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Old 12-09-2012, 11:24 AM
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Default 68Firebird Project.... General Classic Car discussion.

Hey, thanks for opening this thread!

At the suggestion of another member (SunsetBengal) I am making this thread to show a project I have been working on for almost exactly a year. I also think it would be fun for people to discuss any car projects they are working on, tell stories of cars past, show pics, ask/give advice/opinions, and have a good time shooting the breeze about classic cars.

My next post will be about my adventure restoring/Customizing one of my favorite cars of all time: The 1968 Pontiac Firebird.

Hope you all enjoy!
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Old 12-09-2012, 11:38 AM
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Default Re: 68Firebird Project.... General Classic Car discussion.

In the fall of 2011 I rode in one of my best friends 1970 Chevelle. That changed my outlook on cars, probably forever. I'm 32 and, for the most part, have only owned and ridden in modern vehicles. I LOVED the look of classic muscle cars, but didn't know many people who owned them.

Previously I had owned a 2002 BMW M3 convertable - which I sold in 2008. It was a fast car that I barely drove because I bought it as a toy. Secretly, I prefered to drive my bare bones basic 2003 F150 with 90,000 miles on it because I could run over something (like a stick in the road or snow) or get bumped into in a parking lot and not really care. At 28 years old, I also started wondering if I was ever really "BMW Guy". So, I sold it... and lost my butt.

After riding in my buddy Kevin's Chevelle (I will post pics in the next few days) a few years later I made a distinct comparison....

Driving a BMW M3 was like driving a roller coaster. Smooth, fast, fun, cold. Kevin's Chevelle was like riding a dragon. Visceral, primal, brutal.

For those who have been to Kings Island in the CIncy area the M3 is like the Vortex coaster, the Chevelle was the Beast.

So I set out to find a new toy and create my own monster. I started pouring through books, researching the history of muscle cars, looking at pics, etc. and I learned so so so much. I really came to appreciate what I now consider the last era of real American freedom. John Delorean, in my mind was Steve Jobs before Steve Jobs.

I had always liked the 1st Gen Firebirds and, in modern times, the Firebird over the Camaro. So, I set out to find one.... and lost my *****... hard......
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Old 12-09-2012, 11:45 AM
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Default Re: 68Firebird Project.... General Classic Car discussion.

I bought a 1968 Firebird off of Ebay. I spoke to the seller over the phone. He lived in CT, said the car had little rust, drove great, he took his kids around in it, needed some "minor" body work, etc. but other than that was a good car that shouldn't cost much to restore. So, for $6,000 I took a leap of faith. Turned out to be a leap into hell.

Pics of the Firebird that I used to make an "informed" purchase that turned out to be anything but.
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File Type: jpg OldFront1.jpg (96.9 KB, 11 views)
File Type: jpg OldSide1.jpg (97.7 KB, 8 views)
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Old 12-09-2012, 11:53 AM
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Default Re: 68Firebird Project.... General Classic Car discussion.

Here is the Engine that was in the car.
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Old 12-09-2012, 12:00 PM
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Default Re: 68Firebird Project.... General Classic Car discussion.

Love the look of that car. Have you put the modern suspension upgrade on it?
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Old 12-09-2012, 12:09 PM
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Default Re: 68Firebird Project.... General Classic Car discussion.

Off of these pictures, my buddy Kevin said it looked decent enough for the money and like something we could work on and fix up. It would need paited, and the body lined up, but not much else.

So, with our other buddy Mike, I set off for CT to go trailer the Firebird back to Dayton, OH.

When we got there, Mike looked underneath and said there was rust and to ask for my money back. I asked him how much would that cost to fix and he said probably $4,000 to $8,000 depending on what I wanted to do with it. Mike was mad the guy flat out lied, but I felt like we were stuck because we drove all the way out there and the guy already had my money. So, I said load him up and we'll fix it when we get back. I had planned to redo the car the way I wanted anyway, so another couple thousand $$$$s wasn't going to kill me. Yeah..... right.
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Old 12-09-2012, 12:09 PM
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Default Re: 68Firebird Project.... General Classic Car discussion.

We get back to Dayton and Mike wants his dad to see this piece of crap I paid $6,000 for. His 75 year old dad, little did I know and to my good fortune, turned out to be an absolute artist with classic cars. He's worked on or fully restored - and I'm not kidding here - hundreds of them. He started looking with a flashlight all over the car and told me to scrap it. I asked him if he could fix it.... the old man told me yeah, he would fix it by giving me a map and the address of a place where I could junk it.

