Our featured car is a 1969 Pontiac Firebird Convertible. This very popular Pontiac model came into being in 1967 during John Z. Deloreans tenure at General Motors. The first generation Firebirds included the 1967 through 1969 models. The first generation Pontiac Firebird offered two different design options for buyers. These were a 2-door hardtop coupe and a convertible.
The 1969 Pontiac Firebird received a restyling similar to the same year Camaro's. Restyling included broader fenders with a new front end that separated the headlights from the grille. There was a minor change to the interior and with the exception of these three things the Pontiac Firebird had the same elements as the 68 model.
The Pontiac Firebird and the Chevy Camaro
Both being models from General Motors, some may think that the first 1967 Pontiac Firebird was merely a repackaging of the Camaro, but that really is not an accurate picture. There is no doubt at all that the Pontiac Firebird when it was first introduced in 1967 was influenced by the Camaro particularly with the Firebird hitting the market five months after the Chevy Camaro. The Firebird may have never have been developed had it not been for the Camaro but there was a basic difference. The Pontiac Firebird utilized genuine Pontiac engines. The Firebird would clearly distinguish itself from Camaro and would attract much more popularity during the 1970's.
Pontiac Firebird buyers had the choice of six and eight cylinder engines. The Firebird was using a Camaro chassis and some body panels. Regardless, the Firebird’s styled split front grille, beaked hood, and GTO slitted taillights gave it a distinctly Pontiac appearance. What really set the Firebird apart from the Chevy Camaro was found under the hood. The Firebird offered a good selection of Pontiac engines.
As an example, the “Sprint” version got the buyer a 230 inline 6 with a 4 barrel carburetor rated at 215 HP. Either one of the six cylinder engines was linked to either a three or four speed manual or two-speed automatic transmission. The majority of Firebird buyers however chose one of the available V8 engines. At the bottom was Pontiac’s 326 V8 with a two barrel carb that was rated at 250 bhp. A special “H.O.” (High Output) version of the 326 V8 along with a four barrel carburetor was rated at 285 HP. The biggest V-8 was the 400 V8 that was taken from the Pontiac GTO and it was rated at 325 HP.
The 1969 Pontiac Firebird Trans AM
Of special note for 1969 was the introduction of the Pontiac Firebird Trans Am. Pontiac had to pay the SCCA for use of the Trans Am name but it turned out to be well worth it. The Trans AM name is very recognizable even today. The Pontiac Trans Am was built with the Ram Air III at 335 HP engine hooked up to a heavy duty 3-speed manual, or the Ram Air IV at 345 HP with a 4-speed manual. The Trans AM with a great sports look came with a rear spoiler, dual hood and fender scoops, lower sports suspension, large performance tires, bigger anti-sway bars. The model had a race car look of blue stripes on a white background. The Pontiac Trans AM was known for great looks and superb handling.
1969 Pontiac Firebird Specifications
As noted above, there was a variety of engines and horsepower available to Firebird buyers. In 1969 there were eight different engines available. There were two Inline six engines and six V-8's. Horsepower ranged from 175 to 345.
Brakes were front disc with rear hydraulic drums.
Front suspension was independent coil springs and rear was longitudinal springs and live axle.
Wheelbase was 108.1 inches, overall length 191.1 inches, width 73.9 inches and height 49.6 inches. Average curb weight was 3,500 lbs.
For the 1969 model year, there were a total of 87,708 Pontiac Firebirds built. For the same model year there was a total of 697 Trans AM's produced. As a comparison, Chevy produced 243,000 Camaro's for 1969.
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Excellent reference resources regarding the popular Pontiac Firebird included...Pontiac Firebird: The Auto-Biography by author Marc Cranswick...Pontiac Firebird : 50 Years by David Newhardt.
First Generation Pontiac Firebird Collector Values
The first generation Pontiac Firebirds are very popular collector cars. When you consider that under 700 Trans AM's were built in 1969 and of those only eight Trans AM convertibles were built, you have some rare cars indeed.
At this date, valuations cover a wide range due to overall condition, originality, mileage and model. In general the Trans AM's are valued higher. Asking prices are generally from $25,000 to $75,000 with exceptions on both ends.
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