Chevrolet Camaro Vs. Pontiac Firebird

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Chevrolet Camaro Vs. Pontiac Firebird
Chevrolet Camaro Vs. Pontiac Firebird

Chevrolet Camaro Vs. Pontiac Firebird: Off to the Races with a Pairing of Pony Cars

The history of cars in the United States is nothing short of interesting. From the first Model T through the decades and eras to self-driving vehicles today, the automobile industry has been colorful. Before the time when fuel efficiency was at the front of everyone’s mind was the time when revving engines and aesthetics reigned supreme.

“Pony car” is an American car classification that describes affordable, compact, and highly styled coupes or convertibles that were groomed with a “sporty” or performance-oriented image. The common characteristics of a pony car included rear-wheel drive, a long front hood, a short decklid, and a wide range of options to provide an individualized experience.

“Muscle car” is an American car classification that describes high-performance, intermediate-sized cars with a large displacement V8 engine. The common characteristics used to identify muscle cars are rear-wheel drive (which has changed due to technological advances), a relatively lightweight two-door body, affordable price, and designed for street legal straight-line drag racing.

The first pairing of pony cars is the Chevrolet Camaro and the Pontiac Firebird.

Competition for the Ford Mustang

The Chevrolet Camaro and the Pontiac Firebird were both models built by their respective manufacturers to compete with the Ford Mustang. The Mustang has been continuously produced by Ford since 1964 and fits neatly in the pony car category.

Chevrolet Camaro Vs Pontiac Firebird

 

The Release of the Camaro and Firebird

The Camaro first went on sale on September 29, 1966, for the 1967 model year. The Pontiac Firebird also released its first pony car competitor on February 23, 1967. The Camaro and the Firebird were considered cousins in design, sharing the same type of F platform (F-Body) design. The Camaro and the Firebird are the only two vehicles ever built using GM’s F-Body platform. General Motors used this rear-wheel pony car automobile platform in models from 1967 to 2002.

Chevrolet Camaro Vs Pontiac Firebird

Talkin’ About My Generation

The Camaro and Firebird both saw several generational changes over the years. The Camaro is still in production today. However, Pontiac stopped producing the Firebird in 2002.

Generations of the Chevrolet Camaro

Chevrolet Camaro Vs Pontiac Firebird

The Camaro has seen six different generations thus far. There was a brief hiatus in the vehicle’s manufacturing from 2003-2009, which separates the fourth and fifth generation.

