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Red White & Blue: 1971 Pontiac Formula 400

In the second year of production for the second generation Firebird, only a few minor changes were made. For the Firebird and Formula models, the primary changers were that faux grills were added to the fenders behind the front tires and the compression ratios of the performance engines were lowered. This example is clearly a project and its primary colors are unintentionally red, white and blue. The Formula 400 is located in East Aurora, New York and is listed for sale here on eBay with 3 days remaining. The starting bid is $8,500 for the auction but no bids have been placed yet.

The interior is gutted and the parts that remain – dash, steering wheel and some interior panels are worn and faded. The floors appear solid and the seller states that the vehicle came from Arizona. Pontiac offered the Firebird, in several configurations including a base model, Esprit, Formula and Trans Am. The Formula model was differentiated by its engine size and was offered as the Formula 350, Formula 400 and Formula 455 in years where all three engines were available. In 1971, Pontiac offered a full bucket seat with no headrest compared to the prior year which had low back bucket seats. Unless the 3 spoke “Formula” wheel was optioned, Formulas were equipped with the standard steering wheel. The performance steering wheel was standard in the Trans Am. I have always found odd that the Formula didn’t come with the 3 spoke “Formula” wheel and replacing the skinny standard steering wheel was one of the first things I did when I bought my 1973 Formula 455.

The engine and transmission have been removed from the car and are included in the sale. The seller states that the block is a numbers matching 400 cubic inch V8. The Pontiac Formula could be ordered with a 350 cubic inch V8, a 400 cubic inch V8, a Y code 455 cubic inch V8, or the 455 HO engine. Pontiac built 7,802 Formulas in 1971 out of a total production of 53,124 base Firebirds, Esprits, Formulas and Trans Ams. This car will need a complete restoration.

In 1971, General Motors started publishing net horsepower ratings instead of gross horsepower ratings with the goal of making insurance premiums more affordable for muscle cars. Net horsepower is an engine power measurement that takes into account all accessories, while gross horsepower is just the engine power alone and is typically 20% higher. This was the last year in which gross horsepower ratings were published; from then on, only net horsepower ratings were available.


  1. Bart

    I believe that’s what some sellers call a numbers matching survivor!😜

    Like 1
    • John M Stecz

      Looks pretty solid ,so it might be from Arizona. Priced reasonable ,I would say

      Like 1
  2. Sam

    Looks like a Solid Roller, But the starting bid might be a little bit high with everything that is needed. Had a friend in the Navy had one back in the day. RAM AIR 455 4 SPEED, Not much on base wanted to play.

    Like 1
  3. Angus Mustang

    Starting bid is way too high. Might be a solid body, comprised of many vehicles, but still needs a lot of parts and labor

    Like 0
  4. Greg

    The starting price of $8500 is in line. My friend and I have been trying to buy a 1970 to 1973 formula for 2 years. You cannot touch a solid matching number 400 car for that kind of money. Projects that run needing everything are bringing $9k to $13k with the 400 engine. The 350 no one really wants and the 455 bring crazy money.

    Like 0

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