Disclosure: This site may receive compensation when you click on some links and make purchases.

Overhead Camshaft: 1969 Pontiac Firebird

The first-generation Pontiac Firebird’s standard engine (an inline-6) differed from its contemporary – the Camaro – over at Chevrolet. It deployed a motor with an overhead camshaft that was decidedly perkier than the Chevy and the “leader of the pack” – the Ford Mustang. That engine was retired when the second-generation Firebird came around in 1970. This somewhat basic ’69 Firebird has the OHC engine and is freshly rebuilt and ready to go. Located in White Plains, New York, this interesting Pontiac is available here on craigslist for $17,000 (the price is firm). Thanks, Pat L., for another nifty tip!

As we understand it, the 230 cubic-inch OHC-6 in the ’67 Firebird produced 215 horsepower as it was the “Sprint” version of the motor (the Tempest got one that delivered 50 fewer horses). The engine was only the second post-World War II domestic OHC at the time, following in the footsteps of the Jeep “Tornado” I-6. The powerplant got a promotion to 250 cubic inches in 1968 (and 1969), but the output rating was unchanged unless you ordered a manual transmission, in which case the rating was 230 hp. That put the OHC in similar territory as small block V8s, but were they as peppy?

The seller describes this machine as a “barn find” because it was in dry storage for 40 years. This Pontiac was acquired from the original owner and everything but the powerplant is said to be original – sheet metal, paint, and the interior. Other than a bit of rust in one of the quarter panels, we’re told you won’t find any corrosion. There may be a seam or two coming loose in the seats, and the dash pad has the requisite crack in it for the car’s age.

Under the hood lies a rebuilt 250 OHC, having just been painted and reinstalled in the Firebird. The transmission is an automatic, and it’s column-shifted, perhaps a “secretary’s car” from the factory? This Pontiac should be a somewhat rare find today, but the reality is that one in four Firebirds left the assembly line with one of these motors in 1969. The paint could stand a refresh or you could just take some rubbing compound and wax to the finish and then enjoy the car the way it is. Please, no Trans Am tributes.


  1. Howie

    Leno has one, another hard head seller!!

    Like 5
  2. Grant

    These engines were pretty nice with a 2bbl, but the 4bls seemed a bit of over kill. If more power than the 2bbl was wanted (notice how I didn’t say “needed”) then a person should have went with a less stressed 326.

    Like 5
    • Marshall King

      My first car was a 67 Sprint 6 Firebird convertible. It had a 69 motor with a Rochester Quadrajet, 230 HP. Very quick car for a six, handled great and surprised many with how fast it was. Would it beat a big block? No, but it kept up with many V8’s in its day and could outrun almost anything on a back road. Great fun and wish I had it today. When the secondaries opened up, you could hear the air getting sucked into that carb! Great sound!

      Like 6
    • Pete McCall

      How many miles?
      How worn out is the suspension?
      I see rust, primer and deterioration?
      Hmm! What else ¿?

      Like 0
    • Christopher

      The 4 barrel feels like a blunt approach to what could have been a fantastic engine with more nurturing. Jaguars were coaxing more output from smaller 3.8 liter sixes at the same time, so multi-carb 4.1 liter OHC Pontiac could have made a real mark on the world if it wasn’t killed off so quickly. Tri-Power carb setups would have been more fitting on an I-6 than the V-8s that actually got them. I’d love to see someone get creative with one of these orphans, not even for crazy output, just to make a torquey mile-munching beauty.

      Like 1
  3. George

    If et were mine I’d advertise the motor as ” balanced & blue painted”.

    Like 27
  4. Terrry

    Looks like the vacuum line to the distributor was left off..to save weight? And that engine was given a rattle can paint job though it’s supposed to be rebuilt.

    Like 7
    • Dave

      I think that photo may show what it looked like after it was installed, but before it was fired up. I see the air cleaner is off as well as what looks like a new temp sensor is not plugged in. New wires, new spark plugz, oil filler cap not painted. I’ve seen rebuilt motors painted after the re-build, it’s just easier. A good paintjob would really bring this back

      Like 5
    • Jay Allen

      Rattle can paint job?
      Oh hell no!
      I rebuild a couple hundred engines in the late 60’s and early 70’s.
      Pretty consistent winners in the sport car categories.
      We were all convinced that it was the paint.
      Imagine having a better paint job on the engines.
      Still, I get it.
      I wasn’t a collector.
      Never will be, I’m sure.
      Either way, it’s still a pretty cool car, huh?

