1997 Pontiac Firebird Review

Used Firebird for sale
List Price Estimate:$1,013 - $2,356
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Pontiac Firebird model years
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Edmunds' Expert Review

  • Good looks, powerful base V-6 engine, better value than Mustang
  • Hefty size, seating positions, insurance costs, macho image

Vehicle overview

Except for a small period of history during the early '80s, Firebird has been synonymous with performance since 1967. The blue-striped Trans Am from 1969 comes to mind, along with the 1974 SD-455, the 1977 black and gold 6.6-liter T/A abused by Burt Reynolds in "Smokey and the Bandit," the orange 1978 Firebird Esprit driven to fame by James Garner in "The Rockford Files," the 1989 Turbo V6 Indianapolis 500 pace car, and this, the current iteration of Pontiac's F-car.

The Firebird, in base form, is a beautiful car. The blend of angular greenhouse lines and softly bulging sheetmetal creates the automotive equivalent of Kim Basinger in a silk nightgown. Unfortunately, the bespoilered Trans Am, with its aero skirting, decklid Batwing, and peek-a-boo driving lights ruins the effect. Not to worry; the Formula provides all of the T/A's hardware goodies in a more restrained, lighter, less costly package.

The Firebird's cockpit is a nice blend of style and function, and is much better executed than that found in its corporate twin, the Chevrolet Camaro. Dual airbags and anti-lock brakes are standard, and Firebird Formula and Trans Am can be equipped with an optional traction control system. Additionally, convertible versions of each model were introduced in 1994, so if top-down motoring is preferable, for a boost in price it is yours.

Performance from the Corvette-derived 5.7-liter V8 is astounding, providing enough power to get the Firebird to 60 mph faster than your ten-year-old can get to 40 yards. The LT1 V8 is good for 285 horsepower. Need more than that? A Ram Air WS6 Performance and Handling Package for the Formula and T/A is available, featuring twin hood scoops that force cool air into the LT1, resulting in 20 extra ponies. WS6 suspension tuning and P275/40ZR17 tires keep the Ram Air Firebird planted to the ground. Ram Air is available for the first time this year on convertible editions of the Formula and Trans Am. Base models are powered by a 3800 Series II V6 that makes 200 horsepower, 45 more than rival Ford Mustang. A Performance Package for base Firebirds includes four-wheel disc brakes, a limited slip differential, dual exhausts, bigger tires and a tighter steering ratio.

Pontiac has substantially improved the Firebird for 1997. In addition to the expanded availability of Ram Air, the Firebird can be equipped with a new 500-watt Monsoon sound system. Power seats can be covered in leather this year, and four-way seat adjustment is standard on all Firebird models. Air conditioning also makes the 1997 standard equipment list, along with a new center console with dual auxiliary power outlets. Base Firebirds get engine vibration dampeners and bodyside moldings, while Ram Air coupes receive 17-inch high polished wheels. Green Metallic joins the exterior color roster, and interiors can be dyed Dark Pewter if you please. Finally, GM makes good on its threat to add daytime running lights to the Firebird despite the car's hidden headlamp system. High intensity parking lamps glow all day long. Just great.

With world-class powertrains and hot sheetmetal at a low price, the 1997 Firebird fries Ford's Mustang. Stay away from the well-optioned Trans Am, because the Formula provides all the performance and image you need, and keeps your budget well in the black.

