Curbside fans, I’m back with more vehicular mayhem, and the good news is that I’ve teleported directly into 1974 with the purchase of this amazingly beautiful 1974 Firebird. Although its relative newness may take some getting used to, its poetry on wheels styling makes me weak in the knees. Eastbound and down!
I dragged this car home on the back of a U-Haul trailer this afternoon, so some acclimation will be necessary; however, I have no doubt that we’ll become fast friends. On the other hand, a little voice in the back of my head whispers the word “hoarder” incessantly. I’m at the point where I’m stashing cars in other locations, and I’m not sure that’s a “healthy adult” thing to do.
Anyway, when in Rome…or, uh, Pontiac in this case… Unfortunately, the Firebird’s been sitting unused for 15 years, so it will need the typical everything that everything I ever buy needs, but I can’t wait to do it. This is the summer project extraordinaire that I’ve been waiting for lately, so the long hours of replacing brakes, hoses, calipers, bearings, and seals will be well worth it, even if only to sit in the driveway so I can stare at it. It might not be Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus,” but I’m in love just the same.
Bill Mitchell and his talented minions made a masterpiece from potential malaise. Most ’74 models were a precipitous step down from preceding models, but I’m not so sure that the Firebird is retrograde to the ’73. I personally like them both equally and always have.
For those who are interested in the nuts and bolts of my new situation; it’s propelled by a 350 Pontiac with a Rochester two-barrel, backed by a Turbo 350 and the usual labyrinth that is 1974 emission control. Its loud twice pipes (factory-issue, by the way) promise more bark than bite, but then again, who cares about speed anyway?
The color is apparently Buccaneer Red, and its interior is red to match. Those rally wheels will look just right with some much newer tires.
I’m certain there will be more updates to come between forays into my other (gasp) five antique darlings, but it promises to be a summer of mechanical fun coming up, and I can’t wait. As my coworker said, “Let’s get a fifth of Southern Comfort and a Molly Hatchet 8-track and hit the road!” Amen, brother.
Good to see you back. That looks like a nice addition to the fleet. I recall two Buicks a Mustang and the Dart wagon what is number 5?
The 1974 Firebird did about the best job of incorporating the 5-mph bumpers with urethane covers of any automobile I can think of. That’s a really nice looking ride. Congratulations on your acquisition.
I thought they did a good job with the Corvette.
Nice! I approve!
You are going to have a ball with that.
I’ve always liked Firebirds, for the same reason I prefer Cougars over Mustangs….they come across as just a tiny bit more special than their more popular “sisters”.
However, if given a choice, I would DEFINITELY pick a ’73 Firebird over a ’74. But either year, I’d buy an Espirit and this one is a honey. Red over red is so unusual nowadays, but was considered to be quite sporty in the 60s and early 70s.
Like others here, will be interested in reading more about this car and your other cars.
It’s a toss-up between the ’73 and ’74. If you’re going for spoilers, hood scoops, and more of a traditional musclecar vibe, the ’73.
However, the clean Rockford Files Espirit look of the a ’74 (or later) isn’t bad, either.
I picked the 73 over the 74 because the 73 still has the “original-style” bumper that debuted on the 70 models….though the grille texture is different, and the rear-end treatment on the 74 does away with the metal bumper.
BTW, the rear spoiler was optional on the Espirit and of course, the “Rockford” Firebird never had one.
Yeah, I’m rather more of a fan of the non-spoiler Esprit than the flashier, spoiler-festooned cars. I even think it was possible to get a 400 in an Esprit (for a while, anyway, and it might have been the lo-po two-barrel version). In fact, if I were to build a ‘perfect’ 2nd-gen Firebird, it would be a 1975 model to get the better wrap-around rear window, but with the cleaner 1974 front end, which had the turn signals down in the bumper rather than in the grille.
74 formula sans spoilers, air dams, and mud flaps…but with the 455 and a stick
Very nice! Here’s hoping that the 2 bbl 350 is more lively in this than it was in my mother’s 74 Luxury LeMans. Of course, the LeMans was packing a lot more weight.
And what – no pictures of the inside!?! You’re killing us, Aaron.
Seriously, this looks like a lot of fun. Most people get into an old car rut and stay there. You, my friend, are the picture of eclectic. 50s, 60s, 70,s GM, Ford, Chrysler. I’m thinking an AMC next year. Some people get one of those little Hallmark car christmas tree ornaments every year. You do the real thing. 🙂
I also buy the Hallmark ornaments, or my wife and mom do. 🙂
I’m thinking an AMC next year.
This 68 Rebel has been on offer in Wisconsin for months. Appears to be a very nice original example. I posted the ad on an AMC page I read on FB begging someone to buy it so I’ll stop drooling.
