Find answers to Frequently Asked Questions for First Generation Firebirds that have been asked on First Generation Firebird-L mailing list. Special thanks needs to be given to all the Firebird-L owners that took the time to respond to other subscribers questions. These pages are continuously updated as new information is posted on the mailing list.
|Q:||Restoring Car off frame|
|Which is better to get done first...the body work/paint or the engine/suspension? It will be 6 months or so after I get one done before I can afford the other.|
This is always a tough question, because you need to factor in the
overall way in which you are going to go about it, what you will do vs.
farming out, etc. It sounds as though you will be farming out the entire
paint job, so this has major implications. Since I like a cherried engine
compartment, this also enlists its own implications, so my approach is a
little different. You also have to factor in whether or not the car is
totally out of commission for both parts. For a job done right, 6 months is
not much time to worry about in the long run. So, not knowing all the
options that you are considering (DYI vs. body/paint)I will line things up
to a middle-of-the-road approach.
Note: by 'Prep' I mean whatever it takes to get ready to paint (to the extent that you may do the work yourself) i.e. washdown, sandblast, sand, body work, primer/surfacing primer/ wet sanding surfacing primer etc.)
1). Remove all body panels from fire-wall to front
2). Remove Engine
3). Remove old suspension
4). Prep and Paint subframe (if doing yourself)
5). Rebuild new suspension
6). Prep firewall, front fenders and inner wheels, hood, hinges, core-support, brackets, supports, etc.(if doing yourself)
7). Prep remainder of the body
8). Reinstall subframe w/ suspension
9). Mask off frame and suspension
From here it's a personal call... 10). Reassemble front body (only because you are taking some place else to get painted. If doing it yourself, I would leave everything off and do step 12 first.
11). Send to be painted or DIY
12). Shoot from firewall back
13). Haul it back home
14). Carefully remove core support (if DYI, you would never have re-installed at this point. Paint separately and don't install until after engine is in. Likewise for fenders)
15). Install engine compartment stuff
16). Install engine
17). Re-install core-support and fenders
18). Alignment time (most never racking when painted off the car)
Now this approach is not all inclusive, again because of varying factors, but it gives you things to think about. I try to consider overspray concerns, opportunities for scratches, spills, assembly difficulties (getting to things), etc.
|Just what exactly is blueprinting anyway? I hear this term all the time but have never gotten a satisfactory explanation.|
|A:||Blueprinting refers to matching parts and modifications to work together. Often we throw a lot of really flashy parts at the car, but don't give enough thought as to how they work in con- juntion with one another. The 1st step in blueprinting is to decide what the car will be used for. Cruising, stoplight drags, street/strip, strip only, road or autocross racing? Making that choice will lead the builder/owner towards a package that will meet that goal. Add to this your budget.|
|A:||Blueprinting also refers to checking all measurements (i.e. cylinder, rod journals, main journals, etc.) to make sure that they fall within factory blueprint tolerances. But how far you want to blueprinting it is up to you and your machinist.|
|I keep seeing NOS in parts catalogs. What does it stand for?|
NOS is New/Old Stock, which means leftover factory replacement parts. Many people pay ridiculous amounts of money for NOS stuff, but there are problems. The first is that the parts that went to the bins were sometimes the assembly line rejects, called "seconds" so they are not as good a quality as what went on the car. Also, since a lot of NOS kicked around the shelves of warehouses and dealers and swap meets, they are usually "shelf-worn" or "shop-worn", so that is strike two.
Next problem is scam artists who sell used parts that can pass for new, and the trick is to keep the NOS part's box, put the used part in it, and when selling the "NOS" part, ask the customer if he doesn't mind not gettng the box, since he only wants the part to go on the car. The customer frequently agrees, and he's been scammed, as well as the next few guys. This happened to me on a 69 power top switch. I can't remember the guys name, but he's a bent-up little guy about 5'2" tall who sells GTO parts, this was at a POCI convention in Ohio, probably Cleveland.
Hemmings Motor News always had a page in front that listed all the common abbreviations used in their ads.
|Q:||Ram Air and 400|
|Some history, 400 specs, and Ram Air information.|
I owned a 68 convertable, ram air, and campaigned it as pure stock on
the drag strips a while.
