Spotter's Guide Hood Bird Guide Color Guide

1978 Firebirds

Firebird appeared mostly unchanged for 1978 with minor updates including new graphics for Trans Am and a redesigned custom interior. Trans Am's (except Black Special Editions) got new letterring all around and a new hood bird was designed for exclusive use on Solar Gold Trans Ams, including the new Y88 Gold Special Edition. Originally this new Special Edition replaced the Black Special Editions of 1977 but paint matching problems caused Pontiac to bring the Black SE back. All the striping from the Black Special Editions was there on the Gold Edition in a darker shape of gold. Gold accented grille lining, gold dash and shifter bezels, and a new gold Pontiac emblem on the nose (the Black Special Editions were red) accented this spectacular new car. The hood bird, also used on non_special Edition Gold Trans Ams, was a larger 5 color bird design that would prove amazingly popular on later Trans Ams. Even the T-Tops (standard on Gold SE) was gold tinted, a one year unique feature. For Esprit the Skybird package featuring an all blue car with dark blue accents was carried over but would be replaced mid year by a Redbird Appearance package. As you may have guessed the Redbird would feature a red exterior and interior but with gold accents.

1978 Firebird Esprit Skybird
The big news in the engine compartment for 1978 was uprating of the W72 available in Trans Am and Formula to 220hp from last year's 200. This would be the last year that the Pontiac big block would be produced. It was planned to save 10,000 for use in 1979 models but due to high demand only 8600 or so were left over. The Pontiac 301 was removed from the option list and the Pontiac 350 was now gone forever and the Oldsmobile 350 was dropped in favor of a Chevrolet 350 that would be ooptional in Base Firebird, Eprit, and Formula. The standard engine for Base Firebird and Esprit continued to be the LD5 Buick 231 cid V-6 with the LG3 Chevrolet 305 and LM1 Chevrolet 350 optional. The standard Formula engine was the LG3 Chevy 305 with the LM1 350 and both Pontiac 400's optional (the Trans Am's standard L78 400 and the W72 version). Trans Am would have a standard 400 for the last time with the L78 180hp version as standard and the venerable W72 optional. Neither 400 was available in California so the Oldsmobile L80 403cid was standard in Trans Am, optional in Formula.

Base Firebird
New options for '78 included a second type of T-Top made by GM's Fisher Body division. These were larger than the Hurst Hatches and can be identified easly as the panel continues the window line on the C pillar. Buyers could not choose which T-Top they wanted so the only way to insure you got the Fisher tops was to order the Solar Gold Special Edition whick only came with Fishers. For Formula and Trans Am the legendary WS6 suspension package debuted this year with larger sway bars and larger 8 inch snowflake wheels replacing the standard 7 inch design. A new assortment of radios was offerred this year and new Controlled Cycle Windshield Wipers that could be set to rest between wipes.

To identify a 1978 Firebird from its nearly identical '77 sibling you have simply to look at the grille. The grille design was a diagonal cross hatch replacing the honeycomb design of 1977. Firebirds with custom interiors had square sections inset in the backrest where '77's had a round horsecollar shape. All Trans Am's except Black Special Editions had new block style lettering calling out TRANS AM on the fenders and rear spoiler.

1978 Grille with new cross hatch design

1978 Production Numbers

Firebird (Base) 32,671
Esprit 36,926
Formula 24,346
Trans Am 93,341
Total 187,287

1978 Formula Production

Transmission
Manual Automatic Total
LG5 305 and LM1 350 16,978
L78 400 cid 3,765
L80 403 cid - - 1,909
L78/W72 400 cid 1,694
All Engines - - 24,346

1978 Trans Am Production

Transmission
Engine Option Manual Automatic Total
Trans Am Non-SE
L78 400 (incl W72) 10,889 61,174 72,063
L80 403 - 8,969 8,969
Trans Am Black SE (Y82)*
Y82s were Black and Gold Special Editions built in Norwood OH
L78 400 (incl W72) 489 2,856 3,345
Trans Am Black SE (Y84)*
All Y84s were Black and Gold Special Editions built in Van Nuys, CA
L78 400 (incl W72) 20 68 88
L80 403 - 210 210
Trans Am Gold SE (Y88)
L78 400 (incl W72) 1,267 6,519 7,786
L80 403 - 880 880
Total 12,665 80,676 93,341

1978 Trans Am Misc Production

Transmission
Trim Manual Automatic Total
Trans Am Black SE Total 509 2,924 3,643
    Black SE with Hurst Hatches - - 3,345
    Black SE with Fisher T-Top - - 298
Trans Am Gold SE Y88 1,267 7,399 8,666
W72 220Hp Option 12,692 20,500 33,192

1978 Firebird Optional Equipment

OptionTotalPercent
V-8 Engine173,69092.7*
6 Cylinder Engine13,5957.3*
Transmission-Automatic167,64289.5*
Transmission-4 Speed18,0219.6*
Transmission-3 Speed1,621***0.9*
Power Brakes185,223**98.9*
Front Wheel Disc Brakes187,284**100.0*
Limited Slip Differential100,759**53.8*
Power Steering187,28441.0*
Power Windows76,87841.0*
Air Conditioning153,14781.8*
Adjustable Steering Column111,35959.5*
Vinyl Roof2,863
Cruise Control45,94524.5*
Radial Tires187,284**100.0*

What else was happening in 1978

YMCA by the Village People hits #1 on the Billboard's top hts.
Mork and Mindy on television
Grease opens in movie theaters
Jim Jones's followers commit mass suicide in Jonestown, Guyana
Sony introduces the Walkman, the first portable stereo.
Dawn of the Dead debuts
Burt Reynolds drives another Trans Am in Hooper
Visicalc, the first computer spreadsheet is invented
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.