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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

The most valuable Firebirds from every generation

Almost everyone has an opinion about Pontiac Firebirds. Ours, for the record, is that they're pretty great. Spanning 35 years, four generations, and myriad high-performance variations-not to mention three Smokey and the Bandit movies, Knight Rider, and countless other cultural touchstones-the Firebird transcends typical collecting considerations and cuts to the core reason most of us like old cars-they're fun.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/market-trends/hagerty-insider/most-valuable-firebirds-every-generation...
91 REPLIES 91
MeJ
Advanced Driver

I had a 1969 white on red coupe with the Pontiac 350. I bought it in the mid 90's for $3000 Cdn!
I would probably still have it if some drunk didn't run a stop sign and destroy her.
GeorgeS1
New Driver

I am recalling laughing at a friend of mine over a 1967 firebird. Had a 6 cylinder. Then we went for a ride. Well, that changed it all. Anyone remember the 300 6 cylinder overhead cam? That car would get it. I know he had tweeked it some too. For what I thought was just a dead dog it turned out to be a sleeper. Lots of Pony power for that day! Not sure what happened to these, but the old sixes were packing some serious HP. Then I saw then go way down in a GM chart of those days. Anyone else seen this car?
Edwardsg
Intermediate Driver

See above - my buddy had one. Although it went pretty good - most muscle cars had at least 150 more cubes at the time.
MattK
Detailer

Yes I had a 69 Firebird with the 4.1L Straight 6 with the Sprint option, quite peppy and well balanced. Your friend had the 3.8L. These are very nice cars and I'd rather have one of them then a 350.
PontiacFireBird
New Driver

Yes, saw it in a car mag. while in high school. Fell in love with it. The "6" cyl block was Chevrolet with an OHC head just for a Fire Bird. Had a special intake with a 4 barrel carb. Later there was another issue installing that engine in an XKE. All You Have To louse is your Cam Chain. Later on while in the Navy I bought a well used 356 Porsche. Dan
tigercat
Intermediate Driver

Had a few friends that had 6cylinder firebirds, they were called firebird sprint. All of the one's I knew with the ohc 6cylinder were also convertibles.
MattK
Detailer

The Sprint cars were an high performance option which upgraded the HP on the standard OHC I6 car.
mk
New Driver

owned both a 1971 (traded in ) and 1976 (sold in 1984) Firebird Esprit. just the basic engine, etc. but still a lot of fun to drive. I added to the 1976 model external basic gauges (rpm, water, oil),  trip info gadget, CB radio, 8-track player in the locking glove compartment, and fog lamps in the honeycomb front grille cut outs.  I liked watching  James Garner's Rockford Files tv program with the J-turn and chase scenes with his stunt driver skills. I think it was a Formula model scaled down to look like the lower tier Esprit (for his more "modest" means) but had the dual exhaust, roll bars, stiffer susp, greater HP, etc.  Vicariously, I was driving the Esprit that was really a Formula.

JRJones
Detailer

Firebirds would be more interesting (and valuable) if there was no Camaro. My perception is that Chevrolet did the development work, and Pontiac was the opportunist. This is not unique for GM and badge engineering. The "subsequent models" suffer from ambition and lack of restraint. The "screaming chicken" and weight are two examples.
Yes Ford had the Mustang/Cougar; at least they stretched the wheelbase.
MattK
Detailer

That's really not true. Pontiacs consistently outsell thier chevy clones, plus owing that Pontiac is now a legacy brand since it was killed off by GM making their cars more valuable. If you want a better deal go with the Camaro. If you want a more valuable car go with the Firebird.
JRJones
Detailer

You could google the numbers, but raging is more gratifying..
1970 Camaro production 124,901
1970 Firebird production 48,739
That was easy.
TA76
Detailer

The cars are in fact quite different. Cosmetics aside the engines shifters etc. were different. Firebirds handling was better. Worked on and driven both and would take the Firebird. That is why I have a '76 TA. Plus you and get the true documentation on them where there are more Camaro Rally cars on the road than they built.

 

jays69bird
New Driver

I would disagree with that, you need to do some research about the Firebird's history.

General Motors killed the 2 seat Pontiac Banshee after Chevrolet lobbied against this potential competitor to the Corvette, and as a result of that, to soften the blow, Pontiac was allowed to market a version of the Camaro.  The 67-68 was very close to the Camaro sharing components, starting with the 1969 model Pontiac put their distinct touch on the F body. With the 2nd generation F bodies Pontiac made it their own car, all one has to do is look the year to year development, when the pony car market dried up Chevrolet pretty much stopped developing the Camaro, where Pontiac refined both the styling and performance. Look and compare a 1974 and a 1981 Firebird to a Camaro, the Chevy looks pretty much the same, the Firebirds look totally different. Pontiac kept the Formula and Trans Am models going, while Chevrolet dropped the Z28 and SS models, only bring back the Z28 after Pontiac's runaway success with the Trans Am in the mid 70s. As for value the 2nd generation Pontiac F bodies seem to command more money than similar Chevrolet F bodies.

