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    1. #1
      Join Date
      Jul 2011
      Location
      York Haven, PA
      Posts
      21
      Country Flag: United States

      Rusty Feathers (1967 Firebird)

      I have been lurking and learning on this site for a long time, and it is about time I started my own build thread.

      It all started in 1997, I had just graduated college and was just married (to Tina she has been just as involved in this adventure as I have, 24 years and counting!) and traveled a lot for work. I needed a hobby after studying for so long, and went looking for an old car to work on. I found an ad in the local paper for a 1967 Firebird, OHC-6 (a 1-bbl, not the Sprint 4-bbl), automatic (2-speed), air conditioning, power steering, power drum brakes, deluxe interior. Always a PA car and oddly, no rust. The paint wasn't the best and performance was non-existent; but she was mine. The photo was taken shortly after I brought it home.





      The first summer I had the car, I drove it alot (relatively speaking, it still only has 72K on the odo). My wife and I took it to the POCI convention in Sturbridge, MA that summer. I had a lot of plans back then; I was going to convert it to a Sprint with a 4-speed and keep the power features, much as John Z Deloren had intended. That winter, I took the front end apart; rebuilt the suspension, installed a Sprint motor and a 4-speed and drove it about 500 miles.

      Fast forward to 2010. The Pro-Touring bug hit me and I wanted in. I was able to horse-trade having a 400 installed in the Firebird and started planning upgrades (the normal things: suspension, brakes, transmission, etc). I had some money saved up and started shopping. Planned upgrades included:

      - ridetech Front/Rear Coil Over Suspension
      - C6 Front Disk Brakes
      - 4th Gen Camaro Rear Disk Brakes
      - T-56 Transmission
      - Vintage Air
      - Keep the Pontiac 400

      For the most part, I have stayed with that plan (as I hope to share in this thread).


    2. #2
      Join Date
      Jul 2011
      Location
      York Haven, PA
      Posts
      21
      Country Flag: United States

      History (as I know it) of the car...

      This is an unusual Firebird. It was allocated to Barnes Pontiac in Chambersburg, PA early in 1967. I was told it was the first one that the dealership had received (it is a very early production car, many of the parts have 1966 dates on them).

      The original owner had a 1965 421 Grand Prix and wanted to trade for the first Firebird that came in. The dealership warned him that he would not be happy with the first one, as it had the base 6 cylinder; but he bought it anyway. He kept it for a year, then traded it in on a 1968 400 Firebird.

      The family that owned the dealership kept the car as a family car, and passed it down to the grand children. At some point, it ran against a brick wall on the passenger side (hence no Firebird emblems on that side, the fender was replaced with a Camaro part). They eventually sold the car to a gentleman that had just finished restoring a Mustang and he was planning on restoring the Firebird. He was suddenly transferred to San Diego and could only take one car with him. That was in 1997 when I bought the car.

      So the car has always been a PA car, and except for some rust starting around the windshield, actually has very little rust. At some point, someone was smart and drilled holes in the lowest points of the trunk. Seems to have worked, since the trunk is very solid.

    3. #3
      Join Date
      Jul 2011
      Location
      York Haven, PA
      Posts
      21
      Country Flag: United States

      Best Laid Plans...

      As I mentioned earlier, in 2010 I wanted a Pro-Touring or Resto-Mod type car. Something comfortable that I could drive everyday, have fun with on the weekends, and wouldn't break the bank (HA!).

      So I started planning... before that, I had built the car into a one of none car (OHC-6 Sprints could not be ordered with a 4-speed and Air Conditioning); but it wasn't that exciting to drive. I had always been a fan of handling over speed, so that helped in what direction I wanted to go, and as is my habit of over-thinking everything, I spent a lot of time researching (all while saving money).

      So the plan was the following:

      - ridetech Coilovers, front and rear
      - C6 Front Brakes - using Kore3 hubs (those things are a work of art!!!)
      - 4th Gen Rear Brakes - which, don't work real well with a Pontiac rear axle... so that required a swap to a Chevy version... not all bad, as that also gives me the chance to upgrade the ratio (3.73:1).
      - Vintage Air
      - T-56 - I had read and re-read Socrates awesome thread on his T-56 in his GTO. It was a great inspiration for me and I was able to locate a Viper T-56 nearby at a decent price... but... when they say your mileage may vary, in my case it did. I would have to cut a very large hole in the floor to make it work. In hindsight, I suppose the LS folks actually mount the engine lower than the Pontiac, so there was no way that was going to work. Plan B, a TKO-600 from Silver Sport Transmissions.
      - Pontiac 400 - I LOVE the sound of a tuned Pontiac at idle, it just sounds so mean! I have 7K3 heads, an old Edelbrock intake with a 1406 carb, and a RA III cam. Stock exhaust manifolds (7K3 only has 4 exhaust bolts, instead of the standard 6). It was freshly re-gasketed and ran pretty decent (granted, that was 6 years ago when I last ran it).

