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Thread: 70 Formula 535

  1. #1
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    70 Formula 535

    About a year ago I picked up a 70 Firebird Formula 400, 4-speed, gauges, non-A/C, carousel red, sandalwood interior. Cool car, fairly rust free, but NOM and rear end, and in rough condition, so I decided to use it as a platform for a build centered on an aftermarket aluminum Pontiac block that will displace 535ci, and a T56.



    The car spent some time at a frame shop to make sure everything is straight and it has just come back from stripping and is in primer.

    So far I've committed to the engine--most of the parts are in--it will be fuel injected. I also have suspension; DSE subframe set-up with single adjustable shocks, 4-link rear suspension, 9" rear end, tubs, etc.

    Big ticket items I still need include transmission, brakes, and fuel tank.

    My original idea was to maintain as much of the car's original vibe as possible. For example, I plan on going back to the original color scheme (or something close). The heads have been modified to look like "614" units that would have come on a RAIV car in 1970, and I have a custom intake that has been designed to fit under the stock Formula hood. I'm planning on painting the engine and heads the appropriate Pontiac Blue.

    The trouble I'm running into now is deciding where to draw the line with originality--need to make decisions regarding many things: dash, gauges, wiring, interior, seats, trim, emblems, rear deck spoiler. Do I stick with original (most of which I already have) or go with newer/updated?

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  2. #2
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    i think it depends on what you plan to do with the car. with my 69 firebird i went with original color and engine but updated engine to fuel injection, i changed out the complete harness didnt want a bunch of electrical gremlins so yanked it all and went went painless, i kept the factory clusted but added gage to monitor vitals oil water and trans if i had to do over again i would have changed them all to newer as far as interior i changed front seats to some from a fiero which were moe comforatble and had them done to match facotry rears. i updated entire braking system to 4 wheel disc for safety and ran repop brake and fuel lines from front to rear. car was very reliable with the updates a made used it as a dialy driver till i sold it. hope this helps a little
    Dale Hayes
    87 turbo t
    turbonetics t60, pet stock location intercooler, ride tech coilovers, rjc exhaust, 60lb injectors with tt chip, ported heads and intake, ported tb, baer brakes, roh 17 inch wheels....now need to finish paint and get it put back together.

  3. #3
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    What I like seeing, and it seems to be the norm anymore, is keeping much of the car's original personality as far as trim, spoiler, and major components like the door panels and dash, but update some things to make the car a little more up to date functionality-wise, like a new wiring harness with blade type fuses is much easier to deal with, better seats with bolsters and recline, and better gauges like the Dakota Digital VHX series that they do make for these Birds. Of course you can still go crazier and it would still be cool, but I think you can keep things simple and buy from a Classic Industries and have a way cool car. Personally I don't think the 70-73 Firebirds don't need much, as they were a beautiful car from new. I actually wanted to build one of those more than the 71 Camaro I ended up with, but the Birds seem so much harder to find anymore.
    Josh Campbell- Pushing the limits of my HOA since 2011
    71 Firebird- 455, Ridetech front suspension. https://www.pro-touring.com/threads/...04#post1124504
    67 Camaro RS/SS clone, Speedtech front suspension, coilovers, soon to get LT1/T56.
    82 Z28- cheapie beater, soon to get a 406.
    66 Mustang coupe- 393, T-5, sold. https://www.pro-touring.com/threads/...-Coupe-GT393-C

  4. #4
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    As others have said, a lot depends on what you want to do with your car. I started with the engine and have been closing the capability gap of the rest of the car to the engine ever since. I could have saved so much time and money, if I had planned out the suspension and brakes first, then go get the engine. It sounds like the brake system is your next step. Ron Sutton gave some excellent advice on brakes for a 1970 T/A that I wish I could have had earlier. See https://www.pro-touring.com/threads/...-1970-Trans-AM.

    It sounds like you want to keep the original Pontiac look as much as possible and have modern performance. I went through this exact same thing when I was figuring out my car too because I wanted to keep the original flavor of the car but just update it to something that I think Pontiac might have done today. It was a bit easier for me, though, since I didn't have many of the original exterior or interior pieces and what I did have was in such poor shape it wasn't worth rescuing. I didn't like the fit or finish on some of the repop parts either so I went custom. Since you said you have all of the trim pieces and they're in good shape why not use them? Save the money and your time for your other big ticket items.