Generation Years

Engine Types

Transmission Types

Body Style

1967-1969
  • 230 cu in (3.8 L) L26 I6
  • 250 cu in (4.1 L) L22 I6
  • 283 cu in (4.6 L) small-block V8
  • 302 cu in (4.9 L) Z28 V8 (Z/28)
  • 307 cu in (5.0 L) L14 V8
  • 327 cu in (5.4 L) LF7/L30 V8
  • 350 cu in (5.7 L) LM1/L65 V8
  • 350 cu in (5.7 L) L48 V8 (SS350)
  • 396 cu in (6.5 L) L34/L78/L89 V8 (SS396)
  • 427 cu in (7.0 L) L72/ZL1 V8 (COPO)
  • 3-speed manual
  • 4-speed manual
  • 2-speed semi-automatic
  • 2-speed automatic
  • 3-speed automatic
F-Body
1970-1981
  • 229 cu in (3.8 L) Chevrolet 90-degree V6
  • 230 cu in (3.8 L) Straight-6 I6
  • 250 cu in (4.1 L) Straight-6 I6
  • 305 cu in (5.0 L) LG3 V8
  • 350 cu in (5.7 L) L65 V8
  • 350 cu in (5.7 L) LM1 V8
  • 350 cu in (5.7 L) LT-1 V8
  • 350 cu in (5.7 L) L82 V8
  • 396 cu in (6.5 L) L78 V8
  • 400 cu in (6.6 L) Small-block V8
  • 2-speed automatic
  • 3-speed automatic
  • 3-speed manual
  • 4-speed manual
F-Body
1982-1992
  • 151 cu in (2.5 L) LQ8/LQ9 I4
  • 173 cu in (2.8 L) LC1 V6 (1982–1984)
  • 173 cu in (2.8 L) LB8 V6 (1985–1989)
  • 191 cu in (3.1 L) LH0 V6
  • 305 cu in (5.0 L) LU5/LG4/L69/L03/LB9 V8
  • 350 cu in (5.7 L) L98 V8
  • 4-speed manual
  • 5-speed manual
  • 3-speed automatic
  • 4-speed automatic
F-Body
1993-2002
  • 207 cu in (3.4 L) L32 V6 (160hp)
  • 231 cu in (3.8 L) L36 V6 (205hp)
  • 350 cu in (5.7 L) LT1 V8 (275-305hp)
  • 350 cu in (5.7 L) LT4 V8 (330hp)
  • 346 cu in (5.7 L) LS1 V8 (305-330hp)
  • 4-speed automatic
  • 5-speed manual
  • 6-speed manual
F-Body
2010-2015
  • 3.6 L LLT V6 (2010–11)
  • 3.6 L LFX V6 (2012)
  • 5.3 L LSX V8 Supercharger V8 (COPO Camaro)
  • 5.3 L LSX V8 Whipple supercharger V8 (COPO Camaro)
  • 6.2 L LS3 V8 (Manual SS models only)
  • 6.2 L L99 V8 (Automatic SS only)
  • 6.2 L LSA supercharged V8 (ZL1)
  • 7.0 L LS7 V8 (Z/28)
  • 6-speed automatic
  • 6-speed automatic
  • 6-speed automatic
  • 6-speed Aisin AY6 manual
  • 6-speed Tremec TR-6060 manual
Zeta Platform
2016-Present
  • 2.0 L turbocharged LTG Ecotec I4 (LS, LT, RS)
  • 3.6 L LGX V6 (LT)
  • 6.2 L LT1 V8 (LT1, SS)
  • 6.2 L LT4 supercharged V8 (ZL1)
  • 6-speed TR-3160 manual
  • 6-speed TR-6060 manual
  • 8-speed 8L45 automatic
  • 8-speed 8L90 automatic
  • 10-speed 10L90 automatic (ZL1)
Alpha Platform

Generations of the Pontiac Firebird

Chevrolet Camaro Vs Pontiac Firebird

The Pontiac Firebird was no longer manufactured after 2002, meaning that the only body style available for these pony cars was the GM F-Body. A total of four generations were released for the Firebird.

Generation Years

Engine Types

Transmission Types

1967-1969
  • 230 cu in (3.8 L) Pontiac SOHC I6
  • 250 cu in (4.1 L) Pontiac SOHC I6
  • 326 cu in (5.3 L) Pontiac V8
  • 350 cu in (5.7 L) Pontiac V8
  • 400 cu in (6.6 L) Pontiac V8
  • 2-speed automatic
  • 3-speed Turbo-Hydramatic automatic
  • 3-speed manual
  • 4-speed manual
1970-1981
  • 231 cu in (3.8 L) Buick V6
  • 250 cu in (4.1 L) Chevrolet I6
  • 265 cu in (4.3 L) Pontiac V8
  • 301 cu in (4.9 L) Pontiac V8
  • 301 cu in (4.9 L) Pontiac turbo V8
  • 305 cu in (5.0 L) Chevrolet LG3 V8
  • 305 cu in (5.0 L) Chevrolet LG4 V8
  • 350 cu in (5.7 L) Buick V8
  • 350 cu in (5.7 L) Oldsmobile V8
  • 350 cu in (5.7 L) Chevrolet V8
  • 350 cu in (5.7 L) Pontiac V8
  • 400 cu in (6.6 L) Pontiac V8
  • 403 cu in (6.6 L) Oldsmobile V8
  • 455 cu in (7.5 L) Pontiac V8
  • 3-speed manual
  • 4-speed manual
  • 2-speed automatic
  • 3-speed automatic
1982-1992
  • 151 cu in (2.5 L) Pontiac I4
  • 173 cu in (2.8 L) GM 60° V6
  • 191 cu in (3.1 L) GM 60° V6
  • 231 cu in (3.8 L) Buick Turbo V6
  • 305 cu in (5.0 L) Chevrolet V8
  • 350 cu in (5.7 L) Chevrolet V8
  • 3-speed automatic
  • 4-speed automatic
  • 4-speed manual
  • 5-speed manual
1993-2002
  • 207 cu in (3.4 L) L32 V6 (160 hp)
  • 231 cu in (3.8 L) L36 V6 (205 hp)
  • 350 cu in (5.7 L) LT1 V8 (275-305 hp)
  • 350 cu in (5.7 L) LT4 V8 (330 hp)
  • 346 cu in (5.7 L) LS1 V8 (305-330 hp)
  • 346 cu in (5.7 L) SLP Firehawk LS1 V8 (345-350 hp)
  • THM 4L60 4-speed automatic (1993)
  • THM 4L60E 4-speed automatic (1994–2002)
  • Borg Warner T-5 5-speed manual (V6 engine)
  • Borg Warner T56 6-speed manual (V8 engine)

