Clean Survivor: 1977 Pontiac Firebird Formula 400

While the Trans Am was the most prominent and easily recognizable of the Firebird range by the mid-1970s, the Formula remained in its shadows. Still, it was possible to tick the right boxes on the options sheet and to transform a humble Formula into a bit of a wolf in sheep’s clothing. That’s what the original owner chose to do with this particular car, and it has transformed the car into a nice piece of machinery by the standards of the day. The spotlessly clean Firebird is located in Butler, Pennsylvania, and is listed for sale here on Craigslist. The asking price for this clean looking Formula has been set at $13,500 OBO.

The photos that the owner supplies really don’t do justice to the Firebird, but we’ll just muddle through with what we have. The original owner treated the Firebird to a repaint in its original Nautilus Blue some years ago, and it still presents nicely today. The current (3rd) owner noticed that when this work was done some of the graphics and decals had not been applied to the car, so has rectified this. The car looks really clean, and the owner says that there are no rust problems with the car. The Rally II wheels and trim rings appear to be in nice condition, while the original Soft Ray tinted glass also looks good.

Being a Formula rather than a Trans Am, the Firebird misses out on the machine-turned dash, but it well and truly makes up for this with the general condition of the interior trim. The blue upholstery looks to be in good condition, as does the carpet, dash, and pad. The Formula has been fitted with an aftermarket 8-track player, but this is quite a neat looking installation. The original factory speakers had deteriorated quite badly, so these have also been replaced. The original owner went through the options list when he ordered this car, and as a result, the car is nicely equipped. There is factory air conditioning, a Formula wheel with tilt, Rally Pack gauges with the tach and clock, power windows, power trunk release, rear defroster, and cruise control.

As I said before, the Formula could be transformed into a T/A in all bar name, and that is what the original owner chose to do with this car. That means that under the hood you will find the W72, 400ci V8 engine, producing 200hp. Sending the power to the Safe-T-Track rear end is the job of a Turbo Hydramatic transmission. The owner states that the Firebird has a genuine 47,500 miles on the odometer, but doesn’t mention whether he has any documentation to back this claim. What he does hold is the documentation supplied by the PHS. The owner says that the car has recently been fitted with a new dual exhaust, but makes no mention about how well the car runs and drives.

This 1977 Firebird Formula is a car that presents nicely and seems to be in better than average condition. The original owner ticked a lot of the right boxes when ordering the car, which means that the car comes nicely equipped. While the Trans Am, especially finished in black and gold, became a 1970s icon, the Formula managed to slip under the radar. Pricing on these have remained relatively flat over the past 3-years or so, but if this car is as good as it seems to be on paper, then its pricing is actually quite competitive. It also looks like it is a classic car that is ready to be driven and enjoyed immediately, and that idea does hold a lot of attraction for many people.


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  1. Steve R

    Nice car at a reasonable price. It should sell quickly.

    It’s surprising, a seller actually includes pictures of the paperwork in the ad, who would have thought that’s a good idea?

    Steve R

    Like 5
    • Rosco

      But no paperwork or mileage documentation. That would have been a good idea, as well as a little engine compartment detailing.

      Like 3
      • Steve R

        The ad includes paperwork, a copy of the window sticker and the owners manual are shown. I realize there is no documentation to back up mileage, that’s why I didn’t mention it. However, this is one of the few cars to appear on this site with claimed low mileage, that actually looks like it could be true.

        Steve R

        Like 4
    • Otis

      Great looking Firebird Formula, but mileage documentation a must when trying to sell and verify a low mile car. Build sheet is great, but owners manual and accompanying manuals really aren’t anything special.

      Like 2
      • Frank Y Member

        Hi Otis thanks for the comment. When I took the photos for some reason I omitted a paper that came with the car from Montgomery ward where the Dealer or buyer took the car for “inspection” and it lists mileage as “99”.
        The clear title also the the current mileage when I got it registered as true. And not Exempt. Hope that helps clarify a bit.

  2. Redwagon

    1977? No thanks. 1973? Yes. Amazing what a difference 4 years makes.

    Like 1
    • Tom Member

      70-71 even better!! Nice car. Always liked this front end. No HP. If it were a 4 sp I might think twice. Nice car for the price. Not a fan of the stripes.

      Like 3
  3. rpol35

    Greatly prefer this to the over-wrought Trans-Am. Apparently most didn’t, however, as I rarely see a Formula like this for sale. Great condition!

    Like 5
    • David Ulrey

      I’m with you on your thoughts about preferring a Formula like this over a Trans Am of the same year. I do like like the Trans Am of this year but frankly I’m sick of seeing them. Used to love Grand National’s with the turbo also but I’ve seen so many recently I don’t even click on them to open them anymore. This Formula is a refreshing change of pace.

