Fiery Phoenix: 1972 Pontiac Firebird Formula


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What makes a barn find so interesting? Is it the possibility of discovering some long lost gem? Maybe it’s the idea of finding an affordable and solid project? Or is it the story of the car and the possible mysteries it might hold? Everyone has their own reasons, but for many hunting down the history of their barn find is almost as much fun as driving it. However, digging up some of the history before you buy can pay off big time. This 1972 Pontiac Firebird Formula barn find looks to be a good buy, but looking into its history could payoff. Take a look at it for yourself here on eBay.


Tracking down a car’s entire history can be a time consuming task, but time isn’t always on your side when you’re making a deal. Thankfully, the car its self can tell you a lot about its past. Take this Firebird, which at first glance looks to be original, but as the seller notes, the original engine has been swapped out. It’s original 250 hp 400 cui V8 has been replaced with this 300 hp 400 cui V8 from 1971. The reason it was swapped out could offer some clues about its life. Did the previous owner want a higher power engine or did the original motor die and this is all they could get? The reason it was parked can also offer clues to what it’s going to take to get it back on the road. Was it parked in the barn because they couldn’t get this motor running or did the extra power damage something?


The odometer reads just 10k miles, but the interior and exterior of the car would suggest the mileage is closer to 110k miles. Interior damage can give clues not just to mileage, but also how previous owners treated it. The seats don’t show any excessive wear, but the dash hasn’t fared the sun and heat well. The floors are rusty, but aren’t letting light through yet.


This Firebird is going to need a complete restoration and while there are lots of questions that need answering, it looks like it could make for a great project. Be sure to inspect the underside carefully for any serious rust. Due to the strike that was taking place at GM, there weren’t many of these built. Hopefully someone will save it and like the Phoenix, it will be returned to its former glory. What do you think the story is behind this Bird?

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  1. dj

    I like these cars. I even like the color combo. But it has a reserve and the starting out price is a little high to me. It’s about what I’d give for it. Look at the rust and the bondo in the left rear quarter. It’s gonna need a lot of money thrown at it.

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  2. Connor

    I have always been a massive fan of firebirds and this one is no exception even though it’s rough you could have a potential diamond but even a fan of a certain car has a favourite shape or year and my favourite year of firebird is ’77 like the one from the first smokey and the bandit film this is bringing back memories I remember seeing that film for the first time and I just fell in love with the car

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  3. Harley505

    Looks as though this Fiery Phoenix has long ago turned to ash!

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  4. Mr. Moe

    I had a ’79 Trans Am with the 6.6L (403 Oldsmobile V8) and in addition to being good looking, it was a running SOB to boot! I had a friend that had one of these Formula Firebirds and they really liked it. Looked good, handled pretty well and good bang for the bucks. But, this one looks like it has been “rode hard and put away wet” too many times. The basics are still there, but you better be able to do the work yourself or this one is going to cost a bundle to bring it back to life.

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    • josh

      but i would still do it for the rarity of the car

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  5. paul

    Sad to see one of the nicest birds ever made look like this. I always liked these because they didn’t have the chicken or the add on skirts, no stripes etc. just the hood scoop & the clean lines coupled with the 400, you would think the 250 HP was lame but power to weight ratio made this car to be a screamer…. I think the # is high for this car but I hope someone saves it restores back to OEM the way it was born.

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  6. rjapp

    Harley505 says it well. One would have to have some serious emotional attachment (and tons of disposable time and/or income) to this particular model to entertain thoughts of resurrection.
    Also, please take off your rose-colored and cob-webbed covered glasses: “The seats don’t show any excessive wear..”. I guess it all depends on how one defines the words “any”, “excessive” and “wear”.

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    • JoshAuthor

      Hey rjapp, sorry for the confusion on the seats. I didn’t mean that they are free of wear. I meant that they don’t appear to have excessive wear and tear from an abusive owner. They are definitely worn out and will need to be repaired or replaced. The point I was trying to make was that they didn’t look abused, just worn out from regular use and by time and the elements. Again I’m sorry for the confusion, but thanks for bringing it to my attention!

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  7. jim

    the barn that is in looks like it suffered storm/water damage so i am thinking the car has too. looks like it needs a ton of work/money. there are other project firebirds for sale on the net that might make a better starting point.

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  8. twwokc

    Looks way too far gone to me. Its a shame because there are not many of these left.

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  9. Graham Lloyd

    Rare car, but then all Formula’s are rare. It seemed that if you didn’t go for the base Firebird models, the next step for most people was the Trans Am. Formula’s seemed to be forgotten.

    I guess they were all special order cars. If you could find a Firebird on a dealer’s lot (and that was a big “if” at least here in Southern Ontario) it was usually a garden variety car. A Trans Am may exist, but usually it was a demo showing a couple of years worth of wear and tear created in a couple months by the owner’s kid.

    Neat side effect though. I ordered a ’96 Ram Air Formula and my insurance company didn’t have a listing for it. Since it wasn’t a Trans Am, I paid 6 cylinder rates on it.

    I laughed at the “low” production figures. My 96 is one of about 1700 Formulas built that year. 70 something were purple. 48 of the 1700 Formulas were Canadian spec cars. One purple Formula Ram Air was made.

    I’ve got a pretty rare car I guess.

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  10. Koolpenguin

    At first I was worried that it was one of Jim Rockford’s Firebirds! But Jim always drove Esprits and his first one would have been a ’73 or ’74 model. Always loved these early Birds.

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  11. Steve H.

    I noticed a picture of the trunk lid and spoiler on this car on ebay, it appears that someone change out the trunk lid (possibly due to being rusted out or having damage to it) and put a Camaro trunk lid and spoiler on it. If you look close it doesn’t align up to the spoiler ends.. just wanted to point this out. Car would be a good project for someone with time and money. Steve H.

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    • salguod

      The Camaro & Firebird used the same center spoiler section, and I think the same deck lid, only the spoiler ends were different. The Camaro initially had a one piece lower profile spoiler, but it proved ineffective on the track and they hastily made new ends to match the taller Firebird center section.

      It looks to me that the deck lid was replaced and the spoiler section not mounted down properly.

      That’s the least of this car’s problems, it’s a real mess. That rocker rust on the passenger side and the holes in the dogleg seen on the driver’s side mean real structural issues. These are primary structural parts of the unit body center section of the car.

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  12. Scott

    Looks like “Bubba was Here”
    It’s a shame someone beat this car to death..
    I learned to drive (and took my drivers test) in a 77 Firebird.

    I resurected a 75 Vette that was totally trashed. Now she’s back on the road, and I am enjoying it!

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  13. Jim-Bob

    The most concerning thing to me is the lack of a windshield. I have to wonder why it was removed. It may be that the owner thought the windshield was leaking and took it out to reseal it, only to discover the roof rotted at the windshield header. Roof rail rot can be difficult and expensive to repair, as the roof panel is low crown and will easily warp with a little too much heat. Plus, it’s double walled (the top skin floats on top of a inner panel-a very odd way to do things that I have only ever seen on a 2nd gen F Body) , making it hard to access the metal on the top of the roof to seal the underside after a repair.

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  14. ConservativesDefeated

    Boat anchor

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  15. keith rivers

    omg i want this firebird!!!

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