Introduced in 1964, the Ford Mustang is widely regarded as America’s first pony car. However, that’s not exactly true, as Plymouth debuted the Barracuda a few weeks before the Mustang. And depending on who you ask, the pony car concept can be traced back to the late 1950s.
But while the jury is still out on which company built the first pony, we know that General Motors was a bit late to the party. The company’s answer to the Mustang, the Chevrolet Camaro, did not arrive until September 1966. And Pontiac didn’t get a piece of the pony car pie until February 1967, when the Firebird was unveiled.
Not surprisingly, the latter was nowhere near as popular as the Mustang and the Camaro. While Ford and Chevrolet sold hundreds of thousands of pony cars annually, Pontiac had to settle for five-digit deliveries. The nameplate moved 82,560 units in 1967, 107,112 examples in 1968, and 87,708 in 1969.
But even though it wasn’t as successful as its main competitors, the Firebird was popular enough for Pontiac to keep it in production for decades. Specifically, the Firebird remained in showrooms over four generations and through 2002. That’s a whopping 35 years!
What’s more, low sales make the first-generation Firebird one of the rarest pony cars of the golden era. Granted, it’s not as valuable as the Mustang or Camaro, but you just don’t see them very often nowadays. All told, if you want a late 1960s pony that stands out, the Firebird is the perfect option.
The first-year coupe you see here is not exactly road-worthy or solid enough to take to the local cars and coffee event, but it’s proof that enthusiasts are doing all they can to save the cars that were forgotten in storage. This Poncho sat for nearly three decades until the owner’s son called YouTube’s “Puddin’s Fab Shop” to get it running again.
Neglected for 27 years, the Firebird emerged from storage with many issues, including worn-out paint and surface rust. Unfortunately, the engine bay was also taken over by rodents, which filled it up with debris. At first glance, the Pontiac looked like the kind of car you don’t want to touch.
But our host is used to working on vehicles like this, so he didn’t waste any time and gave the Firebird a much-needed bath. The engine bay also cleaned up nicely, revealing a bunch of performance upgrades dating back to when the pony was still roaming the streets. By the way, that mill is a 400-cubic-inch (6.6-liter) V8, rated at 325 horsepower when new.