1997 Highlights

Pontiac upgrades the Firebird in several ways for 1997. Performance freaks will appreciate the addition of Ram Air induction to the options list of the Formula and Trans Am convertibles. Audiophiles will be blown away by the newly optional 500-watt Monsoon sound system. Luxury intenders can get power seats swathed in leather this year. Safety-conscious buyers will find daytime running lights. Additional cosmetic and comfort items keep the fourth-generation Firebird fresh for its fifth year.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1997 Pontiac Firebird.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
Ram Air TA convertible 97
Trans Am 2dr Convertible
great looks, super power, good handling for convertible. the ram air is the only way to go. find a used one in good condition and avg miles. fun to drive, fun to clean, and worth the money (avg 12k to 14k). i'm 6'2 and 275 lbs. its pretty comfortable. it would be perfect for someone a little smaller.
4.63 out of 5 stars
A great American muscle car
Trans Am 2dr Hatchback
'97 Pontiac Trans Am. Love my baby! I bought this car used (one owner), and it's now 11 years old, but you'd never know it. It's been very dependable and hasn't given me any major problems, except that I go through rotors fairly fast even though I'm not hard on braking. Obviously not recommended for everyone, but it's awesome to drive. It's my daily driver, and I put about 8,000 miles on it annually. Not too good in the snow, but if you've driven RWD before, you'll know what to expect - Traction control helps. If you have a "beater" and can keep a car like this in the garage in the winter, that's the best option. It's a shame GM doesn't make these anymore; they are sorely missed.
4.63 out of 5 stars
Great Summer Car!
2dr Hatchback
This is a wonderful car, my grandmother bought this car in 1997 brand new and although it has had some major problems I still love this car. Fuel pump replaced twice and the plugs and wires have been changed every summer we pull it out of storage since it was about four years old. Car has great acceleration and good feel when shifting this 5-speed. Excellent fuel economy (23/35) when driving like this car was meant to be driven (fast). Some problems have occured at about 60k miles such as the window motors going out and the radio but that's to be expected. This car is very dangerous in the winter on ice as we live in michigan so it is only driven in the summer. Very nice car for the money!
4.88 out of 5 stars
My birdie
Trans Am 2dr Hatchback
All I can say is if you don't have one GET ONE!!! This is the best car I've ever owned. You will never find more bang for the buck and I think it looks way better than a camaro. Never had any problems with it, and it turns heads everywhere. It may only be worth $20 000 on the market but soeone is going to have to dish out a lot more than that to take it away. The last new ones are WAY too expensive. Won't be letting this go unless someone is willing to pay what I think its worth.


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver5 / 5
    Passenger5 / 5
  • Side Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
  • Side Barrier Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver3 / 5
    Passenger4 / 5
  • Combined Side Barrier & Pole Ratings
    Front SeatNot Rated
    Back SeatNot Rated
  • Rollover
    RolloverNot Rated
    Dynamic Test ResultNo Tip
    Risk Of RolloverNot Rated
IIHS Rating
The Insurance Institute of Highway Safety uses extensive crash tests to determine car safety.
  • Side Impact Test
    Not Tested
  • Roof Strength Test
    Not Tested
  • Rear Crash Protection / Head Restraint
    Not Tested
  • IIHS Small Overlap Front Test
    Not Tested
  • Moderate Overlap Front Test

More about the 1997 Pontiac Firebird

Used 1997 Pontiac Firebird Overview

The Used 1997 Pontiac Firebird is offered in the following submodels: Firebird Hatchback, Firebird Convertible, Firebird Trans Am. Available styles include Formula 2dr Convertible, Formula 2dr Hatchback, 2dr Hatchback, Trans Am 2dr Hatchback, 2dr Convertible, and Trans Am 2dr Convertible. Pre-owned Pontiac Firebird models are available with a 5.7 L-liter gas engine or a 3.8 L-liter gas engine, with output up to 285 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 1997 Pontiac Firebird comes with rear wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 6-speed manual, 5-speed manual.

What's a good price on a Used 1997 Pontiac Firebird?

Shop with Edmunds for perks and special offers on used cars, trucks, and SUVs near Ashburn, VA. Doing so could save you hundreds or thousands of dollars. Edmunds also provides consumer-driven dealership sales and service reviews to help you make informed decisions about what cars to buy and where to buy them.

Which used 1997 Pontiac Firebirds are available in my area?

Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 1997 Pontiac Firebird for sale near. Simply research the type of car you're interested in and then select a used car from our massive database to find cheap prew-owned vehicles for sale near you. Once you have identified a used vehicle you're interested in, check the AutoCheck vehicle history reports, read dealer reviews, and find out what other owners paid for the Used 1997 Pontiac Firebird.

Can't find a used 1997 Pontiac Firebirds you want in your area? Consider a broader search.

Find a used Pontiac Firebird for sale - 1 great deals out of 19 listings starting at $25,577.

Find a used Pontiac for sale - 3 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $14,628.

Find a used certified pre-owned Pontiac Firebird for sale - 3 great deals out of 17 listings starting at $22,801.

Find a used certified pre-owned Pontiac for sale - 8 great deals out of 16 listings starting at $7,726.

Should I lease or buy a 1997 Pontiac Firebird?

Is it better to lease or buy a car? Ask most people and they'll probably tell you that car buying is the way to go. And from a financial perspective, it's true, provided you're willing to make higher monthly payments, pay off the loan in full and keep the car for a few years. Leasing, on the other hand, can be a less expensive option on a month-to-month basis. It's also good if you're someone who likes to drive a new car every three years or so.

Check out Pontiac lease specials
Check out Pontiac Firebird lease specials