Low Mile: 1979 Pontiac Formula

AMX Brian has good tastes and submitted this tip of a clean 1979 Pontiac Firebird Formula. The car is located in Warwick, Rhode Island and can be seen here on Craigslist. The seller is asking $12,000 for the car. The Formula is white with a blue deluxe vinyl interior. The Pontiac Firebird Formula, along with the Trans Am, received a facelift and blacked out taillights in 1979.  The Formula was identifiable by its two nonfunctional hood scoops and two tone paint.

The seller states that the car has only $31,000 miles on the odometer and, by the looks of the interior, it appears to be accurate. Unfortunately, there are no engine pictures. The ad says that the car is equipped with a 305 cubic inch Chevrolet V8. My understanding was the 305 cubic inch V8 was only installed in California cars for emissions regulations. The Pontiac 301 cubic inch V8 engine was the base engine in 1979 for the Formula.

The paint and body look nice but there are not pictures of the underside. The exhaust tips are aftermarket and the car has the base 15×7 Pontiac Rally II wheels. If a buyer ordered the famed WS6 suspension, the car would have 15×8 aluminum snowflake wheels. From the research I have gathered, the 301 Pontiac V8 produced 150 horsepower and 240 ft lbs of torque. If this is a 305 Chevrolet V8 and 2 barrel carburetor, it would only produce 125 horsepower. Either way this is a far cry from the top dog motor in 1979, the W72 400 cubic inch Pontiac V8 that produced 220 horsepower.

The car appears to have been garage kept and just rolled out for these pictures.  Do you think this is a 31,000 mile car?  What do you think about the engine?  Do you think the seller made a mistake and this is actually a Pontiac 301 cubic inch V8?

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Comments

  1. Big_Fun Member

    Bruce – because the Firebird is from CA, then it would have the code LG4 305 4bbl standard. Adequate (!?!) performance, and this would become the standard V8 engine for the next generation of Firebird. I know the Oldsmobile 403 4bbl was an option Ian CA. Not sure if a 5.7L option was available in CA. CA = California, not Canada.
    Nice article on this car, by the way…

    2
    • Bruce Johnson Bruce Staff

      Thanks for the information. I found conflicting information on the engine options online but your explanation makes a lot of sense.

  2. Big_Fun Member

    Oops! meant to say “if” the Firebird is from CA. You’re right on the federal emission cars, they were 2bbls in ’79. The 4bbl would come into play in ’80 for all states. That LG4 code 305 would be around for until – 1988?

    1
  3. jerry z

    Why didn’t Pontiac leave the ’77-’78 nose like Chevy did with the Camaro. Just can’t get past that ugly front bumper. Nice car othetwise.

    3
    • Robbie R.

      The Pontiac design engineers obviously smoked too much weed in 78. That front nose went from the best looking ever (77-78) to the worst looking ever in automobile history in 79-81.

      3
      • Vin_in_NJ

        Agreed. They had a great idea with the blacked out tail light panel, that would carry over into the next generation bird, but that shovel nose my least favorite of all F-bodies

        2
      • Ralph

        Worst looking ever is a pretty bold statement….

        Considering the 1979 was the best selling Firebird and best selling Trans Am EVER….

        I’d disagree.

        2
      • Robbie R.

        Ralph – certainly everyone sees it differently. I lived that era, bought and owned a new 77 in January that year. I was locked and loaded to trade in and purchase a new 79 to get the higher hp TA engine since mine only had the std 180hp Pontiac 400. The new design grill wasn’t released in photos until the first 79’s actually hit the dealer lots in Fall 1978. Most were expecting no changes or subtle ones at most. When the first load of new TAs rolled into my local Pontiac dealer lot, I rushed over to look at them, and was horrified to see the front end. Needless to say, I went a different direction for my next car. This is the same reason why James Garner wouldn’t use a 79 model bird for Rockford. My best guess for the higher 1979 unit sales was the better performance engine/WS6 package that the previous models didn’t have.

  4. JCA

    Leather interior? Or pleather?

    1
  5. jd

    Interesting how tastes vary. I owned a ’77 and when the ’79’s came out, I thought they looked alot better than the ’77’s.

    1
  6. Karl

    To me this is a pretty darned nice looking vehicle although not nearly as the old ones. If I were to get a car like this one to me it would be a great candidate for the dreaded LS swap nothing overboard but a nice healthy 400 to 450 HP good torque converter and some trans work to stiffen it up a bit and posi rear end. Would make a very nice capable driver!

    5
  7. JD

    Absolutely. I also have a ’69 Trans Am (first year of T/A) which is really a forerunner to the Formulas as it had the twin hood scoops unlike the later Tans Ams which had the single reverse-mounted setup. I think what I like about this one is what others may not like–the individual pod recesses for the headlights.

  8. FordGuy1972

    Popular or not, a fairly large car with only 125hp is pathetic. I have zero interest in such a car, no matter how clean it is, especially one with such an ugly front end. Sure, you could swap in a better drivetrain but why bother? GM made a ton of these, there are plenty of them around, so just find one that has more get up and go.

    2
  9. George Mattar

    No leather ever offered in a Firebird. 301 Pontiac total boat anchor

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