Rare 4 Speed: 1972 Pontiac Formula 400

We found this 1972 Pontiac Firebird Formula 400 for sale here on eBay. The car is listed for a Buy It Now Price of $34,500. The seller is also accepting best offers via the eBay ad. There are eight days left in the auction. In 1972, there was a strike at the F body plant which reduced the overall number of Firebirds and Camaros built that year. This car is a rare 4 Speed Formula 400. Based on the pictures provided, the car looks as if it has sat for awhile and needs some TLC. However, the car is well optioned and is equipped with factory air conditioning. The air conditioning is said to not be in working order.

The seller states that the 400 cubic inch V8 engine was rebuilt approximately 1,000 miles ago. It’s runs and drives well and breathers through a Rochester carburetor. The ad states that this car has approximately 60,000 miles on the odometer and received a frame off restoration at some point in its history. Pontiac produced the Firebird Formula in three models based on the cubic inch of the engine: the Formula 350, Formula 400 and Formula 455. The L30 350 cubic inch V8 engine was the low performer and produced 155 horsepower. A buyer could select a 400 cubic inch engine which was designated as the L78 motor. It was factory rated at 225 horsepower and was a popular option. If the buyer wanted the optional 455 cubic inch engine, they had their choice of the Y Code 455 cubic inch V8 engine producing 250 horsepower or the rare HO 455 engine rated at 300 horsepower. These horsepower numbers are based on the net ratings for 1972.

The interior is dirty and the car is missing a radio in the console. The dash and console look good but their appears to be an ashtray installed in the console. The unkempt interior reinforces that thought that this car has sat in this garage for a long time. At some point in the car’s past, someone installed front and rear Trans Am wheel fender flares and a front spoiler. This was not available from the factory and was probably installed when the car was painted.

The undercarriage of the formula 400 looks great and almost brand new in the waiting looks good in and the car rides on factory 15 by 7 optional honeycomb wheels. The Goodyear tires appeared to be very old. The floorboards had been placed in this car and many other parts have been replaced. I hope this car finds a new owner soon to fix the small items and get it on the road.


  1. Steve R

    It has potential, but needs to be finished to garner that much money. There are lots of little things that need to be attention, radio, windshield, weather stripping and AC. It also gives off the vibe of being pieced together with the addition of the Trans Am spoiler and wheel well openings, dash trim and a console from a car with power windows.

    I’ve had a few early second generation Formulas, they stand on their own merit. Dolling them up with Trans Am parts serves no purpose.

    Steve R

    Like 32
    • Seabecker

      Reminds me of the expressing “to gild the lily.” The second gen “lily” is beautiful on its own and needs no further adornment.

      Like 7
  2. Dallas

    It always cracks me up when sellers boast of a “frame off” restoration on a unibody car :-D

    Like 16
    • Steve R

      These cars have a bolt on one piece front subframe which extends from the front bumper to the rear of the doors. The radiator support, front sheet metal, suspension, engine and transmission are all affixed to or centered by it. It may not be a full “frame” by conventional standards but it’s hardly a unibody.

      Steve R

      Like 8
      • Seabecker

        These F-bodies are in fact called “unibodies,” but really it’s a bit of a misnomer, since only the shell is constructed as a unibody. The front subframe is a separate frame, though only for half of the car.

        Like 4
    • Tom Bell

      Yup, valid comment. They’re either blowing smoke or just don’t understand why they’re talking about.

      Like 1
  3. Dennis and Frankie Fitzmorris

    Not sure if I’d believe the Formula designation. Formula had wood grain dash. After nearly fifty years who knows what has been added to this car. Maybe it is legit, but be wary.

    Like 4
    • DayDreamBeliever DayDreamBeliever

      PHS has what ever is needed in the way of documentation.

      Going without that, or an extremely knowledgeable person looking at the car up close…. Is Risky Business!

      The seller should have the proper documents if anywhere near the listed ask is to be realized.

      Like 1
      • Steve R

        Definitely not a factory 400, the N in the VIN shows the car originally came with a 2bbl 350 with dual exhaust.

        Steve R

        Like 9
  4. george mattar

    Another incorrect term is frame off, still used today by a so called prominent classic Corvette dealer. The correct term for a car with a separate frame is body off restoration. I cannot stand stupid people who continue to use improper terms. How do you take a frame off a car? Show me. This Bird is overpriced.

    Like 2
    • Keith Harden

      Well, when you unfortunately the frame and remove it from the body, you have effectively taken off the frame. The term frame off applies.
      It’s all on point of view. In both cases it is correct.
      Uptight people worry over what term you use.

      Like 1
      • Keith Harden

        Damn. I meant UN bolt the frame. How do you turn off autocorrect?

  5. frozenbird

    Well if you take a ‘car body’ and remove the frame from it, is the frame not now off from the car? Would that not make it a ‘frame off’? It’s mere preference at this point, frame off or body off means the same thing. Frame off on a unibody is impossible, maybe change it to ‘sub frame off’ if that actually occurred. But this thing seems pretty patched together.

    Like 1
  6. Bob_in_TN Bob_in_TN Member

    A tidbit of info: I have Goodyear Wingfoot HP tires on one of my cars (which sees very limited driving). I bought them in 1999. Not sure how long before, or after, 1999 they were in production. So the “tires look old” comment is valid.

    Like 2
  7. t-bone BOB

    Item location:
    Watertown, Wisconsin

    Like 2
    • Tom

      Correct. I am somewhat familiar with car and it is an amateur restoration at best. The seller recently had a ‘76 TA for sale and while it looked decent in pictures, it was a different story in person. No way this car is worth close to the asking price.
      Buyer beware…

      Like 5
  8. Gman

    Asking top dollar for a firebird. Vin does not lie. I also noticed the tires on the car that I haven’t seen in a long time. Buyer beware? Stay away for that money.

    Like 1

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