tran-zam.com
Identifying the 1970, 1971, 1972, and 1973 Firebird's
1970 to 1973 Front Grille Openings

The front grille openings were the most prominent changes in the first design. The grilles are identical for 1970 and 1971 with a small square grate design. In 1972 the squares were changed to an elongated hexagon design. The most major change came in 1973 with the larger square grate design, often referred to as an egg grate look. The 1973's are the easiest to identify since the grate was moved forward in the grille opening to accommodate the extra structure underneath since the law required bumpers that were able to withstand a 5 mph impact without damage to the car for this year. Since the 1970 to 1972 grilles are bolt in parts it is not assured that you won't see a 1972 model with 1970 grilles. This guide will show you what is factory "correct."

The illustration at right shows the different grilles for 1970 to 1973. Note that Firebirds (and Esprits), Formulas, and Trans Ams all had slight variations from one another:

  • Firebirds and Esprits and the 1972 Formula had a gray grille insert with the Pontiac logo in the driver's side grille
  • Formulas, except for 1972, had a blacked-out grille with the Pontiac logo in the driver's side grille
  • Trans Am had a blacked-out grille with no Pontiac logo from 1970 to 1972. In 1973 the Trans Am gained the Pontiac logo in the grille, same as the Formula.
  • 1971 to 1973 Grilles received a 350 engine call out emblem on Esprits or Firebirds when ordered with the 350 engine.  Oddly, the optional 400 engine on Esprit did not include a call out emblem.
  • See the Emblems page also for embelm variations in emblems used from 1970 to 1973.

 

1970 and 1971 1972 1973
Firebird and Esprit Firebird, Esprit, and Formula Firebird and Esprit
Formula   Formula
Formula did not receive a special Grille this year
Trans Am
Trans Am
Trans Am
1971 Esprit or Firebird when ordered with the 350 Engine Option. 350 Emblem part #483944
1972 Esprit or Firebird when ordered with the 350 Engine Option. 350 Emblem part #487706. 1973 Esprit or Firebird when ordered with the 350 Engine Option. 350 Emblem part #491125
Shown below is a '70 Firebird model at the top and a '73 at bottom to illustrate the differences in the front bumper structure. Note how the surround on the '70 protrudes farther out while the '73 shows more of the white bumper. The grilles on the '70 to '72 models are actually further inset into the bumper than the '73. 1973 added greater structure beneath the grilles to meet the 5 mph bumper requirements imposed by the Federal government that year.