Then, after talking a little he started to feel really bad for me, I guess. He said he would help me restore the thing and do whatever I wanted to it.

I showed up a few days later (about a week and a half) and the old man had the thing cut apart, the frame off of it, the interior out of it and everything. He didn't just go the whole 9 yards... he went the length of the field. He put a cutting wheel and a grinder out in front of me and asked if I was ready to go to work. I've NEVER used tools like that before. What a grimy dirty job. The old man said he works on cars every day to keep himself young.

Turns out, he really does. He has a large garage off the back of the house that he and his buddies work on their cars in. The old man has a numbers matching '69 Z28 and about half a dozen other classics ranging all the way back to the 1930s and 2 Cushman Cycles. All look like they are shiny new off a showroom floor.
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Old 12-09-2012, 12:34 PM
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Default Re: 68Firebird Project.... General Classic Car discussion.

A year, and an absolute CRAZY amount of $$$$$ later, here's where I'm at....

His boy, my buddy Mike, builds engines for these things. I kept the original engine and crated it.

We built this 383 SBC. with a 3500 converter. Should have 500lbs of torque and 550-600 hp.

And, since the original rear end was junk, here is a 10 bolt Nova rear. with Wilwood Dynalite brake kit. I switched to disk brakes all around. Strangely enough, the drag guys my buddy Mike builds engines for said the 10 bolt Nova rear was better than the 12 bolt.

I kept the car on leaf springs because I thought that was part of these cars character, but am adding Caltrac bars to help it hook up.
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File Type: jpg NewEngine1.jpg (91.0 KB, 9 views)
File Type: jpg Rearendhousing.jpg (96.3 KB, 8 views)
File Type: jpg Rearendhousing2.jpg (93.9 KB, 7 views)
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Old 12-09-2012, 12:40 PM
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Default Re: 68Firebird Project.... General Classic Car discussion.

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Originally Posted by SunsetBengal View Post
Love the look of that car. Have you put the modern suspension upgrade on it?
I left it leaf springs and did NOT tub it, but upgraded to Wilwood Dyanalite disk breaks for front and back.

I had looked at rear end suspensions, but kind of wanted to keep it on the leaf springs. I always thought that was part of the old muscle car character.

The old man was building a '68 Camaro Super Muscle Car for a guy when I brought he told me to Firebird in. The guy had let it sit in his garage for 6 months without coming to pay his bill or bring new parts. The engine in that thing was $60,000 by itself. The old man said that the super charger on it was from some Austrailian company and it was $17,000.

The guy with the Camaro had done a ton of suspension upgrades to that thing. He had one of a kind special wheels for it that were $1,400 each. The company sent him the mold for the design and he destroyed it. The old man was laughing his head off. He said... "What if he scratches one? How will he replace it?"
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Old 12-09-2012, 12:44 PM
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Default Re: 68Firebird Project.... General Classic Car discussion.

More pics....

It is painted (just not buffed out) and is having the frame ties welded in this week. Then the lines and undercoating, then the front end goes on.

It was supposed to go to the interior shop in a week, but looks like that might not be until Feb.

I'm putting a black peppered vinyl top on it. It will look awesome with the color. I had him paint it a modern color, though. Not something stock from GM.
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Old 12-09-2012, 12:45 PM
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Default Re: 68Firebird Project.... General Classic Car discussion.

I will post more pics this week.


So, how about anyone else? Got a cool car story or do you have a car you love?
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Old 12-10-2012, 03:28 PM
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Default Re: 68Firebird Project.... General Classic Car discussion.

My first car ever was a 67 fiebird convertable, but it only had a 6 cylinder engine. the funny part was that it had 3.8 litre on the hood, and back in 1979 (when I bought the car) very few people were familiar with litres as an engine size. All most people knew as cubic inches, and very few people knew it was only a 230 cubic engine.

It was a total piece of crap. I paid $500 for it. My dad rebuilt the rear fenders with about 5 pounds of bondo and painted it (he already had a compressor and paint gun). We ordered a new roof and put in new carpet. We also had to replace the automatic (ugh!) transmission, but we bought a rebuilt one and did it ourselves. So just counting the paint and parts I had less than $2K in it. It was kind of ghetto, but it looked fine for a high school kid. Too bad it was slow as hell. Of course I wrecked it a couple of times within the first year, but I kept it running until I graduated in '81. Then my parents bought me a cheap (but new) ford escort as a graduation present.