I like mid-’60s Ramblers, but I was perilously close to buying either a Volvo Amazon or a Volvo PV544 two weeks ago. Naturally, I ended up with a red Firebird.
Welcome back, Aaron… Wondered where you were.
Thought you were pulling an Agent Fox Mulder on us.
Nice addition to your fleet, love the clean lines of the Esprit… I know Jim Rockford would approve.
Almost, looks like a Super Duty, sans stickers and hood scoop.
I, like you, have also added ANOTHER classic to my, already, automotive hoard, but from the next decade from yours… Also, from the Malaise Era, a 1981 Datsun 280zx.
Hope to write a COAL on that one, as well as my other fleet members… All 8, I mean 9, of them.
I had to LOL, at that stashing cars at various locations…. Amen, I have 4 in garages, 1 at my friend’s repair facility, 1 daily driver, and 3 parked behind my job.
We gotta stop the insanity. 😉
Okay, now I’m jealous. Not just at this Firebird, which looks to be in excellent condition and wearing a beautiful shade of red, but that you seem to have space and time to work on all these cars.
The building where I store one of my cars changed hands this year and the new owners almost doubled their rates. I need to find better arrangements so I can drag something else home.
Good luck hording. This reminds me of the 74′ base Firebird which I bought circa 1991. It was junk and I was young and stupid, but it still provided fun memories for me. Might do a COAL on it some day.
The photos were pictured in 1991:
I know where this picture was taken.
And this is from some classic cars’ meeting. Note the much better-condition 79′ T/A in the background. I was sooooo jealous…
Nice score! James Garner would be proud of you.
Nice!!! You are by no means a car hoarder. Your cars are in great shape, look great and each one is worthy of car shows.
To me a car hoarder is some hillbilly with 20 Elcaminos rusting away in his backyard in various stages of disassembly.
in the forth pic Is there smoke coming from the exhaust pipes? That means the car is running, so it is not a total rebuild.
Good luck with your car
+1 to that. A ‘hoarder’ is someone letting perfectly preservable iron rot away and become worthless. Now THATS something I take issue with. Having a lot of cars that are maintained and enjoyed…we should all be so lucky.
Now, is this guy a hoarder or just a wise investor? 🙂
“It might not be Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus…'”
Actually, it’s better. Gorgeous car, a real keeper.
You have one patient wife.
My girlfriend is constantly whining at me about my one old car.
That is a fact. She is, without question, the best thing that’s ever happened to me. I am completely aware of how lucky I am. 🙂
Welcome back and nice score! This is from my birth year and one of the last ‘ 2nd gen. Birds that still kept the purity of the body lines. Later rendidtions like The Bandit’s ride just looked heavier with all the tacked on doodads.
This is a great looking car, and passing it up would have been a lot crazier than hoarding clean drivable classics!
Nice-looking acquisition! I look forward to hearing more about this car as work progresses. It it were me, I’d probably replace the 2-bbl with a 4 for a little more oomph…but other than that, it looks to be quite nice as-is. The body is definitely straight and clean, and shiny–is that the original paint?
P.S. no interior photos?
Ditto, nice score, it looks like it was well looked-after prior to being put away.
Beautiful car. I always preferred TransAms without the graphics, if possible, like my own ’81, but an Esprit with styled wheels and without white walls looks very nice too. And I’m in the minority that likes the slant-back nose as much or more than the original nose, at least in round headlight form. And 1974 is exempt from California smog laws …. hmmm. As for Molly Hatchett, I prefer Sammay Hagar “I can’t drive 55” though any time one gets behind the wheel of a red Firebird could be flirting with disaster.
I thought for sure the next one would be an AMC…
One thing you have to do is take the restrictor plate off and give the Red Dragon a little more juice. But that’s not exactly street legal, so keep it on the down low.
“Let’s get a fifth of Southern Comfort and a Molly Hatchet 8-track and hit the road!” Amen, brother.
I think that’s what the 70s were all about. Congrats on the car
Cant stop there…gotta have your B.T.O, 38 Special, AC/DC, Bad Company, and definitely some Zeppelin. For a roadtrip to come together you it takes the right car, the right companion(s), and the right tunes!
How can you guys forget about Bob Seger?
Very nice Aaron, although I’m still a greater fan of the dirty Dart..
That Firestone Wide Oval brings back memories, I had a pair on the back of my Matador, G70-14s which I found separately in different junkyards. The fact that they had age cracks down to the cords never deterred teenaged me from using them anyway…
You are indeed a lucky man, despite being a mechanic’s daughter Mrs DougD’s patience is limited to one old car.
