tran-zam.com

Spotter's Guide

Learn to tell the difference year to year for each second generation Firebird. If you are a buyer protect yourself from unscrupulous sellers who might try telling you that an Esprit with Camaro seats is an all original Formula Ram Air III 400. Unfortunately this practice is not uncommon. Know before you buy.

Identifying Second Generation Firebirds - 1970 to 1981

Like all cars the 1970 to 1981 Firebirds evolved from year to year. There were four major facelifts for the second generation F-body: the 1970 to 1973 open nose design, the 1974 to 1976 sloped nose design with round headlights, the 1977 to 1978 design with a deep V-shaped fascia, and the 1979 to 1981 with the grille-less front fascia. This page illustrates each major design. Drill into each design to see how to tell each year apart visually. This guide should be able to help you identify the nuances of each year 'bird. Then find a local car show and test your Firebird knowledge.

Spotter's Guide Year by year comparisons:
First Design: Large Nostril Design

These Firebirds were identified by two round headlights outboard of large, nostril like openings. This nose design was shorter than later ones and looked mean and aggressive, like the car needed to scoop up air to feed the mighty engines lurking beneath. Shown at the left is the base Firebird/Esprit, the Formula with its snorkel hood scoops, and the Trans Am with the stripe and shaker hood scoop. If you are looking for the screaming chicken on the hood the only year that this style had them was 1973.

Click here to read more..

Second Design: Sloped Nose Design

These Firebirds were identified by two round headlights outboard of much smaller grilles than previous. For 1974 and 1975 the Firebird used rubber bump strips to make the car appear more durable. These bumpers disappeared in 1976, replaced by smoother, more stylized body colored bumpers. The round headlights, slopping grille, and small air intakes identify the 1974 to 1976 'Birds. Shown at left is the 1974 Firebird, the 1975 Formula, and 1975 Trans Am.

Click here to read more.

Third Design: V-Shaped Fascia

These Firebirds were identified by four square headlights inserted at the outsides of a grille design with two openings forming a "V" at the center. This style is often called the Banshee or Bandit style (this is the style most commonly associated with the hit 1977 movie Smokey and the Bandit). Again shown at left is the Firebird, the Formula (in this case with the optional Formula Appearance Package), and the Trans Am.

Click here to read more.

Fourth Design: Smooth and Grilleless

These Firebirds were identified by four square headlights inset into separate, chromeless pods with the grilles located lower in the fascia to scoop up air below the belt line. At modern Pontiac shows enthusiast of earlier Firebirds often do not care for this design, but overall this was the best selling Firebird of all time. Pontiac had never sold as many Firebirds either before or after as they had in 1979. Shown at left is the Firebird, the Formula (in this case a turbo with the off center hood scoop), and the Trans Am with its new multi-colored hood bird..

Click here to read more