[VIDEO] 1969 Corvette 427 vs 1973 Pontiac Firebird in Drag Race


[VIDEO] 1969 Corvette 427 vs 1973 Pontiac Firebird in Drag Race

Travel with us back in time to a period a half-century ago when Pontiac apparently had the right “Formula” to chew up a “Shark.”

The guys at CarsandZebras obviously had a lot of fun producing this 11-minute video that mixes in some updated “Jaws” clips with a little Jim Carrey humor and ultimately an interesting three-round showdown on the drag strip at Mid-Michigan Motorplex between a couple of 4-speed classics, a 1969 Corvette convertible with a 427/390 hp engine and a 1973 Firebird Formula with a 455/250 hp engine.

(The difference in those horsepower ratings isn’t as great as it appears. The Corvette was measured under the old system where the engine was not operating any ancillary items like the alternator or water pump. The Firebird came in much lower because it was measured under the new 1972 system with the engine tested in as-installed condition to give a closer evaluation of its power.)

Stat-wise, you might be surprised to find out that the Formula actually tips the scales some 36 pounds lighter than the Stingray, 3,598 pounds to 3,562 pounds.

But enough about boring numbers like those. We know you’re dying to find out which car had the fastest time on this particular 57-degree, 44% humidity sunny day.

Both cars compete regularly in the Pure Stock Muscle Car Drag Race Series, open to muscle cars built in the U.S. or Canada between 1955 and 1979 with limited modifications, meaning this battle was basically between two GM behemoths pretty much as they left the factory.

The Corvette actually jumped out to an early lead in all three races but then gave way to lose narrowly to the Formula each time.

In Round 1, the Formula had a time of 13.78 seconds at 104.89 mph, with the Corvette running a 13.87 at 104.42 mph.

Round 2 saw the Firebird with the better time again, 13.70 at 105.17 mph to 13.81 at 102.30 mph, but the Pontiac red-lighted, giving an automatic win to the Chevy, however.

In the rubber match, both cars had their slowest times of the afternoon, but the Pontiac emerged victorious at 13.90 at 104.87 mph to the Chevrolets 14.05 at 103.02 mph.

The biggest takeaway for us is the huge amount of progress made by automakers over the past 50 years, as the 2020 Corvette can run a time in the 11.2-second range at 121 mph.

Still, isn’t it fun to see these two vintage powerhouses on the wrestling mat again?


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  1. What you guys failed to mention that the 1969 corvette was pre emissions since the new emission laws started in 1971 production year for all American build cars. Also the Chevy BBC 427 is significantly heavier than the Pontiac 455 engine. 1973 was the first year of EGR intake and carburators, along with Pontiac going to a small exhaust Valve. You also failed to mention that the 1969 Chevy 427 engine compression ratio’s were between 10.25:1-12:1 depending on the performance option as the Pontiac 455 was at 8.4:1 due to the emission standards.
    If you want to see which engine was faster take the 1969 427 and the 1969 Pontiac 427 and drive them in the exact same car with only engine/bell housing swaps. The Pontiac 428’s were not allowed to be in anything smaller than a B-Body car since GM corporate had a power to weight ratio rule on all GM cars but Chevy.
    But lets remember that the 1968 Firebird 400 RA II was faster than the 1968 Camaro 427, same with the 1969 Firebird 400 RA IV was faster than the 1969 Camaro 427…
    If that Formula 455 was just that little bit behind that Corvette, just imagine how it would have done without the emission standards…

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