The 1971 Pontiac Firebird, Formula & Trans Am
||Jeff Dunham's lucerne blue Trans Am is
a rare and exciting example of Firebird performance of this era. Jeff purchased the TA in
April of 1995 for a ridiculous sum of $2900. Pause while I recompose myself to continue
with this write-up. Ok now that I have finished feeling sorry for myself I'll continue.
The body was in great shape as you see here and the interior had just been refinished but
the price did not come without cost. Both the rear and the transmission were to go out
within a few months of buying the car. Both were rebuilt and the car has been on the road
ever since. The powerplant residing in the engine bay of this awesome Trans Am is the
standard engine of this year model, the 455HO. Jeff has rebuilt this too, including the
installation of a 4bbl Edelbrock carburetor, an Edelbrock intake manifold, headers, and an
electronic ignition and performance distributor. Jeff estimates the hp rating in the
neighborhood of 350.
The transmission is the factory original rebuilt Turbo-Hydramatic 400. On the inside you'll find a Hurst V-Matic ratchet shifter to help with shifting. The rebuilt rear end is a 3:90 posi-trac unit and the tires chosen to carry this bad bird down the road are Goodyear Eagle ST P255/60R15s. Other enhancements include the original Honeycomb rims, a new dual exhaust, new carpets and a new headliner, and newly recovered vinyl seats.
||Here's a gathering of power you don't
see everyday. The car in the middle of this trio is a '71 and is owned by Don Gottlieb.
Don was kind enough to send me these unique photos. Don's Trans Am is equipped with the
standard powerplant during '71, a 455HO. Its also equipped with the much desired 4-speed.
The Trans Am on the left is a rare '70 model equipped with a RAIV and a 4-speed. Its owned
by Bill Marulis. The Trans Am on the right is one of the low production Trans Ams built in
'72. Its equipped with a 455HO and an automatic tranny. Its also equipped with air
conditioning and has only clicked 15,700 miless off the odometer. This car too is owned by
||The 1971 year model was host to changes
that would mark the slow decline of horsepower numbers that would never recover. For
however PMD decided to add a new power plant to the lineup that would alleviate some of the
loss. The new engine, and strangely the only one offered was the 455HO. With a 8.4:1
compression the new LS5 provided 355bhp @ 3500rpm and 480lb-ft of torque.
Photos courtesy of Mark Allbaugh.
||These pics were sent to me by Mel
Hedrick. Mel owned this TA for a few years, performing a full restoration on it before
selling it in 1986. Mel writes:
"This Blue '71 455 HO automatic, was bought from the original owner for $300. The car was fully driveable and the only piece of original equipment that was missing was the shaker. (Some kids that had looked at the car the day before had come back that night and stolen it). The cars only option was the rear window blower-type defroster. After a 6 month restoration, the car was running 11.77 in the quarter with "very little" modifications. Matt Johnson of "Matt Johnson Performance Center stated "This car just shouldn't be running that fast with what has been done to it, it just shouldn't be possible." The car was a fluke. I performed a ground up resto on this car and not one item, piece, or part was untouched or not redone. I sold the car in 1986 during my divorce for $7500 and a '76 CJ5 390 Jeep."
||This Firebird Esprit is owned by Randy
Carrier. Randy writes:
"It is a totally rust free California car originally equipped with a 400 cubic inch 2 bbl. I have since changed the intake to a Pontiac 4bbl intake and a Holley 750 cfm vacuum secondary. I attempted to keep a quadrajet carb on it but kept having problems with vapor lock on warmer days. It has 140,000 miles and as far as I can tell it has never been overhauled or resealed. It does not burn or leak a drop of oil. It has a turbo 400 tranny, original a/c compressor that is still cold. It has off white comfort weave seats with brown carpet, dash and console. It originally came painted gold with black vinyl top but the previous owner changed it to verdero green. I am considering having it painted back the original color. I could not resist having the Ram air hood installed when I came across one but it is originally an Esprit. Although the vinyl top is in excellent condition I am tinkering with the idea of removing it and painting the enitre car Brewster green. Here in Louisiana, a vinyl top is inviting potential rust and I do not want to start that battle. I am currently constructing a garage for it and I look forward to driving it every chance I get."
This gold metallic Formula is owned by Scott Shafer. Scott writes:
"Formula 455 which has been completely restored. The motor has been internally balanced and blueprinted and dynos at 529 HP @ 5800 RPM. The car is a rare beast and one of 108 in existence. We took the car from nothing into what it is today. The car has been entered into 5 shows and has won 3 and placed in 2. All new interior with a gold metallic paint with 6 coats of clear make up this muscle car."
