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1979 Facts and Interesting Notes
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 1980-81. 
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. 
Redbird
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 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. 
New Spoilers
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 stance.
New Standard Formula Treatment
For 1979 the Formula received a standard two tone appearance that closely resembled the W50 Formula Appearance Package except that the hood scoops body color, the lower doors do not read FORMULA, and the rear spoiler had the standard bird decal rather than the FORMULA decal.  The two tone lower was separated with stripes the same as the W50 Formulas but the stripe was broken on the rear of the front fenders where a small FORMULA decal was inserted.  This treatment would continue for 1980 after which it was dropped.  The rear spoiler was again an option on Formula where it had been standard in 77-78 but the W50 package included it.
New Hobnail Cloth Custom Interior
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 brakes. 
 
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.
 
Fisher Hatch Roof
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. 
W72 400
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.
Bumper Decal
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).