I had contacts in Pontiac engineering and was told that when Delorian was approached with the idea of a 160MPH car he said OK, but it has to be "safe". That was is the context of the trouble GM was having over the Corvair and "unsafe as any speed".
So a few specific changes were made that you may know, but didn't mention. The rear spring shackles have triple welds. That is, they laid down two more over the origional one. The front end wishbones were lengthened longitudinal to the car. I think the rear attach point was 13 inches behind the axle. Gives you an awful lot of strength. None of this was on the Camaro or 350 for that matter. Exclusive to the 400.
The RamAir engine was made to hold together up to 8000 rpm. Special anti-pumpup lifters. But the rev limit was 5100, only because oil would accumulate under the valve covers faster that it could drain down via gravity. I blew a valve cover once, so point proven. You may also have a problem with sustain high revs getting enough fuel. The problem is the float valve opening is too small. You could substitute the 1/8d. seat and float from the Buick Roadmaster and pretty much eliminate the problem. I also intalled an electric pump at the fuel tank as a booster. don't know if it was really necessary, but it couldn't hurt. No econo car this. At full song, I could actually watch the gas guage move - and high test at that. Four 1/4 mile runs looked something like 5 gallons. Street mileage with the 4.11 rear axle looked like about 8mpg. After I put back the standard rear (3.08) it "Jumped" to about 12. Horsepower is BTUs and BTUs are CCs of gas. I also put in the Corvette logrithmic throttle linkage. That gave you only up to 1/2 throttle until the last 1/8 inch then punched in the rest. That made it more drivable on the street. Before in the rain, it was almost impossible to not break the rear end loose when starting up. In effect, you drove around on the front barrels only, unless you really wanted to turn loose the ponies.
With the 3.08, I did take it to 165. It redlined at 150, but the short blast into orbit was safe enough, provided you backed off quickly. The acceleration up convinced me there was plenty left. Turbulence was pretty rough. Made the ride a bit like a speedboat in chop. Needed better aerodynamics. I figure the 98 reprizes probably are better in that regard. Kind of fun picking on "Whale Tails", but be a bit more respectful of Ferrari's and HemiCuda's.
The RamAir had a special cam with more overlap and .100 more lift. To control that, they doubled the valve springs. You have to do that because the valve cam ramps are forced into becoming pretty severe. That's a big part of the reason why just adding the ram air intake to the standard 400 doesn't give you the hammer. Under standard conditions the RA intake does add about 15 HP though from volumetic efficiency conciderations.
Hope some of this is helpful to provide a bit different dimension and understanding.
|Q:||Difference Between a 400 H.O. and Ram Air Firebird|
|Whats the difference between a 400 H.O. Firebird vs an identically equipped Ram Air Firebird?|
Functional (cold air) ram air induction came on the 69 RA III.
68-9 400HO cars did not have this. Besides this, they are 100% identical (ie ra III did NOT have
a different carb settings, cam, heads, exhaust manifolds etc)
As I recently mentioned, if you wanted all the hardware and performance upgrades that the "Ram Air Performance Package" truely offered (i.e. cold air induction PLUS better flowing heads/stiffer valve springs, 3.90/4.33 rear, radical cam, stronger valvetrain, etc) you HAD to get the RA IV (not the RA III/400HO ) in 1969. In 1968, the RA I or RA II (and not the 400HO) had to be ordered.
Think of it this way.... RA III Firebirds (and Trans Ams for that matter) came with *Ram Air Induction* while RA I, RA II and RA IV 'Birds and TAs came with a *Complete Ram Air Performance Package*
|Q:||1969 Comanche Package|
|Does anyone know some background on the 1969 Comanche Package? Apparently, this was a Canadian thing. The owner claims this was not a dealer add-on but a factory built car, modified after final assembly.|
I once spoke to a guy in the early
80's at Carlisle who asked me if I'd ever heard of it. No, said I, but he
told me about his car. He thought it was regional thing in the upper midwest
or central Canada or wherever Comanche country is (any historians out
there?). The car was described as green, I think Verdoro (this is special?)
but with many options including the code 293 Gold Leather interior. I think
it was supposed to be a 350HO car as well. Whether the options were ordered
just by whomever, or were a part of the package, I know not. I've only heard
Comanche mentioned a couple times since.
