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Pontiac Firebird Formula 400: Last Action Hero - the icon from Pontiac

Hardy Mutschler
Pontiac Firebird Formula 400
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G M shot the bird. With the end of the Pontiac brand in 2010, the Firebird finally fell from the sky. Although the most famous series of the Indian brand has not been produced since 2002, fans could hope that at some point the existing new Chevrolet Camaro will be accompanied by a Pontiac Firebird. But now it's all over, the Pontiac brand has died. All that remains are the legends and memories of the unique, large-volume US sports car - luckily also a richly stocked vehicle inventory that is affordable at 10,000 to 20,000 euros per copy.

Pontiac - the 'Haudrauf' brand at GM

The distinctive brand name Pontiac appeared as early as 1893 when Edward M. Murphy founded his Pontiac Buggy Company and manufactured horse-drawn carriages in Pontiac, Michigan. The name therefore came not exclusively from Chief Pontiac, a chief of the Ottawa Indians, who led an uprising against the British colonial rule at the time in the 18th century, but was also the production location of the carriage company. When Murphy decided to build automobiles in 1907, he renamed his company the Oakland Motor Car Company, which, however, was swallowed up by General Motor in 1909.

Seventeen years later, the first Pontiac automobile built by GM at Oakland made its debut at the New York Motor Show. It attracted an in-line six-cylinder for the price of a four-cylinder and sold so well that GM withdrew the Oakland brand, which had existed until then, from the market in 1932, while Pontiac remained. Since then, Pontiac has played the role of the sporty, modern thug with often independent technology in the general's brand association. The Pontiac Firebird Trans Am was the only US coupé to keep the 6.6-liter big block V8 until 1979. In addition, the brand was able to afford Eigenarten such as the 61 Tempest with transaxle transmission, GM's first and at the time only toothed belt-driven SOHC in-line six, the first GM all-wheel-drive sedan Pontiac 6000 STE as an answer to the Audi 5000 (Audi 100/200) or the mid-engine -Flitzer Fiero. Pontiac's advertising slogan from the 80s best describes the philosophy of the sports and fun brand: 'We build excitement' - 'We build enthusiasm', which can even be experienced in the compact tailgate Trans Am built in 1987 with up to 240 hp V8 engines was.

Daredevils ready for a film: Burt Reynolds, detective Rockford and David Hasselhoff drive Pontiac

The two road movies with Burt Reynolds also played a decisive role in the fame of the Pontiac brand and especially the Firebird who raced through the US as a mustached, 'boiled rascal' with a black Pontiac Trans Am. The stripes were called Smokey and the Bandit I (1977) and II (1980) in the US and shut down the V8 racing car that spun around wildly One of the most famous movie cars. With the new Pontiac Trans Am introduced in 1982, which went down in TV history as the know-it-all chatterbox KITT, 'Knight Rider' David Hasselhoff created law and a lot of disorder.

We, however follow in the footsteps of James Garner with our lime green Pontiac Firebird Formula 400, the laid-back, likeable antihero who was often broke from 1974 to 78 in 'Detective Rockford, a call is enough' and still a current go earth-colored Pontiac Firebird esprit moving. It's a strong feeling when, like Rockford, you drive a five-meter-long, 1.6-ton, rather low coupé with a 6.6-liter V8 and 193 hp, which is best described as: Avarice is not really cool . Or to put it graphically: A '74 Pontiac Firebird Formula 400 differs from a current Smart in much the same way as the Count Basie Big Band differs from an MP3 player. So let's enjoy this opulent form of driving as long as we can still afford it.