In 2001 I bought an Acura Integra Type-R (limited edition). I had a new header and exhaust system installed along with a supercharger and all the goodies needed to make it run properly (fuel pump upgrade, engine management system, etc). That was a damn fast little car that would rev up to 8K, but it was still front wheel drive.

As for your project I think you can get by with the leaf springs. I doubt you will be tracking it any. The brakes were an absolute necessity though. Just keep good rubber on it and you will be fine. Is that Nova rear positive traction?
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Old 12-10-2012, 03:30 PM
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Default Re: 68Firebird Project.... General Classic Car discussion.

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The old man was building a '68 Camaro Super Muscle Car for a guy when I brought he told me to Firebird in. The guy had let it sit in his garage for 6 months without coming to pay his bill or bring new parts. The engine in that thing was $60,000 by itself. The old man said that the super charger on it was from some Austrailian company and it was $17,000.

The guy with the Camaro had done a ton of suspension upgrades to that thing. He had one of a kind special wheels for it that were $1,400 each. The company sent him the mold for the design and he destroyed it. The old man was laughing his head off. He said... "What if he scratches one? How will he replace it?"
A good friend of mine spent over $40K getting a '71 Vette just the way he likied it. It was a sweet ride, but yioui can never get your money back out of a project like that. He ended up selling it for less than $30K.
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Old 12-13-2012, 10:48 AM
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Default Re: 68Firebird Project.... General Classic Car discussion.

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My first car ever was a 67 fiebird convertable, but it only had a 6 cylinder engine. the funny part was that it had 3.8 litre on the hood, and back in 1979 (when I bought the car) very few people were familiar with litres as an engine size. All most people knew as cubic inches, and very few people knew it was only a 230 cubic engine.

It was a total piece of crap. I paid $500 for it. My dad rebuilt the rear fenders with about 5 pounds of bondo and painted it (he already had a compressor and paint gun). We ordered a new roof and put in new carpet. We also had to replace the automatic (ugh!) transmission, but we bought a rebuilt one and did it ourselves. So just counting the paint and parts I had less than $2K in it. It was kind of ghetto, but it looked fine for a high school kid. Too bad it was slow as hell. Of course I wrecked it a couple of times within the first year, but I kept it running until I graduated in '81. Then my parents bought me a cheap (but new) ford escort as a graduation present.

In 2001 I bought an Acura Integra Type-R (limited edition). I had a new header and exhaust system installed along with a supercharger and all the goodies needed to make it run properly (fuel pump upgrade, engine management system, etc). That was a damn fast little car that would rev up to 8K, but it was still front wheel drive.

As for your project I think you can get by with the leaf springs. I doubt you will be tracking it any. The brakes were an absolute necessity though. Just keep good rubber on it and you will be fine. Is that Nova rear positive traction?
That is awesome, Fred! I think it is so cool at how these old cars can be the biggest POSs you'll see on the road, but because of the simple engineering they will still drive. And if they don't, cheap easy fixes anyone can do will get her going. It's fascinating to me, really.

And the old man estimated that this damn Firebird of mine had about 5 gallons of bondo in it. Don't ever buy an old car from the East Coast because of their rust laws!

How did you like the Integra? I always wanted one all through high school (graduated in '98), but my dad wanted our family to have a truck on hand as a 3rd vehicl, so I got to drive that. The Type Rs were so out of reach for me, but I would always read about them in the car mags.

And, yes, the rear end is a posi. Had the Nova housing competely rebuilt with a new posi, 4:11 gears, and axels.
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Old 12-13-2012, 11:03 AM
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Default Re: 68Firebird Project.... General Classic Car discussion.

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A good friend of mine spent over $40K getting a '71 Vette just the way he likied it. It was a sweet ride, but yioui can never get your money back out of a project like that. He ended up selling it for less than $30K.
Oh, that's how it always goes. I will lose my butt on this if I ever sold it. My mind set is 100% that this is a toy. If I were starving and needed to have money in an emergency or soemthing I would sell it for that reason, but not as an investment. This is an investment in fun. Nothing more.