Also Pontiac refined the suspension to the point driving a Formula/Trans Am handling wise is a cut above their Camaro counterparts.

jwillieb
New Driver

Wrong years for first Firebirds:
67-68 was first gen - warmed over 69-70 followed. The 67 Firebird and Camaro were mid-year intros
My first new car was a 68 Firebird convert 350 V8 3 speed hurst manual custom interior no A/C. MSRP $3,708
paid $3,200.

71-81 second gen we had both 71 & 76 Camaros

Third gen we had 82 Firebird 4 sp manual 2.5 liter 4 cyl nice combo but valves got noisy at 70k

1989 found an 86 Celica GT-S lo miles and never looked back. Sadly Camaros & Firebirds became lower class.
Greg_I
Hagerty Employee

@jwillieb not to get into a heated debate but yes, I do understand that 70 was a mid-year introduction. But calling the late production 69’s a 70 would be a new thing to me however I have seen a small contingent call the 1970 model year 70-1/2. But yeah feel this is nitty gritty details that even the average Firebird enthusiast is willing to overlook.

Tom9716
Intermediate Driver

I agree with you, Greg. There were no 1970 first generation Firebirds. Due to the delay in releasing the second generation, there were only 1969 models that were delivered through late ‘69 or early’70. When the second generation became available in April, it was given the moniker “1970-1/2” to save face for being late.
Firechicken313
Pit Crew

First gens were 1967 through 1969 then second gens were 1970 through 1981 stick to your Honda’s I’ll stick with my low class firebird
Greg_I
Hagerty Employee

@Firechicken313 small correction, Celica is a Toyota. I think him calling an F-Body low class is harsh though.
Firechicken313
Pit Crew

I know I was just trying to get a reaction from him 

Greg_I
Hagerty Employee

@Firechicken313 nothing insulting about Honda. I put my 69 GP up to make room for an 8th Gen Civic Si and I harbor no regrets.

Firechicken313
Pit Crew

I don’t have a problem with any cars or brands I didn’t like he called Firebirds lower class 

MattK
Detailer

1969 was a hold over car while GM had engineering problems with production of the new 2nd generation car. 1967-69 is the first generation car.
golfnut53083
Intermediate Driver

In 1975 we took a 1974 Firebird Trans Am in trade at our Ford dealership. It had a 455 and a 4 speed and after driving Mustang II's and Pintos for the last several years, I was in love with this car. Unfortunately a teenager on their way to college isn't a good fit for the TA. Oh well, skunked again!
Tonewheeldude
New Driver

I had a 1969 Pontiac Firebird 400
Convertible with TH400 and powertop.
Was quite a rare car in Sweden back
In 1981.Cameo white.
Pretty awesome car.
OldDrummer55
New Driver

I too like the early 70s machines, but… I did own a very special TA: 1989 Pontiac Trans Am Turbo Pace Car. The improved Buick Grand National V-6 made this bird fly!
240ZV8
Intermediate Driver

All the Firebird were cool.. My high-school track coach had a convertible 1969 400. I also liked the limited-edition 1500 1989 20th Anniversary 3.8 (Buick) Turbo Trans Am (TTA)
Bill4
New Driver

Play with a 78 skybird ,C&C T-bar roof. Have a little fun with it. Tough to get weather seals for her..Made them. Yellowbird & Redbird near by. Prefer the blue one though. Guess Britney Spears does too.
TA76
Detailer

Hmm don't know where you looked but never had a problem finding good quality ones.

carguyjim
Detailer

I can't believe I am considering letting go my '78 T/A that took years to find. It's a 400 4 speed with tilt wheel and NO T-Tops, which weaken the frame and can leak! My car is and was 100% rust free which is limited to cars like mine that were always garaged because the rear window channel holds water and causes huge damage... Also, most of these were beat to death, and this car escaped the stunt driving most endured when these cars weren't valuable. I guess I'm just ready for a new adventure and don't have a warehouse or I'd keep it. It doesn't even rattle!!!
TA76
Detailer

You will be sorry!😎

 

TOG
Pit Crew

what about the 455 HO ?
the Ram Air IV top end on a 4-bolt main 455 block
a killer combination !
superior power and torque than the 455 SD
TOG
Greg_I
Hagerty Employee

@TOG awesome engine, however the premise of the article was the most expensive car from each generation. Definitely worth a mention, but there can only be one “most expensive”

