Pontiac, the Gas Mileage King of 1976

1976 pontiac firebird sunbird astre magazine advertisement
Pontiac, the Gas Mileage King of 1976Pontiac

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Fuel prices were still high a few years after the 1973 Oil Crisis, and the Detroit manufacturers (not to mention their competitors from Europe and Japan) had become accustomed to pushing their more fuel-efficient vehicles by that time.

The folks at GM's Pontiac Division took a look at the EPA's 1976 gas mileage ratings and discovered that the Pontiac Firebird Formula had the best numbers for any car with a 350-cubic-inch (5.7-liter) V8 that year (16 mpg city, 21 mpg highway, though the California numbers are considerably worse). Here's a magazine advertisement that brags triumphantly about that.

1976 pontiac firebird sunbird astre magazine advertisement

It's unclear whether the '76 Firebird Formula was competing only against cars with V8 engines marketed as nominal 350s (in which case only other GM cars with Pontiac, Oldsmobile, Chevrolet, and Buick 350s would be included in the comparison) or if pretty-close-to-350-cubic-inch v8 engines from AMC, Ford, Chrysler, and Mercedes-Benz counted. For that matter, the Pontiac 350 itself actually displaced 353.4 cubic inches, so the definitions involved squirm right out of our grasp. Anyway, the serious meat of this ad was about the genuinely gas-sipping (Chevy Monza-based) Sunbird and (Chevy Vega-based) Astre.