Jim Suva's "Rockford Files" Firebird

In 1974 a new TV series aired called “The Rockford Files” starring James Garner. Mr. Garner’s character Jim Rockford drove a Pontiac Firebird Esprit. I fell in love with this car immediately. So I purchased a used 1974 Firebird Esprit that was gold and had a black interior. (Rockford drove a gold and tan interior version.) I only kept the car one year before I sold it.

The Rockford Files went through Firebirds from 1974 through the 1978 model year. I have always wanted to buy one over the years.

Fast forward to November 2002. I was looking for a used car for myself and found a 1977 Firebird Esprit on the Internet. It was gold with a tan interior.

The Firebird only had 63,000 miles on it and it was in great survivor shape. I am the fifth owner of the car. The Firebird was purchased new in 1977 in Oregon to a lady who was about 50 years old, who gave the car to her minister’s wife in the late 1980’s. The minister’s wife kept it for a number of years and sold it to another gentleman around the year 2000. In March of 2002 that gentleman sold the Firebird to another gentleman named Mike in Rhode Island. Mike sold it to me. What is nice about this Firebird is that it has only been owned by people over 45 years old. So it has not been abused.

Once I bought the Firebird, I contacted Jim at Pontiac Historic Service for a copy of the original build sheet. The Firebird was built in Ohio and shipped to a dealer in Oregon. The car originally had a rear spoiler and a stripe, which I believe was removed at the dealership. It also had wire wheels, that Mike (owner #4) switched out with a set of Rally 2 wheels to make the car look like the Rockford Files car.

Since purchasing the Firebird, I have replaced the wheel-well chrome all around, added a correct AM/FM radio with two rear speakers. Of course I have done some regular maintenance like brakes, heater core, water pump and transmission service.

The Firebird has a 305 engine, power steering and brakes. It also has air conditioning and a tilt steering column with a gold Formula steering wheel. These are the only options on the car.

I used the Firebird as a daily driver for about 11 months. It is now retired as an antique vehicle with just over 69,000 miles on it. It sports the same license plate number that was Jim Rockford’s on the TV show (853 OKG).

I have shown the Firebird at a few local car shows and it is received well. A lot of people actually ask me if this is an original from the TV show. The nice thing about this Firebird is that it is a star car replica. Since everyone wants a General Lee Charger, KITT Trans Am, or a Batmobile, my car is special. Not too many Rockford Files Firebird’s running around. Plus, there are a lot of Trans Am and Formula Firebirds, so it is cool to see the Esprit as one of a few examples still out there.

Plans for the future are to have the Firebird repainted and have some minor dings and dents taken out. As luck would have it, I met a gentleman in California who gave me the original color-based codes from an actual surviving Rockford Firebird.

I have also had the opportunity to talk to someone who actually supplied the Firebirds to both the TV series and the Rockford Movies in the 90’s. He gave me a lot of background information on the Firebirds. But that is another story. (excerpt from the club magazine, the Eagle)
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23 thoughts on “Jim Suva's "Rockford Files" Firebird”

  1. Great account. Your car looks to be in terrific shape. I’d really love to hear the story of the person who supplied the Firebirds to Rockford. Have you written that yet?

  2. Hi, Great looking car. I’m doing the same thing with my 78 “Rockford” firebird. Mine’s starting to show it’s age and needs some body work and new paint. I’ve heard a variety of opinions on the proper color to use. What paint codes do you have? Thanks, Bill

  3. Thanks guys!

    bomberpete – I have written the article and would be happy to send you a copy. I will email it to you. Please send me your email addres to my email jjsuva@aol.com.

    Bill S – I will send you the color codes that I have, if you send me your address. The paint was matched from a car from the series. The copy I have has the GM codes for Buckskin on one side and the other side has the Rockford codes. Email me at the address above.

    Thanks,
    Jim S

  4. Jim,
    I have resently bought a 1978 trans am and i am restoring it to factory condition. i have both the build sheets ( 1 under the drivers seat and 1 on top of fuel tank) . both are in terrible condition and was wondering if there is a way to get a replica build sheet made.
    thankyou for your time and any help on this subject.

