These three Firebirds are about as nice as it gets – truly stunning.
James Garner was the ultimate 1970s detective, in a broadcast schedule lousy with imitators that could never compare with his steely delivery and shrewd crime-solving skills.
This Firebird Formula was painted gold to match the first Firebird Espirit from the series’ early seasons, and was Rockford’s main ride for the 1978-1980 seasons of the show. Garner disliked the 1979 restyle of the Firebird, so this kid stayed in the picture.
Pontiac Firebird from The Rockford Files
Lot R201// Kissimmee 2015 //Jan 16-25
1978 Pontiac Firebird
Featured in the TV Series The Rockford Files
One of the most likeable characters on television in the ‘70s was James Garner’s portrayal of private detective Jim Rockford, whose adventures were chronicled weekly in the highly popular hit The Rockford Files. The show had a wide variety of characters ranging from Jim’s father Rocky, with whom he shared a trailer on a Los Angeles beach to his pals police captain Dennis Becker and local hustler “Angel” Martin. The most enduring symbol of the show, however, was Jim Rockford’s Pontiac Firebird Esprit.
Car chases were a recurring event in the show, and were usually highlighted by the famous Rockford Turn or J-Turn, in which he would make an escape when cornered by his antagonist by accelerating backwards and cranking the wheels to reverse direction, enabling his escape. Garner claimed in a Season One DVD interview that he always performed the stunt himself, no surprise given his proven skill behind the wheel, which he first publicly demonstrated in the classic racing film “Grand Prix.”
The Rockford Firebird was updated a number of times throughout the show’s run from 1974 to 1980, but not after 1978, when this Firebird Formula was repainted from its original Glacier Blue to match the Copper Mist used in previous seasons. To match the earlier Esprit models, the car’s scooped hood was replaced with a standard unit and the three-piece rear spoiler was removed and the holes filled. The reason the car was carried over into the 1979 and 1980 seasons was simple: Garner disliked the new front end treatment introduced on the Firebird in 1979.
It didn’t hurt that using the same car for three years running underlined Rockford’s perennially rocky personal finances. Formerly part of the Nelson Performance Car Museum in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the car is equipped with a 350 CI 4-barrel V-8 engine, automatic transmission, AM/FM radio, power steering, power brakes, power windows and air conditioning. It is presented in “as-filmed” condition with 11,862 miles and is documented with a letter of authenticity from Ray Claridge of Cinema Vehicle Services.
– Used in the TV series Rockford Files and several made for TV movies
– Documented with a letter of authenticity from Ray Claridge of Cinema Vehicle Services
– Presented in as-filmed condition
– 11,862 original miles
– Factory Formula model that was modified to look like an Esprit to better suit Jim Rockford
– Originally Glacier Blue but painted Gold for use in the Rockford Files
– The hood was swapped and rear spoiler removed
– 350 CI V-8, automatic transmission
– Radial Tuned Suspension
– Air conditioning
– Power steering and brakes
– Very recognizable Rockford Files Firebird
– Formerly part of the Nelson Performance Car Museum in Sioux Falls, South Dakota
Tom Burkart is the founder and managing editor of Car-Revs-Daily.com, an innovative and rapidly-expanding automotive news magazine.
He holds a Journalism JBA degree from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Tom currently resides in Charleston, South Carolina with his two amazing dogs, Drake and Tank.
Mr. Burkart is available for all questions and concerns by email Tom(at)car-revs-daily.com.