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Only 11K Miles! 1979 Pontiac Firebird Formula

When it comes to second-gen Pontiac Firebirds, the Trans Am sucks all of the air out of the room – they are popular! That being the case, it’s nice to find a more “restrained” Formula model for sale, especially such a low mileage example. Said to have a Canadian upbringing, this Firebird is now domiciled in Joplin, Missouri and is available, here on craigslist for $16,000. Thanks to Pat L for this tip!

According to the Canadian shipping order, this $5,400 Norwood, Ohio assembled Formula made the trip north on February 5, 1979. The mileage is said to be 11K miles (19K kilometers) and has supposedly been verified by The Guild in Bradford, Ontario but that verification isn’t presented. Curiously, what looks like code a code 56 Burnished Gold hue, is a respray. Considering the low mileage, one would assume lots of storage time and preservation of the finish but there are many other reasons for an exterior redo. Anyway, the exterior looks brilliant! No complaints here and the seller mentions that he has a set of Rally II wheels, refinishing required, that are included in the sale.

If you zoom in on the instrument panel you can see that the speedometer is demarcated in kilometers and not miles per hour, attesting to this car’s Canadian residency. The aforementioned shipping order has an entry for RPO Z49, Canadian Equipment Modification and perhaps that includes the gauge swap. The rest of the interior looks fine except for the way the poorly applied steering wheel’s paint job is peeling off and revealing the underlying black plastic. GM went down this “coloring”  path in the early ’70s and I recall many of the complaints that I used to hear from owners in my dealership days. Anyway, not to digress as the rest of the environment reflects this car’s low mileage recording.

By 1979, the sun was setting on Pontiac’s venerable V8 engine as both Chevrolet and Oldsmobile units were making inroads as replacements. This Formula does have a true Pontiac 301 CI V8 engine that, according to the shipping document, is a 150 net HP version known as RPO L37 – it is joined to a Turbo-Hydramatic automatic transmission. There is nothing said regarding this Pontiac’s operating prowess but the assumption is, again considering condition and mileage, there are no issues. While 150 HP is hardly the stuff of high-performance legend, this was 1979, and the double whammy of emission control mandates and fuel mileage standards conspired with each other and this was the result.

The more restrained look of this Formula, as compared to the outsized Trans Am, is refreshing to my eyes but that’s just a subjective assessment. This example is in fantastic shape and is even more attractive thanks to its low mileage.  If you’re looking for the ’70s pony car experience, from a cruising perspective as opposed to a hot-footin’ one, here you go, you would be hard pressed to do much better, right?


  1. Mimo

    I believe the guild is in Bradford.

    Like 0
  2. Tony Primo

    Yes, The Guild is in Bradford, Ontario, Canada. They turn out some high end projects, some of which are featured at Pebble Beach. The seller should definitely provide the proof, if that is where he purchased it.

    Like 1
  3. Terrry

    Good looking car. Too bad it has no “go” to compliment its “show”

    Like 4
  4. Mark

    Clean car. Nice price. If that mileage is genuine you would have to ask why ? Keeping it stored hasnt paid off .

    Like 2
  5. S

    What I really like about this car is the color! I’ve seen dark brown Firebirds/Formulas/T/As but not sure I’ve seen this shade. It looks really good! And the cloth seats have a nice pattern. Not sure I’d like having the non-turbo 301. In 1979 you could have gotten the 403 – too bad someone didn’t choose that option.

    Like 4
    • 455RAIV

      and the W72 400 4 Spd. :)

      Like 2
    • Edwin Haggerty

      I bought a three year old 79 Formula with 50k on it from the original owner who had ordered it thru his IBM buying service. I paid 5,000 for it which was below wholesale at that time. It had a/c, t-tops and WS6 pkg with 4WD brakes but also this 301 engine. It was definitely not fast but was a fantastic driving car that I put 179,000 trouble free miles on before selling it. I always dreamed of dropping in a 455 but marriage and babies came along so the bird flew south. Still my favorite car 40 years later.

      Like 0
  6. John Halsey

    Appears to be quite a nice car for a reasonable price – but that steering wheel along with restorable rally II wheels and a respray don’t add up to 11K miles to me. I’m happy that newer vehicles have the extra odometer digit to reduce these questions a little bit.

    Like 4
  7. Kim

    Nice Car, but the hideous Front is a no go to me. Why Pontiac ruined these cars with that is a mystery to me.

    Like 0
  8. Howie

    This looks like a great deal.

    Like 6
  9. Randy

    No A/C

    Like 0
  10. Big Block 4-Speed

    No Posi, either.

    Like 0
  11. Mitch

    GM marketed this overseas with the 4.9 engine as ‘Esprit’.

    Anyway, this is a candidate for an engine swap to some
    more torque and power Toyota 95-98 1UZ-FE. What means
    net 276 to 300 hp and 333 to 420 Nm torque combined
    with a 5 speed auto gearbox and less then 16L/100KM
    as the GM engine used to drink. my 5 cents

    Like 0
  12. John Oliveri

    No A/C no power windows, 301, not really very desirable options, nice looking, fair price, not for me obviously, a 400 loaded out one YES

    Like 1

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