Black Plate 1968 Pontiac Firebird 400

I’ll tell you at the outset, for original condition, they don’t get much better than this 1968 Pontiac Firebird, located in San Bruno, California and available here on craigslist for $19,800. First Gen Chevrolet Camaros dominate in this pony car space but first Gen Firebirds are a lot rarer and this California black-plate example is an original and spectacular find. Thanks to Ikey H. for the tip!

To give some perspective, in 1968 there were about 235,000 Chevrolet Camaros produced compared to only about 107,000 Firebirds, less than half. And that is one of the reasons that they are not seen as often as the Camaro. They are the same basic 108” wheelbase, “F” body platform and Fisher Body greenhouse but beyond that, differences abound. Engines, differentials and some transmissions were not shared between the two and then there are the obvious sheet metal differences. And in the case of the Firebird, the distinctive “beak” bumper is front and center.

Examining the exterior, it looks very original with only two blemishes that I can observe, some surface rust behind the rear right wheel and perhaps a slight dent in the front left fender (it may just be the lighting and reflection, however). As for color, what else but Verdoro Green? It seems like every ’68 Pontiac wears this shade – obviously an exaggeration but it is very commonly found on ’68 models. It looks a bit faded, on the hood in particular, but what do you expect after 51 years? Being a life-long California car there’s a good chance that this Firebird is pretty sound in its sub-frame and floors, no word from the seller on that front.

Under the hood is Pontiac’s 400 CI V8 engine, yielding either 330 or 335 horsepower. The seller doesn’t elaborate and I believe the 335 HP version is the H.O. variety so this, based on the air cleaner, maybe the 330 HP variant. I’ll ask out Pontiac enthusiasts to comment on that matter. With this Pontiac, you get to row the gears as it is equipped with the preferred four-speed manual transmission. The seller tells us that it “runs perfectly with no issues.”

The interior is Pontiac all the way. I have always liked GM’s ‘60’s interiors and Pontiac’s in particular. It is clad in black vinyl or what Pontiac referred to as “Morrokide”. It’s tough stuff; the late auto writer from Popular Mechanics, Tom McCahill, use to say you could dump a load of firewood on it and haul it home and it would be none the worse. The driver’s seat is going to need some help as it is starting to split and the steering wheel is doing what ’68 GM steering wheels do, (Chevies have a huge problem with it) starting to crack. The carpet looks too original, more like it has been replaced but there is no reference to that, just my suspicion. Whatever the case, it presents itself really well.

This Firebird is very well documented with the broadcast sheet, Protect-o-Plate, purchase receipt, original California black-tag, and other items too. The seller claims that this barn find is an all matching numbers car but I have learned over the years that all matching numbers can be very extensive and probably not that significant in valuation though having the original engine, with the matching number, is good for value points. If you are a Pontiac guy or gal, you are really going to like this Firebird as is. If you’re not, it’s a nice alternative to the sea of first Gen Camaros available for sale. Depending on the original mileage (no word on that) I think it’s a reasonable buy at this price-point, what say you?

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Comments

  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Must have sold it. Ad was pulled. Nice car.

    Like 9
    • Steve R

      Second that. Cars tend to sell quickly when fairly priced.

      Steve R

      Like 8
  2. Warren

    Well, that didn’t last long. :) It looked very nice.

    Like 5
  3. JOHN Member

    All it needed was a set of Rally ll’s!

    Like 8
  4. Hans

    Bummer, appears to be no longer available. Really good deal – deluxe interior, 400, 4 speed! Would make a great weekend driver!

    Like 5
  5. OhU8one2

    Someone is going to have a Merry Christmas.

    Like 12
  6. Redwagon

    The front bumper and inserts are not from a 400. Engine bay looks right. Power brakes are a plus because most of these came with 4 wheel drum brakes. Interior is deluxe, intact door cards, no AC, worst steering column ever. I’ve never seen a 1st gen Firebird with those side stripes but I haven’t seen every one.

    Could be a 400 clone made from a 350. I would have checked the engine stampings.

    Like 4
  7. JOHN Member

    When you purchase, or sell a collectible Pontiac, Pontiac Historical Services (PHS) is your friend. It doesn’t take much to turn a Tempest into a Judge, and can be done convincingly and easily. If the car still has the original VIN intact, PHS will tell you exactly how it left the factory. If you are a seller, purchase and provide the PHS information, it is well worth it.

    Like 7
  8. John Oliveri

    Pontiac didn’t sell at the #s Chevy did cause they were the more expensive of the 2, See the USA in your Chevrolet was a big thing cause middle America is cheap, Pontiac was always a superior car look wise interior wise etc, Buick and Oldsmobile weren’t in the Camaro and Firebird game, I love my Pontiacs and always will

    Like 4
  9. Newell Roundy

    Finally!! I had hoped this was the one and then it’s gone??? Sad, it didn’t last long. Oh well…

    Like 1
  10. Mark Epperson Member

    Wow, this could be my 400 that I bought in 68 in California. Same color and options. I put mags on it and drove it for 6 years and then sold it to buy a 911. Boy, I wish I had seen this earlier. I thought the Firebird was better looking than the Camaro but I did like the styling of the first years of the Camaro.

    Merry Christmas all.

    Like 3
    • Miguel

      Mark, you don’t remember your plate number?

  11. George Mattar

    Why have a Camaro when you can jave this? Somebody got a great deal.

  12. Johnmloghry Johnmloghry Member

    Love me a Firebird 400. Owned a 69 back when they were new cars. Mine was canary yellow with black vinyl top. It had a turbo 400 trans. I put American Racing wheels on it. Street raced it all the time finally broadsiding a vw square-back that ran a stop sign. Both cars were totaled. Live and learn.

    God bless America

  13. Miguel

    I know it is petty, but the crooked front plate bothers me.

    Why would the bracket be bent like that. I would have looked for more damage under the front bumper.

    Like 1

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