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Identifying the 1970 to 1973 Firebirds

Sail Panel Emblems

The Esprit model display a script emblem on the sail panel as shown.

Seats

If the seats have separate headrests the model is a 1970. All other years had one piece backrests. See more on Interiors.

Rear Spoiler

The rear spoiler was and option only from 1971 on. In 1971 and 1972 the spoiler was optional only on Formula models. In 1973 the spoiler became available on base Firebirds in addition to Formula models. 1970 to 1973 Esprits never received the spoiler. In 1973 decals became available for the rear spoiler on non-Trans Am models, available in black or white.

1971 Fender Vent

1971 Firebird, Esprit, and Formula models received a fender vent on the lower front fenders. Trans Ams did not receive this one year only accent.

Trunk Bird

All Firebirds without a spoiler received a bird emblem on the trunk deck lid.
PONTIAC Lettering

All 1970 to 1973 Firebirds, including Trans Am, received PONTIAC lettering across the rear panel. 1970 letters carried their own part number but distinguishing 1970's from 1971 to 1973's is very difficult.

Rear Bumper

The 1970 to 1973 Firebirds were the only second generation bird to have a chrome rear bumper. In 1973 the bumper stuck out an additional two inches from the 1970 to 1972 models to meet Federal 5mph impact requirements.
Trans Am Hood Scoop
  Fender Emblems
The Trans Am featured a shaker hood scoop that attached to the top of the engine and protruded up through the hood. This hood design was also used on 1973 Firebird Formulas when equipped with the Super Duty 455 engine. Hood scoops generally had call out decals to announce engine size. In 1970 and 1971 this read 455-HO. In 1973 either 455 or SD-455 decals adorned the scoop. 1970 showed no decals on the hood scoop.
 

From 1970 to 1973 there were a wide variety of Fender Emblems installed on Firebirds, Esprits, and Formulas. Firebird and Esprit called out Firebird while Formulas varied. In 1970 a Formula 400 emblem was installed below the Firebird emblem on the Formula 400 model. In 1971 to 1973 the Firebird emblem was replaced by either a Formula 350, Formula 400 or Formula 455 on Formula models. In 1972 and 1973 a bird emblem was installed just forward of the Fender emblem. In 1970 only Firebirds ordered with the 350 engine (standard on Esprit) received 350 emblems beneath the Firebird emblem. Esprits ordered with the 400 engine received 400 emblems.

Nose Bird Emblem

1970 and 1971 Esprits and Formulas and received a die cast bird emblem on the top of the front nose.

Headlight Trim
1970 Firebirds received unique headlight trim with smaller screw holes than following years. The design was changed due to complaints by Pontiac service departments saying the holes were too small to work with.

Grilles

Perhaps the easiest way to identify 1970 to 1973 Firebirds is by looking inside the front grilles. In 1970 and 1971 the Firebirds used square grille lattice work. To identify 1970 birds from 1971 look at the seats, if they have separate headrests the model is a 1970. The 1972 birds switched to a hexagonal design unique to that year. In 1973 larger square grille patterns were introduced, often referred to as egg-crate grilles. 1973 grilles were moved further forward in the grille opening to accommodate the 5 mph bumper structure underneath that was mandated for 1973. The PONTIAC Emblem and emblems for engine call-outs varied by year. See more on 1970 to 1973 Grilles

Formula Ram Air Decals
1970 to 1972 Formulas ordered with the optional functional hood scoops received RAM AIR decals on the outside of the hood scoops. Although these decals and scoops are common to see now the functional scoops came only with the Ram Air III Formula's in 1970 and the 455-H.O. motors of 1971 to 1972.  Decals for 1970 differed from 1971 to 1972.. 
Turn Signals
1970 to 1972 Firebirds received clear turn signal lamps on the lower front bumpers. In 1973 the lens was changed to amber.
Front Lower Valance Panel

1970 and 1971 Firebirds received a steel lower valance panel installed under the front bumper cover. In 1972 and 1973 this was changed to a plastic unit that integrated a small spoiler.

It is extremely rare to see an 1972 or 1973 Firebird with the plastic unit still attached. The steel units from the earlier years were often installed a service replacements on these cars sine the plastic units were far less durable.

Formula Models

Formula Firebirds were offered only in the Formula 400 model for 1970. For 1971 o 1973 the Formula line was expanded to the Formula 350 and Formula 455 augmenting the Formula 400.

Large Bird Hood Decal
In 1973 the large screaming chicken hood decal debuted as an option on Trans Ams. This bird is now synonymous with the term Trans Am.
Small Bumper Bird
When the large optional hood bird was not ordered Trans Am received a smaller bird decal on the front bumper.
Trans Am Decals
Trans Am decals adorned the front fenders and rear spoiler on all Trans Ams. In 1973 the decals were pronouncedly larger than 1970 to 1972 and used a single clear decal rather than individual decals for each letter. It is very rare to see these original style one piece decals on restorations.