    I always liked the interiors of the Birds, so I didn't want to stray too far from the factory. I wanted a more comfortable seat that would recline that I knew would fit right so I looked all over for an 81 T/A Recaro interior to put in but couldn't find anything reasonably priced or in repairable condition. Plus I wanted a bit more lateral support for Autocross. There's an enormous amount of information from a guy in Tacoma who specialized in Recaros. He posted it on this site. See https://www.pro-touring.com/threads/...Resource-Guide. I wanted to keep the factory gauges as well, but they couldn't do what I wanted them to do plus I wanted to add additional read outs. I have a thing about mis-matching fonts or non-matching gauge pointers so I went aftermarket. I selected Speedhut because I liked one of their fonts / pointer combo. They also said they could make gauges with a similar factory font.

    Nice car and sounds like a great project. Looking forward to updates. Hope this helps a little.

    Kevin

  5. #5
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    Aluminum Pontiac 535!!!..... WOW!! That is badass! Can you post up some pics?

    I'm doing something similar to you. I want to keep as much 1967 in my GTO as I can without hurting function. I feel they are one of the most beautiful cars ever put on the road so I want to keep all the trim, badges, interior, body panels, dash, vinyl top etc feeling 1967. However i'm upgrading wheels, tires, brakes, transmission, rear end, engine, gauges etc. I was going to try to keep the stock seats but the pregnant wife was sore after a 350 mile cruise we did the other weekend so Im in the process of trying to score some 05' GTO seats. Once I make sure I like them ill probably have them recovered to look like a 67' GTO seat. I want a modernized function, daily driver capable GTO, with a retro feel. Keep the main pillars of the car and the feel will remain if that's your goal.
    -Nick
    -1967 GTO I drive and race
    -Build threads:
    -http://forums.maxperformanceinc.com/forums/showthread.php?t=615847&page=23
    -https://www.pro-touring.com/showthre...project-thread


  6. #6
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    I plan to drive the car a lot, and once it's built, I don't want to feel the need to revisit anything. I have other cars to keep me occupied--I want the Forumla to be available to drive whenever and where ever I want.

    Nick, I agree with you about 67 GTOs. I own one too, an HO 4-speed convertible stroked 462, HR roller, worked 670 heads, cliff built carb, but looks absolutely bone stock. It's reliable and a blast to drive, but with factory suspension, brakes, m20, 3.55 gears, etc., it's definitely not a touring car or something you want to carve corners with. I want to take the Formula much further in the performance realm.

    Kevin, thanks for the links. I'm new to these Forums and pro-touring.

    I have a factory stock 70 TA that I took for a long drive early this morning. I never realized how much I slide around in the seat…I'm thinking aftermarket seats are in my future.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alponcho View Post
    I plan to drive the car a lot, and once it's built, I don't want to feel the need to revisit anything. I have other cars to keep me occupied--I want the Forumla to be available to drive whenever and where ever I want.

    Nick, I agree with you about 67 GTOs. I own one too, an HO 4-speed convertible stroked 462, HR roller, worked 670 heads, cliff built carb, but looks absolutely bone stock. It's reliable and a blast to drive, but with factory suspension, brakes, m20, 3.55 gears, etc., it's definitely not a touring car or something you want to carve corners with. I want to take the Formula much further in the performance realm.

    Kevin, thanks for the links. I'm new to these Forums and pro-touring.

    I have a factory stock 70 TA that I took for a long drive early this morning. I never realized how much I slide around in the seat…I'm thinking aftermarket seats are in my future.
    Post up some shots of that 67! I will say this since you mentioned the handling of your 67'...I went from bone stock to an SC&C stage II suspension in my car with ridetech HQ shocks and even with the current 15" wheels and 11" TRSD 4 wheel discs it handles and stops like a new car in comparison to the stock stuff. You could probably do that stuff and still look stock
    -Nick
    -1967 GTO I drive and race
    -Build threads:
    -http://forums.maxperformanceinc.com/forums/showthread.php?t=615847&page=23
    -https://www.pro-touring.com/showthre...project-thread