For some reason, I’ve never been a fan of this generation Firebird, or even its twin, the Camaro. There are some exceptions, however. My favourite Firebird of this generation is the car used in Smoky and the Bandit, with Burt Reynolds.
I do like the condition and the colour of this Firebird in this article.
This car looks sweet! Can’t wait to read your excellent tech articles on this one!
Now, everyone has to guess what vehicle we
can see a fraction of in the lower-RH corner of
the third photo, where the Bird is parked in the
driveway! The seafoam/periwinkle colored
I’m going to guess it is of British or French
His ’65 Dart wagon. https://www.curbsideclassic.com/uncategorized/coal-the-dirty-dart-or-how-ebay-makes-one-do-stupid-things-sometimes/
Love it. I have a 1981 Nascar pace car replica and enjoy it immensely despite the obvious shortcomings under the hood. Removing the T-tops and going for a Sunday drive is just bliss plus I can actually see out of the darn thing and fit quite well inside. There is something so cool about seeing the basic Firebird and Esprit version in a sea of Trans Ams and Z-28’s.
Glad to see you back here at CC, Aaron. And what a nice acquisition, these cars were beautiful, and I also agree that the Firebird handled the large bumpers better than almost anything else. Congratulations.
You should just get it over with and open up a museum with your bikes and cars. I’d be there in a jiffy, because I’ve had experience with similar cars and bikes in my past.
Fun. Nice addition to the fleet – you probably have something now that fits just about every mood or occasion.
A little GM love here, they really did do a decent job with the F car in this era – especially in view of the overall market. They handled tightly and really felt different compared to just about any other domestic on the road. Styling seemed to handle the Federal dictates better than most.
I typically drove big iron in the ’80s after the State of Nebraska saw fit to allow me on the roads. A friend had a ’78 or so Trans Am that I got to drive a few times, and it was a lot of fun and quite a different experience for me.
Nice car! Love the Buccaneer red. Have fun restoring it, too. It should make for a cool project and well worth it, too. Anything you put into it will only increase the value! I wonder how rare your car is ordered with the Esprit package, 350 V-8 and spoiler?
My brother’s ’74 Trans Am was the same red with a black vinyl top (odd but cool in a unique way) and black vinyl custom buckets. It was also a 4-speed with the rare SD-455 engine. When I tell you that car was fast that is an understatement! Sadly, he was young and stupid and beat the crap out of that car. My father forced him to sell it after many speeding tickets and such. If he had it today it would be worth a ton. Oh well, live and learn!
Very nice find. It’s the body and especially the interior that matter in old cars.
It’s incredibly easy to bolt 100 hp on these cars.
I’m ahead so far…the interior needs a cleaning and a headliner, but that’s it. The body is largely solid (especially for Michigan). The decklid needs paint and the whole car needs to be wheeled out. It runs, but not super well. Lots of old vacuum hoses, etc. need to be worked out. The brakes need to be gone through, and that’s pretty much the first priority.
So will I see you showing the Firebird at the Motor Muster next June?
With a Corvair, Dart and Firebird, no one can accuse you of having a one track mind. I tend to imitate Noah: had 2 early 80s Mazda GLCs, then they were followed by 2 late 90s Civics.
Now, my daily driver is a Jetta wagon, and this caught my eye the other day. $6,500, only 23,000 miles, in Minneapolis. Fortunately I know from talking to a Dasher owner last summer that the little plastic bits this old are brittle, break often, and are unobtanium.
I actually really dig ’70s Dashers, the earlier the better.
Like my Buicks/Dart, however, parts availability might be rough. That’s the benefit side of the Firebird–Mustang levels of parts availability!
I actually really dig ’70s Dashers, the earlier the better.
I love the styling, but they were reliability nightmares when new. VW had a long learning curve when they gave up on the Type 1 Bug architecture.
I like the later versions. They gave up on the carb and went to EFI, and went to a 1.6L engine instead of the 1.5, in 76, so drivability was a lot better. The 78s got the new front clip new instrument panel and upgraded interior, plush carpet and velour upholstery, though this wagon has vinyl.
…parts availability might be rough.
It is. This 75 showed up at the Gilmore’s German show last summer. I picked the owner’s brain quite a bit. The plastic clips for the windshield visors are broken, as are some plastic clips in the engine compartment, brittle with age, and he can’t find replacements. The stitching in the vinyl upholstery is rotten and breaking. The seats were stuffed with horsehair, which has disintegrated, so you sit right on the springs. The front corner lights are hard to find. The lenses are easy enough, but the metal bezels are very pricey. He saw one NOS bezel on eBay, but gave up when the bid topped $80. The car had been on display in a VW dealer’s showroom for 30 years, so only has 9,000 miles on it, but all the rubber is failing. He replaced the coolant hoses and CV joint boots, but there is a rubber grommet in the firewall that he can’t find a replacement for.
