1989 Pontiac Firebird Formula 350 350(5.7L) V8 from North America


Fun to drive, cheap to buy, expensive to keep


Recently replaced the transmission - GM TH700-R4 4-speed plus overdrive. Cost me $2171 US.

Heater core failure in late 2001, filled my passenger footwell with 50/50 coolant/water. Reran heater hoses to bypass core, will replace soon with a $22 part from Auto Zone. Cost is not the issue but time - I will need to remove and replace the gauge cluster and console.

Replaced front windshield after a rock cracked it on the freeway at 110mph.

Front brake rotors had developed radial cracks after previous owners let them wear too thin.

Spoiler cracked when paintshop overtightened its bolts under previous ownership.

Alternator failure last winter. $80 part.

General Comments:

Tires cost upwards of $600 for a full set of Z's.

Great performance, very fast. With Z-rated tires, this car can corner at 35 without a squeal.

Back seats are not meant for humans. Then, it *is* a sports car.

This is not a fuel-efficient car. I get 11-12mi/gal in the city and around 20 on the freeway.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 13th January, 2002

1989 Pontiac Firebird Formula 305 TPI from North America


Find one in good shape, and hang onto it


The hatch shocks had to be replaced.

Seats have been recovered, and the t-tops seal had to be replaced.

Everyone wants to race, no matter what kind hunk of junk they're trying to compete me with.

General Comments:

This car was bought from a dealer, where I was immediately surprised to see that it had never been driven in the winter.

Although it is 13 years old now, it drives, and handles like it is brand new. What an awesome car to drive, too bad I have to put it away for the winter come November.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 11th September, 2001

31st Oct 2004, 18:31

OH, Do I ever agree. I too hate to park mine every November. I can't wait until April!

2nd Oct 2006, 19:30

I bought my 89 brand new and have been sitting on it for the most part. I have 40.000 miles on it. I can't wait for its 20th aniversary date.

3rd Oct 2006, 10:01

It is well known that the Camaro/Firebird handle terribly in snow, so the fact that it was never driven in winter should come as no surprise...

1st Apr 2008, 21:29

I just started my 89 formula after sitting the whole winter and it fired right up, I give some credit to the underpowered, but RELIABLE TBI setup, by the way its got 230k miles. This car is absolutely amazing when it comes to reliability, and turns lots of heads when that black paint is shining.

1989 Pontiac Firebird Formula 5.0 L TBI from North America


Amazing car, hope they never stop making them


Car sat for a year before I bought it, when I got it there were some problems with a loose starter wire causing the car to break down at my friend's house. That was a real pain.

Windshield wipers wouldn't stop for 15+ wipes until you turned it off, needed a new wiper motor.

Voltage regulator went (had to change the alternator), but I think we managed to gronk it after jumping the car wrong.

If it sits for a while sometimes the battery will die, however so far it looks like the alarm system is at fault.

Cruise control doesn't work.

A/C works fine, but still uses R-12 so it's a pain to charge/convert.

The interior can sometimes rattle, but I'd be hard pressed to find any car with its age and history (even the mythological Honda) around here that doesn't exhibit the same wear. You can either go through the whole car and reinforce all the original screws and glue and whatnot, or turn up the volume a bit, or roll down your windows and listen to the engine. I prefer the latter.

Previous owner never changed transmission fluid, I hope I never see the day when this comes back to bite me.

Parts are cheap and plentiful for this model, but running costs are higher than average due to the expensive performance tires, 92 octane gas, and insurance costs that the car requires.

General Comments:

I love my Firebird, it's the car I always wanted and nothing compares to gliding through the cool air on a summer night with the T-Tops off and the moonlight shining onto the dash. Makes every driving experience a joy.

Performance is adequate for me, but could be much better. If you want a really fast engine, opt for a 350 (5.7l) TPI. If you want a hardcore, diehard reliable engine get something like mine, a 305 TBI. With 160,000 miles on the original engine and tranny it still runs smooth and makes good power. If it ever goes I'd like to drop a 350 in, but I still hope it never goes.

I highly recommend this car, while not as practical as most, it does what a car is really supposed to do -- look great and move fast (people who think 6 cupholders and heated seats are the essence of the automotive spirit may look elsewhere). Find a nice one and take good care of it, it'll reward you tenfold.

Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes

Review Date: 27th July, 2001

1st May 2004, 20:48

I appreciate the comments and serious constructive criticism on the 1989 Firebird Formulas. I have agreed to purchase 1 next week and I feel better knowing what I'm getting into. I'm sure I'll be visiting this website again. Thanks.

22nd Jul 2007, 17:41

I just bought a 96 firebird. The car turns over, but will not start. Has spark and fuel. If anyone can help me out that would be great.

13th Sep 2007, 21:17

Try Checking The Ignition Module, ignition coil, Distributor Cap and Rotor. This went bad on my 1989 FireBird Formula.