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    1. #1
      Join Date
      Jul 2013
      Location
      Gilbert, AZ
      Posts
      935
      Country Flag: United States

      My 71 Firebird Formula/TA Blend

      I've finally gotten the car I've wanted forever, an early 2nd gen Firebird. I've looked for years, but they seem to be scarce anymore, and the ones you do find are typically pretty thrashed and overpriced. A week after I sold my 98 Trans Am I didn't even get to enjoy the cash for a week before stumbling across this one while browsing Craigslist. This was mid January, and a couple miles away from Barrett-Jackson so I dropped by on the way out to look at it. It was an Espirit, but it has a Formula hood, and stock 455 that actually runs very well. The body is pretty solid, just a few blisters in the LH rear 1/4 panel, and some potentially hidden sins in the RH 1/4, but the floors and trunk were very nice, and was definitely a great start. The guy knew what he had, and I couldn't get him to budge $1 off his $7k asking price. At least I was able to negotiate free delivery. The craziest thing of the day was looking at the title, and seeing the name of a former co-worker who'd I've always heard about having a 71 Firebird, but I'd never seen the actual pictures. I guess he sold this car to this guy a couple months prior.

      As I drug it home. All the front end is missing is the A/C compressor. Why it sits like a 4x4, I don't know. The undersized tires don't help either.




      I haven't had a lot of time to mess with it, but the wheel combo didn't work. I didn't want to spend money on bigger tires for temporary wheels, so I borrowed these Boss Motorsports 338's I had for my S10 Blazer for the time being, which is undergoing a V8 swap so it won't need them for a bit. The Firebird will be minitubbed with a narrowed rear later so it will need special wheels anyway.
      Better, but the stance is still horrible.




      I'm excited about this car, big time. I've wanted one for years and finally got it. Plans so far are to cut a coil up front, just to get the stance livable while I'm working the body... it's just that horrendous to look at. Hammering the nose will make the car look so much better. The car also came with another mint nose, and a pair of Trans Am fenders. My theme will be the a Trans Am with the Formula hood (which I've heard was the original intent with the 70 T/A, before they realized they wanted a "shaker"). The car will retain the 455, which will stay like this till the rest of the chassis and body gets too nice for an original old engine, then it'll get aluminum heads, EFI, the full treatment. I'm going to just start doing the bodywork, starting with the Trans Am fenders, and rebuilding the doors and hinges. I'm unsure of the suspension. I've talked with ridetech, and spoke with DSE for awhile at Goodguys last weekend. We'll see, I don't think I want to go full subframe since this car will always be nose heavy, and I can't make it as nimble as my future 71 Camaro project (aluminum LS, lighter nose, etc). I may do a 4 link though, as I do want to minitub it, and don't know if relocating the leaves are worth it. I'm thinking a medium to dark blue, and I have a stripe design in my head that should look cool. Probably a forged custom offset wheel.

      I'm definitely going to go a little more crazy with this one, as this is my first car with racing as a high priority. It's a car that will be a lifetime keeper, and I can't wait for the day when I can have this and my 71 Camaro done side by side. I've begun stock piling parts from Classic Industries, and now that my Mustang sold I have room to begin work!

      Last edited by CampbellshotrodsAZ; 08-30-2017 at 08:31 PM. Reason: Replaced Photobucket Pics
      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


    2. #2
      Join Date
      Jan 2015
      Location
      Charlotte, NC
      Posts
      309
      Country Flag: United States
      Killer start!
      Justin Novick
      Sales/Support
      Entropy Radiator / Engineered Cooling Products
      "The Sexiest Radiators For The Sexiest Hot Rods"

      www.EntropyRad.com www.SpeedCooling.com
      773.303.8251

    3. #3
      Join Date
      Jul 2013
      Location
      N. Scottsdale
      Posts
      292
      Country Flag: United States
      Nice Car! Have two early 2nd gens myself.

