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1997 Pontiac Firebird

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1997 Pontiac Firebird Review

Aggression and muscle car character.

Reviewed by Automotive on


The 1997 Pontiac Firebird is a fourth-generation muscle car manufactured by General Motors under the Pontiac division. It was first developed and introduced in 1967 and soon became popular for its performance and characteristic coke bottle styling. The fourth generation underwent some redesigning in 1993 that was aimed at making it more aerodynamic and modern looking. Despite the changes, however, it retained its classic muscle car performance.

The Range

Body Styles: hatchback coupe, convertible
Engines: 3.8-liter V-6, 5.7-liter V-8
Transmission: four-speed automatic, five-speed manual
Models: Pontiac Firebird, Pontiac Firebird Formula, Pontiac Firebird Trans Am

What's New

The 1997 Pontiac Firebird comes with some substantial improvements. The Ram Air package is available for more variants now, and this model year also sees the introduction of the 500-watt Monsoon sound system. The Ram Air coupes are fitted with 17-inch polished wheels. Its power seats are now available in leather, while four-way seat adjustment settings and air-conditioning are standard for all models. The base model also gets molding at its flanks with vibration dampeners.


The 1997 Pontiac Firebird blends aggression and smooth, aerodynamic lines to form a beautiful exterior. Even though the car is most noted for its aggressive features, there is no denying that the angular greenhouse lines and slightly bulging sheet metal has its own appeal. Additional elements such as the aero skirting, spoilers, and peek-a-boo driving lights tend to dampen the awe rather than build on it.


The 1997 Pontiac Firebird's cockpit is low-slung and takes some time to get used to, but it's otherwise a good blend of functionality and style. In fact, it's much better than the closely-related Chevrolet Camaro. Rear space is nothing to write home about and is even difficult to get in and out of the rear seat. The front seat is not so great for passengers either. Legroom for the passenger side is compromised significantly by the presence of humps on the floor. Cargo space is expectedly small but adequate enough.

Performance & Handling

The 1997 Pontiac Firebird base model is fitted with the 3800 Series II V-6 engines that deliver 200 horsepower, which is significantly more than that of the Ford Mustang. The difference in horsepower is not just a theoretical difference either. The V-6 delivers a dynamic and lively performance, especially with the manual gearbox mated to the engine. It offers good acceleration for everyday driving, but people looking for performance should seriously consider the V-8 engine derived from the Corvette.

The 1997 Pontiac Firebird LT1 V-8 delivers an astounding 285 horsepower, but an extra 20 horsepower with the Ram Air WS6 Performance and Handling Package can boost the output further. It includes twin scoops that force more air into the engine. The suspension is quite good, too, especially with the enhanced suspension available in the WS6 package. Nevertheless, the ride can still be a little too bumpy for comfort.


The 1997 Pontiac Firebird is fitted with dual airbags and anti-lock brakes as standard safety features. It receives more than decent scores in frontal impact collision tests conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. It also receives four out of five stars in terms of driver safety and a full five-star rating in terms of passenger safety.

EPA Fuel Economy

Pontiac Firebird: 15/23 mpg city/highway

You'll Like

  • Powerful performance
  • Great looks
  • Offers more value than the Mustang

You Won't Like

  • Too heavy
  • High insurance costs
  • Uncomfortable seating position

Sum Up

Aggression and muscle car character.

If You Like This Vehicle

  • Ford Mustang
  • Acura Integra
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  • Chrysler Sebring

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