  8. #8
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    I have owned three of the '70-'73 Formula's, all 4 speed's. I love those cars. My vote is to stay with the factory styling and maybe add a factory rear spoiler. The factory gauge package these car came with are some of the best ever put in a factory dash. I am not a fan of Autometer or other gauges in place of the originals. My vote would be to send them to Redline Gaugeworks and have them rebuilt with new modern electronic guts. You can modify the speedometer with digital odometer readout if wanted. The gauges will appear original, but will be very reliable. I have had all my gauges in my Grand Am done by Redline, and I was very impressed with what they did. As for seats, that is a personal preference. I felt the same way as far as needing more lateral support and went to a more modern seat from an Acura. What are you thinking on wheels. You could go with the Year One 17" honeycombs. That would at least get you the factory look with modern rubber. I'm curious as to which EFI set up you are looking at. I had my 455 fuel injected prior to the LS7 swap. I will be very interested in following your build. Thanks.
    1973 Hurst Edition Pontiac Grand Am: 430 CI of ERL built LS7, Tremec Magnum T-56 6-speed, Global West / Speedtech Suspension, Custom rear coil-over suspension, QA1 double adjustable shocks, Wilwood 6/4 piston disc brakes, Modulare C1 19" concave wheels. Shooting for 625 HP and 20 MPG!

  9. #9
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    Here you go Nick.
    Attached Images Attached Images  

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Later-A-body View Post
    I have owned three of the '70-'73 Formula's, all 4 speed's. I love those cars. My vote is to stay with the factory styling and maybe add a factory rear spoiler. The factory gauge package these car came with are some of the best ever put in a factory dash. I am not a fan of Autometer or other gauges in place of the originals. My vote would be to send them to Redline Gaugeworks and have them rebuilt with new modern electronic guts. You can modify the speedometer with digital odometer readout if wanted. The gauges will appear original, but will be very reliable. I have had all my gauges in my Grand Am done by Redline, and I was very impressed with what they did. As for seats, that is a personal preference. I felt the same way as far as needing more lateral support and went to a more modern seat from an Acura. What are you thinking on wheels. You could go with the Year One 17" honeycombs. That would at least get you the factory look with modern rubber. I'm curious as to which EFI set up you are looking at. I had my 455 fuel injected prior to the LS7 swap. I will be very interested in following your build. Thanks.
    Thanks for your thoughts.

    I like the factory gauges a lot. I had the ones for my 70TA restored by Auto Instruments and they look and function perfectly. The ones for the Formula need complete restoration, but I hadn't though about upgrading with modern internals. What would be the advantage of this relative to restoring the factory internals?

    For wheels I'm thinking Formula 43 Rad 14, probably gray center.

  11. #11
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    As you probably already know, the original GM sensors are not available and the aftermarket oart store stuff doesn't always read correctly. At least with modern upgrades you get all matching components that are accurate.
    1973 Hurst Edition Pontiac Grand Am: 430 CI of ERL built LS7, Tremec Magnum T-56 6-speed, Global West / Speedtech Suspension, Custom rear coil-over suspension, QA1 double adjustable shocks, Wilwood 6/4 piston disc brakes, Modulare C1 19" concave wheels. Shooting for 625 HP and 20 MPG!

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alponcho View Post
    Nick, I agree with you about 67 GTOs. I own one too, an HO 4-speed convertible stroked 462, HR roller, worked 670 heads, cliff built carb, but looks absolutely bone stock. It's reliable and a blast to drive, but with factory suspension, brakes, m20, 3.55 gears, etc., it's definitely not a touring car or something you want to carve corners with. I want to take the Formula much further in the performance realm.
    Funny to hear others with the same sentiments on GTO's. I have a 66 GTO I'll be getting to sometime in the next 5 years, and I'm going to do a total resto on it. I have enough other cars to turn in, where I'm just going to do a frame off and just a set of Cragars and leave it as it was built in 66. I do think these cars stylewise are perfect and shouldn't be tampered with. It might get suspension mods someday, but I'd like to have a car where you get in, and it's the 60's all over again.
    Josh Campbell- Pushing the limits of my HOA since 2011
    71 Firebird- 455, Ridetech front suspension. https://www.pro-touring.com/threads/...04#post1124504
    67 Camaro RS/SS clone, Speedtech front suspension, coilovers, soon to get LT1/T56.
    82 Z28- cheapie beater, soon to get a 406.
    66 Mustang coupe- 393, T-5, sold. https://www.pro-touring.com/threads/...-Coupe-GT393-C

  13. #13
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    Two months have gone by and no visible progress….will be starting metal work soon though.

    To be honest, I'm having a difficult time making decisions about different aspects of the build. Most recently, as an example, 've begun to second guess my choice of transmissions. Since the car was born with a stick, I thought I'd go with a T56. But I've been driving my 4-speed 70 TA a lot lately, and I'm starting to think it would be nice to have an automatic. What are my options at around 750 hp, and cost relative to a T56 set-up?

  14. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alponcho View Post
    Two months have gone by and no visible progress….will be starting metal work soon though.

    To be honest, I'm having a difficult time making decisions about different aspects of the build. Most recently, as an example, 've begun to second guess my choice of transmissions. Since the car was born with a stick, I thought I'd go with a T56. But I've been driving my 4-speed 70 TA a lot lately, and I'm starting to think it would be nice to have an automatic. What are my options at around 750 hp, and cost relative to a T56 set-up?
    For me it is not just a matter of money. I enjoy the driving experience of a manual transmission. I like the feel and control. You just have to decide if your a manual type of guy or an auto guy.

    There are various options for your power level. By all accounts a Tr6060 (t56 magnum) will handle that power. G-Force also offers their own T56 with 9310 internals that can handle over 1000HP.

    Andrew
    1970 GTO Version 2.0
    1967 Cougar build
    GM High-Tech Performance feature
    My YouTube Channel Please Subscribe!
    Instagram @projectgattago

    "You were the gun, your voice was the trigger, your bravery was the barrel, your eyes were the bullets." ~ Her

  15. #15
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    Decided to stick with my original plan to go with a T56. I tend to vacillate on these decisions the closer I get to actually having to make them.

    In response to a question I received earlier, I'm inclined to go with Baer brakes, since they're here in town. I walked through their facility a while back and was impressed. However, after reading through the Ron Sutton thread above, I realize I have a lot to learn.

    I also decided to go with aftermarket seats. No clue as to which ones work best or what type of seat belt/harness set up to go with.

    and I thought this was going to be easier than a factory stock type of restoration…

    attached photos of the DSE stuff I'll be using...
    Attached Images Attached Images    

  16. #16
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    Subframe connectors: DSE vs. Hotchkis

    I planned to use DSE subframe connectors, but I'm not sure I want to cut up the floor to install them, and I'm also concerned that by welding them to the floor, repairing collision to the front clip be much more difficult and expensive. I'd be willing to live with a little less rigidity and ground clearance that I'd get with something like Hotchkis subframe connectors, but I'm not sure if they would mate up with the DSE subframe that I'll be using. Thoughts?

  17. #17
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    If you are installing those DSE mini tubs in the above pic then why worry about cutting the floor for the sub frame connectors?
    HELP!!!
    1973 TA 4 spd #'s match red/white = STOLEN
    https://www.pro-touring.com/threads/...55#post1106255

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by cdoggy81 View Post
    If you are installing those DSE mini tubs in the above pic then why worry about cutting the floor for the sub frame connectors?
    Cutting the floor by itself isn't the issue. My concern is that once everything is welded in place, removing the subframe would require some major surgery. I mentioned the difficulty of repairing collision damage earlier. But I'm also a little nervous about not being able to change body mounts if I needed to. At the very least, it makes my choice of body mounts very important….any suggestions about what I should go with?

    Related update. Tubs are in.

  19. #19
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    Nice selection of parts!

    My take on the body mounts....

    Don't be scared of a good set of aluminum. I used the ABC aluminum body mounts with SC&C rubber isolaters and I don't have any real NVH issues at all in comparison to the 15 year old rubber bushings that were in there before. For the record they were not rotten when I pulled them either. I also don't have any sound proofing in, so if there was an issue it would probably be pretty clear cut. I think given what you're doing I would go with aluminum and see if you can get the little rubber idolaters from SC&C.
    -Nick
    -1967 GTO I drive and race
    -Build threads:
    -http://forums.maxperformanceinc.com/forums/showthread.php?t=615847&page=23
    -https://www.pro-touring.com/showthre...project-thread


  20. #20
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    The DSE stuff will add a lot to the mix,,, however you can chose other frame connectors that will kinda work (again not as a good,, but will work)... This all said with a 535ci motor I think you're going to really want the DSE offering as that car will twist like crazy with that motor built effectively.. The Aluminum body bushing are pretty much a need to have issue here too... I use Sparco 505's in my cars and I find them very good and easy to install BTW... You may want to consider a blind 6 point cage in the car as That motor is going to put down some insane torque...
    Carbon Kustoms Limited
    A.K.A. Albert from Toronto

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