      Like 1
  5. Grant

    Anyone else here agree with me that the Report Comment tab has been working poorly? I thought we all here were for free speech as long as it didn’t violate the rules set by this organization. My missing post here was that I thought these OHC sixes were better with a 2bbl than a 4bbl, and maybe if you thought you needed more power, a 326 was the way to go. Who ever hit that cute little report comment mark over that needs to get a life, but more importantly, please rethink the whole idea. Angered viewers who leave the site, makes for poor quarterly performance.

    Like 10
    • Howie

      Grant your first post is still above.

      Like 16
      • Grant

        True, but not always so. Too easy for anyone to push that tab and the post vanishes. Sure, the staff will eventually put it back up, but that will take some time. Why can’t the staff just read the posts and decide what they feel is against the rules all by themselves? While the site is an amazing wonderful place to waste time, it has slowly gotten more burdensome, be it pop up ads or now this. I understand the need for ads on the side of the screen, but the ones that get in your face leave a bad taste in ones mouth. Add in the ability to have your comments removed by anyone for their own reasons is truly bad. I wish Howard would comment on this, I think he has a good take on many things. His wisdom shines for all to see.

        Like 3
      • Howie

        Grant i do not think it works the way you are saying, if you click on report comment the post does not vanish, it just brings attention to the staff and then they decide nay or yay. This is way better than Hemmings now that they changed their format.

        Like 3
    • SubGothius

      Also note sometimes after you click Post Comment and the page refreshes, that new comment doesn’t appear right away, but it’ll show up after a minute or so if you refresh the page again.

      I suspect there might also be some keywords that automatically put a new comment in pending status for manual review by the mods, as sometimes I post a comment that still doesn’t show up after several minutes, but then it shows up when I check back again later in the day or next day. Frustrating, but this helps keep the site free of spam and other abusive conduct.

      Like 0
      • PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

        I agree. I would lean more towards web browser cache than an overly zealous moderator and/or a Report Comment automatically removing a comment.

        I used to deal with the same thing when I hosted / moderated web-based forums.

        Like 1
    • 370zpp 370zpp Member

      Grant, if you are an example of a potentially angered viewer that might leave the site, how would that affect quarterly performance?
      After all, it’s not like you are a paying member here.

      Like 2
      • Grant

        Easy, believe it or not, all those ads (that maybe you do not see) pay the ownership to be there. Less viewers of the site means the ads pay the ownership less. If enough people leave the site (even those dastardly non members) then the end result is less money coming in. Just like Hulu, if you want to be on the site, the ads are the price you pay if you do not want to send them a check every month. Pretty straight forward. The site is ad supported. Nothing wrong with that, but it also means you have to walk a fine line with viewers to keep the numbers up. Hassle them too much and they will go away.

        Like 3
    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      Hi Grant, that little report link means more free speech actually! Previously we had to review all first-time commenters’ remarks before they hit the site. If enough people click the link, the comment will just go to our moderation queue until we can take a look. If it doesn’t break the rules, it goes live again.

      Like 3
  6. Eric Johnson

    If I am reading the CL ad correctly, it is the original engine (rebuilt). Also, according to the Pontiac brochure, the base 250 CI engine was a 1 bbl. carb which was good for 175 hp. The Sprint got a 4 bbl. carb, higher compression ratio, and more aggressive cam which gave 215 hp.

    Like 8
    • Jim in FL

      I concur on the one barrel. My 67 Tempest had the base carb. At the time I was considering trying to find a sprint manifold and changed my mind. Decent fuel mileage with this motor and the powerglide.

      Definitely the wrong color engine. The break in on rebuilding these is important. You need to make sure the cam is lubricated properly. I was told by an old school tech who worked on these that if it sits more than a day or two, crank it without setting the choke until the oil light goes out. Then set the choke and start it.

      Like 8
  7. Ralph

    Sorry cause I have a bit of experience and love for these engines and year Firebird. This is a car that needs a lot of examination before putting down your cash…Rattle can paint engine, and the rear window area raises a big red flag.
    As does the owners asking price. Just wants too much for this particular example. YMMV.

    Like 8
    • Smokey Smokerson

      Friend had one when we were in HS back in the late 80s, but green. He and his dad dropped a 455 out of a Pontiac K9 police station wagon in it, but didn’t swap out the 2 SPD Power glide. It could make the one rear tire disappear into smoke and rubber marbles.

      Like 3
  8. ThunderRob

    That very wrong and horrid bad paintjob on the engine makes it look like an attempt to hide something…it’s nowhere near Pontiac engine blue of the late 60’s early 70’s which is a nice metallic blue..that’s just ugly.Otherwise..i love Sprint 6 Poncho’s and wish more were preserved.

    Like 7
  9. Mike Cobb

    Used to work with a guy who bought/sold/overhauled(?) small tractors and lawn mowers. His famous words were “Bubba, I’ve been clean thru it” (meaning overhauled). We used to tease him, 2 cans of Krylon and a new sticker was a sure sign of an “overhauled” engine! Missed the mark on this one I think….looks like Ford Blue on the engine.

    Like 7
    • Rick

      The blue in this case is hard to ID. It’s too light to be from Ford. It’s not from AMC, nor does it look to be from Chrysler. Maybe they got a good deal on some obscure shade at Sherwin-Williams. ;)

      Like 0
      • Phil D

        No, the shade of blue on this one is easy to identify. It’s GM Corporate Blue, which the General used on all their engines from the 1977 through 1982 model years. Undoubtably that color was selected because, as noted by others, it’s readily available in rattle cans at the local parts store, while the light metallic blue that would have been correct for a ’69 Pontiac engine would have had to been custom mixed by a paint jobber and sprayed from a gun.

        Like 2
  10. Claudio

    We all make the same mistake while writing quickly and omitting to review ourselves !
    A keystroke too much , please subtrack one digit and the price will be corrected

    Like 2
  11. Mitch

    Now this looks like a good honest clean driver car for a fair price maybe a few upgrades and have fun!!

    Like 0
  12. Dan

    I bought a 67 sprint with a clapped out OHC in 1978. Had a wrecked 69 goat also and shoehorned the 400 into it. The sprint must have had a limited slip in it.
    With the 4speed it was extremely quick.

    Like 1
  13. Johnmloghry johnmloghry

    IT’S BEYOND MY COMPREHENSION WHY ANYONE WOULD BUY A NEW CAR IN BROWN. That has to be the ugliest color ever conceived. The blue engine just looks wrong in the engine bay. 69 Firebirds are one of the prettiest cars ever built in my opinion. Back in 71 I bought a used 69 Firebird 400 in Canary yellow with black trim and American racing wheels, It had the turbo 400 trans with a/c p/s p/b and 4 bbl carb. It was fairly fast and I drove it that way. These can be really nice cars. I’d like to get another one but I just can’t stand brown on cars.

    God Bless America

    Like 2
    • SubGothius

      There’s a reason why various shades of brown/tan, avocado green, harvest gold, etc. got to be popular in the late ’60s thru ’70s.

      By the end of the ’60s, everyone was sick and tired of having their eyes gouged out daily by psychedelic op-art and vivid day-glo colors, so more muted natural/earth tones that provided some optical respite to all that became more appealing for a while.

      Like 0
    • luckless pedestrian

      Well, in ’69 your kitchen would have had dark brown finished cabinets, the frig would have been avocado, and the counter tops orange… Tastes change… …and what goes around, comes around.

      Like 1
  14. George Theetge

    I had a 66 Sprint and it had OHC motor. It had a 4 BBL quadrajet carb and factory headers, it was very quick for a 6 cylinder, speed on the floor. I believe the 66 had 207 HP and the 67 had 225 HP.

    Like 2
  15. Kirk M Stankiewicz

    I had three of these over the years- one sprint with the quadra jet , dual exhaust and 2 speed….they are great and you could wind it up beyond 6500…the oil back in the day was not good enough and you needed to change it at short intervals or the feeds to the cam bearings in the housing would clog up and bye bye—Great Engine! (And Beautiful if painted the correct color)

    Like 2
  16. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    I could be wrong since I’m not a first gen Firebird expert, but I thought that the standard engine was a plain old in-line 6.
    The Sprint is the model that had the OHC 6.

    Like 1
  17. Charles Howell Ragsdale

    I drove a 68 Camaro and an OHC 6 firebird when they were less than 2 years old and 20k miles. The Chevy was a 327 4 barrel and I think the firebird was a 2 barrel and I thought they were about even. Both were 4-spd(don’t know gear ratios). I thought the firebird was a little quicker and the cool factor on the engine was a personal plus.

    Like 1
  18. Eric

    I thought the valve cover was non painted aluminum???

    Like 0

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Get new comment updates via email. Or subscribe without commenting.