Nothing is really unobtanium any more though – you can make replacements for almost anything using 3d printing. You don’t even need a fancy scanner to make the file – your phone can do it using AutoDesk 123D. A piece the size of a visor clip would be $20 or less in nylon. Lots of materials available too: ABS is the most common for home 3d printers, but you can get sintered nylon which is quite strong, and even metal. (Look at Shapeways.com).
And of course there are “Maker Space” shops in a lot of cities now, where you can use their printer and even get access to a CNC too.
A piece the size of a visor clip would be $20 or less in nylon.
Then there is a great opportunity for someone doing VW visor clips. This Fox was at the same show. 15 years newer than the Dasher. Visor clips also broken.
My brother owned this car’s twin, only in gold inside and out.
The times I drove it I found the 350 engine a mellow, torquey treat; with more than enough “oooomph” for normal driving.
Does this car have “Trans Am” dashboard full of gauges? My brother’s car did, with fake wood grain in place of the TA’s “engine turned” insert.
It’s woodgrain with a clock, temp, volt, and oil pressure gauges.
Excellent! Keep an eye on the water temperature gauge when you start driving it.
We had several Firebirds/Trans Ams in my extended family. When using the excellent Air Conditioning these Ponchos have a tendency to overheat in traffic if the fan clutch is not up to 100% potential. The radiator MUST be spotless inside also.
While most of the hype back in the day was on the Trans Am, the Formula and Esprit could be optioned to look quite nice. I like the looks of your Firebird Aaron. The rally wheels are a nice touch and the bumpers are done much better than what they did in following years.
Nice summer project…
Hey, great looking Firebird. It brings back memories of the red on red 1980 Formula I had for three years or so. I hope we get to read more about your adventures with it.
What a great find. These were really great cars. Enjoy it!
I would’a hit the hit the road with a dozen Labbat’s and a BTO tape. Regional thing I guess…
Nice ride, and I haven’t seen a set of Polyglas GTs in long time. I’m envious!
It’s certainly a beautiful car, although with a 350 2bbl, it’s performance probably isn’t very good and the fuel economy is terrible. My dad had a ’73 Ventura II with the 350 2bbl, it also had the rally wheels like your Firebird and dual exhausts. It’s performance was adequate, but the fuel economy was terrible-on a good day it might get 13 mpg. If memory serves me right by that time the compression ratio on the engine had dropped to 7.6 to 1. The poor mileage combined with quality control issues (water leaks in the trunk) were not endearing. After my father died, I sold it.
Dear Santa, | still would like a Pontiac Firebird,a flying V guitar and some leather pants.
Gem Whitman age 58,PS Mike Monroe’s phone number would be nice also.
634 5789. No, wait… that’s Wilson Pickett’s
A Firebird was one of the primary vehicles featured in the 1970’s TV show “The Rockford Files” starring James Garner.
That car looks remarkable after sitting unused for 15 years. Must’ve been very carefully stored by the previous owner.
Unless you want to restore the Firebird to its original factory condition, I’d can the Poncho 350/2-bbl and put something a little more modren in the engine compartment, especially since stuff like cornohol from the local filling station will prolly eat the original motor alive.
You should be able to find a new or used Goodwrench 350 with EFI and get quite an upgrade from the 155 hp of the original engine.
Nice car the body looks solid and thats most of the battle with classics finding something complete and rust free, after some wrench turning that will be a great ride jealous much.
Nice car, but a few things look off for an Esprit. The reason I say is that in 1974 factory dual exhaust with the 350 was only available on the Formula. Also, the Esprit had a bright roof drip molding. The 350 engine callout on the fender also looks strange. The previous owner may have made some mods.
1. Not true. The VIN calls for a 350 with dual exhaust. It was an option on the Esprit.
2. Remember those Rockford Esprits? They had a “400” callout in the same place.
3. You’re right. It’s missing the drip moldings. I’ll be sure to fix that before my next concours event. 🙂
Just going by a ’74 Firebird brochure I found on the Internet. Wouldn’t be the first time a brochure contained incorrect or incomplete info. Back in that time mid-model year option adjustments were not uncommon. Remember my Dad being pissed when the ’69 LTD he ordered came without a clock, even though the brochure said it was standard.
With the optional gage package and rare (for an Esprit) duals, you have a rare ‘bird indeed. Good find.
Really nice car, Dual exhaust in 1974 meant dual outlet transverse muffler– I’m sure someone can hook you up with true duals.
nice Bird! I had a 74 Formula 400/4 speed for a time it was a great car, same color as yours with no rear spoiler.