I would suppose them to be almost as rare as a 1968 Grand Marque Firebird or a Sprint Fitchbird.
Pretty much what I've heard as well. I ran into a retired GM exec. at a
(Mich.) car show who remembered a marketing thing back in '69 that started in
a Candian Dealer Zone involving a special Firebird. This started as a dealer
promo thing as a result of the exposure 'The Judge' was getting along with
packaging 'experiments' such as 'The Jury', 'Royal Bobcat', Yenko, Motion,
The Mustang and Buick Gran Sport had regional appearance packages...
("California Special", "Colorado Special", etc). Why not Pontiac ?
Anyhow, this guy I spoke with had recently come across a surviving 'Comanche'. An original '69 Firebird Coupe up in Canada that had been sitting for quite sometime. I can't remember what the distinguishing feature was (paint, badging or borrowed T/A components). Whatever it was, it got his attention. He was working on a deal to buy the car but was having difficulty getting in touch with the owner. This was not a one-off show car to promote a dealer or zone but instead, it was to be a Canadian Pkg. for all '69 Firebirds (optional). These were modified/prepped in Canada before arriving at the dealer. Certainly, a 'Grand Marque' would be rarer since less than (3) were made exclusively for the PMD Auto-Show Circuit. Sounds like these would have had Canadian papers to authenticate their origin and uniqueness. I'll have to check back with this individual and find out if he ever bought the car.
|A:||As for the car, my best recollection has this as dealer or district sales option in central Canada.|
|A:||I have at a POCI convention about 12-13 years ago. I don't know much more than you've stated, but maybe you've run into the same huy that asked me all those years ago!|
|Q:||Building Replica '69 Trans Am|
I'm building a replica '69 Trans Am from my '69 Firebird. I have many pictures and books to go from, but still have a few details I'm uncertain on:
1. On the front fender, is there a Firebird emblem or just the Trans Am sticker (I've seen them both ways)?
2. What is behind the fender air extractors? A hole or the same grills on a '69 Firebird?
3. Is there a Pontiac arrow on the front bumper?
4. Are the Ram Air stickers on the hood black or blue (for white car with blue stripes)?
I disagree with a couple of the above comments:
Other points to consider:
Interiors? Black, Parchment and Blue were most common in either standard or Custom. A couple of Gold standard and a couple of Green standard were built, and one with Red Custom. There were NO 69 TA's with the Gold Leather.
Stripes on top of the spoiler or not? Most were not, but a few TA owners insist some were. All had the spoiler pedestals painted blue.
Steering wheel? Very late cars had the 70 style Formula wheel, but with a 69-specific emblem in the horn center. Early cars all seemed to have the wood wheel with the PMD center cap.
Vinyl top? A few actually were built with black or blue. (Yuck!)
Tire style? While most restored TA's seem to have Good Year Poly Glas with the 3/4" block letters, I believe most TA's actually came with the 3/8" white pinstriped tires. Also, some had wheelcovers including the dog-dish poverty caps, all the way up to the wire wheelcovers.
Gauges? Many TA's had regular telltales (idiot lights), and many had the regular Rallye Gauge package without a tachometer. Only a small percentage had the in-dash tach and stepped gauges.
One more bit of trivia, although it means nothing for a clone TA. There were 20 69 Trans Ams built in Van Nuys. The TA I used to own was a California car. Prior to that most TA enthusiasts believed that only Norwood built the 69 TA. None were built at Lordstown.
Weird 69 TA? How about Ram Air IV Automatic column shift with wire wheelcovers and vinyl top?
I have 7 different road tests of 1969 Trans Ams, and two of the cars used were plain silver.
