Stunning Restoration: 1973 Pontiac Firebird Formula 400

There’s a great attraction to slapping down the cash on a recently restored classic car. It offers the buyer the opportunity for a spot of instant gratification in a vehicle capable of turning heads. That is the case with this 1973 Pontiac Firebird Formula 400. It has done little work since its owner treated it to a refresh, and it presents superbly. It is ready to be driven and enjoyed by a new owner, and it should offer a pleasurable driving experience. Located in Lincoln, Nebraska, you will find the Firebird listed for sale here on eBay. Bidding has reached $26,400, but this figure remains short of the reserve. That leaves time for you to stake your claim if you want to park this gem in your driveway.

The owner claims that the Navajo Orange paint the graces this Firebird’s panels is a rare shade. I haven’t been able to confirm that conclusively, but he holds PHS documentation which may provide proof. He has recently completed a pretty thorough restoration of this classic, and it presents impressively. The paint carries a beautiful shine, with no flaws or marks. The stripes and decals look crisp and clean, and the panels are as straight as an arrow. The gaps are tight and consistent, making a positive first impression. One of the best pieces of news with this classic is that it remains completely rust-free. The owner supplies shots of the vehicle’s underside, which is spotlessly clean. There is barely any surface corrosion and no evidence of penetrating rust. The external trim is in excellent condition and is well above what you might expect for a driver-grade car. The original owner ordered this Formula 400 with the optional 14″ Honeycomb wheels, and they show no signs of any stains or curb strike. Rounding out this package is Soft Ray tinted glass that is flawless.

Turning our attention to the interior, the news remains positive. The original owner loaded this car with optional extras, which all remain intact. He chose to trim the interior in White Deluxe upholstery that shows no signs of significant wear, stains, or discoloring. The orange carpet is immaculate, while most of the trim is equally impressive. I decided to look long and hard to try and find a flaw with this interior, and it took me a while to spot one. Sadly, the dash pad has a significant crack in the center. It looks beyond repair and will probably deteriorate as time passes. That means that the buyer will probably opt to source a replacement, but as these cost around $800, they represent a substantial investment. However, with the rest of the interior presenting so well, I believe it would be money well spent. As well as the Rally gauge cluster and clock, this interior features ice-cold air conditioning, a console, a remote driver’s mirror, an AM radio, and the factory 8-track tape player. Apart from the flawed dash pad, it seems that this interior needs virtually nothing.

Reading the original Window Sticker for this Firebird reveals that the original owner was as focused on performance as he was on comfort. The engine bay is occupied by a numbers-matching 400ci V8 that should be producing 230hp. It inhales copious amounts of clean air via the functional Ram Air hood and air cleaner setup, while the car also features a three-speed Hydramatic transmission, a Safe-T-Track rear end, power steering, and power front disc brakes. Pointed at 1/4 mile, this classic pony car should cover the distance in 15.7 seconds. The engine bay presentation is as impressive as with the rest of the vehicle, which is for a good reason. It seems that the entire drivetrain has been treated to a rebuild, meaning that this classic is in excellent mechanical health. The owner admits that he has only clocked a few thousand miles since he completed the work, meaning this Firebird is barely broken in. He doesn’t specifically indicate how well the vehicle runs and drives, but if appearances and the car’s history count for anything, the news should be pretty positive.

This 1973 Pontiac Firebird Formula 400 is a stunning vehicle, and it appears that it would take little work to nudge it close to perfection. It seems that I am not alone with my opinion because it has already attracted an impressive forty-two bids since the owner listed it for sale. People like what they see, and I can understand that. The next owner will be slipping behind the wheel of a car that will command attention wherever it goes and should offer a rewarding driving experience. If that sounds too tempting to resist, maybe you should stake your claim on this classic.

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Comments

  1. Moparman Member

    This is a refreshing change from the “Screaming Chicken” (although I still like them!) and is a real beauty unto itself! I never cared for the Honeycomb wheels, but the overall presentation is excellent. The next owner will have a “Wide Track” smile after acquiring this one! GLWTA!! :-)

    Like 10
  2. Bob C.

    IMO 1973 was the last year for the best styled cars across the board. After that came the goofy 5 mph bumpers that ruined everything.

    Like 7
    • joenywf64

      Not with cars like the ’73 ford torino – compare to a ’72 torino front end.
      The ’73 firebird front bumper is also a 5 mph bumper & is VERY heavy – it was reinforced from ’72 – also quite heavy(compared to camaro’s). & the ’73 fb front bumper is just as heavy as a ’74 front bumper assembly.
      Back then, i believe car manufactures thought buyers wanted a change in styling at least every 4 years. & maybe also pontiac thought people had enough of endura’s cracking.
      Oddly, it is much easier to mount a 7 lb fiberglass ’74-5 aftmkt front bumper than a ’70-73 fiberglass one.

      Like 1
      • chuck

        Pontiac did a pretty good job with the 5 mph bumpers compared to Ford. The 72 Torino looked nice; then they slapped a hideous bumper on 73 and up. I’ve seen better looking guardrails.

        Like 1
  3. Troy s

    Really nice looking Firebird with enough gusto under hood to make it a fun car to drive. No, it’s not some rare Super Duty455 version but so what really. Formulas always reminded me more of muscle car/straight line crowd pleaser where as the Trans Am leaned to the sports car/Corvette types. Nice ride!

    Like 5
  4. Dan H

    Would be fun to buy it, install a Tremec 5 speed and drive the wheels off it.