Racing History

Both the Chevrolet Camaro and Pontiac Firebird have a history in racing. Both vehicles were a part of the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA) Trans-Am Series. However, there was particular controversy when the Firebird Trans Am was released. Not only was the engine too large for use in the series, but the SCCA claimed that GM used the name without permission. GM agreed to pay the SCCA $5 for every car they sold under the Firebird Trans Am name to settle this.

Chevrolet Camaro Vs Pontiac Firebird

A “funny car” is a type of drag race vehicle and a specific racing class in organized drag racing. Funny cars are recognized by the tilt-up fiberglass or carbon fiber body and custom-fabricated bodies that give the appearance of a showroom model.

During 1995 through 1997, 14-time funny car champion John Force used a Firebird body to replace the obsolete Oldsmobile Cutless and Chevrolet Lumina he had used in races since 1988 – he won all three years!

The Firebird was also used by other racecar drivers, including Del Worsham, Frank Pedregon, Tim Wilkerson, and Jerry Tolliver.

The Camaro’s racing history is a little more luxurious than the Pontiac Firebird’s. The manufacturer worked with Roger Penske to operate the unofficial factory-backed Trans-Am team, winning the title in 1968 and 1969 with Mark Donohue. During the 1970 season, Jim Hall’s Chaparral team replaced Penske.

Camaro-styled cars have also been used for racing in the NASCAR Xfinity Series, with all Chevrolet teams using the body style since 2013. The Camaro was also adopted as the official Indianapolis 500 Pace Car in 1967, 1969, 1982, 1993, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2014, and 2016. Needless to say, the Camaro has seen its day at the races.

The Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 was introduced in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in 2018, replacing the SS. The same model will be joining Australian Supercars Championship in 2022, replacing the Holden Commodore ZB.

The Pick of the Litter

When it came to choosing who to keep and who to discontinue, the answer was easy – both. When sales had declined enough, GM discontinued both the Camaro and the Firebird. During the early 2000s, GM found itself in some financial instability. In 2008 GM announced that Pontiacs would no longer be manufactured, following the same path they had taken with Oldsmobile in 2004 amidst their financial crisis.

The goal was to focus on the four remaining North American brands – Chevrolet, Buick, Cadillac, and GMC. With the focus shifted to only these four, it was soon after discontinuing the entire Pontiac line that the Camaro was reborn, only with a different body style. Even though the Firebird never stood a chance given the odds, both vehicles were worthy opponents of the Ford Mustang, which they were originally created to contend with.

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Joe Webster began his journey in the auto transport field by attending the University of Southern California (USC), where he graduated with a Bachelor of Business Marketing. 

After college, he started his career in the auto transport industry from the bottom up and has done virtually every job there is to do at A-1 Auto Transport, including but not limited to: Truck Driver, Dispatch, Sales, PR, Bookkeeping, Transport Planner, Transport Manager, International Transport Manager, Brokering, Customer Service, and Marketing. Working with his mentor Tony Taylor, Joe Webster has learned the ins and outs of this industry which is largely misunderstood. 

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