1979 Firebird Interesting Facts
Fresh New Styling for the Last Time
The Firebird received new front and rear styling for 1979 for the last
time in the second generation. The new front fascia featured four
square headlamps inset into their own openings while the air intakes for
the radiator were moved to the lower bumper. The back end received
a full length tail lamp treatment with the license plate moved to the
lower bumper. On Formula and Trans Am the tail lamps were blacked
our appearing to be tail-lamp-less until the lights were lit.
The Tenth Anniversary Trans Am Edition
To commemorate the tenth year of the Trans Am (introduced in
1969) a special Tenth Anniversary Trans Am was offered in a limited
edition of 7500 units. This car came loaded with every available
option and some special features. The car was painted Platinum
Silver with a Charcoal Gray two tone and an oversized silver/gray bird
that extended onto the fenders. This bird was the largest graphic
made to that time. Like the special editions the car received
striping around all of the body features but in charcoal/red.
T-Tops with a special mirrored finish were unique to this vehicle.
Inside the Tenth Anniversary Trans Am featured specific silver leather
seats, the first and only time leather would be available on a second
generation Trans Am, embroidered birds in the door panel and center of
the rear seat, and thicker than normal silver carpet. The only
option that a buyer could choose was the standard Oldsmobile 403 (6.6
Liter) or the Pontiac W72 400 (TA-6.6). The wheels were also
specific to the Tenth Anniversary this year called the turbo wheel and
made by Appliance Wheels. These wheels would become available in
The Black and Gold Special Edition
The Black and Gold Special Edition continued for 1979 and the
Solar Gold Special Edition was dropped. The Black and Gold Special
Edition included T-Tops as in 1978 but the T-Tops could be deleted.
The Redbird Appearance Package (W68) was carried over from 1978. This all
red car featured a special red lower paint with Roman Red upper, red
interior, red custom seat belts, gold striping and emblems, a red
Formula steering wheel, gold engine-tuned instrument panel, and red cast
aluminum snowflake wheels.
New Trans Am Hood Birds
The new style of bird from the 1978 Solar Gold Trans Ams was
carried over unchanged for 1979 and three additional colors were added
in the same style: Blue, Orange, and Silver. New for 1979
you could order just about any combination of decal colors with and
exterior colors. Although Pontiac recommended some exterior and
interior color combinations the D60 Option, Color and Trim
Incompatibility Override, allowed any color combination to be ordered.
Some may or may not have been produced, i.e. a gold Trans Am with a Blue
bird, but one never knows.
The Rear Spoiler end caps were redesigned to match the lines of the rear
bumper. The Trans Am front spoiler grew larger making the car
appear lower. The front spoiler and rear wheel spats were designed
with more angles than curves, again giving the car a lower appearing
New Hobnail Cloth Custom Interior Option
The Lombardy custom cloth seats received a new insert material called
Hobnail. The new material featured interior matching hobnail dots
protruding from a darker background adding more texture to the luxurious
seats. This proved an extremely popular interior choice this year.
Four Wheel Brakes for the WS6 Suspension
Now that the Firebird reached significant production levels it
could now be offered with four wheel discs brakes. The four wheel
discs became part of the WS6 Performance Package for 1979 and was very
popular. When you order the W72 400 Engine you were required to
get the WS6 package so all 400/4 speeds for 1979 were equipped with four
wheel disc brakes. The 4 wheel disc brakes for Firebird were
unique to the line and were not derived from the Corvette 4 wheel disc
The WS7 Suspension
The Four Wheel Disc brakes included with the WS6 performance
option proved so popular the Pontiac could not meet the demand. So
that buyers could still order the upgraded suspension without the four
wheel disc brakes Pontiac introduced the WS7 Performance Package which
was basically a WS6 package without the rear disc brakes. Buyers
of the WS7 package still received larger sway bars, 8 inch aluminum
snowflake wheels, and 225/70R15 White Letter tires.
The Fisher Hatch Roof became the only T-Top available in 1979. The
Hurst hatches were now permanently gone.
The Trans Am was Standard with an Oldsmobile Engine
Although the Oldsmobile 403 was the standard engine for
California bound Trans Ams since 1977 it now became the standard engine
for all 1979 Trans Ams, although the Pontiac 400 and 301 were optional
(the latter a credit option). As the years progressed GM divisions
would mix and match engines in all GM cars for more efficient
operations, eventually leading to the Corporate engines of 1982 where GM
issued engines simply a GM engines. Oldsmobile engines are easily
identified by the large oil filler pipe protruding from the front of the
engine. When the Trans Am was equipped with the 403 the hood scoop
received 6.6 LITRE decals.
The First Small Block Trans Am
In 1979 for the first time a Trans Am was available with an
engine smaller that 400 cubic inches. The L37 Pontiac 301 was now
available as a credit option on Trans Am. Where the hood scoop
received 6.6. LITRE or T/A-6.6 decals for the 403 and 400 respectively
the 301 hood scoop came unadorned with any decal. This move
represented an overall trend in the industry as the demand for more
economical engines grew. In 1980 the largest engine available in a
Trans Am would become the 305 Chevy engine.
The last of the true Pontiac big blocks would be
installed in the 1979 Trans Am and Formula. The 400 production
plant had actually been converted to 301 and 4 cylinder production in
1978 but the plan was to hold 10,000 400 engines over for the 1979
model. As it turned out demand for the engine in 1978 was higher
than expected and only 8,672 were retained for 1979. Of these 346
were installed in Formulas, 1817 in Tenth Anniversary Trans Ams, 1107 in
Black and Gold Special Editions, 2917 in other T-Top equipped
Trans Ams, and 2485 in Hardtop Trans Ams. The Pontiac big block
received an appropriate send off in the 1979 Firebirds and marked the
end of an era. It Will Not Pass This Way Again was the
title of the article in Car And Driver for January 1979. The hood
scoop on the 400 equipped Trans Ams proudly called out T/A-6.6.
The TRANS AM decal reappeared on the front bumper in 1979 where
it had been missing in 1978. This time the decal appeared above
the lower grille and below the headlamps where previously it had always
been located on the top.
Formula Steering Wheel Colors
The Formula Steering wheel was now color keyed to the interior
appointment color where previously it had only been available in black
(except on the 1977/78 Skybird and 78 Redbird).