appealing aspect of the Trans Am is the fact that it works so well using old
No state of-the-art tricks here, just smooth V8 power driving the rear wheels
-John Baechtel, "Different
Strokes", Hot Rod, July 1986
THE TRANS AM
October 1985- The 8668th Pontiac Firebird of the 1986 model
year rolls off the GM F-body assembly line in Norwood, Ohio. This model is a
black and gold, two-tone Trans Am, LB9, 700R4, T-tops, WS6 and tan cloth Recaro interior optioned car.
It is later delivered to Premier Pontiac Nissan, Inc. in Little Rock, Arkansas.
March 9, 2006- While surfing Ebay, I don't know what gets into
me but I find myself looking at third gen Pontiacs again. How I got from
C4 Corvettes to F-bodies is a mystery to me but there I am, looking at old Trans Ams. I
hit upon the mother lode with a 1986 low mileage all original Pontiac Trans Am, black with tan Recaro
interior. The asking price was kind of steep but for a low mileage,
meticulously maintained LB9 / auto TA with rare Recaro interior and T-tops, sporting
just 48,000 original miles and flawless mechanical operation of every option, it
wasn't that hard a choice to make. The car is located in North Carolina, a fair
piece to drive but it should be an adventure if this works out.
I'd really like to have a black and gold third gen TA but if I win this car, I
can always paint the ground effects gold and add the fade stripe to the body.
I print out the entire auction from Ebay and send the link to my father. We are looking for
a car we can campaign at local car shows and work on together and it is our
mutual opinion that the '89 Formula is simply too far gone for anything other
than parts or salvage. Or, to put it another way, I could spend the same
amount of money that I intend to spend on purchasing the '86 Recaro TA in
restoring the '89 Formula and I still wouldn't have the same grade of car as the
'86 TA appears to be.
My initial misgivings on the auction center around the fact that the 1986 TA does not appear to be a WS6 car.
concerns me somewhat since WS6 cars are more desirable and I'm not getting the
basic heavy duty hardware, from the factory, that I would like. However,
even this minor misgiving is not
a problem since I have access to a 3.27 geared 9 bolt Borg Warner posi rear end
and 16x8 inch aluminum wheels with almost brand new tires on them courtesy of
the '89 Formula 350 I have in storage. I might
have to swap in a quick ratio steering box but since I plan on ripping out the
entire factory suspension and replacing all the parts with heavy duty
aftermarket parts in the not too distant future, what size sway bars this TA
currently has on it now makes little difference to me. Still, it's just
strange that you would find a TA that was optioned with the high dollar stuff
like the TPI engine, the mandatory automatic overdrive transmission, the Recaro
interior and T-tops. Why this TA isn't a WS6 car eludes me but that one
fact alone won't keep me from acquiring this car should I decide to do so.
the car is selling for $7495.00 instant buy and there are 8 bids on the car
totally just shy of $1100.00. The reserve has not been met. I play
around with owning the TA in my mind and set up several scenarios for acquiring
it, all of them feasible and easy to implement. I go to bed as my mind
starts to work out the details.
March 10, 2006- I discuss the purchase of the '86 TA with my father.
We come to basic terms with the idea and begin to work out the details.
Checking on the TA that night, I notice that the number of bidders is up to 10
and that the price has risen to $2600 with the reserve still not being met.
March 11, 2006- The bidding is up to $3550 now. My father says he is
in on the deal so I queue up the TA in my Ebay sniper and plan to war-bid on the
TA a few minutes before the auction ends to see how cheap I can get this TA.
Knowing in my heart of hearts that this was the TA for me and that I was going
to win this TA come hell or high water, I went ahead and bid on a set of the
correct year factory
16x8 inch high tech turbo wheels, a 1986 owners manual for this car, and a
Monogram 1/32 scale model
of the 1985 black and gold Trans Am in the color scheme that I have always
admired. I won the aluminum wheels and the Monogram TA model later
that day. The wheels might need to be stripped and repainted but I'm
thinking I'm going to powder coat them gloss black around the rim and outer lip
and flat black on the inside surface, leaving the raised surfaces a natural flat
Here are the correct year 16x8" aluminum high tech deep dish turbo
"feather" design wheels as they were presented on Ebay.
Here is the 1/32 scale Monogram model of an '85 TRANS AM which I won. This
model is presented in the two tone color scheme
which I really like. Whether I paint the lower ground effects gold and
two-tone the car or just keep it monochromatic black is up for debate right now.
I really have wanted a black and gold TA but this car is just too good and too
clean to pass up. The debate on whether to keep the stock factory
monochromatic paint scheme or go to a copy of the two tone black and gold paint
scheme will play heavy on my mind for the next week and a half and I'll look at
my options from every angle, trying to find as many pictures and color
combinations of monochrome and black and gold two tone TAs that I can find.
