Following the energy crisis in 1973, the American automobile industry started to change drastically. For the first time in history, gas mileage started to out gun horsepower in the consumer’s eyes, and it wasn’t too much longer that we lost great names like the Challenger and Barracuda. Pontiac, on the other hand, decided that it was still going to press on with its Firebird and continued to build performance cars with massive power plants under the hood.
This 1974 Pontiac Firebird Formula 350 is an excellent representation of how incredible these machines were. This ’74 ‘Screamin Chicken’ has the original drivetrain, an amazing look, and a very well done black vinyl interior. But before we get too far into the car lets decode the VIN and fender tag:
•U: Firebird Formula
•87: Hardtop Coupe (Firebird)
•N: V8-350 2V DE
•N: Assembled in Norwood, Ohio
•135459: Sequential production number
•ST74: 1974 Model Year
•2FS87: Pontiac Firebird 2-door hardtop
•N: Norwood Ohio assembly plant
•158122: Production sequence
•576: Black Vinyl interior
•A51: Modular seat code
•29: Admiralty blue lower body code
•29: Admiralty blue upper body code
•D2C: Gear, speedo driven
•W66: Formula package
If you noticed when we decoded the fender tag, originally this bird left the factory covered in Admiralty Blue. However today it sits covered top to bottom in a vibrant red. 1974 brought a few changes to the body of the Firebird. Gone was the Endura bumper, which was replaced by the shovel-nose which we see on this ’74. Within the nose is the split grille which contains Pontiac lettering. In between the grille is the famous Firebird logo which sits just above the front bumper. Above the bumper is the Formula hood that features two massive non-functional air scoops. As you make your way down the fenders you’ll pass the chrome Formula 350 badging that sits just behind the front tires. 1974 also brought wide slotted taillights to the rear bumper. Just above those slotted tail lights is another flaming chicken logo that rests upon the small rear spoiler. The look is finished off by the chrome rear dual exhausts that were omitted the following year in 1975, thanks in part to the new government mandated catalytic converters.
Pop the hood and you’ll see how speed comes courtesy of the original 350ci V8 that was rated to crank out a modest 155hp. The Pontiac blue block wears a correct partial VIN, YA stamp and a 378686 casting number. At the top of the engine is the standard black air filter that sits on a 2-barrel carburetor. The small block fills up the black engine bay quite nicely and comes with factory power steering and originally had factory A/C although the compressor and lines have been removed.
Underneath the Firebird is very clean, given most of these cars were put through the rigors of a very hard life. At the front, the Firebird utilizes a double A-arm front suspension, while in the rear you’ll find a standard leaf spring suspension setup. Spent gasses travel out of the cast iron headers and through dual exhausts equipped with an H-pipe setup. Just above the dual exhausts, bolted to the light blue Pontiac block, is the original 3-speed automatic transmission. Stopping power for the Firebird comes courtesy of power front disc brakes and power rear drum brakes. The entire ride sits on 15” Rally II rims that have been wrapped in BF Goodrich rubber.
Open the doors to this Firebird and you’ll find a correct black vinyl interior that is amazingly well preserved. In front of the driver’s bucket seat is the three spoke steering wheel with yet another flaming chicken logo in the center. Beyond the steering wheel are the analog clock and the 160mph speedo that both flank the fuel gauge. Directly below the aftermarket Pioneer AM/FM/CD Player controls is an aftermarket three gauge pod that reveal oil pressure, amps, and water temperature. Firebird floor mats sit on the black carpet, while behind the front seats are two rear bucket seats.
Past 1974, the Pontiac Firebird became one of the last performance coupes in the American automobile lineup. The Barracuda and Challenger met their end in ’75 and were followed by the AMC Javelin. Chevrolet continued to offer the Corvette, but even killed the Z/28 brand. Thankfully, Pontiac continued to build amazing machines like this 1974 Pontiac Firebird. Pontiac was eventually awarded for their dedication to continue to build American Performance machines, as it wasn’t too much longer that the Firebird was the focal point of the movie Smokey and the Bandit. With a near bulletproof drivetrain, very well done interior, and a superbly clean underside, this 1974 Formula 350 is set to make a lucky buyer extremely proud. Don’t miss your chance to own this amazingly well cared for Firebird.