1977 Pontiac Firebird Type K by Pininfarina

The Type K (for Kammback) concept, initially shown in 1977, was developed by Gerry Brochstein under GM executive David R. Holls. The design did away with a conventional rear tailgate in favor of long, gullwing-style rear windows on either side that permitted easy access to the entire cargo area. Outback, a vertical rear window sat above a four-bar array that traversed the width of the rear, masking the taillamps and stop lamps unless they were illuminated.


Seeing the potential for such a product, GM design head Bill Mitchell approved the construction of two concepts based upon production Firebirds. One was gold with a beige interior, while the second was a more striking silver with a red interior. The conversion, which utilized steel body panels, was farmed out to Italy's Pininfarina, which had ample experience in assembling such concepts and low-volume models.


The public gave the Type K concepts an enthusiastic thumbs-up, and GM began to explore its options for production. One idea was to farm the work out to Pininfarina in Italy. At the same time, a second and potentially lower-cost plan called for building the Type Ks in the United States under Pininfarina's supervision. Somewhat of a halo car, GM targeted a selling price of around $16,000 for the Type K, at a time when a base Firebird was priced from $4,753 and a Trans Am from $5,889.


Though the reasons why are unclear, the gold Type K was reportedly destroyed by GM. The silver car, fitted with a 1979 Trans Am-style front end, appeared in a March 1979 two-part episode of The Rockford Files ("Never Send a Boy King to do a Man's Job"), driven by Odette Lepandieu (played by Trish Noble). With this much exposure and positive press, the Type K almost seemed destined for production.


Until the final build cost assessment came in, that is. Even with Pininfarina doing all it could to contain costs, the final retail price of the Type K would have needed to be in the $25,000 range for GM to turn a profit, making it as expensive as two 1979 Corvettes. To make matters worse, a new Firebird was already in the works by the 1979 model year, which meant that the cost of developing a new Kammback body would also need to be factored in. The idea of a two-door wagon on the F-body platform was killed off a second time.


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