Olds Option: 1978 Pontiac Firebird Formula 400 – SOLD!

by | Mar 2023 | Craigslist ClassiFINDS, Malaise Monday

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

April 8, 2023 Update – Upon our link inspection, we noticed the seller saved five bucks completely replacing his 1978 Pontiac Formula ad information with a vintage yellow Triumph TR3 he also has for sale.  Under these circumstances, we’re calling this Oldsmobile-powered Pontiac Formula “SOLD!” once and for all.

March 27, 2023 Update – The seller replaced their expiring Craigslist ad with a fresh listing. The pictures, description, and already-lowered asking price remain the same.

February 22, 2023 Update – After a five-month pause, the seller of this 1978 Firebird Formula 400 just posted a fresh Craigslist ad.  In their latest ad, the seller kept the already-lowered asking price of $19,900. They also only incorrectly state their Firebird features a “400” engine when it’s more than likely equipped with an Oldsmobile-sourced 403 cubic inch V8 mated to the automatic transmission.

September 19, 2022, Update – While this “Classifind” expired recently, given the seller’s history, we suspect it may not actually be sold yet.  We’re labeling this ride “Sold?” until we find a replacement listing.

August 17, 2022 Update – After a one-month lapse following the expiration of their original listing, we just came across a fresh listing for this 1978 Pontiac Firebird Formula 400.  While the pictures and description remain the same, the seller elected to drop their asking price from the initial request of $22,900 to $19,900.

July 10, 2022, Update – We just confirmed the listing for this “Classifind” expired, so with no replacement found, we’re assuming this ride is “Sold?” until we come across a replacement listing.

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 for sale initially in June 2022 and last offered in March 2023 on Craigslist in Knoxville, Tennesee.  More interesting is that the seller does not know this nuance or hopes potential buyers aren’t aware.

Last offered for $19,900 (the original ask was $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 guide 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.

Here’s the seller’s description:

“1978 Formula 400 Firebird
400 cubic inch engine
Three 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.

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


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *