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Ram Air Muscle! 1971 Pontiac Firebird Formula

Excitement over the Firebird was still flying high at Pontiac in 1971, with the company offering four different models of the car that year including the base Firebird, the more luxurious Esprit, the sporty Formula, and the top of the food chain Trans Am. As the ’71 Pontiac sales brochure put it, “One sports car can’t fill the needs of all sports car drivers, so every Firebird has an assigned task”.  Fun times in the auto world indeed, and if you’re yearning for an early seventies F-Body this 1971 Pontiac Firebird Formula might be right up your alley.  The car is located in Forest, Virginia, and can be spotted here on eBay with bidding currently sitting at $27,075.

My first thought upon seeing the Formula was one of pleasure over how good the car looks, with my second thought being how much I’d like to have seen a little more information listed about it, as we aren’t given a whole lot of details about the car’s past or how long the seller has owned it himself.  We do find out that the paint job is apparently 21 years old, and given the age and appearance of the finish it’s a strong testament that the car has been treated well for at least the last two decades.  The car is stated to be rust and accident-free, and I’m not seeing any unusual body gaps or fits that would indicate otherwise.  Plus I’ve been a fan of Cragar S/S wheels since I was a kid and find them right at home on this Formula, although I’m not quite as keen on the Trans Am decals.

Under the Ram Air hood is a 400 that the seller claims to have been stroked to 408, but the only detail he really shares with us about the motor is that it sounds incredible.  While I’m confident the exhaust makes noises like ear candy, we aren’t told if this is still the factory engine that came in the car or any other specifics about it.  The car is also said to have an all-new drivetrain, with the rear end stated to be a positraction with 3.73 gears, but nothing is mentioned about the transmission.  Hopefully, the all-new drivetrain pertains to the trany as well, but whether or not it’s the refurbished original part is uncertain.

Things inside are described as nearly perfect, with no rips or tears present, and I’m hoping the dash cover is just for protection and not hiding something.  Everything we can see in there does look really good, and even the weather stripping around the doors appears to be nicely preserved.  The seller says his Firebird is a fun, clean, and dependable car, and it sure appears to be a well-cared-for example.  One other interesting note here- when I first looked at this car yesterday, there was also a buy-it-now option for the price of $35k.  That immediate gratification button has now been removed, plus the bidding has also increased by about $5k over the last 20 hours, so maybe the seller is optimistic that the high bid will go beyond 35 grand.  How much would you be willing to pay for the 1971 Pontiac Firebird Formula you see here?


  1. Cadmanls Member

    If you start with 400 ci how do you stroke the crankshaft 8 ci ??? That is what the term refers to, increasing the stroke of the crankshaft. More than likely this engine has been treated to a 30 thousands overbore. Don’t know if you can cut .040 out and then find pistons. That would get you to roughly 408 but it’s not stroked so flipper has no idea what they are selling. Mike shame on you too.

    Like 21
  2. alphasud Member

    It is a good looking car. Seller is not doing it justice with a lack of good photos and a better description. Rebuilt 400 running cast manifolds suggest to me a stock rebuild with maybe a little cam in it.

    Like 5
  3. Cadmanls Member

    Corrections made, good job Mike. As for the car I like the Formula model. This car as many others the AC gets ripped out and nobody takes the time to put it back in place. The weight doesn’t justify pulling it off. More of careless repair. Had a 69 Model J I couldn’t get to, needed a valve job and control arms. Guy I sold it to pulled off the working AC and pitched it. Asked him why, too hard to work around. What??

    Like 12
    • Porkchop

      This also drives me nuts. I won’t buy a non-A/C car. I’m not paying top dollar for a car and then sweat 6 months out of the year and can’t see out the windshield in the mornings the other 6 months.

      Like 7
  4. CCFisher

    No mention from the author about the Trans Am conversion? Seems like that would be a major discussion point.

    Like 8
    • ChiTownJeff

      The Trans Am conversion makes it less desirable, in my opinion. I generally prefer the Formula over the T/A because it isn’t so flamboyant.

      Like 4
  5. Paul Staskowski

    FYI – Per the VIN, this car started as an Esprit. Which makes sense since it doesn’t have the gauge package or air cleaner that a Formula would have. Somebody once upon a time took an Esprit and slapped a Formula hood on it and put on Trans Am graphics.

