1999 Pontiac Firebird Review

Pros & Cons

  • Powerful V6, spectacular V8, true muscle car performance package at bargain-basement price.
  • Boy-racer-in-gold-chains image, cheesy interior plastic, sky-high insurance rates for V8 models.
Other years
List Price Estimate
$1,169 - $2,712

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Edmunds' Expert Review

Vehicle overview

Except for a small period of time during the early '80s, the Pontiac Firebird has been synonymous with performance since it debuted in 1967. When considering famed Firebirds from the past, the blue-striped Trans Am from 1969 comes to mind, as does the 1974 SD-455. How about the 1977 black-and-gold 455 T/A abused by Burt Reynolds in the original Smokey and the Bandit movie, or the gold 78 Firebird Esprit piloted by James Garner in TV's The Rockford Files? And when any Firebird history is written, the 1987 turbocharged Indianapolis 500 Pace Car version will deserve mention, as will this, the current iteration of Pontiac's F-body.

The 99 Firebird, in base form, is meant to convey sex appeal. Its blend of angular greenhouse lines and softly bulging sheetmetal creates the automotive equivalent of a supermodel in a silk nightgown. Unfortunately, the bespoilered Trans Amwith its aero skirting, decklid 'batwing'' and louvered side scoopsruins the effect. Not to worry; the mid-level Formula model provides all of the T/A's hardware goodies in a more restrained, lighter, less-costly package.

The Firebird's cockpit is a futuristic blend of style and function, and is better executed than that of its corporate twin, the Chevrolet Camaro. Dual airbags and antilock brakes are standard, and the optional traction control system can now be ordered on all models. Additionally, convertible versions of Firebird and Trans Am are available, for a corresponding boost in price.

Performance from the Corvette-derived LS1 V8 is nothing short of astounding, providing enough power to get the Firebird to 60 mph faster than your 10-year-old can get to 40 yards. The pushrod 5.7-liter that comes standard on Formula and Trans Am makes 305 horsepower, and a more-important 335 pounds feet of tire-blistering torque. Need more power 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 LS1, resulting in 15 extra ponies. WS6 suspension tuning and 275/40ZR-17 rubber keep the Ram Air Firebird planted to the ground, while a new dual-outlet exhaust system offers a meaner look than the old twin pipes on the same side setup.

All V8 models come standard with a four-speed automatic transmission; a six-speed manual is a no-cost option. Base Firebirds are powered by a 3800 Series II V6 that makes 200 horsepower, and can be optioned with a performance package of their own. This 'insurance special'' includes bigger tires, a limited-slip differential, dual exhaust and uplevel steering. A slick-shifting five-speed manual transmission is standard on the V6.

Pontiac has further improved the breed for '99, making traction control available for all models, including the V6. To further help in the traction department, a Torsen II limited-slip differentialonce an exclusive option on the WS6is now standard on V8 cars and V6 Firebirds with the Performance package. Fuel tank capacity has been increased (16.8 gallons) for extended range, an oil life monitor is now standard, and two exterior colors have been added. Convertibles get the eight-speaker Delco/Monsoon sound system standard, while a Hurst shifter is optional on cars equipped with the six-speed stick. And autocrossers take note: a power steering cooler is now available on V8-powered models.

With world-class powertrains and hot sheetmetal at a low base price, the 1999 Firebird fries Ford's Mustang, not only at the stoplight but also at the dragstrip or racetrack. Problem is, Ford's beloved pony car, now newly revamped for '99, is pummeling Pontiac's performance flagship in dealer showrooms, outselling the F-Body at better than a 3-1 clip. While Mustang's packaging and refinement may have earned it a wider audience, and the once-mighty performance coupe empire is drying up, Firebird wears its modern-day muscle-car crown well. Just stay away from the over-adorned Trans Am, because the Formula provides all the performance and image you need, yet keeps your budget well in the black.

1999 Highlights

Electronic traction control is now available on all models, with a bigger gas tank and an oil life monitor standard. A Torsen limited-slip rear axle comes with V8 models (and V6 cars with the performance package), while an eight-speaker Delco/Monsoon sound system goes into the convertible. A power-steering cooler is now available for V8s, and a Hurst shifter is optional on the six-speed manual transmission. The Ram Air WS6 package now sports dual outlet exhaust, and two new exterior colors debut, Pewter and Medium Blue Metallic. The 30th anniversary Trans Am sports an extroverted paint scheme that features two blue stripes running over the hood and deck lid.

