I Flipped Burgers To Buy My First Car: A 1970 Pontiac Firebird Formula 350
Story and photography by Viktor Hansen
My name is Viktor Hansen, I live in Copenhagen, Denmark, and this is my 1970 Pontiac Firebird Formula 350. Growing up in my country, one tends to see American cars few and far between, but that wasn’t the case for me. My dad had an orange 1972 Ford Mustang Mach 1 in the garage, and when we weren’t driving it, looking at it, or working on it we would be indulging in our shared enthusiasm for American cars through other means. He showed me all the great car chase films like Bullitt and Cannonball!, and I always had a preference for Vanishing Point from both a film perspective and of course because it was the one with my dream car in it. I also enjoyed Driver from 1978, and so it was almost inevitable that I’d drive a muscle or pony car of some sort.
And just a few months ago I purchased such a car. It also happened to be my first. I’d been working a classic teenager’s job for some time at our local burger joint, and I was always good about saving birthday money and the like, so last December I pooled together everything I had and spent it all on a Pontiac. I drove out to a barn on the other side of the country to look at the car in person first, and after falling in love with it decided to take it home with me. We agreed on a price that would leave me with the car and $100 to my name, and that’s how I found myself, at 17 years of age, in the driver’s seat of my own Firebird. I was both broke and the happiest I’ve ever been. Any machine with working forward gears and a set of seats will make for a grand old time for a new car owner, and here I was lucky enough to be sat behind the wheel of one of my favorites!
I know there must be more out there—and if you’re reading this please speak up!—but so far I’m the only person around me driving a ratty pony car as a daily driver. When you do something a little muscly here, it tends to be restored or resto-modded, so my original car is a unique sight parked out on the street. To me it’s one of the best-looking designs for a two-door car, and I also love how it sounds—though I’m not so sure my neighbors love being woken up by the sound of a small-block V8 in the morning! Oh well.
It’s an odd sight in the city, but I prefer driving it rather than waiting at traffic lights, so when I want to just indulge in the experience I take it out of all that density and into this little section of nearby forest. There are some tight corners and a few of those S-turn street signs that we all love to see, and though Firebirds aren’t the most grippy things out there it’s still an absolute blast to go through the gears and let the body roll to its limits. I used to race karts as a kid and my brother did it on a professional level, so I’m not going to pretend the Firebird has that level of agility, but it does deliver that American muscle feeling in spades; loud V8, floaty suspension, long hood leading the way.
I plan on keeping this thing for quite a while, but it’s much older than I am and has had quite a life before me, and as far back as I can trace it, it was sitting at an old lady’s house all the way out in California (rust free at this point no doubt!). It was built from the factory as a Firebird Esprit—a sort of luxury trim level—but when it made its way over to Denmark in 2008 it was set up like a Formula 350. I haven’t been able to determine when this work was carried out or who did it or where they did it, but I’m leaving it as is for the moment. Remember, it left me with $100 to my name!