  4. local_sheriff

    It’s amazing how many ‘wrongs’ people find when a car this nice pops up.Wrong engine,color,transmission,year etc. I’m sure if striping was missing or car was gold someone would still nag,actually I’m surprised no one hasn’t complained about it not having a T-top(so that someone could complain about it leaking).

    Personally I’m not the biggest fan of blue cars – however I’ve come to a point realizing that when someone is looking for 40+ years cars one cannot expect everything to be spec’d as per one’s liking. Before someone chimes in to arrest me for naggin’ too, I’ll say the 1977 Nautilus Blue (code 29) is a color that presents much,much better IRL than on pics. To my knowledge it’s also a one year only color making it kinda unique.

    While this Firebird may not be the hottest of the species I think it seems to be a well-preserved example that will perform well and carry any gearhead in style for not senseless amounts of cash

    Like 13
  5. Miguel

    I have always like the understated Formula to the Trans Am.

    This is a great looking car at a fraction of the trans Am price.

    Like 6
  6. Bill K

    Not sure why you would go through the trouble of adding the graphics but leave off the rear hood (and edge of fender) chrome molding. You can see where the door molding ends and should mate up with the fender/hood molding. Odd. Also, the inside photo does not show the rain gutter molding but the outside photo does. Obviously, these photos were taken at different times.

    Like 1
    • RH

      Great eye in noticing those things Bill. Car looks clean, but seller may want to make sure all photos are current!

      Like 1
    • Frank Y Member

      Hi Bill you are correct the only trim missing is the hood trim I did not get to procurement yet as I concentrated on the D98 graphic and other things first. It’s on the list of it doesn’t sell. Hope that clarification helps. the passenger side window moulding was aftermarket ( the plastic ones from F Body) and is in the trunk and it came off in the heat while under the car cover. The drivers side stayed on.

      • Little_Cars

        Hated that aspect of my 76…the Firebirds got plastic gutter moldings while the Camaro got metal IIRC. Hey, Frank, as a fellow 77 Formula restorer (years ago) didn’t the side of the front fender graphic supersede the little chrome trim with “400” or “Formula 400”?

      • Frank y Member

        I believe the chrome emblems were part of the 77. However the more I look or do some research I think the emblems are wrong. I think they should be chrome Firebird. Not Formula emblems. Because presently it’s Formula 400 above the Formula emblem. And that does not seem correct. The emblem placing came from PHS document
        If all that makes sense.

  7. John Oliveri

    Rockford, or for people who live under a rock or think Kanye West is talented, James Garner drove a Formula on the Rockford Files, it was turned into a Esprit, cause a PI on Jimmys salary had to stay humble, so it was a stripe delete changed the hood to a regular one, but keep the 400 for performance reasons, alas the Rockford, aka the j turn, many car chases were performed in those cars, many were beat, but we still love Rockford

    Like 5
  8. Little_Cars

    @Frank y. I’m sure others on here will correct me, I’m not a Pontiac expert, but technically I believe the “Formula 400” was dropped by the time this car was manufactured. You may be right about the chrome Firebird spelled out in script here, or maybe nothing at all other than the vinyl graphic spelling out FORMULA!. IIRC, my loaded 74 had “Firebird 400” on the fender. Good luck with the sale.

    Like 1
  9. Frank Y Member

    I believe u r correct I have a photo of the car sitting in the previous owners driveway back in the day. The Formula 400 was on the car when I got it. I enlarged the pictures and was able to see the script was “Firebird” not Formula 400
    Above the graphic. So someone filled that spot with the wrong script. If it doesn’t sell I plan on addressing that issue as well as the Hood trim to bring her back to where she was. I also hope to get the metal roof/window moulding they can be found but at a cost. Also I did have the Body side moulding painted last week to the same code 29 nautilus blue but they are not put on.
    I will leave that decision to the new owner.
    Thanks for the feed back always appreciated.
    Frank Y.

  10. Jammer

    The car is called a Formula 400 by Pontiac enthusiasts but not by Pontiac themselves in 77′. That doghouse badging is an add-on as are the Esprit graphics. I do own an extremely rare 29L Formula that I purchased almost 45 years ago. The bumper cap decal is not placed correctly as it sits in the slipstream. None of it a big deal but quite interesting. The seats were a first in 1977 (cloth) and that blue cloth proto-typed the forethcoming Skybird. In the end – it’s your car to do as you please.

  11. glenn hilpert

    Rare car compared with the T/A. Only 21,801 were made in the formula compared to 68,745 T/A’s. I wonder how many 403 Formula’s were made.

  12. Jim Elick

    In that color (L29) only six, that includes mine.

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