      You're welcome to the leaf springs I removed from my 70 Formula (I replaced them with a DSE Quadralink set-up)--they're just taking up space in my garage now. From what I recall, they're straight and better than yours, but sat higher than ideal (which I think is 2" lower than stock). You can remove a leaf/get them re-arched (Dunbar Spring re-arched the leafs in my 70 TA). I live up the road in Scottsdale but work in Tempe.

      I'm also at the point in my Formula build where I can start getting rid of extra parts…have 2 complete quarters, large RH quarter section, 2 nice fenders, front bumper, really nice TA hood, etc. Let me know if you think you might need anything before I start dumping the stuff on CL. Just email if you're interested [email protected].

    4. #4
      Join Date
      Jul 2013
      Location
      Gilbert, AZ
      Posts
      935
      Country Flag: United States
      Thanks guys! I'm just stoked to be able to get to work on something again. As much as I enjoyed the Mustang build, it was never a keeper, and more of a wild hair to see what I can do to a neglected coupe. It was never intended to be a race car either. I had it done, and sitting around looking pretty, but I enjoy the build part of it. Just going into the garage a couple nights a week to tinker is what I love doing!

      And thank you Alponcho, I'll definitely have to meet up with you on the springs, and see what else you have. My dad might need something for his car as well since he picked up a 73 Formula he saw at DVAP while we were parts hunting for my car a week after I got it! I'll shoot you an email today or tomorrow!
      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

    5. #5
      Join Date
      Nov 2006
      Location
      Ma.
      Posts
      5,435
      Country Flag: United States
      Great start. Good luck with your project.
      Wayne
      Car FINALLY home !!!!!! lol
      Project FNQUIK https://www.pro-touring.com/showthre...ghlight=FNQUIK

    6. #6
      Join Date
      Jun 2007
      Location
      St. Pete FL
      Posts
      914
      Country Flag: United States
      Welcome to the 70-73 FB club :]
      HELP!!!
      1973 TA 4 spd #'s match red/white = STOLEN
      https://www.pro-touring.com/threads/...55#post1106255

    7. #7
      Join Date
      Jul 2013
      Location
      Gilbert, AZ
      Posts
      935
      Country Flag: United States
      Thanks guys! Looking forward to being a part of the early FB club!

      Anyways, the Buick GS was away getting sprayed this weekend, so I actually had time to work on other stuff. This weekend I decided I wanted to remedy the 4x4 stance situation because even with just doing bodywork, I couldn't stand the "engineless" stance this car had. My plan was to just cut a coil since a suspension upgrade will come in the future... but after this weekend, I'll need to figure out something sooner, because I don't think I even want to drive this car to the mailbox after my findings!

      Press in bushings should just fall out, should they?



      In addition, the RH rear LCA mount to frame weld was broken for a good 4 inches or so. Brakes were badly pitted. Steering slop was just horrible. On top of the rear springs that appear to be missing leaves (Thanks Alponcho for the springs btw!) which have a sharp kink where they appear to have been heated and re-arced, this car is completely unsafe to drive. The springs were way taller than any 2nd gen F-body spring I remember as well, so who knows what they are.

      So yeah, I won't be driving this car in progress. Actually I'll be researching suspension options now, and potentially buying parts in the next few weeks. I like DSE, but the ridetech is priced a little more attractively, and I'll use their coilovers either way. The rearend I'll probably leave as leaf for a bit till I do the minitubs and decide on a setup for that, but once again I like the cost of the ridetech setup. I'll have to see what others are running and what's competitive.

      Anyways, I ended up chopping 1.25 coils out. Not the ultimate stance I'd want, but I wanted to stay conservative for the 1st cut, which was pretty much on the money. The offset on these Boss 338's weren't ideal for the front, they would have hit if I went much lower. Luckily these are only borrowed from my S10.





      The car came with nice T/A fenders that I'm taking to the blasters to have stripped. They are completely rust free, so once I work the dents out they'll be perfect.


