1971 Firebird Interesting Facts
The Fender Vent
For 1971 all Firebirds except theTrans Am got a new vent on the lower portion of the front fender. Even though the vent was non-functional it added to the image of the Firebird as a sports car. It was odd that this feature was a 1 year only item, discontinued for 1972 and beyond making the 1971 Firebird unique in the line's history.
High back Bucket Seats Introduced this Year
In 1971 the one high back bucket seat was introduced replacing the former low back bucket seat with separate head rest. These high back bucket seats were adapted from the Chevy Vega line and many consider them to be inferior to the 1970 seats. 1971 seats were available in two versions as in 1970, standard or custom. Standard seat were available in all Morrokide vinyl while custom seats were offered in either Knit Vinyl and Morrokide or Pinehurst Pattern Cloth and Morrokide.
New Formula Models
The Formula 350 and Formula 455 joined the Formula 400 as separate models in the Formula line. In addition to engine sizes of 350cid and 455cid joining the 400 each model received specific badges on the fenders.
Rear Deck Spoiler
The Rear Deck Spoiler became available on all Formula models this year as a factory option number 572/D80. The spoiler was also available on all Base, Esprit, and Formula models as a dealer installed option.
Firebird Body Stripes
Stripes were offered as an option on Firebirds this year but is not shown in early literature, therefore suggesting that the stripe was offered as an option after the introduction of 1971 Firebirds. The stripes were offered in Black, Blue, Gold and Silver and ran along the lower mid sections of the rear edge of the from fender to the front edge of the rear fender.
It is interesting to note that the car so associated with the color black like the second generation Trans Am was was never offered on the second generation before 1976. The only year you could get a black Firebird prior to 1976 was in 1971 (except on Trans Am).
New Honeycomb Wheels
The Honeycomb Wheel is listed as standard on Trans Am in early factory literature but was actually made an option after early supply problems forced the reinstatement of the 15" Rally II as standard equipment. The Trans Am version of the Honeycomb wheel was a 15" diameter versus the 14" diameter available on all other models.
Lower Engine Compression Ratios Makes Bigger Engines Available
High Performance engines received lower compression ratios this year to allow for unleaded gasoline. Because of this the 455 engine was now allowed by GM to be installed on Firebirds whereas previously the 400 was the largest due to corporate edict. The standard 400 compression ratio was dropped from 10.25:1 to 8.2:1. The 455 engine was offered with 8.2:1 compression while the HO version offered 8.4:1. The 455 HO was now standard on the Trans Am. The Ram Air III and IV engines were retired.
Trans Am Transmissions
The M20 4 Speed Manual Transmission was no longer standard in the Trans Am, replaced by the M22 Close Ratio 4 Speed unit, Although factory literature shows the 1971 Trans Am as coming standard with the 3 speed Heavy Duty Manual Transmission. Most sources (Michael Lamm in The Fabulous Firebird (page 127), and John Gunnell in The Illustrated Firebird Buyers Guide and The Standard Catalog of Firebird) show 4 speeds as standard equipment.
Base Firebird Now Available with a Floor Mounted Shifter
The 3 speed manual transmission with the Floor Mounted shifter (35B) could now be ordered on Base Firebirds with the 6 cylinder engine. Previously the shifter was column mounted with this combination. This change meant that the 6 cylinder Firebird could now be ordered with a front connsole which required a floor mounted shifter.
Cassette Tape Player Available
A cassette tape player was offered in Firebirds for the first time this year.
Rear Console Available
The Rear Console (424/D58) was introduced this year.
Self Charging Flashlight option (691/WU1) was introduced this year with a flashlight placed in the Firebird's glove box.