      So while all this planning was taking place, in 2015 a buddy got me hooked on an addictive hobby (more than working on the car). Cross-country scavenger hunts with Rally North America (www.rallynorthamerica.com). The idea is that at the starting line, you get a clue card with 6-10 things you need to take a selfie at... these aren't the normal tourist trap things, but neat stuff nonetheless. We cover about 300-400 miles a day. We do have some track events, high-speed parade laps at race tracks (Watkins Glen, Summit Motorsports, VIR, Pueblo, Portland to name some of the ones I have been on) and drag racing. All of this is to raise money for charity... so it has a good cause, great friends, awesome roads/cars... what more could you ask for?

      So, this changed the plan a little bit... as I now want to use the Firebird for a rally. And to add to the plans, this summer is around the Great Lakes (a bucket list item for me). And we are taking the kids (all three of them, in two cars). So I need to get busy!!!

    4. #4
      Join Date
      Jul 2011
      Location
      York Haven, PA
      Posts
      21
      Country Flag: United States

      Current History

      So October 2019, I started cleaning up the garage to work on the car again...



      Yes, that is a T-56 laying underneath the car... it was the safest place to store it while life got in the way. My son, who is 12, helped me take off the front end sheetmetal.



      ... and then the motor came out...




    5. #5
      Join Date
      Jul 2011
      Location
      York Haven, PA
      Posts
      21
      Country Flag: United States
      I had read that using oven cleaner is great way to clean frames/engines... and it is! It also looked like it snowed in my garage. Funny thing is, I remember last time I did this that I don't want to have to do this again. I guess wisdom is knowing how realistic things are.



      ... I was even able to get 2 out of 3 kids to help!


    6. #6
      Join Date
      Jul 2011
      Location
      York Haven, PA
      Posts
      21
      Country Flag: United States
      A couple of coats of VHT Chassis paint (satin finish) and it was back on its wheels...



      meanwhile, I had to take a beauty shot of the engine...


    7. #7
      Join Date
      Jul 2011
      Location
      York Haven, PA
      Posts
      21
      Country Flag: United States
      Two weeks ago, I started to put in a new American Autowire wiring harness, when a buddy said that while the interior is gutted, I should paint everything. So, I started to paint the interior components in Signet Gold...

      Steering Column...



      Console Lid...


    8. #8
      Join Date
      Jul 2011
      Location
      York Haven, PA
      Posts
      21
      Country Flag: United States

      More Interior...

      So.. it has taken some time (mostly evenings and weekends), but I now have most of the interior painted/cleaned.

      Center Console all ready to go...


      Gauge panel (with Nu Vintage gauges)


      New package tray (it's sparkily!!! the old one was brown and didn't have speaker cutouts).


      and a couple of coats of Signet Gold...




      I read a neat trick for painting the dash... just hope it worked out... which is to use small chunks of posterboard as masking. I don't see any primer or gold on any of the glass, so it appears to have worked.

      I need to add clear (planning on that tonight) and then I can start putting in the sound deadening and carpet. Finally, starting to put it back together!

      With a long weekend, I'm hoping to get a good start on the wiring harness and Vintage Air install. Hopefully also put the engine in for the last time.

    9. #9
      Join Date
      Feb 2013
      Posts
      1,342
      Country Flag: United States
      Looking great man! Very cool build.


      Ridetech Suspsension
      Tech Specialist
      Phone: 812.481.4734

      Project Fox
      1979 Trans Am

    10. #10
      Join Date
      Aug 2004
      Location
      Missouri
      Posts
      334
      Country Flag: United States
      You may want to reinforce the upper shock mount they've been know to fail when using it as the upper coil-over mount. It was never designed to hold the weight of the car.
      Name:  shock mount.jpg
Views: 600
Size:  200.9 KB
      Sean James

      69 Firebird - Build Thread
      72 Firebird

    11. #11
      Join Date
      Jul 2011
      Location
      York Haven, PA
      Posts
      21
      Country Flag: United States
      Jimmy Sean: Thanks for the advice on the shock mount... while it is apart, I will check the welds and may do that. The alternative doesn't look like fun.

      - - - Updated - - -

      Josh: Thanks for the encouragement!

    12. #12
      Join Date
      Jul 2011
      Location
      York Haven, PA
      Posts
      21
      Country Flag: United States

      More Interior

      Over the long weekend, I was able to get some of the items off the list...

      Interior painted:




      Mounted up the Retrosound dash speaker. The factory mount wouldn't fit the speaker, so I took some shelving registers and cut it down and drilled a hole... it was able to bridge the gap and mounts it firmly. It then had the bracket too low to mount to the firewall, but I was able to make some spacers to have it work... not the incredible work I see here, but it did inspire me!



      I was also able to get the backseat area installed (although it will be coming out again for wiring), with Dynamax (until I ran out). The original seats and side panels cleaned up real nice with Simple Green...



      I also had to test fit the gauges and radio for motivation...





      I didn't get pictures, but I also got the fuzzy weatherstripping installed, took out the upper door and trunk weatherstripping. We were also able to bolt the transmission to the engine. They would have been installed if I could find the bracket for the console... since it bolts in from below. I know it is somewhere in this garage!

    13. #13
      Join Date
      Jul 2011
      Location
      York Haven, PA
      Posts
      21
      Country Flag: United States

      Paint or Patina?

