- Unrestored survivor
- 26,515 actual miles
- Original Protect-O-Plate
- Original Coronado Gold paint
- Original L78 400ci V8 (330hp)
- PX-code TH400 3-speed automatic
- 12-bolt open rear with 3.07 gears
- Factory power steering / brakes
- Factory air conditioning
While the Trans Am gets a lot of credit for being Pontiac's powerhouse of the muscle car era, you didn't need a screaming chicken decal, wheel spats, or air extractors to have a fast PMD product – all you needed was a Formula 400. They were fast, comfortable, and, with a restrained right foot, you could fly under the radar with one pretty easily. This 1970 Formula 400 is an impressive example with just 26,515 miles accumulated over the course of 43 years. The car has never been restored, retaining all its original pieces including the stout L78 400, TH400 transmission, and deluxe vinyl interior with air conditioning and power windows. Supported by its original Protect-O-Plate and sales documents, you won't have any trouble believing what you see either. Best off all, it's an unrestored, numbers-matching muscle car for under $30k. Regardless if you're looking for the first piece for your collection, or just a great Pontiac to cruise on the weekends, this bird is a great option all around.
We'll get started by decoding the VIN and cowl tag:
• 2: Pontiac
• 2: Firebird
• 6: Formula
• 87: Sport coupe
• 0: 1970
• N: Norwood
• 133XXX: Production sequence number
Cowl Tag highlights:
• 70: 1970 model year
• 22387: Pontiac Firebird sport coupe
• NOR: Assembled at GM's Norwood, OH manufacturing facility
• 751319: Fisher Body unit number
• 217: Deluxe Medium Sandalwood Vinyl interior
• 53: Coronado Gold paint
• W66: Formula merchandise package
• 07E: Scheduled for assembly on the 5th week of July
The car shipped from Norwood to Atlanta, GA where the sales team at Taber Pontiac introduced it to owner number one on August 8, 1970. While its hard to call anything with two giant hood scoops a “sleeper”, the combination of code 217 Coronado Gold paint and a Sandalwood vinyl top does a pretty good job of toning down the Firebird's naturally aggressive demeanor. The paint is mostly original factory work, sprayed over clean lines inspired by the styling of European cars like Maserati and Ferrari. Given the age of the paint, the level of gloss and overall lack of flaws are both impressive. Below the top coat, the GM sheet metal shows no obvious signs of repair and fitment is certainly on par for factory work of the day. Love or hate vinyl tops, this one is in great shape and does a nice job at both breaking up the gold paint and mixing with the light interior color.
Pontiac introduced the new bird late in the 1970 model year, so there was plenty of time to get the details right. Up front, the car borrows some GTO influence with an Endura nose completed by a pair of halogen headlamps, chrome-trimmed parking lamps, and a signature split grille with a right-justified Pontiac badge. This isn't a Ram Air car of any kind, so the twin hood scoops are purely cosmetic but it's hard to argue their impact on the car's overall look. The greenhouse is full of clean factory glass, surrounded by well-kept stainless trim and malleable weather stripping. The side profile offers corner markers at both ends with crisp “Firebird” and “Formula 400” badges, bright wheel molding, flaw-free rocker trim, and painted sport mirrors filling in the space between. Follow the sloping rear glass back towards a simple rear profile with distinct taillights, a body-hugging chrome bumper, Pontiac lettering above the license plate recess, and a fire chicken badge thrown in for good measure.
If you wanted the Formula name on your bird, some variation of Pontiac's potent 400ci V8 was coming with it. This F-body houses its original L78 400, factory rated at a stout 330hp and 430lb-ft of torque. The block wears a 9799914 casting number, F240 date code (June 24, 1970), and a YS stamp under the passenger side cylinder head to show its always been mated to an automatic. There's also a matching VIN derivative, though the “N” is sideways and one “3” appears to be replaced by an “8” (fairly common with hand-stamped pieces). Up top, a chrome-lidded dual snorkel air cleaner assembly conceals a Quadrajet four-barrel carburetor which bolts to a date-code correct 9799068 intake manifold. At either side, #13 heads with 72cc chambers sit underneath well-preserved chrome valve covers with matching breathers. The belt drive spins accessories that include a Harrison air conditioning compressor, an alternator, and a power steering pump while, opposite, a factory-style radiator works with an engine-driven fan to keep the engine bay cool. A reproduction Delco battery fits right in, surrounded by details like inspection marks, correct hoses, and factory decals. Turn the key and the 400 comes to life with ease, exhaling through well-aged and date-code appropriate exhaust manifolds. Authenticity is definitely king here.
Slide underneath this Tin Indian to admire the well-preserved stock chassis below. You may have seen “unrestored” earlier and expected a study of surface rust underneath, but everything is surprisingly clean and seemingly unfazed by 43 years of boulevard cruising. Behind the 400, a PX-code TH400 3-speed automatic hangs in place, authenticated by a matching VIN derivative (though, like the engine, one “3” is replaced by an “8”in the stamp). Power flows back to a 12-bolt open rear with highway-friendly 3.07 gears while 14-inch Pontiac Rally wheels wrapped in F70-14 Goodyear Polyglas put that power to the road. When the roads get twisty, the surprisingly nimble combination of an independent A-arm front and leaf spring rear with sway bars at both ends handles each curve with grace. These weren't especially light cars, so the factory power steering is a welcome addition as is the power-assisted from disc and rear drum brakes. Other undercarriage highlights include the clean red oxide floor pans and factory-style dual exhaust system tempered by a transverse muffler. Out back, a clean stainless fuel tank rounds out the underside's offerings.
Between the doors, the car's code 53 Deluxe Medium Sandalwood vinyl interior offers both style and comfort well beyond most of its contemporaries. At ground level, pristine Fisher Body door sill plates anchor clean tan carpets protected by slightly lighter floor mats. A center console tops the transmission hump, offering control of both the power windows and TH400 below. At either side, vinyl-wrapped bucket seats that shows virtually zero wear offer front-row seating for two, while a compact rear seat makes room for your smaller friends. The door panels present as new and a taut factory headliner stretches overhead, completed by matching sun visors, a center-mounted dome light, and shoulder belts. Slide into the driver seat to admire the wood-veneered instrument bezel filled out by dark factory instrumentation including a 160mph speedometer and a multi-function gauge with a clock in the center. To the right, controls for the HVAC system are positioned above the stock Delco AM/FM radio. In front of the passenger, a handy grab bar sits above a lockable glove box. More lockable storage can be found out back where the trunk space holds onto to its factory floor mat, spare tire, roadside tools, and factory decals for a completely authentic presentation.
Included in the sale is a treasure trove of historical documents mostly centered around the car's original sale at Taber Pontiac. Documents include the original salesman's worksheet, invoice, bill of sale, pre-delivery checklist, owner's manual, warranty information, consumer information, registration, and best of all, the car's Protect-O-Plate.
While the L78 400, automatic transmission, and great list of options like factory air should be all the convincing you need to pick up the phone and give us a call, the car offers so much more than that. This is an unrestored Pontiac-built piece with its original hardware intact. It's documented, clean, and it can be yours for under $30k. This car doesn't even need a sales pitch. If you're looking for the intersection of value, history, and fun, you simply won't find better than this 1970 Firebird Formula 400.