      I'm going to keep at the bodywork for a bit, assess what I need, and just make the car look better as I'm deciding on the chassis. I'll get the fenders worked, then when I take the front clip off, I'll probably get the doors stripped, and rebuild the hinges so I can work my way forward to get everything fit well. I've already determined I need at least the RH fenderwell (cut for blower motor access), and a core support. They'll work for now, but I'll be stripping the subframe down soon to reweld everything and powdercoat, before bolting on new suspension in the near future.
      Last edited by CampbellshotrodsAZ; 08-30-2017 at 08:30 PM. Reason: Replaced Photobucket Pics
      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

    8. #8
      Join Date
      Jul 2013
      Location
      Gilbert, AZ
      Posts
      935
      Country Flag: United States
      Okay, I guess I get impatient when I get an idea. Full set of front control arms and HQ coilovers on order from MCB!!!
      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

    9. #9
      Join Date
      Jun 2007
      Location
      St. Pete FL
      Posts
      914
      Country Flag: United States
      What weight springs did you get?
      HELP!!!
      1973 TA 4 spd #'s match red/white = STOLEN
      https://www.pro-touring.com/threads/...55#post1106255

    10. #10
      Join Date
      Jan 2015
      Location
      Charlotte, NC
      Posts
      309
      Country Flag: United States
      Pretty sketch on those bushings
      Justin Novick
      Sales/Support
      Entropy Radiator / Engineered Cooling Products
      "The Sexiest Radiators For The Sexiest Hot Rods"

      www.EntropyRad.com www.SpeedCooling.com
      773.303.8251

    11. #11
      Join Date
      Jul 2013
      Location
      Gilbert, AZ
      Posts
      935
      Country Flag: United States
      Quote Originally Posted by cdoggy81 View Post
      What weight springs did you get?
      I worked with Matt at MCB, and he asked my details on the engine choice and the car, etc, and said that ridetech as a formula for figuring out what I needed spring rate-wise. It's not labeled on the box, so I'll have to reference the part number so I know what I have down the road, but then again they probably know more than I do as far as what works, so I'll go with it.
      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

    12. #12
      Join Date
      Mar 2007
      Location
      Florida
      Posts
      2,376
      Country Flag: United States
      Nice to get the TA fenders. Do they have the brackets for the splash pan on them?

    13. #13
      Join Date
      Jul 2013
      Location
      Gilbert, AZ
      Posts
      935
      Country Flag: United States
      That I'm not sure about, I still need to see all of what the T/A spoilers entail, which is next on my list. Are these a bolt on bracket? There's nothing additional on these fenders bolted on, pretty much stripped.
      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

    14. #14
      Join Date
      Mar 2015
      Posts
      252
      Country Flag: United States
      badass looking car man.

    15. #15
      Join Date
      Jul 2013
      Location
      Gilbert, AZ
      Posts
      935
      Country Flag: United States
      Thanks! The Buick I was helping my dad with is finally done, so work on this Firebird will be starting probably next weekend. Going to start working the now bare metal fenders, going to use my new hammer set and the Martin Book of Metal Bumping to try and hone my skills to use minimal filler. Also had a Classic Industries truck freight shipment of a lot of new parts, including a core support. I talked with a US Mags representative at Del Mar last weekend on a special for their aluminum Pontiac Rally II's, so I'll be buying another "temporary" set of wheels for now, until I have the need for a custom set when I minitub and narrow a rear end for it.

      My goal is now to have it done for Goodguy's Del Mar exactly one year from now. I was thinking of slowly building the car in primer, but I realized that I have most of the parts on hand, and the bodywork is the only difficult part, but isn't that bad on this car. So I'll start hitting it hard!
      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

    16. #16
      Join Date
      Jul 2013
      Location
      Gilbert, AZ
      Posts
      935
      Country Flag: United States
      Progress has been slow the last few months, with helping my dad on his 68 GS350, and other stuff. Finally getting back to the Bird, along with other projects (my 87 S10 Blazer V8 swap, and a newly acquired 63 Thunderbird). Right into the heat of the summer too, 108 last weekend.

