By April 15 rear end was pretty much finalized. Camaro bumper was retained, but valance is lower, tail lights different.
As of May 20 Firebird’s own grille with the integral bumpers was taking final form. Scoops also are in their final location.
Firebird stylists very much liked this wrap-around tail light treatment, but there was no time left to modify Camaro fender.
Firebird. His answer: “We think the Firebird’s front end is distinctive enough not to need them. The added cost [Ed. note: about $20 per car] was never a factor.”
This relative cost-be-damned attitude that prevailed while setting Firebird specifications was another bonus made possible by borrowing the basic tooling from the Camaro. Chevrolet shouldered the development costs for the unseen parts, so Pontiac was able to spend its money where it shows. For example, the standard trim, complete with buckets, is about on a par with Camaro’s extra-cost package. The folddown rear seat is standard in the Firebird, extra in the Camaro, as is carpeting, and certainly the standard availability of the interesting and more costly Pontiac sohc 6 is a plus for the mechanically inclined.
You might rightfully wonder why Chevrolet was “willing” to let Pontiac have the Camaro for what amounts to a major customizing and upgrading job, and conversely, wonder why DeLorean was refused permission to create and produce a sports-personal car completely unique to the Pontiac Division. DeLorean kindly describes Chevrolet as “neutral” about the project. We suspect that they were understandably not too happy. As to the permission, such decisions emanate solely from the l4th floor of a building in Detroit with the name “General Motors” inscribed over the doorway. Divisions are routinely expected to perpetuate the annual model change of existing car lines, but when it comes to tooling up for an all new car, that is a corporate decision.
GM was the first to recognize the economics of interchangeable bodies and developed the styling techniques that make the outside of the basic structure different enough among the sharing divisions so that the general public is unaware that, for example, the Tempest, Skylark, F-85 and Chevelle all utilize a major proportion of the same disguised stampings.
DeLorean is targeting about 100,000 Firebirds for the first model year; Chevrolet, 300,000 Camaros. Combined, the two make a very profitable package for GM. Alone, Firebird, at least, would be a marginal profit center.
Even though DeLorean considers the Firebird a better showcase for the sohc 6 than the Sprint, he expects the V-8 options to be specified by 60% or more of the buyers. “It’s an exciting car for younger people and they’ll want the most exciting engine,” he predicts.
He fully expects the top Firebirds to cut into sales of top GTOs, although hot-rodders should still remain loyal to utilitarian tigers. His main target, though, are Mustang buyers who “want to step up.” This stacks him squarely up against the Cougar, and he has a weapon in his arsenal that Cougar lacks – the convertible. In a car like the Firebird, DeLorean anticipates, a convertible should amount to a plus sale of 15%.
He also dropped a hint for the future of the whole industry. “A car like the Firebird,” he said, “may lead to greater differentiation between the Sprint and the GTO.” /MT
The car was reaching final form by May 26. Only real change from here on in was splitting the scoops in the rear fenders.