The best way to buy a classic car is already finished. Let some other poor sap spend a fortune making her right and then swoop in to buy when they realze how much they've dropped in the thing. There's a guy with an incredible '70 Chevelle. I mean unreal bad ***. He want s$16k for it. Needs money and this is his biggest asset he can sell for quick cash. A lot of guys get like that, unfortunately.

I love to go to car shows and look around at all of the cool stuff. My dad & I used to do it in his '62 Triumph TR3 (now mine since he's pased away). It was great fun. But, going to the shows in a modern car isn't the same, so I wanted one of my own. The Triumph I maintain on his behalf (certainly nicer than he took care of it), but I wont drive it other than to fire it up and keep it in great shape mechanically. Maybe I'll get it out to a British show this summer. People ALWAYS ask to buy it. They throw out crazy offers that befuddle me. But I could never sell that car, even if I was goingto lose my house or something (I mean that whole heartidly). To me, it still belongs to dad. Funny how things like that grow on you. It's just metal and completely irrational.
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Old 12-13-2012, 11:04 AM
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Default Re: 68Firebird Project.... General Classic Car discussion.

I am a total car junkie. That is the reason why I got into the car business in the first place. My dream car is a 68 Camaro SS. Hard top with the 396. My bosses father owns Edgewater Raceway near Cincinnati, so I am always talking to people and looking for one to buy as a project.

Currently, I own my "dream car within reason." I was never into the tuner cars much but I have always loved the Lexus IS. The first gen 300 and now the 2nd gen 250 and 350. In January of 2011, I found a 2007 IS 350 X Package with 20,019 miles on it and I pulled the trigger. 306 HP stock and it runs in the low 13's in the 1/4 mile. I'm not sure if I'm going to mod it at all other than asthetics.
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Old 12-13-2012, 11:33 AM
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Default Re: 68Firebird Project.... General Classic Car discussion.

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Oh, that's how it always goes. I will lose my butt on this if I ever sold it. My mind set is 100% that this is a toy. If I were starving and needed to have money in an emergency or soemthing I would sell it for that reason, but not as an investment. This is an investment in fun. Nothing more.

.
This is exactly how my friend saw it He could afford to spend that much on toys. The only reason he finally sold the Vette was that he had two sons, so he wanted a "toy" with a backseat. That way he could take them both on rides with him. He is now rolling in a GTO.
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Old 12-14-2012, 11:50 AM
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Default Re: 68Firebird Project.... General Classic Car discussion.

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This is exactly how my friend saw it He could afford to spend that much on toys. The only reason he finally sold the Vette was that he had two sons, so he wanted a "toy" with a backseat. That way he could take them both on rides with him. He is now rolling in a GTO.
Was it a newer GTO or a classic?

A buddy of mine owns a car tuning company here in Dayton and he's got a (new style) GTO that is out of control. I think it's got almost 1200 horses under the hood.

.
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Old 12-14-2012, 12:35 PM
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Default Re: 68Firebird Project.... General Classic Car discussion.

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I am a total car junkie. That is the reason why I got into the car business in the first place. My dream car is a 68 Camaro SS. Hard top with the 396. My bosses father owns Edgewater Raceway near Cincinnati, so I am always talking to people and looking for one to buy as a project.

Currently, I own my "dream car within reason." I was never into the tuner cars much but I have always loved the Lexus IS. The first gen 300 and now the 2nd gen 250 and 350. In January of 2011, I found a 2007 IS 350 X Package with 20,019 miles on it and I pulled the trigger. 306 HP stock and it runs in the low 13's in the 1/4 mile. I'm not sure if I'm going to mod it at all other than asthetics.
The old man has a 1969 ALL numbers matching, all 100% original Camaro Z28. I'll grab a few pics for you when I'm out there today. He offered it to me for $42,500. I told him I'll wait until the firebird is done & then we'll talk. I've crapped away enough money on this junk this year. :)

I had a roommate in college who LOVED those Lexus IS (1st gen). I thought they were super cool looking. I'm not a big Lexus guy but man, those are pretty pretty cars. And the newer style (which you have) is even nicer.

Just my opinion, but I wouldn't mod something that new or expensive if it's your main vehicle. That same roommate I mentioned above had a 2000 Hyundai Accent hatchback. He started off by doing what we jokingly teased him as "sticker charging" it by putting decals from different companies. Then he went air intake, then a computer chip, then headers. It was still slower than my 1998 Ranger 4cyl (not kidding), and even more so when the engine melted. Ruined the entire car, he had to scrap it and still owed money
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