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455/4-Speed: 1973 Pontiac Firebird Formula

Even though I’m a confessed Ford man, I can’t help but feel a certain amount of admiration for some of the classic offerings produced by Pontiac. This was a company that was firmly focused on its performance heritage, and its demise in 2010 was a sad day for enthusiasts the world over. This 1973 Firebird Formula 455 is one of those classics, and it does need to be restored. However, its rust issues are limited, meaning that it has the makings of a straightforward project car. The Pontiac is located in Stoughton, Wisconsin, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. The auction is set to open at $8,500, but there have been no bids. There is also a BIN option at $10,500. While there has been no bidding action, 79 people are watching the listing.

If you are hunting for a project car, finding one that has spent most of its life in California is not a bad place to start. That is the story behind this Firebird, and it has survived with very few significant issues. The original Florentine Red paint is heavily baked, but that’s no real surprise. The floors have a healthy coating of surface corrosion on the underside, but they, along with the trunk pan and frame rails, are free from penetrating rust. Don’t think that you’ll be getting off scot-free here because there is some rust in the rear quarter panels. It is hard to be sure, but I believe that this could be addressed with patches rather than replacing the panels entirely. The filler panel also has damage, but a replacement is included in the sale. Most of the front panels have been replaced at some point, but it isn’t clear whether this was the result of accident damage. These panels are date correct, and they all appear to be in good condition, while the front valance is new. All of the glass is present, and because the windshield is badly cracked, the owner is throwing a good one in with the sale.

If the buyer was focused on getting the Formula back on the road ASAP, the interior could be used as it is. It isn’t perfect, and there will be a shopping list to compile if it is to be returned to its former glory. The fact that there is no carpet is a bonus because it affords us a clear look at the floors. Hmm, I can’t see much wrong with those. Thankfully, the interior hasn’t been hacked to pieces, although the original radio/8-track player has gone. The Trans Am gauge cluster is intact, while the dash and pad are immaculate. There are a couple of holes bored into the console, but I think these could be fixed by one of those plastic welding specialists.

I wish that I could tell you that this Formula was numbers-matching, but sadly, it isn’t. However, the VIN confirms that this is a genuine Formula 455, and the engine and transmission that are fitted to the car are date correct. That means that the engine bay still houses a 455ci V8, along with a 4-speed manual transmission, power steering, and power brakes. The car doesn’t currently run, and this is for an excellent reason. The crankshaft, pistons, and rods are all sitting in a box. These will need to be installed, so I can feel a rebuild coming on. Being the standard 455, it should be good for 250hp. This figure is down on the 310 that was available from the SD-455, but it is still enough to easily fire the Firebird through the ¼ mile in 15.1 seconds.

Yes, I admit that I am biased towards any car that wears a blue-oval badge, but I struggle to go past a Firebird from this era. I know that it is a matter of personal taste, but its styling was slightly sharper and cleaner than Chevrolet achieved with the Camaro. Park it beside a ’73 Mustang, and the differences are as extreme as night and day. This one is far from perfect, but it is even further away from being a lost cause. Tackling a classic pony car restoration project in a home workshop can be a daunting prospect, but this one must be close to the ideal candidate. It makes me wonder how long it will be before someone submits a bid or whether that person will choose to hit the BIN button. This could be one that is worth watching.


  1. Tooyoung4heyday Tooyoung4heyday Member

    Good bones to start with and very tempting being an hour from my house. Needs some work but nothing out of hand. Price is a bit high for what you’re getting but it should go to a new home. IMOPO second gens should have never received a vinyl top option. Like that it’s a 4 speed and also not just a Formula 350 but would do some cosmetic adjustments borrowed from the T/A both internal and external. Fix ‘er up!!

    Like 4
  2. Jerry

    Seller days its a California car…..if it is it lived on the coast with salt air! California cars dont have rust through holes in the rear quarters, I lived there for 33 years!

    Like 1
  3. Keith

    Once this car sees the dipper I am betting it is a whole different animal.This is a 5k car all day .

    Like 4
  4. Little_Cars

    Was the vinyl top molding screwed on? It’s missing on the passenger side which I could see adding a ton of rainwater down into the trunk, rear fender and quarter.

    Like 4
    • Keith

      Vinyl top had clips that fit onto studs on the quarters. Most people grind them off and don’t put the vinyl top back on.

      Like 3
      • Little_Cars

        Yep, I was trying to remember if it was rivets with spire clips, screws or studs. Looks like the owner of this car got half ‘way around and stopped.

        Like 1
  5. JERRY

    I LOVE the GM “F” body cars, one of the Best Looking sporty designs ever imop. My fav is the Firebird/Formula/TAs.
    Not as common as the Camaro and more deluxe interiors for most of them.
    Love the wheel styles of the Firebirds too! Honey Combs and the Rally wheels on this one r my favs.

    Like 0
  6. Steve Clinton

    6 hours left and no bids? Perhaps the seller should have had a starting bid of $85.00!

    Like 1
  7. Jerry

    Not running and engine in pieces is killing it……$8,500 is too high a starting bid in that shape with the body needing body work and paint and some interior work too.

    Like 0
  8. Jerry

    If u look at the detailed pics on ebay youll see a LOT of rust on the metal e-brake foot lever……flood car??

    Like 0
  9. Desert Rat

    You lost me at “Even though I’m a confessed Ford man”.

    Like 4

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