One Owner: 1979 Pontiac Firebird Formula

The original owner of this 1979 Pontiac Firebird Formula has now decided that after years of motoring pleasure, the time has finally come to part with their pride and joy. It is a clean car, but the owner says that after all of these years, it does need a bit of restoration work. I need to thank Barn Finder Pat L for continuing to fuel my desire to own a Firebird by referring this one to us. The Firebird is located in Riverside, California, and has been listed for sale here on Craigslist. Hand the owner $5,500, and this car could easily be yours.

It appears that the Dark Blue paint on the Firebird is original, and contrasts nicely with the Silver that has been applied to the car’s lower extremities. The paint itself doesn’t look to be too bad, but I suspect that it will probably benefit from a bit of a refresh. There are a few marks and chips on the car, but none of these appear to be particularly bad. This is a car that has spent its entire life in California, and this fact pays dividends when you discover that it is rust-free. One thing that really jumps out at me is the fact that it appears as though someone has given one wheel a bit of an amateur paint job, so I would be inclined to have all four wheels restored, to return some uniformity to the car. Of course, if originality isn’t crucial, a nice set of aftermarket wheels might be a better option.

Sometimes you can find a classic from California where the interior trim has survived the sun quite well…and sometimes you can’t. The latter is the case with the Firebird, where a significant amount of the interior trim has copped an absolute belting from the UV rays. The worst affected areas are the dash pad and wheel, and both will require replacement to bring the interior back up to an acceptable level. Even though there is plenty of work ahead, at least the Pontiac is nicely equipped. Apart from an aftermarket CD player, the next owner will get air conditioning, power windows, cruise control, and a tilt wheel. There are no engine photos, but the owner tells us that under the hood is a 403ci V8, producing 185hp. The car also features an automatic transmission, power steering, and confidence-inspiring Radial Tuned Suspension. Interestingly, while the listing is a bit vague on the fact, I get the impression that the car might also be fitted with optional 4-wheel disc brakes. If it is, then that would be a nice bonus. What is reassuring is the fact that the owner claims that the Pontiac runs and drives perfectly. It looks like this is a car ready to be driven and enjoyed.

While it might not be perfect, this ’79 Firebird Formula scores points by being a rust-free car. It needs a bit of cosmetic TLC, but the vast majority of its needs could be met over time with a bit of good old weekend tinkering. Maybe it doesn’t possess the charisma and presence of a Trans Am, but if it was to be given a cosmetic refresh, it would stand out from those cars simply because it is different. Those factors alone make it a project car that is well worth considering.


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  1. Jack M.

    Price seems to be a bargain. Navy blue paint will help you fly under the radar.

    Like 5
  2. Tony Primo

    There are enough bolt on performance parts for the Oldsmobile 403 now to satisfy all of the whiners and haters.

    Like 10
    • Superdessucke

      Stock, 0-60 in 8.5 and 1/4 mile in 16.5, roughly. Good for the times but slowish by modern standards. You would definitely want to add some mods!

      Like 8
  3. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    This does look to be a good value.

    If the dark blue is a metallic paint, then it has held up nicely. When I went to order my ’81 Camaro, I wanted to get this color, but the sales manager advised against it, saying that it held up very poorly. So, I ordered black.
    Sure enough, I had my car in for service and in the waiting area was a lady who told me that she had her 1 year old dark blue Camaro in for a repaint.

    Like 3
  4. Bakyrdhero

    @PRA4SNW I’ve heard that story before about the dark blue paint! Either I read it here on Barn Finds from you before, or someone else out there had the same experience.

    Like 2
  5. TimM

    Seems like the buy of the week here on barn find!!!

    Like 4
  6. CCFisher

    Don’t get your hopes up for the rear discs. The seller is promoting Pontiac’s base-level “RTS,” or “Radial Tuned Suspension” as something special, so I would expect the “disc brakes” in the ad to be the front brakes.

    Like 2
  7. kelly g

    my mothers friend had a gold formula firebird with ivory interior, a big hood scoop with 6.something liter on it. I coveted that car. One day she showed up for a visit in a new Camry. I inquired about the firebird….maybe she’d let me make payments and i’d pick it up in a couple years? The Toyota salesman had allowed her 500.00 on the Camry. Would have got more but the Firebird almost had 100k miles on it.

    Like 1

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