No Reserve: 1978 Pontiac Firebird Esprit Redbird

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It is common for manufacturers to release special editions of regular production models. No manufacturer has resisted the urge, and these variants would easily number in the tens of thousands. Pontiac released the Firebird Esprit Redbird in 1978, and although it received ready reception among buyers, the production total was a small percentage of overall Firebird sales for that year. This Redbird recently emerged from long-term storage and is a solid survivor that presents well. It runs and drives, but the winning bidder will treat it to some minor mechanical TLC before considering it roadworthy. It is listed here on eBay in Wilmington, California. Bidding sits at $8,277 in a No Reserve auction.

Pontiac released its Redbird package in 1978, based on the Firebird Esprit model. It remained in production for two years, but the company used different paint shades each year. For 1979, it utilized a standard Firebird shade called Mayan Red. However, in 1978, it chose Roman Red, a color that hadn’t graced a Second Generation Firebird to that point. By adding Gold stripes and decals, the company created a car that stood out in the crowd. This Redbird presents nicely, with its paint shining beautifully. The seller believes the front clip may have received a repaint, and although it looks acceptable, there are enough small chips and marks to suggest it might benefit from a repeat performance. The remaining painted surfaces are clean, the graphics look crisp, and there is no evidence of dings or rust. The car has remained in dry storage in California for years, making the lack of rust unsurprising. The trim and tinted glass are excellent, and the color-coded Snowflake wheels are free from stains and damage.

All 1978 Redbirds featured interiors trimmed in relatively common Carmine vinyl. Cloth in the same shade was an extra-cost option. However, they also featured a Gold machine-turned dash fascia similar to that found in the Trans Am Special Edition and a unique Red Formula wheel with Gold spokes. Those features remain intact on this car, and there are no visible aftermarket additions. The overall interior condition is above-average, with no rips, tears, or signs of abuse. The dash and pad are perfect, and the plastic components aren’t broken or crumbling. Comfort and convenience features include air conditioning, power windows, a factory AM/FM radio, a tilt wheel, and a remote driver’s mirror.

Powering this Firebird is the 305ci V8, and if this is a California-delivered classic, that motor would have produced 135hp in its prime. The power feeds to the road via a three-speed automatic transmission, while the new owner receives power assistance for the steering and front disc brakes. Although Pontiac remained the performance benchmark in the pony car segment throughout the late 1970s with its Trans Am, this car’s ability to cover the ¼-mile in 19.2 seconds confirms it was no brutal beast. That brings us to a point to ponder with this Redbird. The seller removed it from storage and returned it to a driving state. They say its engine lacks power, but whether that is due to an underlying fault or is an inherent characteristic of the 305 during this period is unclear. After years in storage, the new owner will inevitably have some chores to complete. The transmission has a slight fluid leak that should be addressed before it deteriorates. Lack of recent use means it requires a thorough inspection and some essential maintenance before being considered roadworthy. However, with those tasks complete, the open road beckons.

Pontiac sold 187,294 Firebirds across all variants in 1978. Only 3,140 were the Esprit Redbird, representing 1.7% of total sales. That is an insignificant number, falling well short of the iconic Trans Am. We’ve seen a few cross our desks at Barn Finds, but not a huge number. This one looks like a beauty, and returning it to its rightful place on our roads should be a straightforward and inexpensive process. Considering its overall condition, unmolested state, and the potential work required before it graces our streets again, I expect the bidding to stall at around $14,000. I wouldn’t rule out a higher figure, but nothing is certain in the classic world. If you want something different from a Trans Am, would you consider bidding on this classic?

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Abbs

    My dad had a red with black gold trimmed firebird emblem on the hood I often rode inside. His was not updated, but everything in the interior was pretty much original right down to the ac being deleted which wasn’t such an issue until we came to Houston where the summer here and practically year around made when he drove it a little more difficult let’s say. He ended up selling it to his ex’s son in New Jersey which was a shame because I would have taken better care of it and most likely brought it to our local cars and coffee and other meets because now that car would be an honest true affordable collectable driver.

    Like 3
  2. Big Bear 🇺🇸

    It’s a nice clean bird but with 83,000 miles on it you wouldn’t know it. By the pictures the mileage would look a lot lower. The seller say the 305 has no power. I agree all 305 lack power. That’s a easy fix. If you have extra cash buy a stroker 383/450 HP. Beef up the transmission. You can make the 383 look stock like the 305. Nobody would know the difference until you take off leaving rubber behind you!😂 Somebody is going to steal this car with a low price. This car is good for $15,000. It’s really that nice looking. Good luck to the seller. 🐻🇺🇸

    Like 8
    • Stan

      Right idea Bear 🐻‍❄ I’d drop in a friendly V8 and automatic. Keep it a mild wild. Beautiful Rims.

      Like 8
      • Harry 1

        Agree wifh you & Bear. Wouldnt be surprised if this beauty doesnt go for 20g. Its not hurt exterior or interior wise.

        Like 0
  3. TomP

    These cars were low production because they were aimed at female buyers. The other colors were Yellowbird and Bluebird. Not alot of woman bought Firebirds.

    Like 4
  4. TomP

    I remember when Firebirds were big back in the 1970’s, the only woman I’ve ever seen owning/driving a 1970’s Firebird was my sister, in a black 1979 with T-tops, Keystone Classic wheels, rear window louvers, and firebirds etched into the side windows. She was also the homecoming queen and prom queen in high school, so the car got alot of looks wherever it went.

    Like 2
  5. Vin

    Rid the engine, build a ’70-’72, 455 & build it. Ad a Tremec 6sp. 12 bolt posi, set of Monroe max-airs in back to clear the rear 15×10 Cragar S/S, & some 15×7 Cragar S/S fronts. Done!

    Like 1
    • Gale Hawkins

      I would leave it as is because of the original condition and value and redneck out something else like I did with my stroked 86 IROC.A I also kept the original engine and parts. I have a 3’rd gen Formula 350 that was registered by its first owner from 87 to 92 when it was traded in and hasn’t been registered since for the road. I titled it only. That one will stay original also. Probably just going to sell it. The 90’s tires on it don’t hold air very long anymore.

      Like 3
  6. PRA4SNW

    At the current bid of $8,800, this is an outstanding deal for a Limited Edition ‘Bird that is in very nice shape. 5 days left, though, so time will tell.

    Like 1
  7. PgS

    I got a 1978 Golden Edition for Graduation Loved that car & 4 months after a drunk driver hit us coming home from a race. It totaled it. It still makes me sick to think about it

    Like 2
  8. PRA4SNW

    SOLD for $10,300.

    Someone just got a nice deal.

    Like 0

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