am, and 252 went for the Trans Am SD-455. Prices rose slightly, as base Firebirds began at $2895 ($3380 with V-8), Esprits at $3249, Formulas at $3276, and Trans Ams at $4204.
On the 1973 Trans Am, the $55 “screaming chicken” decal appeared for the first time, a creative interpretation of a Native American Indian Phoenix. Standard equipment included bucket seats, rally gauges with clock and tach, engine-turned dashboard, honeycomb mag wheels, front and rear spoilers, front and rear wheel opening flares, functional extractor on the front fenders, dual exhaust, shaker hood, and heavy duty 4-speed or automatic transmission. Late in the year the vaunted 310 bhp 455 Super Duty engine made its appearance, with a stronger block, four-bolt main bearings, special cylinder heads and exhaust manifolds and a high-lift camshaft.
The base engine remained the 250-cid Chevy six but other engine options included the 350 2-barrel V-8 ($118), 400 2-barrel V-8 ($51), 400 4-barrel V-8 ($97), 455 4-barrel V-8 ($154), and SD-455 ($675 in Formula, $521 in Trans Am). Base gearbox was a 3-speed manual column shift but you could also get a floor shift 3-speed, and a 3-speed Turbo Hydra-matic automatic for $205-$242, depending on the engine. A 4-speed wide- or close-ratio manual gearbox cost $200 and a heavy duty 4-speed cost $231.
Common add-ons included air-conditioning ($397), power disc brakes ($46), power steering ($105), power windows ($113), power door locks ($44), shaker hood ($84.26), functional hood scoops ($56), rally gauge cluster with clock ($46), rally gauge cluster with tachometer ($92), tilt wheel ($44), console with bucket seats and floor shift ($57), cruise control ($58), remote control trunk lid ($15), rear spoiler ($113), AM/FM radio ($135), AM/FM stereo ($233), stereo tape player ($130), custom finned wheels ($50), Rally II wheels ($61-$87), vinyl roof ($72-$87), and honeycomb wheels ($123).
Exterior paint colors increased to 16 on the 1973 Pontiac Firebird, and most were new. They included Cameo White (11), Porcelain Blue (24), Regatta Blue (26), Admiralty Blue (29), Verdant Green (42), Slate Green (44), Golden Olive (46), Brewster Green (48), Sunlight Yellow (51), Desert Sand (56), Valencia Gold (60), Ascot Silver (64), Burma Brown (68), Florentine Red (74), Buccaneer red (75), and Navajo Orange (97).
Pontiac came in fourth place in U.S. sales with its highest ever total, barely behind Oldsmobile. The 16 millionth Pontiac but was a blue Catalina built on November 27 1972.