Meanwhile, Chevrolet had been working hard on the XP-836, the car that would become the Camaro. GM decreed that instead of producing its own Mustang rival, it would work with Chevrolet on the XP-836, which subsequently became a joint project. This put Pontiac at a disadvantage, as Chevrolet was already some months down the design road, and coming to the project so late meant that Pontiac would have little influence on the car’s fundamentals. “Pontiac didn’t like the decision,” wrote Bill Holder and Phillip Kunz in their book Firebird & Trans Am , “but that was the way the game would be played.” The Camaro’s styling had already been finalized, and to cut costs (and time) the new Pontiac would have to share its wings and doors: only the nose and tail could be altered to make the car different in character from the Camaro. They managed to do this by giving it a GTO-style split-front grille with recessed twin headlights and narrow rear lights in two tiers, instead of the Camaro’s conventional lights. It was not much, but at least the cars now looked like cousins rather than clones. The downside was that the extra design work pushed the Pontiac’s launch date back to February 1967, five months after that of the Camaro. However, the Firebird did have a suitably evocative name.

The engine of a 1968 Firebird 400.

Pontiac Firebird 11

Made with FlippingBook - professional solution for displaying marketing and sales documents online