Entry Level Muscle: 1979 Pontiac Formula

Some people did not like the new front end that Pontiac installed on the 1979 Firebird family. It was quite a departure from the “beaked nose” of the 1977-1978 Pontiac Firebird. The gold 1979 Pontiac Formula is at the edge of being in rough shape. It still runs and drives but needs some TLC. The car is listed for sale here on eBay with 3 days remaining in the auction. The car is currently bid to $5,500 but there is no reserve set on the car. This could be a good entry level muscle car of an enthusiast. It is located in Havana, Florida.

This engine has a lot of aftermarket goodies installed and there is no mention in the eBay ad what engine is in the car. The base engine in the 1979 Formula was the 301 cubic inch V8 engine which could be ordered with either a 3 speed automatic or 4 speed manual transmission. This 4.9 liter engine was timid and rated at only 150 horsepower when equipped with a 4 barrel carburetor.Most 1979 Formulas and Trans Ams were ordered with the Oldsmobile 403 cubic inch V8 engine which was only available with an automatic transmission and produced 185 horsepower. This engine met the stricter California emissions requirements and was installed in quite a few 1979 Formulas and Trans Ams. A buyer could 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. Only 364 400 cubic inch V8 W72 Formulas were produced in 1979.

The interior of the car shows a lot of wear and the dash cover is probably covering cracks in the dash. The car is equipped with the optional deluxe hobnail velour interior. The car originally came with air conditioning but it has been disconnected. The seat covers are reproduced today and plastic parts on the interior look sun faded.

Pontiac offered several models of the Firebird including the Esprit, Formula and Trans Am. This car has faded painted, painted Rally II wheels and broken tail lights. The odometer shows 20k miles but it is not working. If you can get it cheap enough, this could be a good driver that could be enjoyed while slowly restoring it.


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  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    As a driver the first thing this car needs is to move the fuel filter and rubber lines away from the exhaust manifold. Agree they went from great to ugly on these cars but you could do a complete face lift and power upgrade without worrying about matching numbers etc.

    • Bick Banter

      Second thing it needs is someone to yank that dog 301 and point it towards the nearest trash can!

      Like 2
      • Big_Fun Member

        That’s definitely a Chevrolet small block in there.
        VIN decodes car as a Firebird Esprit with a 305 2BBL.
        Did someone clone a Formula? Weird.

        Like 3
      • Tom

        301’s got a bad rap. They were good at what they were designed for – economy and reliability. This one either came with a “dog” 305 Chevy, or the engine has already been swapped. Either way, that’s a Chevy small block…

        Like 4
      • Bick Banter

        Yup you’re right. That engine was an even bigger dog than the 301 because it only had 125 horsepower versus 150. Though you can build a 305 for some power, it makes more sense to go with a 350.

  2. Stan

    I like the 79 front end. This one is calling for a 350 and 700R4 3.73 gears and a driver.

    Like 4
  3. Utes

    The ‘G’ as the 5th character in the VIN indicates it as a 305 (Chevy) V8.

  4. bone

    301 or 305, who would call this a Muscle car ????

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