When you think of the name John DeLorean, unless you’re really familiar with automotive lore, you would probably think of the aluminum-skinned cars whose biggest splash was probably the 1980s move series “Back to the Future”. The DeLorean was the time-traveling machine used to get from one era to another.
However, if you really know your automotive lore you probably remember that when he was Pontiac Division head in the 1960s he was responsible for one of Pontiac’s all-time classics, the Firebird. In this case, it’s the 1967 Firebird.
Based on Camaro
Indeed, it’s his was really a case of car envy, more than anything else, because he really wanted a two-seater, but was told by the corporate powers-that-be that Pontiac would be putting out a vehicle that shared its parts with the planned Chevrolet Camaro, four-seater.
The only real demarcation between the Firebird and the Camaro – one that was big enough to drive a semi through, although no one realized it at the time – was that the Firebird was to have its own unique front end and rear end, while the rest of the parts were to be shared.
What a front end it was, too! If you are old enough to remember the original versions when then hit the street you saw a vehicle with a bright-surrounds on dual front ovals and a different rear treatment. The Firebird and the Camaro were lightyears apart in both look, performance and style and while it probably bothered DeLorean that his other ideas were never taken seriously, he should still take pride in the Firebird which was sold for nearly 40 years until the Pontiac Division’s demise with GM’s restructuring. That’s a respectable run.
The Firebird was actually a very nicely styled car. If you look closely beneath the dual ovals of the front-end, you saw two working air scoops that swept up to the fenders which were slightly rounded. About mid-fender you find the beltline that is carried on through the fenders and on through the doors and then out through the rear quarters. The beltline makes the entire design quite balanced. Interestingly, the hood had a stamping that made you think there was something more hiding underneath and there was. It was the Firebird marketing strategy.
Pontiac relied on an interesting marketing strategy for the Firebird, five power levels. This Mustang fighter offered:
- The Base: 230-cubic-inch, 165-horsepower overhead cam six
- The Sprint: 215-horsepower version of the overhead cam six
- The V8 Firebird 325: Billed as a sportster that cranked out 250-horsepower from a deuce
- The Firebird HO: A 326-cubic-inch power-puncher with a four-barrel that cranked out 285-horsepower
- Firebird 400: A more powerful version of the HO with ram-air induction unit in the hood
This was an interesting marketing strategy that allow Firebird to differentiate itself from Camaro and, at the same time, take advantage of a highway-tuned suspension and nearly 50/50 front-to-rear handling.
Out of all of this there are two things we know: 1. The Firebird was a smash, and 2. DeLorean’s own car starred in three movies.