I shopped for a 69 TA from 1978 until I bought one in 1987, and I passed up at least 3 A/C equipped cars, not knowing then that only 32 were built.
|A:||I have to disagree with you on "Trans Ams did NOT get the chrome surrounds in the grilles...". My T/A has the chrome on the grills and the grills are silver. I bought this car is 1973 with 11,000 miles on it, so I doubt that it had been changed, no evidence of an accident, etc. It is a late production since you mentioned the 70 T/A steering wheel, which mine has. (door tag reads 11/69) Perhaps that could explain it? My car does have the in-dash tach and the stepped gauges, which I have only recently discovered how rare they are. It was (and is again) equipped with Goodyear Polyglas tires. No stripes on the spoiler.|
|A:||I guess its all about production variances...never say never. I my self havent seen a 69 TA with silver grilles. Maybe with this much time passing a previous owner may "remember" an accident that wasnt previously mentioned. this would be one thats very hard to document.|
Anyhow, the grills used a different part number than std. Firebirds due to
the black out treatment and lack of chrome trim. VIN was not unique for the
T/A however, the Trim Tag was (code D80 or D080). This denoted the rear
(NOTE: not all orig. T/A's have this code).
|Q:||GM Assembly Line Store|
|Some of you I recall worked at one time in the GM assembly plants so I thought some of you might find this interesting.|
I'm going for an MBA and one of my textbooks makes reference to a book by
B. Hamper titled Rivethead: Tales from the Assembly Line.
In it the author writes:
I was seven years old the first time I ever set foot inside an automobile factory. The occasion was Family Night at the old Fisher Body plant in Flint where my father worked the second shift. If nothing else, this annual peepshow lent a whole world of credence to our father's daily grumble. The assembly line did indeed stink. The noise was very close to intolerable. The heat was one complete bastard.
After a hundred wrong turns and dead ends, we found my old man down on the trim line. His job was to install windshields using this goofy apparatus with large suction cups that resembled an octopus being crucified. A car would nuzzle up to the old man's work area and he would be waiting for it, a cigarette dangling from his lip, his arms wrapped around the windshield contraption as if it might suddenly rebel and bolt off for the ocean. Car, windshield. Car, windshield. Car, windshield. No wonder my father preferred playin' hopscotch with barmaids.
|Q:||Film: Gone In Sixty Seconds|
|Another First Generation Spotting in a Film.|
I just got back from seeing the new movie Gone in 60 seconds and it's a blast.
Lots of nice cars and chase scenes but the greatest thing (I won't give the
plot away) is that towards the end they are having a barbeque and the actual
BBQ is made out of the front end of a 67 or 68 (couldn't see the turn signals)
Firebird. What a great idea!
I don't think my wife would let me have such a thing at home but maybe at work. I figured if I could find a semi-dead car I could make a trailer out of the back end (trunk) and a BBQ out of the front end and the rest would be spare parts. Hmmmmm, now to start looking....
|I remember a local guy here in Orlando had an orange (Carousel Red) and parchment 69 Firebird convertible that had a note on the build sheet about it being some kind of a beauty pageant car, used in Miami or Palm Beach. There were a few f those built, and I think awarded to winners.|
You've sparked my curiousity since I own a Firebird with similar history. I purchased a car from Florida about 3 years ago from the second owner . I got the original bill of sale, protecto-plate etc. It is an original carousel red/parchment convertible car (and still is - but a tad tired).
On the bottom of the build sheet (found under the back seat) is a statement:
"TAG NATIONAL COLLEGE QUEEN PAGEANT"
The car was purchased in Fort Myers by a lady who owned it for 26 years, then went up to Orlando for 3 years, then up to the Great White North of London Ontario Canada.
|I want to start restoring my car but wonder if I am going to pay too much to have someone restore my Firebird. I am also worried I will not be able to find someone who knows anything about the detailing for my Firebird.|
There are various levels of a 'restoration'
and a project should be separated based on your budget.
These days, the rare, hi-performance, low-production cars restored by a big-name restoration shop usually command more on the resale market not only for the quality of detail but for the 'name' of the shop.
The amazing thing is, one can still achieve 'concours' level quality without sending the entire car along with a big blank check to one of the famous resto shops. The major body work and paint are the key items that usually should be done by someone who does this stuff everyday and has the proper tools, tricks and experience. Experience comes from practice and mistakes; better to pay someone who has 'been there' than to try and gain this 'experience' yourself on one car.
With the major body work and paint out of the way, the rest comes down to research & detailing (other than the drivetrain which is still basic tear-down and rebuild). Body & Paint is an 'art'. Performance tricks can also be an art. Detailing is essentially about research. Paying for only the body & paint work can save you thousands of dollars. Some major shops will only do the entire project which is where they make a significant portion of the profit. Sending the stripped-down 'shell' to a shop with only the body panels (unbolted) will save you a few bucks as well.
