torque range. In all-out dragstrip competition, a 4-speed transmission has a slight advantage in keeping an engine near its power peak over a larger portion of the strip. In city traffic operation, however, four gears become a bit redundant, and the driver is likely to find himself skipping one or more ratios. With the flexibility Pontiac engines offer, a 3-speed transmission is more than adequate and costs less. The 3-speed fully synchronized transmissions installed as standard equipment in all Firebirds are very satisfactory units, with well chosen ratios for each powerplant. Floor shift, standard with the two test engines, is advisable both for sporting feel and shifting ease./p
Both test cars were equipped with optional power disc brakes. These brakes were judged overly sensitive, requiring low pedal pressure to lock the wheels, and were poorly balanced, front to rear. One of CL’s standard brake test procedures consists of determining maximum deceleration rate from 80 mph. This test proved thrilling: Rear wheel lockup was almost unavoidable when high deceleration rates were attempted. Normal fade testing was not performed, because the question of brake fade seemed academic in view of the almost total loss of vehicle control encountered during initial hard stops. Some means of
preventing rear wheel lockup is mandatory, if high-speed, high-deceleration stops are to be made acceptable.
Power steering was also fitted to both test cars. Steering effort required with this system was very low, too low for CL drivers’ tastes. The fast ratio and extremely low-effort steering promoted over-correction when driving at high speeds, and lacked enough feel of side-force propagation. Overall steering ratio was considered to be a very good compromise, as fast as typical American drivers are likely to desire, and fast enough for rapid consecutive cornering maneuvers. If the present ratio were maintained, with a bit more effort and a lot more road feel, Firebird steering would be much more inviting to the sporting driver.
Another option worthy of comment was the tilt steering wheel installed in the Sprint. Standard wheel positioning in Firebirds is fairly low. This position is desirable to many drivers, but most unpleasant for entry and egress. The tilt wheel swings up on depressing the
SPRINT 6-cyl. engine features belt-driven overhead camshaft.
SPORTING image of Sprint’s interior, exterior was marred by difficult gear changing.