1982 was, bluntly, not a good year for automobiles. As the gas crisis strangled local fuel stations, Detroit realized it must do something to make its thirsty muscle cars more frugal. Enter the 1982 Pontiac Firebird.
1982 was the first model year for the third-generation Pontiac Firebird, which debuted with a 2.5-liter four-cylinder engine. Yep, a four-banger, with no turbocharger either, producing a measly 88 hp.
Engineers focused on creating a lighter, slipperier design to help improve performance despite low power numbers. The platform was deemed a success, with 500 pounds stripped from the car and a steeper front windshield design to improve aero.
Those still craving the V8 gusto would be disappointed in finding just 165 hp from the 5.0-liter V8, sourced from Chevrolet. This engine carried very early electronic fuel injection, which allowed for a 20 hp bump from the 5.0L minus the tech. It wouldn’t be until 1985 when the Firebird once again saw horsepower numbers surpassing 200 hp.
GM did succeed in increasing fuel economy after the 2.5L four-cylinder engine returned 34 mpg. But, needless to say, it wasn’t very popular. When the fourth, and final, generation Pontiac Firebird debuted in 1993, a four-cylinder was nowhere to be found.