Personally, I find the 'reassembly phase' to be the most interesting. Researching and sleuthing for info and parts will help you become knowledgeable about your car. Collect plenty of photos from car shows, old road article photos, resto books/guides. Ask alot of questions. Talk to the resto gurus at shows- most will share secrets & tips. Also talk with the 'little guy' at shows who does his own work. I've met several who've been in the hobby longer than many of these resto gurus. What is correct comes down to how much research you do. Just because a shop charges $20-$50k to restore a car does not always guarantee that every detail will be correct. Most importantly, whenever you are fortunate enough to come across an Unrestored Original car.... take ROLLS of pictures ! Originality is more valuable than anything including the advice of so-called 'pros'.
Everyone has different opinions on what is Show, Restored & Concours. You can have Concours Paint with major inconsistencies in the detailing. Same thing vice-versa.
|Q:||Assembly Plant Questions|
Had some questions I could not answer today and wonder what the correct
1. Fisher body plants put the bodies together. Were these plants part of the Pontiac assembly plants?
2. Did the Fisher plants put more bodies together than just the ones supplied to the local plants?
3. If the Fisher plants were not part of the Pontiac plant complex, where were they located and who did they service?
4. What production cars did Lordstown put together (Camaro and Firebird)?
5. How about Van Nuys?
1. Yes. Usually an adjoining building.
2. No. Fisher was responsible for the BIW (body in white)- bare shell. Just as there are separate parts of a Mfg. Plant today (Stamping, BIW, Paint Trim, Chass, Final), the Fisher Body Division was responsible for the assembly of the welded body back in the 60s/70s. Each facility supported that particular vehicle.
3. They were a part of the 'Plant Complex'. In other words, for example- the Firebird 'shell' was not made in one state then trucked to another.
4. Lordstown was Firebird only from at least late 66 - into the 70s for the Firebird only. At some point, I think they produced other Pontiac models there.
5. Van Nuys, CA started producing Firebird's in March of '68 and continued to do so up into the 80s I believe. Early Firebirds did not share the same Final Assy Plant/Line at Lordstown, Van Nuys or Norwood. This did happen later.
*The above answers should not be deemed 'the final word'. This was a quick answer.
|I am looking for a transport from CT to Chicago any ideas?|
|A:||go to the largest wholesale auto auction in your area and ask some of the driver/haulers that are hanging around waiting for a full load.They have very good logistics and usually try and fill their rigs.|
|A:||Transport companys are a pain to deal with, trust me on this, I just went through it shipping a car from california to michigan, they tell you whatever they think it is you need to hear to get your business, the company I delt with was BDS or Best Discount Shippers, I finally had to cancel with them and go with another company, iam currently having Visa fight on my behalf to get my money back. I found out that some of these "brokers" don't pay the trucking companys thier share of the money and eventually have a tough time finding a trucker to take their business, just thought some of you might like to know.|
|I want a model of my year Firebird but can not find any on the market. Where can I find one or can I have a company make one for me.|
If the plan is to get some diecast maker to build a
Firebird of some kind, larger than the existing MatchBox
or 1:43 scale cars exisiting now, you will need to contact
the makers themselves.
The following is a list of diecast model car makers:
ERTL, UT, Vitesse, Herpa, Detail Cars, Best, Brumm, Bang, Burago, Jouef(Eagle Race), Anson, Solido, Revell
Ertl (now owned by Racing Champions) recently released the 1.43 scale 67 Firebird 400 coupe in Plum Mist (copy of Jim Mattison's famous car), often mistaken as black.
Vitesse (looks like mostly Euro cars)
Herpa (a German company)
Detail Cars (looks like a distributor of 1:43 scale cars)
Jouef (US distributor for Joef)
Revell (maker of diecast and plastic model cars. Next to Ertl/Racing Champions, your best bet)
|Q:||TV Quiz Program|
|A:||I won my 67 Firebird convertible on a tv quiz program, still runs Great!--your site has been fun traveling thru. (More Details)|