    Like 32
    • gbvette62

      You are correct, this car was never a Formula. Beyond the Esprit VIN, real 71 Formula’s are easy to identify by the fake, rectangular fender vent installed on each front fender, just above the Formula badge. This car has neither the vent nor badges. But the Formula did not come with the gauge package, it was only standard on the TA, and was optional on all other Firebirds, including the Formula. Even without the correct air cleaner, I doubt this car has a functioning Formula ram air hood on it, and instead probably just has the standard Formula hood with the blocked off scoop openings.

      I’ve always been a fan of the 70-81 Firebird’s (and Camaro’s too), but the Esprit/Trans Am/Formula miss mash of this one does nothing for me. And unlike the author, I think Cragers look out of place on this car and any second gen GM F body.

      Like 21
      • Donnie L Sears

        I have neve been a fan of Cragers. To me the factory mags sit the cars off better.

        Like 9
      • CCFisher

        Pontiac had some the best factory wheels – 8-lug, Rally II, honeycomb, and snowflake. Why would anybody need to put aftermarket wheels on a Firebird like this?

        Like 17
      • FordGuy1972 FordGuy1972 Member

        I’ve never cared for Cragers either because everybody and his mother had them back in the day. They were as common as muck. I prefer the less common wheels which is why I put chrome reverse wheels with baby moon hubcaps on my ’72 Galaxie 500.

        Like 3
  6. Mainer

    There is a 1977 black base firebird with
    cragers on it sitting outside a house in
    Maine. Never seen it running,
    but it sure is fine looking front yard art.
    Not sure I like this one so much.

    Like 2
  7. Houseofhotrods

    Looks like it’s either been sold or listing expired as of this morning.

    Like 1
  8. SteVen

    “This listing was ended by the seller because the item was lost or broken.”
    Wonder what happened.
    I would suggest the seller be clear that this is a Firebird Esprit that has been modified with a combination of Formula and Trans Am appearance items plus major mechanical improvements.
    Seems like a pretty cool second life for a humble Esprit.

    Like 3
  9. JC

    “This listing was ended by the seller because the item was lost or broken”. Uh, ok….lol.

    Like 5

      One of two things probably happened.

      1) Someone got with the seller and made them an offer they could not refuse. So the car was sold off ebay.

      2) The seller found out that there are a lot of problems with his description of the car, possibly learning about those problems from this very site.

      Like 2
  10. Ken Vrana Member

    When I bought my first car it was almost a white Firebird. That day I put a deposit on it at the dealership in Maryland but on the way home I saw a dealership full of AAR’s (Bob Banning Chrysler/Plymouth) and that was it. I immediately made a U-turn and went back to the Pontiac dealership and asked for my deposit. At first, they wouldn’t give it to me but I pressed and eventually, they did. I immediately returned and bought a yellow AAR. For the last 40 years I’ve owned a red one and just put it up for sale on e-byt. It killed me but we had to do it for health reasons, I suffer from some pretty serious depression but that’s a story for another day. It is particularly rare because it had a bench front seat. Perfect for ‘dates’ with your wife. Is there a place on Barn Finds I can post this? I want it to go to a loving home.

    Like 0
  11. RMac

    Oh man I just hate it when I lose my Firebird now where was the last place I rennet having it

    Like 1
  12. RMac

    Remember having it not rennet duh 🙄

    Like 1
  13. ronald

    I was born in 83, I’ve owned and rebuilt 4 78-81 t/a’s that had stock pontiac 400 motors and Olds 403’s in them. the 400 alone is a desirable motor but very easy to over heat when doing any modifications. alot on this car shown screams its no 35k$ car but realistically it is a very nice car, I would expect the glove door to be better matching aswell as the consol lid, those are not impossible to get. it is a conversion car. not a true ta so with that said this thing would have to be original to the build stickers of day 1 to even come close to that 35k price. there is the bondo search and rust search that lay ahead. the car itself is still and always will be the king of the road though based on price vs power as long as 8 miles to the gallon doesn’t make you shake.

    Like 1
  14. Dave Regney

    Funny that I just ran across this. I’ve been looking for a RA 400 formula. I messaged the seller last night with a few questions ( cars on FB marketplace and in same town ). Asked if he had the PHS documents on the car – answered quickly as YES. I’m no stranger to ponchos as I’ve restored 3 of them. Started looking closer at pics and some things didn’t add up. sent another question I asked if he had the RA air cleaner, if the hood still had the RA ducts , why didn’t he have the fender vents and if he was mistaken on the car being stroked and did he mean bored .30 over. He never replied back so I sent another question asking if I could look at it this weekend , promptly replied it sold this morning. Never got the vin but after seeing this he’s trying to pass it off to an uninformed buyer.

    Like 2

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