      Got the fenders back a few months ago. Very nice, only needs some dent repair. I've been taking my time and learning better "metal bumping" to minimize the filler I use. They've been sitting cozy in my game room for the last few months.


      Started to disassemble the car and found this surprise. Oh well, it will allow me to build a new custom package tray with better speaker pods and a subwoofer mount.


      Also scored a nice set of black 4th gen Trans am seats at the Del Mar Goodguys for $150. I rode in them for 6 years in my 98 Trans Am, so I know they're comfortable for long trips. The driver's seat bolted in, minus a little clearance needed for the motor. I'll do that down the road.


      Disassembly has begun! The 71 fenders won't be used, and I consider them barely useable period. Inner fenderwells are weak, as well as the core support, which has an OER replacement waiting in my spare bedroom.


      Started paint removal. I knew the right quarter was weak, so I ground that down first.
      Last edited by CampbellshotrodsAZ; 08-30-2017 at 08:28 PM. Reason: Replaced Photobucket Links
      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

    17. #17
      Join Date
      Sep 2004
      Location
      Fresno, Ca
      Posts
      379
      Quote Originally Posted by CampbellshotrodsAZ View Post
      That I'm not sure about, I still need to see all of what the T/A spoilers entail, which is next on my list. Are these a bolt on bracket? There's nothing additional on these fenders bolted on, pretty much stripped.
      Josh,
      If you look at the bottom of the 71 fenders, you'll see where the lower valance(splash panel, center filler panel, gravel panel, etc.) bolts to the fenders. You're gonna need those brackets (or have to fabricate some new ones) in order to get the valance bolted back up to your Trans Am fenders.
      They should be riveted in place, so removal is pretty easy.
      Cool car- SO glad you're keeping it PONTIAC POWERED!!

    18. #18
      Join Date
      Dec 2013
      Location
      Vandenberg AFB
      Posts
      51
      Country Flag: United States
      I'm happy for you to be building this but also sad. The 71 Firebird is my dream car particularly for the fenders as they are a 1yr only. Very difficult to find a 71 with the OEM fenders. Please don't throw those babies away! Let me know if you're going to junk them. IMO they are way nicer than TA fenders... Give it some more thought.

    19. #19
      Join Date
      Jul 2013
      Location
      Gilbert, AZ
      Posts
      935
      Country Flag: United States
      Quote Originally Posted by PonchoJohn View Post
      Josh,
      If you look at the bottom of the 71 fenders, you'll see where the lower valance(splash panel, center filler panel, gravel panel, etc.) bolts to the fenders. You're gonna need those brackets (or have to fabricate some new ones) in order to get the valance bolted back up to your Trans Am fenders.
      They should be riveted in place, so removal is pretty easy.
      Cool car- SO glad you're keeping it PONTIAC POWERED!!
      Cool, thanks for the info! I'll be looking into that shortly, for now I'm working from the rear forward, so fenders might be in a few weeks! And yeah, the Ponchos were good motors, I kind of like the road less travelled, so the 455 is a must for me! It will end up costing me an arm and a leg, but being different isn't cheap. Besides, I have my 71 Camaro sister that will get a nasty LS and flat out be a lot wilder. I'm looking forward to having a 1971 Jekyll/Hyde combination! Might be near a decade before that dream is met though, haha.

      Quote Originally Posted by BBBluey View Post
      I'm happy for you to be building this but also sad. The 71 Firebird is my dream car particularly for the fenders as they are a 1yr only. Very difficult to find a 71 with the OEM fenders. Please don't throw those babies away! Let me know if you're going to junk them. IMO they are way nicer than TA fenders... Give it some more thought.
      I was going to junk them a couple weeks ago because they are that bad. But even I had second thoughts, and decided I'll either cut those lower fender sections off, or offer them up on Craigslist as a complete pair. They are very bad, one really worth fixing. Meanwhile the T/A fenders are pretty clean for what they are, and I've always liked the functional vents.

