1970 Firebird Interesting Facts

The Ram Air IV Engine: Pontiac's version of a COPO car
The Ram Air IV engine was intended for racing and was not an option on the regual Pontiac order form. To get one you had to have the dealer fill out a Special Equipment Order Form since this engine was not an RPO (Regular Production Option) but and SPO (Special Production Option), similar to what Chevrolet did with the 1969 camaro's in order to have the 427 cubic inch engine. The Chevy program's Central Office Production Order (COPO) was usually used to sell specialty equipment like Police Cars and Taxi's. Unlike COPO the Pontiac process used simply a special form. The Ram Air IV was intended solely for drag racing. Only 88 of these engines made it into Trans Ams in 1970.
Formula Ram Air Option
While the Formula Ram Air is legendary, you may be surprised to learn that the only way to get functional Ram Air scoops in 1970 was by ordering the L74 Ram Air III engine, the top engine available in the Formula 400 line. With this engine the Formula block off plates were replaced with a functional screen and an air cleaner that directed fresh, cold air into the carburetor. The RAM AIR decals were carried over from 1969 and would be updated in 1971, making these distinct on a Second Generation Firebird.
Low Back Seats - One Year Only
All 1970 Firebirds had low back bucket seats with separate head rests this one year only. This was true when either the standard interior or upgraded custom interiors were ordered. Later Firebirds had high-back bucket seats without headrests that were borrowed from the Chevrolet Vega line. The construction of the 1970 Firebird seats were generally considered to be superior to the later seats.
Trans Am Dash Insert - One Year Only
The Trans Am had a machine-turned, or prism, dash insert this year (as in all other years of the second generation design) but the rings surrounding the gauges were silver rather than black as in later years. The rest of the Firebirds had the standard black bezel surrounds. The addition of black plastic rings around the dash bezel may have been a mid-year change according to some resources but this change is unverified.
The 1970 Floor Mounted Shift Knob was Unique to this Year.
The floor mounted shift knob had a red center for 1970 only. Subsequent years the knob had a black center.
1970 Headlight Bezels were Unique to this Year.
The headlamp bezels surrounding the front lights were a one year only item. The indents for using a screw driver to adjust the headlight are noticably smaller on 1970 models thatn in 71 to 73 models. Mechanics complained that there was not enough room available in the indent to adjust the lights so for 1971 on the indent grew larger deeper and wider.
The 400 Cubic Inch Engine was the Largest Displacement Available for 1970
The Trans Am was only available with a 400 cubic inch engine this year and the 1970 stands as the only first design, second generation car to have the 400. The 455 that many associate with the Trans Am did not appear until 1971 and lasted through 1976.
Trans Am Stripes
There were actually two different white stripe sets Lucerne Blue cars. The early, very rare, set is white with gray borders in the same pattern style used on the blue stripes and featured a reverse bird logo on the nose. This asthetic did not really work well so it was changed to solid black borders. See the 1970 Colors for examples.
1970 Bumper Birds
The 1970 Dealer Service Bulletin number 70-I-54 announced that Trans Ams would be shipped from the Norwood Ohio plant without the bird decal on the front bumper being installed. Decals installed in this plant were blistering and causing unsightly appearance. The bulletin said that a a procedure would be issued for repair of these birds to Dealers to install on the new cars after the cause was determined.
15 Inch Wheels Were Available on Formula 400
The Trans Am's 15 inch wheels could be ordered on Formula 400s when the option TNL was selected for F60 X 15 Raised White Letter tires. For $146.39 this option included the 15 inch Rally II rims. Correct lug nuts for Rally II wheels had black centers. The correct wheels may be identified by the JW code stamped near the valve stem.
Trim Rings on 15 inch, Rally II Wheels
According to many authoritative Firebird books and magaines, Trim rings were not available this year for the 15 inch Rally II wheels. The 15 inch wheel was actually a 14 inch Rally II with an additional 1 inch welded onto it, and was new for 1970. This wheel was standard on the Trans Am. Several Tran-zam readers have submitted build sheets showing that the Option Code 471 Trim rings were indeed availble with the 15 inch Rally II wheel. Several original Trans Am owners even submitted photos of their cars with the trim rings in 1970. Therefore the Trim rings are validated as an original option. One order sheet is shown at right showing Option code 471 Trim Rings as being delivered on a 1970 Trans Am. The date on the document is 7/22/70.
Firebird Rear Spoilers
The rear spoiler was not offered on any other model this year besides the Trans Am. Interestingly, when Chevrolet engineers discovered that Pontiac engineers had acquired Camaro wind tunnel test data to develop the Trans Am spoilers the center section of the TA spoiler was loaned to Chevrolet who the added their own side caps and marketed the spoiler under a COPO code for racing homologation. Even though most 1970 Formulas in existence today have the spoiler added it was not factory original equipment.
The Formula 400 Model
Although known as simply the Formula in later years for 1970 the model was officially designated the Formula 400.
Seat Belts - One Year Only
Seat belts for 1970 AND 1971 were unique using separate lap and shoulder belts. When the console was ordered small plastic holders were attached to the side to hold the seat belt buckles when not in use.
No Console or Floor Shift was available for the 6 Cylinder Base Firebird
For 1970 the Base Firebird came only with column mounted shifters, whether it was the standard 3 speed manual or the optional 2 speed automatic.
A Unique Shade of White - One Year Only
1970 was the only year that Polar White was offered as the shade of white for all Firebirds. All other years offered Cameo White, including first and third generation cars, that had a more ivory tint to it. The Polar White Color is a pure color of white. The color difference can easily be seen when a 1970 model is parked next to a 1970 or 1972 model.
Firebird, Esprit, and Formula 400 Body Striping
There were no types of body accent stripes or decals offered on 1970 Firebirds (except the Trans Am with its over the hood/roof/trunk striping). Later years offered various types of striping but for 1970 no stripes were offered from the factory.
Examples shown on this page consist of scanned images or reproduction artwork that can not be faithfully reproduced on a computer screen. Illustrations are for example only. Consult with your vendors offerring reproduction parts for their historical accuracy.