The original Fire Bird had appeared in 1967, based on Chevrolet Camaro’s ‘F’ body, but interest in the car didn’t really begin to pick up the restyled 1970 versions were introduced. There were muscular looking cars, with fat arches curvy hips and huge implied machismo in their stance. Only one variant had the power to under pin the looks though, the Trans Am. The first Trans Arm had appeared in the old shape body and proved difficult to sell at first as high insurance premiums and a rising nervousness about high performance began to militate against ownership of something really quick. Interest picked up again in 1973 when the famous Phoenix bonnet decals were first used, but buyers couldn’t have known that this would be the first year of the really powerful block 455 cars. Delivering 310 bhp, this was the biggest capacity engine ever offered in a pony car, a fact that made Pontiac nervous in the killjoy atmosphere that was all pervading in the American motor industry in the early 70s.
In any case, before the end of year emission controls were already eating into its power. The 455 was a pale shadow of its former self by the time the last big block Trans Ams were built in 1976. Another reason why the Fire Bird trans am lives in so many memories is because it was the vehicle chosen to be the invulnerable star of the cult TV series Knight Rider, in which the car as well as its driver fought crime.
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