Written by Jim Suva
After The Rockford Files shut down production in January 1980, James Garner bought this 1978 Firebird Formula 400 from the show. Mr. Garner sold this car to local TV Station WGGT (Channel 48) in Greensboro, NC. This Firebird was later raffled off by Coca-Cola on March 3, 1982. The car was presented to the winner by NASCAR Driver Richard Petty at a local Circuit City store.
The winner was a lady named Frances. Unfortunately, she chose to have the car repainted a darker color, and she had the seat covers replaced. Francis owned and drove the Firebird until she sold it in July of 1989.
A gentleman named Lloyd bought the Firebird from Frances. Lloyd was a huge James Garner fan, and he rarely drove the car. In fact, most of the time that he owned the Firebird, it was in storage. Lloyd died in 2003.
Lloyd’s daughter, Joy, is now the owner of the Firebird. On August 29, 2009 I had the honor of meeting Joy in person in Iowa. I took great pleasure in photographing and then actually driving the Firebird. The Firebird is all there, including the holes drilled to run recording wiring. Joy even has a plug-in plate with five jacks for microphones. The car also has a skid plate mounted to the frame to protect the engine and transmission from any damage from stunts. This Firebird is a rig car (sound car) used for close-ups while driving. I believe it is also a stunt car. Joy has a letter from James Garner that was sent to the Program Manager at Station WGGT. The letter identifies this car as an actual screen-used Firebird Formula 400, and that he drove this car during the filming of the Rockford Files. Unfortunately, the letter does not state the car’s VIN number.
One interesting note is that this car has power windows. The plastic plugs for the power windows in the door panels can be seen in “Material Difference”, “Love is the Word” and the “Big Cheese” episodes. This Firebird was used during the last two seasons. Pat (another Rockford Firebird expert) and I are 99% sure this is an actual Rockford File Firebird.
If anyone has any information on any other Rockford File Firebirds or Rocky’s GMC pick up truck, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. My goal is to own an original Rockford File Firebird someday!
Please visit my Blog/website at http://jimsuva.vox.com for more information on the Rockford Files Firebird.