Firebird production was reduced for 1972 due to a 174 day United Auto Workers strike in Norwood Ohio, the only plant producing Firebird and Camaro, that ended September 27, 1972 and cut Firebird production in half. Production went from 53,124 units in 1971 to only 29,951 in 1972. A total of 1100 unfinished cars were scrapped on the assembly line at the end of the run, unable to meet the new impact laws thattook effect for 1973. Pontiac almost dropped the Firebird line in 1972 due to the strike and the declining sales of pony cars.
The Firebird line continued with base Firebird, Esprit, Formula and Trans Am models. The engine lineup was mostly unchanged with the Chevrolet manufactured 250 cid 6 cylinder standard in the base Firebird with the 350 2bbl optional. Esprit continued with a standard 350 2bbl with optional 400 2bbl. Just like 1971 Formula 350 used Esprit's 350 2bbl but upgraded to dual exhaust. Formula 400 continued with a 400 4bbl. Formula 455 came standard with the Trans Am 455 HO engine while the D-port 455 that was standard in Formula 455 for 1971 was dropped. Trans Am was also standard with the 455-HO. This year it looked like horsepower was decreased by GM would publish only net horsepower (horsepower produced at the drive shaft with all accessories rather than at the crank). While engines were nearly identical from 1971 to 1972 the published gross horsepower for the 455 HO dropped from 335 to the net rating of 300hp. This change was political in an attempt to trick insurance companies from levering high rates for higher horsepower cars.
To identify a 1972 Firebird from its '70, 71 and '73 siblings one needs the look at the elongated honeycomb grille. This was a one year only feature. The fender vents of 1971 were dropped and a small bird emblem made its appearance on the front fender ahead of the Firebird script for the first time. High back bucket seat continued distinguishing this model from a '70. A new Deluxe Wheel cover was offerred while Rally II, Honeycomb, and Finned Wheel cover options remained. The base Firebird could now be ordered with a matching chrome passenger side mirror (option 444/D33) for those not wanting the dual body-color bullet stype mirrors (434/D35).