I think it’s easy to say the Firebird is the epitome of a custom car, but it’s not every day you come across a perfectly restored 1968 Pontiac Firebird. Pontiac produced the Firebird between 1967 and 2002, quite a long standing – and popular – motor. Its original release needed to compete with the Chevrolet Camero, a tough job for any manufacturer.
The actual name ‘Firebird’ was originally used by the parent company General Motors for concept cars in the 50s and early 60s, so it was no stranger to the motoring world. The first generation Firebird, like you can see in these pictures, had integrated bumpers at the front and rear slit taillights – inspired by the Pontiac GTO.
Now Pontiac had been wanting to create a 2-seat sports car for a while but feared the competition from the Chevrolet Corvette and so in the end a piece of the pony car market was given to them by sharing the F-body platform with Chevrolet Camero – the only two vehicles that were actually ever built with this platform.
These first generation Firebirds had a 230 cubic inch Pontiac OHC inline-6 engine and a single carburetor but were later upgraded to a 326 V8 that produced 250bhp (an improvement of 35bhp from the previous four-barrel carburetor ). The engine gradually increased in size throughout the 2-year lifespan reaching 400 cubic inches by 1969.
After a year of production, a Ram Air option was made available – similar to the Mustang Mach 1 – which accompanied stylish hood scoops, making them functional. Although the power for the Ram Air package was the same as the conventional 400 HO, the engine peaked at a higher RPM. By 1969, Pontiac had put a lot more on the table with a $725 optional handling package known as the ‘Trans Am Performance and Appearance Package’. There were only about 700 of this ‘Trans Am’ series made with just 8 of them convertible.
Although there isn’t much difference between the 1967 and 1968 Pontiac Firebirds – apart from an engine upgrade – there were a few stylistic design choices. New regulations meant that Pontiac had to include side lights, alongside this they restyled the signal lights to wrap around the edge of the car – a result of changing regulations. Pontiac also decided to up its branding by adding the Arrowhead logo on each side of the rear of the car. The vent windows were also replaced with just a single pane of glass, giving the car a neater, tidier look.
Come 1969, Pontiac had decided to reinvent the Firebird and we see some more dramatic changes with a newly designed front end, dashboard and steering column. But personally, I think the 1968 Pontiac Firebird is much better with its raw beauty.
The 1968 Pontiac Firebird images you can see here not only show Pontiac in its crowning glory but includes the Ram Air option and the additional ‘hood tach’ which was an incredibly popular feature for this generation of car. I just love the front end design and much prefer it to the 1969 version, but my favorite part has got to be the convertible soft top, I mean who wouldn’t want to go cruising around in this baby?