      I'll have to post a general update soon after I load some pictures up. A lot of progress in stripping the body down to metal. A few surprises along the way. Also tried my hand at a door skin for the first time, which I think was a near total failure. Aside from having some waviness along the lower edge from tapping the skin on, I noticed the lower character line is nearly invisible. AND in doing this I noticed the thinner than stock metal, which lead to dents from my work stand from just working this while laying one it's face! So I think I'm going to just suck it up and search for another usable original door. If it dents this easily, I don't want to run it on a car that I plan to keep forever. Last thing I want is for it to get dented by a cone.
      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

    20. #20
      Join Date
      Jul 2013
      Location
      Gilbert, AZ
      Posts
      935
      Country Flag: United States
      Nothing too glamorous in shiny parts or money, but still work that needs to be done.

      Finally got the car stripped down to a shell. My neighbors love me, haha.


      Got some of my replacement sheetmetal in, which at least half this picture was a total waste of money.


      Doors are off to the blaster's. The RH door had some damage, that was drilled, and pulled, and was just generally done terribly and wasn't work resaving. So I thought I'd try my hand at re-skinning it.


      Back, and ready for self etching primer, then 2k.


      I was having one heck of a time DA'ing the paint off due to the multiple layers (I count about 9). Then I was doing something, and noticed that the paint nicely shaved off the car using a razor blade! This seems tedious, but it saved me a lot of time and money, seeing as I didn't have to spend $1500 to get it blasted. This shaved off a clearcoat, two whites, and a red layer, leaving a few layers of primer, and a yellow/white layer of paint.

      Scraping another layer of primer off. Thought this was amusing, I've never dealt with with paint that came off so easily!


      Luckily most of the body was decent. A few surprise dents above the windshield, but at least they didn't try and pull them so I can take them out with the stud gun easily. Need to fill the vinyl top holes properly and weld them up.


      Just clamping the new quarter on for grins, and test fitup.


      Found a couple free wrenches in the section I cut out in the LH quarter!


      Cheap alternative to Dynamat! All this came out of the jamb vent hole. They slacked off and only stuffed 3 bags into the RH quarter.


      LH quarter looked pretty good aside from the back edge. I don't want to buy another quarter for this section, so I think I can hammer out a new piece with these compound curves easy enough. Time I've got.


      Welded up the lock hole on the passenger's skin while it was off to make it easier. It was easier, but futile. I was unsure when I got the new skin about it seeming to be a little thin, but I figured it's worth a shot. It went on easy enough for the most part, forward and rear edges looked good, but the lower edge didn't cooperate as well and went on pretty wavy. Then I noticed the lower character line was super faint, not sure if it would have shown up on the car. Then I noticed the weight of the door and my working the edged dented the skin where the stand was. So I contemplated this for 5 minutes, and decided this door is scrap. Located a nice original paint door in Tucson, 1.5 hours from me for $200 and now have that being blasted. I decided that if the door dented that easily, the last thing I wanted was a cone flying up and making it's mark.


      So that's that. Hopefully I'll be able to get the door before the weekend, but maybe not. I have a little more primer to DA off the roof, then the jambs, then I can start getting into actual bodywork. I'm rethinking my idea of replacing the entire RH quarter, just after my experience with the Taiwan metal on the door. I may just do what I didn't want to, and cut out the damaged area and butt-weld the new section in at the back. I think the less thin Taiwanese metal I use, the better. My goal is to have the car painted and mostly done for the Goodguy's Del Mar show next April, and although I won't push the car hard to make it, it would be cool if I can make the Hot Rod Power Fest in Vegas in September. But no rush. I hope to have the main bodywork done in a month, so I can strip the interior and subframe fully, and get the underside, and firewall blasted clean, during that time I'd like to drive to Anvil and pickup a carbon fiber Formula hood. Then DSE minitubs, SFC's, and welding up the subframe, powdercoat, then ridetech suspension install!
      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

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