Consumer reviews

Read what other owners think about the Used 1999 Pontiac Firebird.

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Most helpful consumer reviews

Love it!
Trans Am 2dr Hatchback
In 2007, I was looking for a camaro as I had had a 1973, 1978, and 1989 in the past and loved them. Then I saw the red T/A sitting at a buick dealer. A 1999 with only 34,000 miles on it. T-tops, leather power seats with power lumbar support, auto-trans, 10 speaker cd stereo, I was in heaven! I love that when you tromp on it, it plants you back in the seat and the tires chirp in the first 3 gears even when you leave the trans in Drive. She is beautiful. As for repairs, I have had to replace one head light motor, one power window motor, two modules, and for some reason, multiple turn signal bulbs. I try to keep the milage down, but I love to drive it so it now has 65,000 miles. I adore my t/a.
It's a hand grenade!
Trans Am 2dr Hatchback
It was fun to drive but it's a rattle trap piece of junk. What hasn't been replaced or fixed? You name it. The rear end bearings have been done twice and third gear just disappeared. Doors sag, locks jam, wiper motor went, have replaced all rotors the fronts twice, calipers replaced, cat is rattling, sway bar links replaced, as it gets older everything is loosening up exponentially (spelling on that one?). the motor is starting to knock a bit in cold weather (sounds like a rod) and I use Synthetic Oil only. Looks nice and goes fast but wasn't made for the long haul. If your looking at one over 100K run RUN!
1999 3.8L V6 automatic
2dr Hatchback
I just recently went on a road trip from the Hi-Desert, CA to both Phoenix and Prescott, AZ. The care handles very nicely and is fun to drive. The only thing is it made my back sore after driving 300 miles. It's not really a car built for comfort, especially for a tall person like me who's pushing 6'3". It has awesome styling and pretty good acceleration for a V6. It gets alot of head turns, especially at night with its stylish headlights. Without any additions it tops out at 118 to 119mph. I'm sure with a supercharger and/or turbo it would max out around 130 to 150mph. I'm just guessing though. It comes standard with a crappy stereo system that has alot of issues. I changed it out
Great, fun car!
Trans Am 2dr Hatchback
I bought my T/A in July of '07. I had to get a few things fixed and replaced, but that's because the previous owner didn't take care of it. I use only 93 octane gas from either Shell or Chevron, and only use Royal Purple oil. Since I've gotten ahold of it, it's run better than ever. I guess what I'm trying to say is, just take care of it. Mine has Ram Air and some mods, and it dyno'd at 370hp. Even a stock T/A is fast! I get a ton of looks, and people trying to race me. I used to have an Integra, and I have to say... American muscle is the only way to go. If you get this car, you will not be disappointed.


NHTSA Overall Rating

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration offers independent analysis.
  • Frontal Barrier Crash Rating
    OverallNot Rated
    Driver4 / 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 1999 Pontiac Firebird

Used 1999 Pontiac Firebird Overview

The Used 1999 Pontiac Firebird is offered in the following submodels: Firebird Hatchback, Firebird Convertible, Firebird Trans Am. Available styles include Trans Am 2dr Hatchback, 2dr Hatchback, 2dr Convertible, Trans Am 2dr Convertible, and Formula 2dr Hatchback. 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 305 hp, depending on engine type. The Used 1999 Pontiac Firebird comes with rear wheel drive. Available transmissions include: 5-speed manual.

What's a good price on a Used 1999 Pontiac Firebird?

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Shop Edmunds' car, SUV, and truck listings of over 6 million vehicles to find a cheap new, used, or certified pre-owned (CPO) 1999 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 1999 Pontiac Firebird.

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Find a used Pontiac Firebird for sale - 4 great deals out of 11 listings starting at $14,430.

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Find a used certified pre-owned Pontiac Firebird for sale - 5 great deals out of 21 listings starting at $19,312.

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Should I lease or buy a 1999 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