The Pontiac Firebird Ram Air II was the highest-performing Firebird you could buy in 1968, its thunderous L67 400 cubic inch V8 was capable of 340 bhp, and it could cheerfully wipe the floor with almost any other pony car being mass-produced in the USA.
John DeLorean had initially planned for the Banshee I to fill the role that would eventually fall to the first generation Firebird. The problem was that DeLorean’s design was both lighter and more powerful than the Chevrolet Corvette – this created an obvious conflict of interest for the suits who feared sales cannibalisation. They cancelled the Banshee I project and redirected resources into creating a pony car that used the same F-Body platform as the Chevrolet Camaro.
Much of the design work that went into the Banshee I would be rolled into the C3 Corvette, a vindication for John’s original vision, and the lower-performing Firebird would still become one of the most loved pony cars of the decade.
At the bottom-end of the options list for the new Firebird was an inline-6 with a single overhead cam and and single barrel carburettor. At the other end of the scale sat the Ram Air II, a 6.5 litre V8 with with revised cylinder heads with round exhaust ports, the pistons and crankshaft were forged, and it had a higher lift camshaft with a tougher valve-train.
340 bhp is nothing to sniff at today, and in 1968 it was considered borderline insane. The engine and other upgrades didn’t come cheap however, and Pontiac built just 110 of them in 1968. Of these, 98 had the Muncie M21 4-speed manual transmission, and just one was ordered with bench seats instead of buckets – the car you’re looking at here.
In 2003 the car started an 18-month subframe-off restoration, and it’s completed less than 600 miles since. It retains its numbers matching engine and original Muncie gearbox, as well as the all important heads and camshaft. If you’d like to read more about it or register to bid you can click here to visit Mecum Auctions.