On The Cheap: 1976 Pontiac Firebird Formula

The Oxford Dictionary has several definitions for the word formula but the following seems to run the truest in a generic sense: “a method, statement, or procedure for achieving something, especially reconciling different aims or positions”. The “achieving something” is probably the most relevant component of this definition as it relates to this 1976 Pontiac Firebird Formula, located in San Antonio, Texas and available here on Facebook Marketplace for $2,500. Thanks to Bruce for the tip!

The Firebird Formula debuted with the second-generation Bird in 1970 and the sum of its formula was 400 as it was equipped with a 400 CI V8 engine and had obvious performance intentions. Part of the formula for the Formula was to offer high-performance but without the overtness of the top dog Trans-Am. In particular, the ’73 & ’74 Formula Firebirds equipped with the special 455 CI Super-Duty V8 engine enjoy huge collector value today. By 1976, the Firebird Formula was more of a standard V8 equipped performance (maybe) appearance package. It could possess the same 400 CI engine as the Trans Am but standard fare for the Formula was a 350 CI V8 with a two-barrel carburetor yielding about 160 net HP. So, how’s the 350 engine in this subject Formula? It “starts” according to the seller. That’s it, no more. The interesting thing about this Formula is that both images of the engine were taken from the cowl or back, looking forward, as if the hood hinges from the front. I’m not sure what’s up but that’s not normal. The listing states that the transmission is an automatic so I imagine it is probably a Turbo-Hydramatic 350 three-speed automatic but it could be a 200 too (first year for the 200).

The few images of this Firebird speak for themselves. The seller tells us that this Formula is in poor condition, I concur. There is one included image of the interior and it looks to be fairly trashed. The seats and console are missing and the door cards look done. I particularly like the inside mounted radiator!

So, it has rust, dents, a broken header panel and other bumps and contusions, that much is known. There are only two images of the exterior and neither is very flattering so one would think logically that there is probably a lot more going on with this Pontiac that will need attention.  What’s underneath? Who knows but it wouldn’t be a stretch to think more of the same. I guess you could say that this is a “lights out” sale at only $2,500. The reality is that this listing is so slim with details and images there is no telling how bad this Pontiac might be. Or…. it might be be a case of how good a deal it is in terms of part’s value. That’s the biggest problem with thin listings like this, the sellers are not helping themselves move their seemingly “challenged” merchandise. So, here is where the real formula comes into play, “What’s the method, statement, or procedure for achieving something” with this forlorn Firebird? What do you think, salvageable? Parts? Scrap value?

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  1. Stangalang

    It needs a built big block and a drag strip..🤤👍

  2. jerry z

    At least there is something to work with for the $2500 asking price. Just need to know how must rust you’re going to deal with on the body.

  3. Troy s

    It’s funny, I always thought Formula sounded racy, like formula 1, you had the Grand Prix, Bonneville, Le Mans, of course the Trans Am, now we had the Formula…all race inspired names. But I’m not to sharp on things like that.
    Like the wheels, some of that beat up look reminds me of a high school hot rod, but a ’76 doesn’t seem all that desirable.

  4. grant

    Back in the 90’s a good friend had a 76 Esprit, 6 cylinder car that he loaned to his brother who proceeded to wreck it. He didn’t want a check, he wanted a car; so his brother ended up finding him a cherry🍒 76 Formula 400, white on white. Gorgeous car. About a year later he loaned it to his (other) brother… He’s still waiting for another replacement, and he won’t loan his cars to his brothers anymore.

  5. Juan

    One moron on here. “They don’t seem that desirable”. Considering the 76 was the only year bird that came with it’s own particular front clip. I think they are desirable. To anyone that knows about these cars. If I had the financies I certainly would buy it, and put her back together. Then again maybe a Yugo is more their cup of tea.

    • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

      75 had the same front clip, Juan. Different grilles and parking light location though. Hood scoops may have been the earlier rounded edge style. Is anyone else having difficulty figuring out the location of the master cylinder where the hood is open? Is the photo taken with the hood lifted the wrong way from the cowl side?

  6. dave

    That radiator will keep you warm on these winter nights!

  7. Kevin Lee

    Jim states that the photos of the engine were taken from the cowl looking forward. My guess is there are no hood hinges, and the photographer opened the wrong side. Jeez, not that difficult to figure out.

    • Little_Cars Little_Cars Member

      I can speak from experience, these Formula hoods are solid metal, not that easy to lift off or up without hinges. So the photographer risked losing a finger or two taking the picture from that oddball angle. I converted my plain jane Firebird into a Formula by scavenging parts from local Craigslist and had to have help to position its “bonnet.”

  8. W72

    Rode hard and put away wet. Can’t help but wonder what is festering inside body panels. Pitty, as this was the lady year for single headlamps.

  9. steven

    I would like to buy it! Its really not in that bad of shape.

  10. TimM

    The price is right to take a chance on it!! Even if you had to do body work if you did it yourself I don’t think at this price it would put you upside down!!!

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