Lot 328: 1968 Pontiac Firebird 400 Convertible
Six months after Chevrolet’s Camaro came on the market Pontiac introduced its upscale counterpart, the Firebird, in January 1967. While it used the basic Camaro design, including the same 108” wheelbase, Firebird was distinctively Pontiac in appearance, with a pronounced “Coke bottle” shape, split front grille air intake and model-specific taillights.
Both of GM’s pony cars avoided the mistake which Ford made with the first generation Mustang and left plenty of room between the front wheels to drop in any conceivable big block engine, and there were many from which to choose in the Chevy and Pontiac arsenal. Pontiac made the decision to market Firebirds in distinctive, coordinated equipment packages, ranging from the overhead camshaft six-cylinder Firebird up to the pavement melting Firebird 400.
Even with a late start to the model year Pontiac delivered 82,560 1967 Firebirds. 64,896 of them were V-8s, leaving no doubt that Firebird buyers were willing to pay for performance.
Pontiac refined the Firebird’s packages for 1968 and replaced the proprietary Pontiac 326 cubic inch V8 with the corporate 350 and placing greater emphasis on the 400 cubic inch stagger valve V-8, now offered in four distinct configurations. Pontiac fitted staggered rear shocks to counteract wheel hop but styling changes were limited, most noticeably eliminating the door vent windows. The concept was a success, with 107,112 Firebirds sold during the year. Of them 16,960 were convertibles.
The Firebird 400 package was built around the 330hp 400 cubic inch V-8 engine equipped with dual exhausts, heavy duty battery, springs and shocks and a Power Flex fan. Under the hood the engine was dressed up with a chrome air filter housing and chrome valve covers while the hood itself received a pair of small scoops with “400” identification on each. The coordinated 400 package added only $351 to the base Firebird’s price with the 4-speed transmission.
Bruce Willis’s 1968 Pontiac Firebird 400 Convertible is an essentially stock and fully equipped example in triple Black including a very attractive cloth top. Its equipment is highly desirable including factory air conditioning, front disc brakes with power assist, power steering, 4-speed manual transmission and its original radio which has been augmented by a powerful Alpine stereo system with custom speakers tucked into the back of the car. The Firebird 400 hood scoops are complemented by one of Pontiac’s characteristic hood-mounted tachometers. Bruce also had it fitted with a set of highly polished Cragar S/S alloy wheels and BFG raised white letter tires.
It has been left at Bruce’s father’s home to drive during visits so has had little use. The transmission recently was rebuilt to keep it instantly ready to be used and enjoyed. An attractive and very drivable Firebird convertible, its presentation is sharp and sound.
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Bonhams, The Petersen Automotive Museum, Los Angeles, California
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