1979 PONTIAC FIREBIRD GETS A NEW NOSE
After the handsome ’77 and ’78 Trans Ams, the front end was changed after just 2 model years to a big, snarky-looking affair with big vents in the face of the front bumper and four square headlights, spaced apart and flaired into the slant nose. It made the front end look ponderous, long and heavy, certainly more than the graceful lines of the ’77-’78. Some people like it, many liked the earlier car better. But, like it or not, it stayed with the Firebird through the end of the 2nd-generation in 1981. Someone must have liked it because 1979 turned out to be the hottest-selling year for the Trans Am models EVER, before or since! They sold 116,535 Trans Ams…just Trans Ams. All the other Firebirds were in addition to that number.
1979 PONTIAC FIREBIRD ENGINES
The 400 V8 got a set of 6x-4 cylinder heads (borrowed from the 350) with smaller combustion chambers and better breathing that raised compression and horsepower to 220hp. The 400/403 option remained only through 1979. Pontiac’s own 400 V8 couldn’t pass smog in California, so they borrowed the 403 V8 from Oldsmobile, and labeled it a 400. By 1980, tightening smog regs forced Pontiac to drop all its large displacement V8s. The base engine for non-Trans Ams was (since 1977) the 3.8L (231ci) V6. Next up were two Chevy
V8s, a 5.0L (305ci) and a 5.7L (350ci), both small blocks. As far as V8s went, they were down to just one engine of their own, the 400, and it was very limited in its use. Out of the 4 V8s offered, 2 were Chevys and 1 was an Oldsmobile. The lines were about to blur even further in the near future.
1979 Pontiac Firebird INTERIORS
1979 PONTIAC FIREBIRD 10th ANNIVERSARY TRANS AM
1979 marked the 10th anniversary for the Trans Am line, launched in 1969. To commemorate it (read that: cash in on it), they built a limited edition 10th Anniversary Trans Am with 2-tone silver paint, silver leather interior and a huge hood decal that spilled over onto the front fenders. Of the 7,500 10th Anniversary T/As built, 1,817 of them had the 400 V8 with Borg Warner T-10 4-speed manual transmission. California cars got the Olds 403 with automatic. No matter where you lived, if you wanted an automatic in your Trans Am, you got the 403. The 400 with 4-speed got a rear axle ratio of 3.23, and 403-automatics got 2.73 gears.