Learn About The 3rd Gen Firebird Formula

May 16, 2021 2 min read
Learn About The 3rd Gen Firebird Formula

This budget muscle car is beloved by many.


Yes, by today’s performance standards the 3rd Gen Pontiac Firebird Formulas aren’t astounding, but from 1987 through 1992 they provided some much-needed thrills for gearheads who also wanted a new muscle car. The majority of the 1970s and well into the 1980s were an automotive performance wasteland in America, a point Europeans like to laugh about while they possibly hurtling toward something similar in the near future. Anyway, with American cars getting hotter as the 80s progressed, a real performance bargain re-emerged, the fabled Firebird Formula.

image credit: YouTube

We have Ford’s move of dropping the 5.0-liter V8 in the budget-oriented Mustang LX. That car was offered for a rather affordable with starting MSRP of $9,885. That opened up a whole world of performance for many younger drivers who were sick of driving econoboxes that did 0-60 in 12 seconds. Yes, it didn’t have the swagger of the Mustang GT, but Ford’s move in 1985 set off a chain of events that eventually led to the creation of the 3rd Gen Firebird Formula which was both affordable and flashy.

Too many people confuse the Formulas with Trans Ams and to the non-Pontiac fan it’s probably all the same in their mind. By the late 80s the Trans Am had increased in price as more premium features were added. Pontiac decided to offer the Formula once more, allowing buyers to get the Trans Am’s top engine in a less expensive package. In fact, base MSRP for the Formula was just over $10,000. This meant Pontiac could compete directly against the 5.0 Mustang LX.

This move showed Pontiac’s continual dedication to accessible performance. It’s really too bad the brand was thrown in the scrap heap by GM, because that approach could be very popular and lucrative today.

Thanks to the success of the Formula’s reboot in the late 80s, Pontiac kept offering the car all the way until the Trans Am and Firebird were done at the end of 2002.

If you want to learn even more about the 3rd Gen Formula, check out this video.

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