TOG
Pit Crew

Yeah, got that, thanks!
I would have guessed a '71 or '72 with the 455 HO would bring more money than the '70 400 RA IV.
TOG
TOG
Greg_I
Hagerty Employee

@TOG What really pushes the 70 RA IV up there is rarity. 71-72 you only had one choice in engine plus the RA IV has that mythical quality around it. In a way, I think it is spiritually the engine that best suits the idea around that Trans Am for it's namesake, but the 455 HO is certainly the better choice if you want a car that's a monster from stoplight to stoplight. My father has a 4-speed equipped '72 and thought it was an excellent street machine but always felt the 400 Pontiac was a better balanced engine.

DUB6
Specialist

Hey TOG, like this one?

My friend Ray's '68 Firebird.jpg

 

Firechicken313
Pit Crew

1E97041F-BDFA-44CC-BF61-CE49D2C1AFAC.jpeg

 nice wheels 

TOG
Pit Crew

Yeah, like that.

How do you past or insert a photo?

Thanks!

TOG

TOG
Sajeev
Community Manager
Oldroad1
Technician

Stage 2 heads?
shdagata4
New Driver

Firebirds are beautiful. I own a 1980 Firebird Espirit that my parents purchased brand new for my late brother. One owner, automatic with the original 301 under the hood. It brings such a smile to everyone's face when they see her drive by. About a year ago, my son (at 17 years old) purchased a 1992 Firebird Formula, which he is out driving as I type this. 🙂 The fall is my favourite time of year for cruising in the Firebird, it is too darn hot in the summer. Lots of people have referred to my car as a "Fire Chicken" over the years, I however, do not call her that.
I think that they are becoming more and more popular and valuable as the years go on. They have been underappreciated for a long time. I will never sell mine. 😄
hyperv6
Racer

I would wager a second gen 4 speed 455 SD will highest 2nd gen soon.

The SLP cars are like Shelbys and of their own.

The Third Gen would be the Turbo V6 pace car and the 4th would be a WS6 TA Ram Air loaded in one of the special editions.
JeepDave
Pit Crew

'74 Formula SD-455! Now your talking!
hyperv6
Racer

Saw one a couple weeks ago at the Pontiac Nationals. Rare sight. 

Many don’t even know they exist. 

Beautybird
New Driver

I have a 69 bird that are doing a ground up restomod including a 454 engine, been a painful almost 8 years journey which isn’t over yet! Probably a few more months if the shop that I have it in cooperates and can luckily find some parts such as flywheel and special size oil pan and a few other cosmetic parts and finally gets ready to go to upholstery shop! Can’t wait!
shdagata4
New Driver

I waited a painful 7 years for my paint job. I don't understand how it went on so long, but you are really at their mercy. Luckily, we are super happy with the end result and finally out enjoying her again. Good luck to you and I hope your shop treats you well and gets her done. I seem to recall that my oil pan was a difficult one to find a replacement as well.
TA76
Detailer

Why a chevy 454? not the hard to find a a Pontiac 455. Due to construction of the block a much more reliable and stronger engine.

TOG
Pit Crew

how about the Herb Adams Fire Ams?
we still have the one we built in 1978 using a 1973 body, 1971 455 HO .030 over with 10.5:1 TRWs and SD forged rods and a Richmond Gear 5-speed and Cars and Concepts T-Tops and
way too much more to list here
too bad we cant include pics...
TOG
JBB1
New Driver

Hi everyone
I purchased a Trans am in 1976 white 400 wanted the 455 cost $155.00 more insurance 3 thousand more. 4 speed Hurst upgrade interior from factory bird and lettering with am/for stereo only options pulled off lot October 30 1975 still have today running strong have 80 000 miles. a great car miss Pontiac cars had grand ams v6 also a great car
mcfaalal1
New Driver

My Firebird was a 70 1/2 Trans Am. (228870L106293). Blue with white stripe, RA III, 4 speed, no air.
Purchased off the showroom floor at the Pontiac dealer in Mishawaka Indiana. Window sticker was $4413, I offered them $4000 and they accepted. In the first 9 months, I put 15000 miles on it. I ordered some Ram IV parts such as lifters, springs and the RA IV camshaft (9794041) that was $93.48 at the time. I ended up only installing an edelbrock aluminum intake. Had to get rid of that cast iron one. After 9 months I sold it to a friend of mine for $2900, last I saw of it. The same day I bought it I was also at the Plymouth dealer and almost got the 70 cuda hemi convertible, but chose the firebird. Not sure i make the best choice. I have read that only 200 blue 70 1/2 were made, but hope someone can say exactly and if anyone has seen this vin?