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Protect your 1979 Pontiac Firebird from the unexpected.
The final redesign of the original F-Body Firebird took place in 1979. The split grille reduced to a gently sloping, contoured urethane nose with four inset headlights as the dominant features. The bumper came to a central prow with air intakes beneath it on each side and a recessed licensed plate in the middle. Trans Am and Formula taillights were covered with dark lenses while base Firebirds and Esprits had full-width red lights.
Except for the base Firebird, interiors were redesigned with hobnail cloth custom options. Special packages remained popular with the Red Bird, Formula and a new Black Bird option. The latter presented the Trans Am appearance including optional T-tops without the flares, spoilers, and performance package.
The Red Bird model featured two-tone red paint, vinyl or cloth custom interiors, red steering wheel, grille liners, and taillight frames, plus red-trimmed snowflake wheels. A Silver-over-Charcoal 10th Anniversary package was launched on February 15 to coincide with the Daytona 500 stock car race and attracted 7500 orders, despite the eye-watering price of $10,619.
The Firebird smashed sales records this year with 211,453 sales, and an astonishing 55 percent were Trans Ams. It was a far cry from the 1262 sales in 1972. Base Firebirds accounted for 38,642 sales and prices began at $5076. The luxury Esprit notched up 30,953 sales and was priced from $5454, while Formula sales totaled 24,851, from $6380. Comparatively speaking, the Trans Am was attractively priced at $6699, which is why so many were sold.
On the engine front, the 2-barrel 135-bhp 301 Pontiac V-8 returned as an option on the base 1979 Firebird, Esprit, and Formula ($270). It was rated at 150 bhp with a 4-barrel carburetor. Also available was the 145-bhp 305-cid Chevrolet V8 engine ($270). All three models also offered a 170-bhp Chevrolet-built 350 as an option. Both V-8s lost 10 bhp if coupled with an automatic transmission. An optional 180-bhp 400 L78 engine cost $370. Base gearbox on all models was a floor-shift 3-speed with a 4-speed manual and Turbo Hydra-Matic optional. Meanwhile, Trans Am offered the 150-bhp 301 L37 V-8 as a base engine, along with the 185-bhp 403 Oldsmobile and the 400-cid “6.6 liter” V-8 in L78 or high power W72 configuration.
All 3345 Trans Am Special Edition Y82 hardtop buyers got the 400 V-8. T-Top could choose from the 403 (all automatics), the W72, or the 150-bhp 301. The 7500 Trans Am 10th Anniversary X87 buyers chose from the W72 unit or the 403.
There were a total of 13 available paint colors for the 1979 Pontiac Firebird, including Cameo White (11), Platinum (15), Starlight Black (19), Atlantis Blue (24), Nocturne Blue (29), Solar Gold (50), Sundance Yellow (51), Gold Metallic (55), Sierra Copper (63), Heritage Brown (69), Mayan Red (75), Carmine (77), and Redbird Red (80).
Road Test magazine drove a 1979 Firebird Trans Am with the 220-bhp W72 engine and managed a quarter-mile in 15.3 seconds at 96.6 mph. Pontiac maintained fourth position in the U.S. market, increasing its sales total to 903,484 units.