1973 PONTIAC FIREBIRD SQUEAKS BY ONE MORE YEAR
By 1973, not only was horsepower sinking fast, but ever-stricter crash-safety laws were forcing manufacturers to adopt some gawdawful-ugly designs to comply. Clever engineering and extra bracing got both the Camaro and the Firebird to pass the new 1973 frontal impact standards without completely redesigning the front end, as was required on the Corvette. But they only forestalled it one more year, as the 1974 Firebird would grow a very ungainly ‘shovel nose’ in order to cover the newly-required 5 mph telescoping front bumper system. That makes 1973 the last year of the original, elegantly beautiful design of the early 2nd-gen cars. And the look changed very little from the 1972 model year, with only minor trim and detail changes.
1973 PONTIAC FIREBIRD GETS THE SUPER DUTY 455
New for ’73 was the option of a Super Duty 455 or SD-455, which had a strengthened block, 4-bolt mains, forged rods and pistons, and high flow heads. But with the mild cams and low compression (7.9:1) required to meet tightening emissions regs, it still only made 290hp. It begs one to ask why they needed all that block-strengthening. Even the hood scoops were non-functional. All that being said, they were still good for a high-14 second run through the quarter at around 98mph. Besides the SD-455, the base engine was the 250ci 6-cylinder, then a 350 V8 followed by 3 versions of the 455, the top one being the Super Duty. Gone was the 400 V8 option. And as was par for the course in 1973, all the engines were feeling the effects of ‘smog-dogging’.