A Japanese specialist preparing an aero package for a classic American muscle car? This may sound out of the ordinary, and yet here we are, gazing at an official rendering of a Rocket Bunny widebody kit for the first-generation Pontiac Firebird.
With Kei Miura at the helm, Japanese developer Tra Kyoto’s Rocket Bunny body kits, which are sold in the US under the Pandem label, make for some of the most popular out there.
Is there an official Rocket Bunny kit for the first-generation Pontiac Firebird?
For now, all we have are these renderings, which were released on Tra Kyoto’s Instagram just as the calendar took us into 2023. So, let’s look at the potential clues for a production version, shall we?
The most recent debut of a body kit coming from the company took place last November, when the Pandem C5 Chevrolet Corvette showed up at SEMA.
However, in the second half of December 2022, things started heating up on the said official Instagram page. We got renderings for the Pandem Nissan 400Z, an all-JDM project that makes full sense, hence us expecting it to debut at the upcoming 2023 Tokyo Auto Salon (January 13-15).
There’s also the CGI showcasing a Mad Max-inspired Pandem widebody for the S197 I Ford Mustang. This involves renderings portraying the individual parts of the kit, the kind we get with units that are already in production.
And now we’ve got this Rocket Bunny Pontiac Firebird widebody, an idea that is simply showcased in the CGI video below, even packing a typo.
None of the three digital projects is mentioned on any of the developer’s websites, so we’ll probably have to wait for the Tokyo Auto Salon to get more info.
And speaking of the event, this will see “rival” Japanese body kit specialist Liberty Walk seriously expanding its reach—we’ve already seen teasers for the Liberty Walk Ferari F40, FD Mazda RX-7, Toyota GR86 and Lexus LX600, but more stuff is on the way.
So, either Tra Kyoto is testing the waters here, or the company is expanding by entering the muscle car scene via the S197 Mustang and first-gen Firebird kits.
The original Firebird only ran for three model years
As portrayed in the quick CGI video below, the Rocket Bunny widebody fits the 1967 and 1968 Pontiac Firebird, but not the 1969. And, to better explain this, I need to deliver an overly simplified history of the OG model.
With the Camaro being Chevrolet’s response to the Ford Mustang, fellow GM brand Pontiac introduced its version of the ‘Maro in February 1967, five months after Chevy’s move.
Being a Pontiac, the Firebird offered superior features to the Camaro, but was also more expensive. And while the 1968 Firebird featured important tech updates and limited visual changes, the 1969 model year saw things being done the other way around.
As with the Camaro, the ’69 Firebird received a comprehensive exterior makeover that also increased the width and the length of the car, which is why this final model year for the Gen I would probably require its own version of the kit.
1969 was also the year when the Firebird first received the infamous Trans Am performance and appearance package, which went went from car to pop culture the following decade, not least thanks to some fellas nicknamed Smokey and the Bandit.
What’s with the Trans Am racing connection for the Rocket Bunny Firebird kit?
The go-fast package borrowed its name from the Trans Am racing series. Having had its innaugural season in 1966, the Trans-American Championship saw the Pontiac Firebird battling the Chevrolet Camaro, Dodge Challenger, AMC Javelin and Ford Mustang. Production for the first-gen Firebird ended after the three model years, albeit with around 270,000 units sold.
Now, with the stance shown by this Rocket Bunny Firebird, we are reminded of those early Trans Am race cars, even though they skipped the super-sized arches shown here.
And, as if the idea of installing such aero on an iconic muscle car of the original generation wasn’t wild enough, the kit uses Rocket Bunny’s “square” fenders, which can be seen on production packages destined for the C8 Corvette and the Toyota GR86.
Those overfenders are accompanied by an air dam up front, with a ducktail-style spoiler adorning the boot lid. What about the mirror-like finish of the custom wheels? Well, something had to rhyme with the factory chrome bumpers, so there you go.
Update (January 17, 2023): Our dreams have come true and then some. Not only did Pandem introduce the real-world Pontiac Firebird and S197 Mustang kits at the Tokyo Auto Show, but the company also debuted a widebody package for the 1970 Camaro featuring smooth fenders as a first for the brand.
The widebody Pontiac is here is white, with the clean look only allowing the overfenders to stand out more! The Pandem muscle trio can be seen in one of the images below (pixel tip to Hardcore Tokyo) and it all feels surreal.