|In 1977, Pontiac launched an
appearance package for the Esprit called "Skybird". This gave them
optional appearance packages on 3 of the 4 Firebird models. In 1978, all three appeared
in my favorite Firebird ad, shown at right. Skybirds are the least collectible, but in some ways the most interesting of all these cars.
Skybirds (and the later Redbird and Yellowbird) are uniquely feminine as evidenced by their bird decals. There's really not another specifically "girly" car to compare them to. Since ladies generally don't collect cars, most of the Esprit special editions have vanished over the years.
The Skybirds and later spinoffs have tons of visual impact. They included an accent color on the lower body, tail, and grilles, just like a W-50 Formula. They included pinstriping and coordinated snowflakes just like a Bandit Trans Am. They had a color coordinated Formula steering wheel and a chrome Pontiac emblem which were unavailable on any other Firebird in 77. I guess you could say they are as gaudy as a Formula W-50 and Bandit Trans Am put together. So not only were they made for a lady, she needed to be a show-off.
|In 2001, my wife was visiting
Maryland and told me on the phone she had located some dead Firebirds in
somebody's yard. I agreed to investigate when I picked her up a week or two
This scene, which has long been shown on the island of misfit Trans Ams, was quite a lot more than I expected. The yard was covered with junk, grass was unmowed, and in the yard we found a 78 Skybird, 79 4-speed Tenth Anniversary Trans Am, and a 79 4-speed regular Trans Am.
Most collectors would have been more impressed by the TATA, but I had become a big fan of the Skybird long before this. You can just imagine my surprise on finding this sight.
|Efforts to Contact the owner were
relentless, but unsuccessful. I wrote him a letter explaining what I wanted, and
I forgot about it. A year later, I got that phone call. Here's the
Skybird being pulled from the yard, along with the TATA in the background. I
told the owner I needed to get to a car wash, and knew exactly what I meant. I
had left my wife at a local shopping mall....
He gave me very complicated directions, but luckily I found it.
|Meanwhile, back at the mall, my wife saw got her first look at it post car
wash. Doesn't look quite so bad now, does it? This particular Skybird is a 1978
high-option car with velour interior, power everything, and a 4-bbl Chevy 350.
To me, the guy that loves Skybirds, it's well worth restoring, but it has some problems....
|First off, sitting in that grass created some aggressive local spots of rust on what's a pretty solid car. Here's an example; the front of the right rear wheel opening basically exploded. This is the only rust hole. Since the skybird is pretty much worthless, it's a good candidate for a patch panel here.|
|Second, mice lived in it while it was sitting in the yard. They mostly used the hood insulation to build their mouse condominiums, one of which was in the air cleaner. It was the size of a football, and you can see here the rust resulting from the mice peeing on it. That causes rust on things like throttle and choke plates. Mice also created quite a smell in the interior which will probably require all the interior fabric to be replaced.|
|The interior, if not clean, is complete and the rare parts are in pretty good shape. The blue plastic fades worse than other colors, so the kick panel, for example, looks pretty rough. Check out that blue steering wheel! In 1978, only skybirds and Y88 Gold Editions had color coordinated Formula steering wheels.
Also note the engine-turned dash without gages. If you see these at the swap meet, that is where they come from. Redbird and Yellowbird versions were gold-tinted with a gold-winged chicken like a Bandit Trans Am instrument panel. The Skybird has no gold themed trim at all.
|One of the better points about my Skybird is the totally unmolested original Chevy 350 4-bbl engine. In terms of Skybird horsepower, it's maxed out. I am having delusions about converting it to a 4-speed. On second thought, I guess after you buy a bellhousing you've gone beyond the delusion stage.|
|I'll be updating this page as work begins on the Skybird. In the meantime, here are some great pictures of a low-mileage 78 skybird that was on ebay last year. This car has the spoiler, which mine lacks. Note the two girly decals on the spoiler. I think Fred Schramm has more pictures of this car on his website, pontiacpower.net.|