After GM forced Pontiac to drop DeLorean's Banshee project, Pontiac introduced the Firebird February 23, 1967, to compete with the Chevrolet Camaro (introduced September 29, 1966) and the Ford Mustang (introduced April 1964).
The Firebird was designed from the Camaro's F-Body design and the GTO's A-Body drivetrain with a different rear end, sub-frame, split-grill front end, six vertical louvers on the front of the rear quarter panels, and louver style tail lamps. Improvements were also made in the engine placement, front suspension, and reinforced rear springs.
The 1967 Firebird was offered in a convertible and a hardtop coupe with five engines:
a Standard Firebird OHC 230 cubic inch six-cylinder one-barrel with 175 horsepower,
a Firebird Sprint 230 cubic inch six-cylinder four-barrel overhead-cam with 215 horsepower,
a Firebird 326 with a two-barrel V-8 and 250 horsepower,
a Firebird H.O. V-8 326 four-barrel with 285 horsepower,
and Firebird 400 high performance V-8 four-barrel with 325 horsepower (could include the Ram Air option).
In 1968, the convertible and a hardtop coupe saw changes in their engines:
- Firebird OHC:
- Six-cylinder overhead-cam increased from 230 cubic inches to 250 cubic inches delivering 175 horsepower. The base six-cylinder Firebirds with manual transmission received a New Mono-Jet one-barrel carburetor. Prices started at $2,666 for a coupe to $2,903 for a convertible.
- Firebird Sprint:
- Remained at 230 cubic inch six-cylinder four-barrel Quadrajet carburetor overhead-cam with 215 horsepower and 10.5:1 compression, heavy-duty clutch, floor-mounted three-speed, larger valves, and low restriction intake and exhaust system. This upgrade was available for an additional $116.16.
- Firebird 350:
- The '67 V-8 326 cubic inch was upgraded to a 350 cubic inch two-barrel with 265 horsepower. This was available for an additional $105.60.
- Firebird 350 H.O.:
- The '67 V-8 326 H.O. (High Output) was also upgraded to a 350 cubic inch four-barrel with 320 horsepower, premium fuel, stiffer suspensions, dual exhausts, and side stripes with "H.O." lettering. This was available for an additional $180.58.
- Firebird 400:
- High performance V-8 400 four-barrel Quadrajet with 330 horsepower at 5300 rpm, heavy duty floor shift three-speed, twin (non-functional) scoops, heavy duty springs, wide-oval red-line tires, chrome air cleaners, dual exhaust, declutching engine fan, heavy duty battery, heavy duty starter motor, heavy duty radiator, and chrome rocker covers and oil filler cap. This was added for $358.09.
- Firebird 400 H.O.:
- A 400 cubic inch H.O. (High Output) was introduced which had a four-barrel carburetor with 335 horsepower at 5000 rpm, premium fuel, stiffer suspensions, and dual exhausts. This was available for an additional $76.88.
- Firebird 400 Ram Air:
- A 400 cubic inch engine with 335 horsepower at 5300 rpm which included a larger-overlap, longer-duration cam, and a beefed-up valvetrain for 6000 rpm operation. The Quadrajet carburetor was recalibrated to increase fuel flow, and twin hood scoops were made functional and ducted air directly into the air cleaner. This was added for another $342.29. Final base cost, $3,366.38 for a coupe or $3,603.38 for a convertible. (The Ram Air 400 was replaced mid-year with a 400 Ram Air II delivering 340 horsepower.)
The body received a few updates which included: a change in the front turn lights to a wraparound style, both driver and passenger vent windows were removed while Pontiac V-crest rear marker lights were added, the Rally I rims were dropped from the options, the single-leaf rear springs were replaced with a Pontiac-designed multileaf units (was not included on base six-cylinder cars), the suspension system was improved by the new straddle mounted shock absorbers, and the Firestone E70 Wide Ovals tires were upgraded to F70 (did not include base six-cylinder cars).
The interior also saw new improvements with a larger padded instrument panel and sun visors, windshield pillar moldings, crushable arm rests, flow-through ventilation system with adjustable round air outlets on the lower dash, added lower door panel carpeting, new instrument panel conical lenses and block lettering, seat belts with push-button buckles for all passengers, anti-theft ignition key warning buzzer, larger fuse block with eleven fuses, new bulkhead electrical connector, and stronger door hinges of stamped steel.
Along with the above changes and the addition of the Van Nuys, California plant on March 4th, a few more changes were made including the addition of a four-way power bucket seat, the midyear addition of the Goodyear Polyglas tire, the addition of an optional new Power-Flex fan on all V-8s without air conditioning, the deletion of the heater delete, and the deletion of the California emissions equipment. The Firebird had a long list of standard equipment and options & accessories.