Pick of the Day: 1970 Pontiac Firebird Formula 400 that’s ready to roar

The low-mileage coupe is fitted with a desirable 4-speed manual transmission

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The Firebird Formula 400 has a sleek but no-nonsense muscle car style

The Pontiac Firebird, along with its Chevrolet Camaro sibling, was redesigned for 1970 with an entirely new look that was widely acclaimed.  The 1970 Firebird was destined to be a short run, however, because factory-tooling and labor problems put off production until February 1970. 

Model-year 1970 also turned out to be a zenith for US muscle cars, which topped out in style and performance before government regulations and soaring insurance rates put the kibosh on the horsepower wars of that era.

The Pick of the Day is a 1970 Pontiac Firebird Formula 400, which was a mid-pack muscle car, behind the Formula 400 Ram Air models and the iconic Trans Am.  This one has something special backing up its 400cid V8, however: a fairly rare 4-speed manual transmission, with both the engine and trans said to be numbers matching.

“Many of the Firebirds we see come through are automatic cars, so it is immensely refreshing to have 3 pedals and 4 gears inside this beauty,” says the St. Louis, Missouri, dealer advertising this coupe on ClassicCars.com.

“This beautiful bird has a fresh spray on it and a lot of good documentation to go along with it! Provided with the sale is a build sheet found from somewhere within the car, receipts for an engine rebuild, receipts for a transmission rebuild, and some other maintenance goodies! The engine rebuild receipt is from 2015 and the owner states 200 miles since rebuild.

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“As this car sits, it is the perfect candidate to scratch your dream-car itch, set up for a show car, or put on collectors ice to continue ticking up in value.”

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In its fall colors of reddish orange with black details, this Firebird appears to be a very clean example that’s ready to show and go.  The sleek body styling has aged well, and the distinctive twin scoops on the hood proclaim the muscle car strength that lies within. 

The interior has been totally refurbished, the dealer says, and looks great in the photos with the ad.  The big, bold stickshift jutting out of the center console is quite macho. 

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Because of the shortened production run, just 7,700 Firebird Formulas 400s were built for 1970, making it a somewhat rare model. This example in very nice condition, with fewer than 54,000 miles on the odometer and fitted with the desirable 4-speed, is priced at $39,500. 

To view this listing on ClassicCars.com, see Pick of the Day

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

13 COMMENTS

  1. Our Dad came home one day with a brand new 1973 Formula 400. Buccaneer Red, similar to this 1970, ours had a white deluxe interior and an automatic trans.
    By 73 the 400 was running with lower compression, the 1970 here is the bomb!
    I ran across old pictures of ours when it was brand new and it had narrow WW tires on those Rally ll rims!
    Even with lower Compression the dual exhaust on our 73 Formula 400 made some of the best sounds you will ever hear!

  2. I am not surprised of the rebuilds: it is over 50 years old.
    Many of these Firebirds were lost to Saturday night attrition; teenage drivers showing off!
    70 had the HP 73 had the better looks.
    It’s not that easy to notice the difference but the 73 endura nose is shaped with ever so slight a more pronounced center point extending forward and of course the larger and blacked out egg crate grills.
    The 73/74 Formula eyebrow stripes are awesome too.

  3. If you look closely at the interior shots, and the front valance (examples), etc., this car needs more work. Especially at the nearly $40,000 asking price. My bet is 154,000 miles.

  4. This Formula could be worth the asking price if the interior was in great condition, the horrible looking stripes were not added, and it had the Pontiac rear spoiler. Center console looks beat up. Carpet on lower driver dore panel is ratty . The 70 Firebird never had two stripes on hood and that is a Camaro spoiler. Looks like owner wanted a Chevrolet.

    • From some observations over the years and being familiar with our 73 formula 400, unless special ordered I don’t think the Formula 350/400’s came from the factory with rear spoilers. But – I have only seen 2 original stock appearing Formula 455’s and they both had rear spoilers.

      This one has an early 2nd gen Camaro rear spoiler added on for sure.

  5. This is a $22K car max…..not as special as they are making it out to be …the wide block Pontiac 400 is not like the 400 small block Chevy that came is Chevy SS model cars of that era…$40K is a joke….

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