Period Mods: 1968 Pontiac Firebird 400


This Firebird was taken off the road all the way back in 1988. But, not before someone installed a 455 V8 and 3-speed manual from a ’71 Pontiac SJ Grand Prix. They also added a few other personal touches. Unfortunately, storage has not been kind to this old bird. It has been stored inside off and on, but the tin worm has definitely dug in. Still, there is just something cool about this old street racer that makes me want to make the irrational decision of saving it. Find it here on eBay where bidding is only up to $3,250 with the auction ending tonight!


There’s the big 455 that replaced the original 400. It may not have been as big an upgrade as one may think though. The 400 put out about 330 horsepower in non-“Ram Air” form and the 455 was good for about 325. Then again, we started rating horsepower differently in 1971 so those figures might be off.


The manual transmission would be nice to have in a car like this. That’s a 3-speed in there, but the seller is including a 4-speed if you want to swap it out. They are honest in their assessment of the corrosion mentioning that the underside is very rusty and that the floorboards are rotted. That’s not obvious in this photo so it’s good to know they aren’t trying to deceive anyone. It made be old school, but that tiny steering wheel needs to go!


The scruffy green paint, period pin striping, and white letter tires add a lot of character. It’s going to be a lot of work to get this thing back on the road though no matter how you look at it. There’s lots of rust that needs addressed and a decision is going to need to be made about the non-original drivetrain. You could try to source all the original bits or do something different and restore it back to its former modified self. Which route would you go?


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  1. 68 custom

    I am willing to bet the 3 speed tranny is original to the firebird which make it a low option 400 bird. rust looks fairly bad but it may be able to be saved, I hope someone does. pity the fool that added the hood pins!

    Like 1
  2. Rustytech Member

    The Firebird 400’s have been increasing in value over the last couple years, but it’s hard to see an upside on this one from an investment standpoint. Get it to driver condition and have fun.

  3. Steven Visek

    Love the ’68 styling. I’d swap in the 4sp and tune up the 455, fix the rust and then leave it as a 1/4 mile fun car. The horsepower may not be an improvement over the 400, but you can bet it has bags more torque. Should do some major burnouts! Sounds like a fun car for hopefully cheap money, then eventually resto-mod it.

  4. Joe Muzy

    Wonder what’s under the vinyl top? Rust is bad but repairable. It’s priced well below Haggerty s price guide says it’s worth and even with restoration it is some thing you won’t lose your investment.

  5. Tom Member

    I am a long time gen one Firebird guy. this car is rough, sad. Rust is terrible. if a real 400, great especially factory manual. has the sport options group, indicated by the missing arrow head on the front bumper center including the exterior rocker and wheel opening trim, grill trim, the remote door mirror (driver door) good luck finding one of those! Super rare, I paid $175 for one I found in 1985. typically that package included a grab handle over the glove box, visor vanity mirrors also very rare. PS and PB are a plus. has deluxe interior. 68 Custom….careful on the hood pin comment… much as I agree with you hood pins WERE and option on gen one birds….NOW if the placement in 67 and 68 are the same….they are wrong and I agree with you. I had a 67 400 Convertible, highly optioned car with documented factory hood pins. PHS documented as well. they were much closer to the edge of the hood and much further to the front of the hood in front of the radiator. too bad this car is so rusted. terrible.

  6. JW

    I love the first generation Firebirds but just not this one, way too much work to even get it looking good enough for a daily driver IMO.

  7. Eugene Whitt

    I am not sure whether you are from Mars or Venus. My 1968 Olds Toronado came from the factory with a 455 that is the W34 with 400 horsepower. All of the rest of the 455 engines I have seen were W30 engines with 360 or 365 horsepower that the owners reported. Gasoline was poor by 1977 and I am not sure when the 455 quit being offered but I would imagine that the compression dropped due to the sorry gasoline that EPA demanded that we accept because they had no common sense to offer us some real octane but to just take it all away. I never saw a 300 hp 455 or ever heard of one.

    • Jesse Mortensen Jesse Mortensen Staff

      Remember, horsepower numbers started to drop as we entered the ’70s. Low octane unleaded fuel and new emissions requirements made the game harder. We also switched from gross to net horsepower ratings in ’71.

    • George

      olds 455 different from Pontiac. the 455 pontiac had 500 lb/ft torque but 360 hp in 70 when it came out. this bird mat have been 400RAII car with no AC or power brakes

    • Marty Parker

      Pontiac, Olds and Buick all had 455 engines. Not a single internal part interchangeable between the three of them. ’72 Pontiac 455 code X was rated at 300 HP.

  8. Bobby

    Last year for the Pontiac 455 in any car was 1976. I had one in my 76 Trans Am, 455 four speed. Rated at 200 HP supposedly, but tons of tourque and faster than my 79 Trans Am 10th Anniversay edition w/ the L 78 400 with a four speed rated at 220 HP.

  9. Rolf Poncho 455

    Diamond in the rough

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