    Randy Wiebusch

  5. Randy,

    Contact Jim Morrison at Pontiac Historical Society. For a fee he will get you a copy per your vin number. I forgot the web address, but you can do a search.

    Jim

  6. Hey Jim,
    I have the orginal 1978 firebird in the original state VIN #2T87U81169460. You are the first person I have contacted regarding this vehicle. I will give you the first offer for this car. Check out the VIN and contact me at 804-467-2672

  7. Hello Jim,

    Is it possible to receive a copy of your article regarding the Rockford Files Firebird? I live in San Diego and have spoken with the owner of a 76 Firebird. According to the owner his car has connections to the TV show? His car appears to be the correct color and is completely original but is in rough shape due to neglect.

    Any information would be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much!

    Regards Ross

  8. If I, too, could get a copy of your article about the Rockford Firebirds, that would be great! My dad’s a huge Rockford fan and would love to read it. Because of the Rockford Files, he bought a new Firebird Esprit in 1977, then traded it on a new Firebird Formula in 1979. Thanks! – Eric, miami_montage@yahoo.com

  9. What a nice car!
    Thanx 4 posting.

    I ve just purchased a nice 1980 Firebird with 43,000 MLS. (FL Car)
    It has still the original steel wheels with hub caps.
    Im thinking about buying Rally II rims for this car.
    Were is the best place to get them?
    Ive seen some at NPD s webside, but Im not sure if they are close to the originals.

  10. You can keep an eye out on ebay. NPD, Year One and Classic Industries I beleive sell them. Mine your on my Firebird when I bought them.

    If you have any questions, please email me at jimsuva34@aol.com.

    Jim Suva

  11. Hi Jim, I found your story recently while researching my own car. I own one of the 1978 Pontiac Firebirds actually used in the series, not a copy but one of the actual cars. Coca-Cola gave it away years ago and my dad bought it from the woman who won it (we have documentation etc)
    My insurance company has been giving me difficulty over the value of the car and so I have been reading everything I can on it and similar cars. I loved your story! Don’t forget that in the show Jim ran whitewalls on his car rather than white letters. You have a great car!

  12. Jim, would love to read your article on the Rockford Firebirds. There aren’t many esprit’s out there. You have a great car there! I hope to find one myself someday! I am going to send you an email to the address you posted above and I hope to hear back from you! Thanks,

    Nick

  13. Joy, I as Jim said, would love to hear more about your real Rockford Firebird. I have been a fan of the show and loved the cars my entire life! My email is nmundo@gmail.com, hope to hear from you!

    Thank you,

    Nick

  14. I owned a 1975 gold Esprit with tan interior from November 1980 until June of 1981. I was the second owner and my dad convinced me to trade it for a 1981 Chevy Chevette since gas prices were so high. That might have been the biggest mistake in my life. It was such a beautiful automobile! I have tried to find one over the years, but they are impossible to find.

    Your car looks great – just like mine did almost 30 years ago.

  15. My dad till today still has a white Firebird Pontiac Trans Am 4.9 V8. The inscription on that vehicle say Jim Morrison’s Firebird pontiac, later on in the years, i kept wondering if this vehicle belonged to Jim Morrison the Rock Star at any point, i never got to ask my dad. This vehicle was bought in 1981 and has never driven upto 2000 miles and is garage kept uptil today. Im wondering if i should go ask my dad if i can have it.

  16. Parents have their childrens best interest at heart, but when it comes to Misters Garners Firebird or Steve McQueens Mustang, Their knowledge goes down to MINUS Zero. My dad said that the above mentioned were “Just junk” Well sir that junk is worth its weight almost in gold !!!! My dad was about like “Rocky”–Borrowed my Old but nice 72 Ford PU ,went to a farmer and bought a load of chicken shit. He did not wash it out!!! I NEVER LET IM USE IT AGAIN—GOD REST HIS SOUL !!

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