The image of the American sports car is pretty well-established as cradling a lumpy V8 engine under the hood, but not everyone shares that exact idea of what a sports car could be. John DeLorean is one such example, as evidenced by the 1968 Pontiac Firebird Sprint.
For those who may not know, the 1968 Pontiac Firebird Sprint was DeLorean’s shot at bringing European-style GT motoring to the American public. As a fan of the Jaguar XKE, the GM exec sought to offer a new kind of driving experience than that offered by the low-end grunt of a V8, instead opting for a smooth, rev-happy inline six-cylinder with a single overhead cam. Dropped into a Pontiac Firebird, the Pontiac Firebird Sprint was born.
Now, world-renowned car aficionado and former Tonight Show host Jay Leno is showing off his rare 1968 Pontiac Firebird Sprint in the following feature video from Jay Leno’s Garage.
“I like European cars, and there really weren’t any high-performance six-cylinder American engines at the time, at least that I knew of then,” Leno says as he recounts first learning about the new overhead cam GM engine. “The trouble was, by the time you ordered the four-barrel and all the high-performance options to make it a Sprint, it cost more than the V8 and it didn’t make as much horsepower.”
Unsurprisingly, the Pontiac Firebird Sprint wasn’t the most popular option available, but nevertheless, a few examples were produced and remain on the road today – as seen here. This particular example was ordered by a member of the U.S. military, who got it loaded with options, and now, Leno has it. Leno also gave it a full frame-off restoration, and now it’s sitting pretty and running like a top.
After going through the car and some of the history, Leno later takes his 1968 Pontiac Firebird Sprint out on the road for some real-world driving. Check out the full 24-minute feature right here: