Find answers to Frequently Asked Questions for First Generation Firebirds that have been asked and answered on FGF. Special thanks needs to be given to all the FGF members who took the time to respond to other member's questions.
Interior - Steering Column
Q: Steering Wheels
I was wondering could someone physically describe what the factory correct steering wheel for a 1967 400 firebird looks like (car has deluxe interior which probably doesnt matter)
Also how , if at all, does this vary from the factory correct steering wheel for a 1968 firebird 400 (this car has the standard interior. which again may or may not matter).
A: The steering wheels are completely different between the 1967 and 1968 Firebirds.
The stock 1967 steering wheel was a solid color, had three spokes, with brushed aluminum caps and a brushed aluminum center cap which contained a turquise emblem with the pontiac V in the middle. The deluxe steering wheel for 1967 was almost the same except that the upper half of the wheel was clear plastic.
In 1968, the spokes of the steering wheel changed, and the center cap changed as well. The center cap had the original style Firebird emblem, the spokes were much wider and the horn buttons went from being brushed aluminum to color- keyed plastic.
A: I have a 1967 400 and the standard steering wheel. It’s red(match interior) plastic with the chrome horn ring and a greenish hub with the arrowhead and which states “energy absorbing”. There was also a wood rimmed wheel that could be had that year.
A: For 1967, 1968 Firebird, there were 3 different steering wheels
3-spoke, color-keyed plastic w/diecast horn button
3-spoke, color-keyed plastic w/brushed horn button (green insert) and brushed trim pieces on the spokes
Simulated Wood plastic, 3-brushed spokes, diecast horn button
Simulated Wood plastic, 3-brushed spokes, diecast horn button (not as deep as 1967, slightly different)
A: Another two cents on 1967 steering wheels. The deluxe wheel is also smaller than the standard wheel and the alum. pieces don’t swap except the center cap. It appears the deluxe wheel is a little thicker. I just did a swap for a friend. He says he has also found a place the redo the deluxe wheels clear plactic top half. It is very pricey.
Content last modified: January 25, 2014 at 10:50 pm
Q: Steering Wheel Restoration
Anyone know of a place that does rebuild the custom option steering wheels? Is it me or do they all crack?
A: I’ve had good results in the past using PC-11. Eastwood even sells a complete kit for do it yourselfers. Why spend $200-$300 for someone else to do what you can do for under $20 ? Just takes a little patience, sanding, filling, painting.
A: Its not just you; they are prone to cracking though, I’ve found more uncracked Custom Sport (Wood) steering wheels than I have of the Deluxe or Standard type. I’ve had good results in the past using PC-11. Fills big cracks well. You just have to spend the time sanding to get a good finish for the paint. There are many places offering this service; everything from crack repair to a complete remold of your rim. Like I said before, you can fix the cracks yourself for under $20. Resto shops charge anywhere from $100 to as much as $400 depending on whats needed. Matching the Wood Grain ‘Tint’ is the toughest part and even the companies who redo the wheel are not always able to match it perfectly. It can and has been done; just requires patience and trial and error to find the match.
A: Know about the kit, but it only works if you have a solid color wheel. The deluxe wheels have a clear plastic on the top half.. Sanding and painting are out if you want the original look.
A: I have some good news for you. I work as designer/engineer and we have a process for dying acrylic. Specifically to simulate tinted glass. Pretty simple really, but you should test on samples to get the correct ratio for the color you want.
What you do is boil some water (rolling boil) in a vessel you wont use for anything else but this process. To this water add RID dye (liquid) green, blue, and yellow, in ratios to reach the desired color. Let boil for several minutes to insure mix and high temperature. Set up a cold water bath very near to the boiling area, like maybe a two bay sink. When the dying vessel is hot turn off the heat and submerge the wheel in the liquid for a few seconds, try five seconds to start, promptly remove from the tint and submerge in the cold water. Leave for a minute or so then remove and check the tint job, to light go one more time. To dark WHOOPS! Get the deal. Works better than you could imagine, really great look, won’t rub off! Test on acrylic sample, the part must be polished, factory sheet surface wont take tint until hit with say 1200 then buffed on wheel to a polish. Needs a little something to bond to, should not be a problem with poured cast acrylic.
A: When I bought my 1968 Gp from San Jose the steering wheel top clear part was not just cracked – it was MISSING! Because he rest of the car was mechanically stuffed I did not even think about what this problem may entail, I was too busy trying to pay and fix the car so it would go!
Anyway, when I finally turned my mind to “fixing” the wheel I could not just go down to the local wreckers and find one on a car as you people Stateside can appreciate. I had a similar wheel on a 1967 Catalina (was going – now parts car) and as soon as I looked at it, it disintergrated. So I thought – what to do? I spoke to a fried who knows everything and he indicated that he knew someone who was involved in the fibreglass resin game. What this person did was:
Stick The Wheel In A Material That Acts As A Mold (Lower Half)
A Mold Of The Lower Half Was Made
This Section Was Used To Create The Top, Missing Part
When I Got It Back, It Looked Like An Old Plastic Model With Bits Of Plastic Still Attached.
I Trimed Off The Excess Plastic And Sanded The Clear With Fine Wet And Dry.
Buffed The Upper Clear Section As One Would With Acrylic Paint (Be Careful Here) To Achieve Gloss
The only thing that I should have done was research the “tint” of the clear – I did it in clear – it was only after that I saw an original wheel – the damn things are green!! Also the lower half of the wheel is sectioned, so it is not a “mirror image” of the top. What I have is the top as same as the bottom. Aside from a few bubbles in the resin I am very happy – only $50 – looks good and better than trying to drive with a steel ring! So the moral is (is there one?) talk to your local fibreglass people – once you have the mold you can sell/give/repair as many as you like.
Content last modified: January 25, 2014 at 10:52 pm
Q: Steering Wheel Repair (Deluxe or Custom?)
Hi Group… I have a 1968 bird with te Custom interior. This of course includeds the dreaded Custom steering wheel that cracks on virtually every car I have ever seen… Does anyone make a replacement wheel or do I have to send mine to one of those rebuilders in Hemmings Magazine.. Thanks!
A: Do you refer to the Colored Wheel (Deluxe) w/the ‘Bird’ Horn Button ? The simulated wood-grain (plastic) Wheel was the Custom Sport Wheel. Either way, you’re right- most all plastic steering wheels will have some sort of cracking, splitting. The result of the plastic shrinking over the years. NOS wheels show up every now & then but figure on spending several hundred dollars for them. I know of a dealer who has (2) NOS black Deluxe Firebird Steering Wheels; he wants $500 ea for them. As for the ‘Wood’ Wheels, those don’t seem to crack and split as bad as the Deluxe wheels; still.. mint or NOS ones command big $$$.
Fortunately, there are ways to repair these wheels. PY and other companies have been ‘remolding’ certain ‘wood’ wheels for a few years. They strip the old plastic off, mold a new rim and tint it to give it that woodgrain effect. Cost is upwards of $300-$400 ea. There are many companies in Hemmings that advertise Steering Wheel Repairs. Again, costs will be in the $150-$400 range. Another alternative is to do it yourself. Eastwood sells a kit for doing just this. I’ve had good success with a few different materials over the years for fixing cracks. PC-11 is one. Doing it yourself requires patience and attention to detail if you’re looking for a ‘show finish’ but you can save yourself hundreds of dollars.
Content last modified: January 25, 2014 at 10:54 pm
Q: Steering Wheel Interchangeability
I have been told that not all steering wheels will fit on a tilt wheel assembly. Is this true? Also, will a 1969 wheel fit on a 1968?
A: The steering wheel had nothing to do with the steering column (tilt, std. had no effect). There WAS a difference in the canceling cam. The 1969 Steering wheel will fit on a ’68; just won’t be correct. In fact, steering wheels will probably interchange physically for many years. The difference is in what is correct and possibly the wheel hub diameter -vs.- the Steering Column diameter where it meets the wheel.
Content last modified: January 25, 2014 at 10:55 pm
Q: Horn Caps
I have a horn cap with a black background and a red Firebird (Aztec style) in the center on my 1968. My question is: is this an original item (perhaps some kind of “deluxe” interior option) or is it an after-market accessory that has no connection with Pontiac. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
A: Sounds like a cap on the 1969 wood grain steering wheel (admn: wrong answer). Is it sunk into a vinyl cap with three prongs? Is the cap black? Mine got chewed by rats. I have a red one to trade.
A: You have your years mixed up. The 1969 wood “custom” wheel used a cap similar to what you’re describing, but has a black lucite disc with “PMD” across it like the black Rally II wheel center caps. The 1968 wood wheel used a very different center cap that I think was pot metal, with a green lucite center and the Pontiac arrowhead emblem (I may be thinking of the one on 1967’s or full sized 1968 cars).
The cap that is described in the question sounds exactly like the 1968 “deluxe” wheel, a 3-spoke plastic wheel that’s rather attractive, but many discussions hereabouts attest to their persistent cracking about the center hub area, even on NOS pieces. It is actually not a “horn cap”, but just a beautifully styled center cover for the wheel attaching nut, while the 3 spokes each have a thin rectangular horn button set in a satin finished metal.
If your center cap is indeed the 1969 style and is red, that’s pretty rare. I have a black one I’d like to trade for a gold to go with my gold leather interior. I might also take a gold vinyl 1969 wheel for it, the regular “deluxe” one that seemed to be standard on all 1969 Pontiac’s.
A: On reading the parts book, I learned that there were 29 DIFFERENT Firebird steering wheels listed for the three years, NOT COUNTING the 3 different WOOD wheels, one for each year. There were 2 different SIZED wheels used in 1967, a 16 inch, and a 16-1/2 inch; no reason given as to why. The 1967 and 1968 standard wheels shared a couple of common colors in the 16 inch size.
Every time I dig in this 7/1/69 parts book it seems I learn something unexpected!
Content last modified: January 25, 2014 at 10:57 pm
Q: Turn Signal Switch Replacement
Recently the turn signal switch has been malfunctioning on my 1968 coupe. It does not automatically turn off when I make a right turn. I know this is a common problem with any car that has been around for a number of years but I’ve never actually fixed it before. Is this a problem with the “Turn Signal Switch?” This part is in the Ames catalog (F-8c) on page 70 and it says there are two brands, distinguishable by color. If that is indeed the part I need to replace, does it require that I remove the steering wheel to get to it? My 1968 has a wood wheel and is a console shift auto… I assume I’ll need a “puller” to get the wheel off. Any recomendations here? Never done this before… Thanks in advance for your advice!
A: It was a real mess trying to determine what turn signal switch you need. I have some 1967 and 1968 columns,both tilt and non tilt, that have boyne switches. These are usually blue or red(pink). The delcos are white.
The easiest way to determine if your column came with a delco is to look at the hole where the hazard flasher knob comes thru the column. A factory delco switch will have a “D” shaped hole. The boyne will have a round one.This is especially helpful when the column is missing a switch or youre not sure what it needs.
The delco switches are still available in a superceded form, which has a generic (post 1969) pigtail and an adapter for pre 1969 wiring connector.
A: To fix the turn signal return cam you must replace the cam and wiring harness inside the column. Although it doesn’t require you remove the column, you just about have to dismantle the top portion to remove the harness plug. It will require a couple of tools: a steering wheel puller and a hub(?) puller. Both are available at your local auto parts stores.
If you’ve never had a column apart, I recommend you find a friend to walk you through it or be very careful and make detailed notes of EVERYTHING. Once you pull the “C” clip off the shaft, things and get pretty scary. If you can hold off, try to find a cheap column at you local U-Pull-It yard and practice first on it. There are three little springs that, unless your careful, can get lost quickly.
A: It is right to practice on a donor column first. But you must stick to a 1967 or 1968 as 1969 is totally different. Its no real big deal to replace switch with column in car. Tilts are harder but straight columns are a cake walk if you get the newer replacement switch with the straight (1969 and newer style) wiring connector. You should also get an adapter that has the 1967-1968 curved (half moon shaped) wiring connector on a pig tail. to get the old switch out cut the wiring about 1/2 inch from old wiring connector remove three mounting screws and pull out. After you have cut off the connector tie a strong string or wire to harness to use as a pull string when installing the new one. When installing the new one bend the wiring connector at a 90 deg angle to the wiring as to make it fit thru the small hole in column. After it is pulled thru straighten out the connector and plug in the adapter. After a couple of these you can do blind folded.
