Late Starter “After this,” went the advertising copy, “you’ll never go back to driving whatever you’re driving.” That ran below an almost full-page color picture of an open-top Firebird 400 roaring along an open mountain road, devoid of traffic (in car advertisements, roads never have any other traffic). The advertisement also referred to “400 cubes of chromed V8…heavy-duty 3-speed floor shift, extra-sticky suspension, and a set of duals that announce your coming like the brass section of the New York Philharmonic.” If Pontiac was attempting to sell a politically incorrect fantasy, it was doing a pretty good job. That 400 was the top model of five: Firebird, Sprint, 326, 326HO, and 400. The base model came in at only $2,600, powered by Pontiac’s own overhead-cam 230-cu in (3.77-liter) straight six with 165 hp (123 kW). Despite all the components it shared with the Camaro, the Firebird used Pontiac’s own power units. That also allowed Pontiac to offer the Sprint, which was surely unique among muscle cars in using a highly tuned six-cylinder engine instead of a

A 1969 Firebird.

12 High Performance: The V8 Revolution

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