Olds Option: 1978 Pontiac Firebird Formula 400 – $22,900

by | Jun 2022 | Classifinds, Malaise Monday

(To stop the slideshow and expand the pictures, click on the current photograph below)

Late 1970s emissions regulations had automobile manufacturers scrambling to offer engines that could meet the standards.  For reasons not entirely clear today, in 1978 if a potential Firebird buyer wanted a 400 cubic inch V8 mated to an automatic, their new Pontiac actually featured an Oldsmobile 403 cubic inch V8. That’s what we believe is going on with this unmolested, survivor-quality, 1978 Pontiac Firebird 400 currently listed here on Craigslist in Knoxville, Tennesee.  More interesting is the fact either the seller does not know this nuance or they are hoping potential buyers aren’t aware.

Currently offered for $22,900, Classic.com, the analytics and search engine for the collector car market, confirms the ask is well below the one-year rolling average of this guide’s summary for second-generation 1978 Pontiac Firebirds in all trim levels. We do note that this guides estimates in this case heavily reflect Trans Am sales versus lower-trim models for that year.  By clicking on the green dots in the graph below, you can navigate to each comparable car sold as a way to help you evaluate the price of the Firebird featured here:

As a second data point, the  Collector Car Market Review Online Tool reveals the seller’s ask falls between this guide’s #2 Very Good” estimate of $15,900 and its #1 “Excellent” appraisal of $24,100.

Entering its ninth model year run, changes to the Pontiac Firebird lineup for 1978 were slight, with a switch from a honeycomb to a crosshatch pattern grille being the most notable change to the body style.  T-tops in 1978 transitioned from Hurst units to Fisher (GM) in mid-year.

The W72 engine option also saw a revision to the camshaft duration and the tuning of the Rochester Quadrajet which lead to a 10% increase in horsepower from the following year, bringing the total to 220 hp. The WS6 special performance package developed by Herb Adams was introduced as a handling option for the Trans Am, including a larger diameter rear sway bar, tighter ration steering box, 15×8 snowflake wheels, additional frame bracing, as well as other suspension changes. Delays in manufacturing prevented the rear disc brake (RPO J65) from being available on the 1978 model year.

The Memory Museum YouTube Channel features this 1978 Pontiac Firebird lineup commercial that appears to be shot in front of the gates of hell:

While the pictures provided show a clean, unmolested 1978 Firebird Formula, you’ll need to ask the seller for the VIN number to confirm their car actually features the Oldsmobile 403 V8. That nuance aside, this appears to be a nicely equipped Firebird that even features factory A/C. Judging from the empty dashboard facing, you’ll need to replace the radio.

If you are serious about buying this Firebird Formula, you can start the conversation by emailing the seller.  When you connect, please remember to mention you saw their rare Firebird featured here on GuysWithRides.com. Good luck with the purchase!

Here’s the seller’s description:

“1978 Formula 400 Firebird
400 cubic inch engine
3 speed automatic
Interior is immaculate
Runs and drives great
No known issues
I’ve found a lot of trans ams but not many formulas out there to be had.
Asking 22900

Show or go: What would you do with this unmolested 1978 Pontiac Firebird Formula?  Please comment below and let us know!

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