Classic Auto Mall
6180 Morgantown Road
1979 Pontiac Firebird Esprit
The second-generation debut of the Firebird for the 1970 model year was delayed until February 26, 1970, because of tooling and engineering problems; thus, its popular designation as a 1970 model, while leftover 1969s were listed in early Pontiac literature without a model-year identification. This generation of Firebirds were available in coupe form only; after the 1969 model year, convertibles were not available until 1989. Replacing the "Coke bottle" styling was a more "swoopy" body style, while still retaining some traditional elements. The top of the rear window line went almost straight down to the lip of the trunk lid. The new design was initially characterized by a large B-pillar, until 1975 when the rear window was enlarged. Originally, the "wraparound" style window that occupied more of the b-pillar was initially supposed to be the design, but problems with the glue and sealing the rear window led to the flat style window being used until the re-designed body in 1975. This style became the look that was to epitomize the F-body styling for the longest period during the Firebird's lifetime.
For consignment, a 1979 version of the Firebird, non T topped and no huge hood screaming chicken, but with the Esprit package (a mid level trim package for buyers who liked the styling of the Trans Am but didn't need the performance), from Pontiac. This car has undergone an amateur restoration on the body and interior and the drivetrain was professionally rebuilt.
A respray of code 11, Cameo White bathes the exterior of this racy looking car. It will stand out in a crowd thanks in part to the rear spoiler borrowed from the Trans AM line, the Esprit badging, and blue body side protective molding. Twin headlights sit within the new for '79 neoprene nose with twin air scoops below all of which presents with minimal wear The back is more racy with the rear spoiler and red horizontal bar panel to house the taillights. Another white neoprene bumper is hanging on the bottom and shows with some chipping of the paint. The long flat hood up front leads back to the airy greenhouse of a passenger's compartment, sans T tops but complete with a blue tape stripe that starts at each fender and wraps up over the roof complete with a small screaming chicken on the B-pillars. 15" Pontiac Rally II wheels, wrapped in raised white letter BF Goodrich radials adorn the corners and give some extra pop to the sleek body.
Upon swinging the long doors we are met with the light blue colored vinyl door panels which are showing a side view mirror toggle as well as the chrome window crank and door release as well as soiling and color rub off particularly on the arm rests. Moving inside we are greeted with high back buckets in front and a 2 plus 2 bench for the back. These are covered in light blue custom vinyl with smooth bolsters. Some wear is noted on the cushions as well as a few split seams with the majority of the wear on the driver's seat. A light console shoots forward between the buckets and houses a glovebox with a well-worn lid and the shift lever. As it rises it meets an ash receptacle and Jensen AM/FM/Cassette stereo. The original dark wood applique dash that houses black faced original gauges, plenty of them as well all in circle form and even a factory clock is seen on drivers left. Air-conditioning, a multitude of gauges, and radial tuned suspension call out...What more could you want? Oh, I know, read on!
Under the hood is a rebuilt 231ci V6 courtesy of Buick. It has a single 2-barrel carburetor on top and a rebuilt TH350 3-speed automatic on back. A 10-bolt 2.56 rear axle spins the tires. This engine bay is unrestored and all original, showing some nice patina throughout.
A mix of some light surface rust throughout along with invasive rust noted in the bottoms of the fenders and with repair work to the front of the left rear unibody rail is seen. Independent coil spring suspension in front and leaf springs in back. Power disc brakes are upfront, and power drums on back. A single exhaust with a rust perforated intermediate pipe is noted and needs to be replaced.
As I slipped in for my test drive I buckled myself firmly in the sea of blue and was off. Slower than expected but adequate acceleration from the V6 and smooth shifting from the TH350 was noted. Bias free panic stopping, and all functions were in working order save for the A/C blowing warm, the one rear speaker not working and the window winders were a bit stiff to crank.
A mid-level trim package commuter version of the Firebird with a few notable frowns, not a muscle car per say but maintaining all the styling cues of its big brother. One look and you'll be in Firebird heaven, well actually in the west hallway of the Classic Automatic's Malls hallowed halls.
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