Sturdy appearance thanks to the 'wide-track' chassis

First of all, it's the joy of being timeless signed Pontiac Firebird Formula 400 Coupé body with thin A-pillars, which were still completely committed to the sixties, and which frame a relatively steep and high windshield. The A-pillars of the Pontiac Firebird are visually not directly connected to the body of the car, but rather look as if they are growing out of the bonnet that is bent upwards and pulled around to the side. This design trick, which primarily served to conceal the windshield wipers, is typical for almost all Americans from the seventies - including the Pontiac Firebird sister model Chevrolet Camaro, which apart from differences in the interior, the engine and the chassis configuration and the front and rear design is identical to the Firebird. Then we are amazed at the sporty proportions, which almost correspond to a Jaguar E-Type Coupé, only that the Pontiac Firebird is significantly wider with its 'wide-track' chassis on the road. The huge bonnet and front of the car take up almost the same length as the two-door coupé body with the gently tapering fastback rear. The Pontiac Firebird's windshield, which builds up suddenly and steeply, enhances the pronounced long-hood effect.

Our unrestored Pontiac Firebird model from first owner also shows a completely intact,The non-rusted vinyl roof, the plastic-molded Formula engine hood with functionless Ram Air air intakes, the steel rims in the typical honeycomb pattern made of vulcanized rubber and the almost original chrome jewelry. The protective strips attached to the side of the car do not correspond to the US specification, but may have been a crooked, albeit well-intentioned, bonus from the Swiss importer. Although the soft upholstery of the artificial leather seats of the Pontiac Firebird has about the elasticity of half a dozen old-fashioned cheeseburgers, thanks to the upright, but not uncomfortable sitting position, the driver has an excellent view of the light green, hilly hood landscape. The real wood designed Pontiac Firebird cockpit appeals with its complete instrumentation and economical switch equipment and corresponds to the upscale Esprit version.

Up to 7.4 liters displacement were possible in the Firebird

In addition to the special rims and the Ram Air bonnet, the Pontiac Firebird also offers the Formula package a double exhaust system, a firmer chassis and the 170 PS strong 5.7-liter V8, optionally also the 6.6-liter (193/225 PS) and 7.4-liter engine (250/290 PS) for a surcharge . We're content with the 400, which still looks a bit lost in the huge engine compartment of the Pontiac Firebird, but gets down to business all the more assiduously when asked. And that succeeds with the slightest movement of the right foot of the accelerator, which drives the Pontiac Firebird out of the start box like a rodeo bull with a little delay through its weighty coupé body. At the same time as the subtle growl of the V8, the heavy front of the Pontiac Firebird also lifts - this results in the slight start delay - which then continues to stand steeply on the wind during the brisk acceleration process and only drops back into its normal position when the accelerator is taken back.

The huge, weighty Pontiac Firebird Formula 400 is basically a pronounced softie with its big heart, which accelerates super and - yes! - it even brakes really well, but always stumbles and rocks easily like Hoss Cartwright does during square dance. Fortunately, this is pretty harmless, as the large Pontiac Firebird remains pretty predictable and does not stubbornly buck. He does not shy away from quickly driven corners, in which the driver must first ask the heavy engine and then himself with the help of a buttery, indirect steering. The Pontiac Firebird slides over the front wheels, but can suddenly wedge the rear if the driver accelerates too much, which is why the assiduous automatic American shifts down a gear and puts his almost 200 hp on the rigid rear axle in one fell swoop. The brave coupé is a risk, especially on wet cobblestone streets, as a normal traffic light start in two lanesThe Pontiac Firebird lurches away like drunk on the Reeperbahn at half past twelve at night.

Firebird Formula 400 in its completely untampered original condition

So you should be careful not to make full use of the 193 Pontiac Firebird horses all too often, especially since the driver regularly uses his smooth one Armchair threatens to slide. It's good that the sweeping door trim and the high center console with the hinged utensil box keep it on the seat. No question, this Pontiac Firebird Formula 400 in its completely untampered original condition from 1974 (including the tires!) Is above all a glider and therefore finds sporty driving stress quite annoying. The Pontiac Firebird thus resembles detective Rockford, who also shied away from physical confrontation and preferred to run away in his powerful Firebird. But when it came down to it, both could hit hard.

Nevertheless, they were more convincing with their camaraderie, sloppy and always reliable appearance. Incidentally, this applies to almost all nice, mature, four-wheeled Americans.

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