1997 Pontiac Firebird Formula 5.7 V8 from North America
Modern Day Pure American Muscle
The car has chronic oil consumption, about one quart per 1,300 miles, most likely due too bad valve seals. I just live with it.
Air injection system check valve became plugged, which turned on the check engine light. Got a new one at the parts store for $10.
Four different speakers blew out, common problem due to the powerful amplifier used with the premium sound system. Around $40 each to replace.
The top of the dashboard is cracked, also a common problem with these cars. A new one would cost about $150.
All the negatives about this car tend to be related to cost cutting measures GM used to build such a high performance car for such an inexpensive price. There are a lot of cheap plastic parts in these cars (Firebirds and Camaros) that break easily. They are notorious for problems like cracking dash pads and blown speakers, which mine has experienced, as well as failing headlight motors (on Firebirds), cracking door panels, bad power window motors, leaky door and t-top seals, and various clunks and rattles. Refinement is not the F-body's calling card.
There are also some issues related to the captivating shape of the car: the doors are very long, not good for tight parking spaces, and their heavy weight can cause them to sag over time. The low seating position and large rear fenders and sail panels also limit visibility somewhat.
Now on to the good stuff...
Power, power, power. The V8 powered F bodies (Z28, Formula, Trans Am) dish it out in spades. Heart pounding acceleration is never any farther away than your right foot. And along with it comes a rumbling exhaust note, best appreciated with the windows down and the t-tops out. The fourth generation F body cars shared their engines with Corvettes, 93-97 cars getting the LT1 and 98-02 cars getting the even more powerful LS1. Nothing can touch the price to performance ratio of these cars. They are also surprisingly agile and handle very well for 3,500 pound cars.
These cars are truly the modern realization of the classic muscle car, keeping the spirit of raw power for the everyman while adding modern reliability and comfort. They also are able to return decent fuel economy for a high performance car, mine can achieve 25 mpg on the highway.
These are relatively comfortable cars for cruising, once you get used to the low seating position. The removable t-top roof panels are great in the summer. The premium sound system is excellent.
The bottom line: Faults and all, I wouldn't trade this car for anything.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Yes
Review Date: 31st October, 2007