And we can attest from our experience that the Firebird doesn’t have much of the axle wrap-up and shudder that we’ve encountered on Chevrolet products with single leaf springing at the rear. Even the brutal force of the big 400-cubic-inch engine didn’t cause any axle control problems.
Our Firebird test cars were equipped with optional, heavyduty springing and proved stable and easy to control under all normal driving circumstances. We’d have to rate the Sprint six a slightly better handling car than the 400 because of its lighter front end but the difference between the two wasn’t really pronounced.
“I he 400 we drove had the front disc – rear drum combination and proved itself capable of stopping just as well as it would go.
All in all, Pontiac’s new baby may be something of a halfbreed but it’s a mighty promising one. Especially when it’s slapped on the back and lets out the throaty howl of that big 400-cubic-inch engine.
In this day of the super-powerful automobile engine , transmissions that all but think for themselves, computer-born styling, automated vehicle assembly and production of units numbering into the thousands per hour, we all tend to forget the humble beginnings of the Age of the Car. In the dim, dark past the automobile was at best an unreliable, make-shift, wheezing bucket of bolts that more often than not would refuse to climb a hill or to even run when the weather was cold. Today the automobile is termed the most reliable complex of machinery ever devised by man, while not too long ago it was looked upon as an unnecessary evil.
We are all used to the many options offered when purchasing a new car; we can choose between axle ratios, horse power output, colors, interior decor, and there are enough optional accessories to make the buyer’s head swim. There were options, too, in autos built just after the turn of the century, but they were of a different sort. For example, a prospective purchaser of a car could decide between types of powerplants – internal combustion, steam or electricity.
In that bygone age each method of motivation was about on a par with the other two. The gasoline-fed, internal combustion engine was at best a hit-or-miss proposition, steam cars went fast (a Stanley held the Land Speed Record for a time) but they continually needed water, and electric cars went smoothly and silently but not very far between battery charges.
Front sheet metal is the most important styling distinction between the Firebird and the Camaro. Pontiac has added a couple of inches of overhang at the front to accommodate its traditional, split grille. The overall front end design combines the grillework, bumper and dual headlights into a single, integrated unit. Obvious attempt was made to relate the Firebird’s styling to the big Pontiac’s appearance. Even the prominent hood bulge has been carried over into the smaller, sporty car. Engines are from Tempest and GTO.
A separate sub-frame is used at the front of the car to support the engine, transmission, steering and independent coil suspension. The assembly bolts to the main bodywork, which features a unitized structure. At the rear, Pontiac has used the same type of single-leaf springing as the Camaro – and the Chevy II, for that matter – but provides better control of axle wrap-up and shudder with a set of special traction arms.