    Like 3
  5. CCFisher

    Nice find! What was the difference, back in the day, between a Trans-Am driver and a Formula driver? The Trans-Am driver wore a leisure suit, and the Formula driver wore a denim jacket and jeans.

    To my eyes, the interior looks more “refurbished” than “restored.” The carpet looks new (I’m almost certain it should be black), but everything else looks like well-cleaned or freshly dyed original equipment. If the interior is indeed restored, then the cracked dash is a big disappointment.

    Like 6
  6. joenywf64

    Engine & turbo 400 rebuilt at 55k miles? Both should still be kickin at 255k miles unless seriously abused.
    Odd that functional ram air met drive by noise standards on the ’73 formula
    (& ’74 gto), but not on the t/a for ’73 or ’74!
    I’ve never seen orange carpet before on a 2nd gen f-body. Imagine trying to get that on a new “car” today! I’m guessing good condition or NOS(or repro?) orange pontiac floor mats are not ez to come by today.
    I would have sprung for 15″ wheels b4 considering extra cost 8-track, honeycomb wheels, delux interior, roof drip rails, & chrome wheelwell moldings – maybe this car was already on the dealer’s lot, tho. Good thing it don’t have unitized ignition. lol

    Like 3
    • Mike Ehrmantraut

      It was probably rebuilt because it was an anemic, 230hp slug. Would you restore a car to this degree and NOT rebuild the engine and transsmission? This seems like a silly observation from someone who has a lot of time on there hands but isn’t buying squat.

      Like 6
  7. Steve Clinton

    1973 – The nicest looking Firebird EVER, IMHO.

    Like 4
    • DON

      I agree ! I never really cared from them after 1975 when they put the larger rear glass in – just took the sporty look out of it IMHO

      Like 1
      • joenywf64

        Actually it was after the ’74 model year, tho the curved rear glass did reduce the blind spots.
        I thought the front end of the ’77-78 was a good restyle & i just can’t picture/see the “Smokey & Bandit” ’77 movie using a 2 headlite ’70-76 model instead.
        I think we all agree the ’79 “styling” up front(not the back) is terrible & i refuse to watch the Bandit sequel movies – & i heard i’m not missing much.

        Like 2
    • DON

      I totally agree !

      Like 2
  8. Lowell Peterson

    Sometimes the criticisms on BF are too funny. Maybe…too much time on the pot and too many car mag subscriptions? I dunno’, but it is the best morning read period! Keep ’em comin’!

    Like 8
  9. Al

    I’d take this hands down over that red ’75 smogged T/A earlier. Way too much for something you can’t go CAT-free with. Back in HS in ’77, I had a ’75 Formula 350. I had a set of Ram Air IV heads & an M-22 trans I acquired from a friend the year before that needed cash for $500. Although I had a ’74 Monte & no use for it, glad I saw into the future a year later! This Bird was yellow/black int, black rear spoiler & blacked the tail lens metal. It had a black/red/gray chicken on the hood, actually looked nice & overall, was mint. Powerwise, it lacked. It came to life putting those heads on after a set of 10:1 TRW in, Crane cam, Edelbrock Torquer, a Holley 650 dbl pmpr & Hooker headers scrapping the CAT. No worries about emissions then, as dads welding shop had ‘Repair’s’ plates, like Dealer plates, no assignment =no emission tests CT was strict with. Sourced the peddle assy & put the M-22 in. I cut out the inserts in that same hood & ran the duct work straight to a dual snorkel air cleaner. After 3 years, I traded it for a ’70 Vette conv 350/350 M-21 & regretted that trade after a couple of mos. The Formula was much faster & handled so much better with the GR70’s on all fours even though same skins on the Vette. If I bought this ’73, I’d do exactly what I done in ’77 with it, 100%! Not into the #’s matching unless it was something very rare. I drive them, not show em.

    Like 1
    • joenywf64

      Today, I believe u CAN go cat free with a ’75 model even in Calif.
      CARB did not do their homework & must have thought cats were 1st installed on ’76 models.
      If GR70s are equivalent to 225-70r15s today, they would be a VERY high profile tire with not very wide tread.
      235-60r15 or even 215-60r15 would be a better replacement choice.

      Like 1
      • Al

        Yeah I can’t actually recall the # size then. My cuz mng’d a Firestone store for over 30yrs then & all I recall when we ordered tires, was going by the letter ‘G’. Like the L60’s for the rears on the ’15s I had on others. They were picked as they were the largest, widest at the time, that wouldnt rub against the front wells.

  10. Richard Todte

    Does the 8 track tape come with it, I think I got rid of all mine 40m years ago :)

  11. BeCarSmart Member

    I LOVE these cars BUT this is a tough one…..IN MY OPINION. Reserve has to be high because the owner has WAY TOO MUCH money invested with a LOT of challenges.

    Starting with 73 (of 1970-73) not being the best HP year by far. Color both inside AND out BOTH individually will limit the buyers. It’s all done, you’re not going to do a color change now. No 4 speed will also turn away many.

    This car has to have near 6 figures in a restoration worth half of that in todays market. THEN, again, interior color and exterior color INDIVIDAULLY will limit buyers…..combined makes that even worse. Just saying the market is better on the orange with a black interior OR a white interior in a Black car. White interiors are an “acquired” taste at best.

    I have a 71 400 Ram Air 4 speed Firebird from a customer in my shop now, silver with black interior…..THAT checks most of the boxes.

    Good luck. Be careful what you restore and especially of your CHOICES of colors IF you have resale in mind. .

    Like 1

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