      I've lately been having some thoughts that while the car is broken down this far, should I just go ahead an paint it or should I leave the patina finish on it?

      I have painted one car many, many years ago (a 1973 bug for my sister... in 1989). I do have a compressor, and I am willing to try and learn. I also have some friends who are retired body/paint folks, which would help.

      Thoughts?

    14. #14
      Join Date
      Dec 2014
      Location
      Rhome,TX
      Posts
      65
      Country Flag: United States
      Car looks great! I would personally leave the patina as it adds character and history to the car. Love the build and definitely going to look forward to your progress.
      '72 Lemans
      468 Stroker; Aluminum KRE D-Ports ported by CVMS (10.2 comp); XR288HR Comp Cam; Port Matched Performer RPM; Quick Fuel Carb; Doug Long Tube Headers, 2.5 exhaust with H-pipe and Flowmasters; TH-400 w/11" 2800 stall; 9" Rear w/Eaton TruTrac Diff and 3.50 gears.

    15. #15
      Join Date
      Apr 2011
      Location
      Rosser Manitoba Canada
      Posts
      319
      Country Flag: Canada
      Sorry but patina is overdone. It always seems like an excuse to not finish the car. You are better than that are you not? Hey you asked for our thoughts, that's mine!

    16. #16
      Join Date
      Jul 2011
      Location
      York Haven, PA
      Posts
      21
      Country Flag: United States

      Paint or Patina?

      Thanks for the replies! My main concern is time and stickers.

      The next rally that we will be participating in is in July. Not a lot of time between now and then to do the job I would like to do. If I am going to go through the effort of painting, there are some things I would really like to address on the car. The passenger quarter panel should be replaced (it was put on poorly as a result of an accident) and there is rust forming around the windshield and back window (which I am hoping isn't in the dash area).

      The stickers is because we put sponsorship stickers on our cars for the rally. We raise a lot of money for the charities each year, and it helps to bring awareness. I'm afraid with the paint the way it is, when I go to take the stickers off, most of the paint will come with it. Then again, that would make it easier to paint next winter.

    17. #17
      Join Date
      Jul 2011
      Location
      York Haven, PA
      Posts
      21
      Country Flag: United States

      Interior Continued...

      My son Jackson and I were able to continue on the interior this weekend. I think I am officially in the stage of "put the part in, take the part out, put it back in".

      Have most of the car in DynaMax and DynaLiner and we test fitted the carpet set (my wife is happy now, she gets the dinning room table back, since I had it spread out on top for the past two weeks to work the wrinkles out). I also installed the steering column (hopefully for good!).



      Also started the wiring (sorry, no pics). I thought I would start with the easy part of the subwoofer and speakers in the back. That way I was out of Jackson's way (he is much better at installing Dynamax than I am) and I could see how I wanted to run the wires. With the Dynaliner (about 3/4" of foam) and the carpet down, I will feel more comfortable laying on my back to do the dash wiring.

    18. #18
      Join Date
      Aug 2004
      Location
      Missouri
      Posts
      334
      Country Flag: United States
      My thought about patina is that it is freeing, less stress and fear. If you paint the car then you will be more worried about where you park, who touches it, rock chips, where you drive it. There is a history, a story captured in that patina. Doesn't in my opinion make it less done or not finished. People will either love it or hate it, not any different if it's a new paint job.
      Sean James

      69 Firebird - Build Thread
      72 Firebird

    19. #19
      Join Date
      Jul 2011
      Location
      York Haven, PA
      Posts
      21
      Country Flag: United States

      Wiring Harness

      Still making progress... I got the American Autowire harness for the car. Real nice kit. I read a lot about harnesses before selecting this one, and I know the crimpers are the big thing. Another few tips that I can add... while it is on the workbench, label where each termination goes (at least for the dash harness). This makes it easier to visualize how it will lay in the car. The other thing I did was to wrap it up before installing it (for the last time ). This did two things, the first was it made it much easier to work around the steering column, the second is that mentally, it is much easier to deal with if you are looking at a single black item rather than all the colored wires. At least for me.


    20. #20
      Join Date
      Jul 2011
      Location
      York Haven, PA
      Posts
      21
      Country Flag: United States

      Time for some updates...

      I told myself when I started this thread that I will use it to keep motivated. I made a self imposed rule that I would not get to page 3 without updates (and I just broke that rule!)...

      No real good pictures for the time being, but I have been working on a lot of little things.

      Continuing to install the wiring harness. I'm working hard to make sure all the wiring is neat and organized, which if you look at the background in the other pictures you can tell is not in my nature. But it is slowly coming around.

      Started installing the weatherstripping. Probably would have had it done if I didn't run out of adhesive. Just doing the doors, the roof rail, and the trunk. Glad I was able to find on the internet the proper way to install the trunk piece, since mine was so old, brittle, and squished, I couldn't tell.

      Also making headway on the Vintage Air install. Was able to modify the control panel and vents, and have the condenser installed.

      We have a mandatory work from home for a while, so the savings of an hour or so commute time will be spent in the garage.

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