“Say hello to Big Daddy.” 1969 Firebird sales brochure.
- The Trans Am was introduced as a performance and appearance package in 1969.
- While still based on the styling of the 1967 and 68 models, the 1969 Firebirds featured more aggressive styling.
- Though this model marks the last of the first-generation Firebirds, it was produced into early 1970.
Muscle Car Specifications
Both the Firebird and its General Motors cousin the Camaro did a rare thing in 1969 and underwent significant restyles even though a full restyle was coming the following year. But both cars were still selling relatively well, so the move paid off for GM.
The most striking change to the Firebird occurred at the front of the car with the fact that the headlights were now separated from the grille and the use of a new bumper. This also helped distinguish the Firebird from the similar looking Camaro. The broader fenders and wider look gave the car a more muscular look. Otherwise, the car shared many features with the 1968 models.
But the big news was the new Trans Am package, a name that would stick with the Firebird for decades to come. Though only around 700 Trans Ams were sold, they represented a preview of what was to come for the Firebird. The packages weren’t more powerful than other available Firebirds, but the looks and the handling of the Trans Am set them apart from the others. The car featured a special scooped hood, a deck spoiler, fender vents and, that year, a white with blue stripe paint scheme, exclusively. It also was distinguished by its larger tires.
Elsewhere in the line, engine options were nearly identical to the 1968 models. The base cars came with a 250 CID six-cylinder engine that produced 175 horsepower. This could be upgraded to a 4-barrel version of the same engine that produced a solid (for a six-cylinder at the time) 230 horsepower.
As the buyer moved up into the V8 options, there were two versions of a 350 CID engine, a 2-barrel that produced 255 horsepower and a 4-barrel that produced 325 horsepower. There were three models of Pontiac’s 400 CID V8. The first produced 330 horsepower, while the 400 H.O. Ram Air upped that to 335 and was standard in the Trans Am. Lastly, the 400 Ram Air SD topped them all at 345 horsepower.
While total production was down over the previous year to 87,708, this only represented a drop of about 18 percent. The number still represents a very strong showing by Pontiac as it prepared to roll out the second-generation Firebirds.
Of the total production, 76,051 were hardtop models. The base MSRP for these cars in 1969 was $2,831. Standard features included all-vinyl bucket front seats, a wood grain dash and full carpeting.
The convertibles sales numbers were dropping faster than those of the hardtop, and 11,657 were produced through the 1969 model year. These cars had a base price of $3,045.
Pony Car Competition
1969 was one of the best years for all of the pony cars that were available at the time (Dodge Challenger would be introduced the following year), and as such, it was a great year for the Firebird. Firebird sales trailed both the still best selling Mustang and the Camaro, though they did run close to (albeit a little behind) that of the Mercury Cougar. At the bottom of the pony car sales numbers were the AMC Javelin and the Plymouth Barracuda.
Many of the pony cars would be restyled for 1970, which marked the time when performance really started to grow for the pony cars, including the Firebird. Unfortunately, much of the performance gained would be killed throughout the early 1970s by government regulations and rising insurance prices.
|W53||250ci||1x4bbl||215 hp @ 5200 rpm||255 lb-ft @ 3800 rpm|
|I6||250ci||1x1bbl||175 hp @ 4800 rpm||240 lb-ft @ 2600 rpm|
|L76||350ci||1x4bbl||325 hp @ 5100 rpm||380 lb-ft @ 3200 rpm|
|L30||350ci||1x2bbl||265 hp @ 4600 rpm||355 lb-ft @ 2800 rpm|
|Ram-Air IV||400ci||1x4bbl||345 hp @ 5400 rpm||430 lb-ft @ 3700 rpm|
|L74||400ci||1x4bbl||335 hp @ 5000 rpm||430 lb-ft @ 3400 rpm|
|W66||400ci||1x4bbl||330 hp @ 4800 rpm||430 lb-ft @ 3300 rpm|
|0 to 60 mph||Quarter Mile||Engine||Source|
|n/a||14.6 sec @ 99.2 mph||400ci/345hp||Road Test 7/69|
|n/a||14.2 sec @ 99.0 mph||400ci/345hp||Car & Driver 2/93|
|n/a||14.2 sec @ 95.4 mph||400ci/345hp||Car Life 4/69|
|n/a||14.1 sec @ 100.8 mph||400ci/345hp||Hot Rod 3/69|
|5.6 sec||14.1 sec @ 100.8 mph||400ci/345hp||Hot Rod 1969|
|6.5 sec||14.3 sec @ 101.7 mph||400ci/335hp||Sports Car Graphic 4/69|