In 1974 Firebird displayed its first facelift since the introduction of the second generation in 1970. In front, a new aerodynamic sloped nose was designed with small grille openings and black rubber bump strips designed to meet new Federal 5mph bumper laws. In 1974 the Feds mandated that all cars must be able to absorb an impact at 5mph with damage to the car. The car was nearly released without the rubber bumpers but Pontiac decided to use this design hoping the public would be more accepting. In back new full-width tail lamps were placed above a body color rear bumper, again with black bump strips. The public loved the car and sales began to rise sharply. Total sales increased by 27,416 while sales of Trans Am nearly doubles from 4,802 in '73 yo 10,255. Pontiac's strategy of staying in the muscle car market was beginning to pay big dividends. In 1974 Ford released it's new Mustang II with no performance models for the public to buy, big blocks were off the menu for Mopar's Barracuda and Challenger, and Camaro Z/28 was about to take a hiatus after '74. With the Super Duty 455 Pontiac was the only serious contender in the muscle car business.
In the engine bay changes were minimal but a new option offerred this one year only let you order Dual Exhausts (option 682) on your Base Firebird (with the 350 cid engine) or any Esprit adding about 15hp. Otherwise the base Firebird still offered the 6 cylinder as standard with Esprit's 350 optional. Esprit continued with the standard 350 with the 2bbl 400 optional. Formula continued with 350, 400, and 455 models. Formula 350 was offered with the Esprit's base 350 (with dual exhaust), Formula 400 with a 4bbl 400 cid, and the Formula 455 with either the Trans Am base 455 or the Super Duty 455. When ordered with the Super Duty engine Formula again used the Trans Am's shaker hood scoop. This would be the swan song in Pontiac's entry in the Muscle car market and the last you would see of the horsepower wars. In 1975 everything would change with the Federal requirement of catalytic converters and emmisions centric engines.
Identifying a 1974 Firebird is one of the easiest. Although very similar to the 1975 model the '74's rear window sloped backward where the larger wrap-around style debuted in '75. Looking at the front the grille has vertical slats where in 1975 they would be horizontal and turn signals would appear inside. The '74 and '76 turn signals were in the lower bumper but the black rubber bump strips would be gone in '76. The Radial Tuned Suspension (RTS) became available for the first time and radial tires were now becoming the norm. Trans Am continued in three colors with Cameo White and Buccaneer redcarried over. Brewster Green was dropped and blue returned to the TA palate with Admiralty Blue, a soemwhat darker shade than in previous years.