54K Mile: 1979 Pontiac Firebird Formula

This is another nice find by Pat L and it is located in Bristol, Connecticut. It is a 1979 Pontiac Formula painted in white with a red hobnail interior. The car is reported to only have 54,000 miles on the odometer and has recently had an engine swap. The Formula is listed for sale here on Craigslist for $21,995 but the seller is open to reasonable offers. Starting in 1970, Pontiac offered multiple models of the Firebird which started with the base Firebird and moved up through the Esprit, Formula and Trans Am.

The red interior on this car looks immaculate. It was optioned from the factory with the deluxe rather than the base interior. The deluxe interior came with upgraded seats and door panels. This car also has air conditioning, automatic transmission, power windows, AM-FM Cassette radio and a rear window defogger. In addition, the Formula has factory T-tops. The owner has added an aftermarket tachometer added to the steering column and gauges under the passenger dash. A B&M automatic transmission shifter replaces the factory shifter.

Approximately 2,000 miles ago, the engine was replaced with a Chevrolet 350 cubic inch V8 crate motor (5.7 liter). During the conversion, headers, an Edelbrock intake and carburetor, and a 3:73 rear gearing change were installed. The base engine in the 1979 Formula was the 301 cubic inch V8 engine (4.9 liter) . This engine came with either a 3-speed automatic or 4-speed manual transmission and was rated at 155 horsepower. If more performance was desired, the next step up the food chain was an Oldsmobile 403 cubic inch V8 engine (6.6 liter) which was only available with an automatic transmission and produced 185 horsepower. It probably took a lot of luck or having connections but a buyer could also order the optional W72 400 cubic inch Pontiac engine which produced 220 horsepower and only came with a 4-speed manual transmission and the WS6 performance suspension in 1979. According to John Witzke, only 364 400 cubic inch V8 W72 Formulas were produced in 1979.

This car has some added decals behind the front wheels and “eye” decals on the front nose. I think these cars look good without a rear spoiler. I own a 1979 Pontiac Formula and it originally came without a rear spoiler but a prior owner added it. This Formula rides on aftermarket tires and the standard 15×7 Pontiac Rally II rims. If the engine conversion was done well, this should be a nice cruiser and fun car to own.


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  1. 8banger 8banger Member

    The 305 would technically be a 5.0, with the venerable 350 being a 5.7…

    Like 4
    • 8banger 8banger Member

      Well, its valve cover does say 350…

      Like 2
    • Mikefromthehammer

      The original engine was a Pontiac 301 not a 305, so 4.9 is correct.

      Like 7
  2. Moparman Member

    Really looks nice, but naked without the rear spoiler. GLWTS!! :-)

    Like 14
  3. Stephen Miklos

    Nice looking bird! With that 350 replacement it puts out a base of 300 horsepower. So with the headers,intake and carb it’s going north of 300. Also what’s nice nobody would know you have a strong engine under the hood!😊 Untill you light it up! Good luck to the next owner! 🐻🇺🇸

    Like 6
  4. Bick Banter

    The engine swap was probably for the best. The 301 was a real dog. Woof woof woof woof LOL! A quick fix to EPA requirements until we figured out fuel injection and electronic engine management. I agree it looks bucknaked without the spoiler. That’d have to be an instant add.

    Like 9
  5. Matt Chrz

    Prefect! Looks real clean!

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