A: I replaced the switch on my car and found it very easy. I used no manual and had no practice or advice. However, I did have one problem. The “service replacement” Delco part that I bought was grossly inferior to the original part. The original switch had a white backing plate with a metallic cam that provides the ‘click’ feel of actuating the turn lever. This design had a cam loop that goes all the way around the steering shaft. The replacement was orange plastic, with a plastic catch that caused a ‘snap’ feel when actuating the lever. This was the same feel I remembered from a friend’s 1989 Cavalier some time back, and every time you signal a turn it felt like you were breaking something internally. A small (cheap) switch on the replacement sat only on one side of the steering shaft. Turns out my problem was the wiring of the connector. I junked the replacement switch and grafted its connector onto the original switch assembly. I would NEVER put one of those orange plastic Delco replacements on a nice classic Firebird.
Also, just because your switch doesn’t cancel doesn’t mean it needs replacement. It may have worn down some and now will not quite cancel, but the alignment of the internal gear may just need to be adjusted, as in the steering wheel may be centered straight with the alignment but not with the internal cam for cancellation. I’m afraid I do not recall exactly how the assembly fit together, but I’m under the impression that this is adjustable. I do know that you could pull off the steering wheel and replace it one tooth counterclockwise (or the opposite). Then you could offset this by adjusting both side tie rods during your next alignment to re-center the wheel. If you cannot get it so that both sides (left turn, right turn) cancel correctly, the switch should be replaced.
A: Ive got several replacement Delco switches here that are of same quality as originals no orange plastic in them. I ll dig one up and get part#. They have the later style flat connector(which is better for installation anyway.) And they have the flat (1969) to half moon (1967-1968) connector adapter pigtail.
Content last modified: January 25, 2014 at 10:58 pm
Q: Turn Signal Too Fast
My turn signals are flashing too fast. The only flasher I’ve seen in my 1968 is attached to the fuse box located near the left kick panel. Since a replacement flasher there did not fix my too fast turn signals, I’ll look behind the ashtray for a second flasher. I thought cars were equipped with only one.
A: Sounds like you have a heavy duty flasher in there. Put a regular duty flasher in and it should be alright.Heavy duty flasher doesn’t mean it’s built better,made for extra bulbs like when pulling a trailer.
A: The other flasher is attached to a connector on a wire. There is a spring type bracket that holds it. Look on the driver side around were your under dash interior light is.
A: The one on the fuse box is the emergency flasher. The turn signal flasher is up under the dash between the heater controls and the ignition switch area.
A: You guys are great. Just last week my turn signals quit working – and I mean quit just like that -Signal like a bad boy for ever and then nothing. Anyhow I went to napa, got a new flasher part # 552, exchanged it with the one by the fuse box and well still nothing. I as going to take my steering wheel apart THIS AFTERNOON because I was sure it was the switch. Well I just read this thread and went out there looked under my dash and there it was (it’s just over the “lip” of the bottom of the dash) I still had the one from napa and i exchanged it — Whaaaalaaa
Content last modified: January 25, 2014 at 10:59 pm
Q: Cruise Lever
I found a cruise lever for sale on EBay. I wonder if it is correct?
A: I looked the part number, 6465256, in my parts book, and the description reads “Lever and Switch Assy, Directions Control-1968-70 All w/cruise control”. 6455211 would be correct for 1967. Another minor error on the part of the seller is the group number. 2.897 is the standard lever, while 3.887 is the cruise control lever group.
Content last modified: January 25, 2014 at 11:00 pm
Q: Speed-o Cable Lube
My speed-o-meter decided to quit on me. I’m pretty sure I know what the problem is. I’m planning on taking it apart this weekend to clean a lube. My question is this, what do you use to lubricate the cable? is there a special lube or do I just use a lot of graphite?
A: I did a clean and service on my cable a few months ago and what I did was pulled the housing and the cable. cleaned the cable good with solvent and sprayed brake clean thru the housing until it was clean. Then I use assembly lube (white grease) and greased the cable up good as I was sliding it back in. seems to be working great, stopped all the minor jumping. I think a good graphite type lube would do wonders also tho.
Content last modified: January 25, 2014 at 11:02 pm
Content last modified: March 16, 2017 at 9:08 am