Susan Castelvecchi owns this awesome Formula. Susan writes:
"It was great finding your site. I have always liked the body style of the early 70's Firebird and Trans Am. I finally found one in great shape and I bought it quick!! It is a 1971 Formula 350 Firebird. I have only done very minor things to the car. I purchased it for $3000 with two sets of tires and wheels. It had the wheels in the attached photos on it and he gave me the original wheels. They need a little cleaning but they are in great shape. He also gave me the spoiler that goes on the front end. I purchased the car in early August and it had just under 90,000 miles on it. The interior is in excellent shape. It sounds great and runs great!!! I am trying to find the parts needed to fix the Ram Air back the way it came new. And I need to make a few minor adjustments to the front end and then I am going to get it a fresh new paint job, leaving it it's original color. I hope you like the attached photos. I Love my car and I am enjoying driving it. Why is it that everyone thinks that it belongs to my husband?? Can't a female have and drive a great looking car too??"
I certainly think so!!!
Susan recently sent me some new pics and info about her '71 Formula.
Since I sent in Pics of my 1971 Firebird and they were posted on your web site, I've had a lot of changes with my Firebirds. I was driving the 1971 for about 2 years, and nothing else. We did move to a new house and My Bird got a garage to live in, but I was putting on lots of miles. So naturally I needed a newer car to drive daily. So what else could I purchase but a new Firebird? So, I purchased a 1999 Firebird. It isn't exactly what I wanted, I couldn't find what I wanted. I wanted a 5 speed, Formula, I got an automatic and no Formula, I did get the T-tops. I purchased it used last June and it is a great car to drive every day. I pull out the 71 on nice days and drive it, because I miss driving it. Both birds share the garage, so that is my Bird Garage. When we moved we had the house built with 2 garages, one 2 car and one 4 car garage. In our car collection we now have 10 cars, 4 are Birds."
Susan also owns a silver 1999 Firebird that can be seen in 1999 Firebirds Lot#1 and a tan '71 Firebird that can be seen in Project Firebirds Lot#3.
Jodie ??? owns this bright red Firebird. Jodie writes:
"This is my 1971 Firebird, it is every sweet, I got it for my 30th birthday from my husband. It has a 350 bored 0. 30 over, Crager rims, not anything special inside but it can Fly!!! I still have alot of stuff I would like to do to it, but right now I just want to enjoy it befor it snows."
Thank you, Jodie
Todd Becker owns this amazing Trans Am. Check out the very cool, blue fender
vents and the Foilers (hint: spoilers behind the wheels)!! Todd writes:
"The story on this '71 T/A is it was bought new in the Los Angeles area and was purchased new by Gary Thompson. Car was ordered with the 4 speed, console, 8 track, Rally II's, trim rings, white T/A floor mats and my favorite option the deluxe interior. No air so he had it put in by the dealer. Gary did a little custom work to the exhaust, wheel flairs and added some decals and he then pampered the car for 40,000 miles. Gary then decided to sell it, this was in 1993. He sold it to a couple that lived in Upland California and the wife used it for a daily driver! Wow they put almost 20,000 miles on the car and did some restoration along the way. The earthquake that came later in the 90's forced them to sell to Todd Becker (me). Todd lives in Bismarck, ND and was looking for an original 70-72 T/A. In fact Todd was searching the classifieds for a few years before he found this 90% original, unrestored Trans Am for sale in the fall of 1997 Hemming. He bought the car just from a few photos that were mailed to him. With this car came extremely well documented history....even oil changes! Gary Thompson's protect-o-plate is there as is the original owners manual. This great T/A has the original carpet, interior, decals, and 80% original paint. Todd likes the way the car looks with the blue fender air extractors. The rear wheel well flairs that were added by the dealer protect the paint from rock chips. The best sports car of all time, period.
Recently Gary Thompson has been calling Todd and wanting his "baby" back. Well this is such a great car and I can understand Gary wanting his car back. Todd will let Gary have the car back as long as Todd gets first chance at buying it back again. In the meantime Todd will search for a blue T/A like he sees pictured on this great web site. My email address is firstname.lastname@example.org, please feel free to contact me about these great cars."
This spectacular, restored Trans Am is owned by Jeffrey Dickson. Check out
the 18" and 20" wheels!!! Jeffrey writes:
"I am sending pics of my 1971 concours Trans Am. Its been completely restored with 18" Budnik wheels in front and 20" in the rear. The car was also lowered 1". Doug's headers, Edelbrock aluminum heads and intake manifold, bored .030" over, 3" flowmaster exhaust. My very FIRST car when I was 16 was a 1971 T/A. I have been searching for a T/A like it for years. Found this one owner car in Michigan with only 67K miles on it. Spent over 8 months on a full frame off restoration. Almost every part on the car was replaced with new parts. It is better than brand new."