March 13, 2006- I tell my dad that I am going to "war-bid" on the TA.
A lightly heated discussion ensues via email at which point he convinces me to
go ahead and just "BUY IT NOW." During lunch, he and I go back to the
family home and acquire the TA through the "BUY IT NOW" option on Ebay (see backstory for full details). We wait
for the seller to contact us.
March 14, 2006- The seller contacts us. We exchange information and
wire him the total funds for the car, bank to bank. The TA is paid for in
full. Initial plans with my father and I driving over to pick up the car
fall through and my wife can't go because of a previous engagement. It
looks like I'm going Man Solo on this adventure. I tell Dad that I'm going to
hop over there on a Greyhound bus but Dad travels so much, he has a bonus ticket
just gathering dust and no time or reason to use it. He arranges the bonus plane ticket on Delta
airlines for Saturday in my name and the seller says he will meet me at the Greensboro, NC
airport to pick me up, carry me back to the business office and complete the paperwork
before delivering the car. As it stands, I now have a pristine 1986
Pontiac Trans Am waiting on me four states away, a plane ticket to get
there and all I'm doing is killing time between now and the day I pick up my new
March 15, 2006- I call my insurance agent (State Farm) and tell them I have
purchased a new car and give them the information such as make, model, year, VIN. I plan on dropping everything but liability on the
Formula 350 until I can swap parts between it and the TA and then sell it.
I plan to transfer full insurance to the
TA. My agent tells me to drop by tomorrow and I can pick up a packet that
will include all the information required to cover the new TA under my existing
multi-car and multi-insurance policies.
March 16, 2006- I acquire the insurance packet from my State
Farm agent. I begin to assemble a checklist for my trip and pack.
It's going to be a quick trip so I carry light.
I get home and check my email. My Ebay sniper has netted me a mint, NOS
1986 Trans Am owners manual. The price is $41.00. A bit steep and I probably could
have beaten that price but this manual is brand new, never issued and represents a book that is 20
years old, in pristine condition and no longer in print. I look up a similar item from an
OEM dealer that I use and the price
is only $2 cheaper with a 4 to 6 week shipping rate. I'll settle for two
bucks more and it being here next week.
It's my money, I feel good about the price since I'm going to
be the first one to crease the cover. While I'm online, I lock my sniper
onto several other publications including an original GM shop manual for the
1986 Firebird. 1900 plus pages of chassis illustrations, wiring diagrams
and charts redefines serious toilet time reading.
17, 2006- I spend most of the day getting my
bag packed and all the details of the trip finalized.
March 18, 2006- Up at 1AM, in Jackson, MS at
4:30AM. In the air to Cincinnati, OH by 7AM, on the ground in Cincinnati,
OH by 9AM. In the air for Greensboro, NC by 10:45 AM, on the ground in
Greensboro, NC by 11:55 AM. I meet the owner of SNAPPY AUCTIONS, Joe, at
the airport and he drives me back to their company office in a local strip mall just a few miles away.
I finish the paperwork and take possession of the 1986 TA. One of the
first things I discover is that it actually is a WS6 car; it has the wrong size wheels
and tires which is what was confusing me when looking at the pictures provided
with the auction. The car is
perfect and appears to have been transported through a time warp in 1986 to
On the long trip home (750 plus miles), I discover that the smaller wheels and
tires are really throwing off the speedometer reading by upwards of 15 to 20mph.
Everything on the car works perfectly. An intermittent SES light I
attribute to the wrong size wheels and tires and bad data at the VSS Vehicle
Speed Sensor. The whole day from the time I woke up to the time I put my
head down that night in bed has been one grand
adventure. I spend the night in
Jefferson, GA at a Comfort Inn. There I verify that not only is this TA an
original, all factory
WS6 car (by decoding the RPO sheet in the center console) but that she also
originally came with the 16x8 wheels. What ever happened to the original
wheels is a mystery, one of many surrounding this
19, 2006- I get an early start on the
road as I
have about 350 miles to go. Rain sets in around Atlanta and continues
throughout the trip which is mostly gray and drizzling. The TA handles
perfectly in wet weather, even at high speeds. I arrive back in
Columbia, MS about 4pm in the afternoon, tired but with a prize Trans Am
that was well worth the trip. Total mileage spent driving in the TA; 768.4
miles. Total time since I started my adventure; 40 hours and some change.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006- I receive the
Monogram 1/32 scale 1985 Trans Am model in the mail. It is unopened, still
in the shrink wrap. The car features the WS6 suspension, a 5.0 liter LB9
TPI V8 and strangely, no T-tops. I reason that I can pick up a later 3rd
Gen Firebird model with T-tops and mix and match parts at this level of detail
to provide the final model I desire with the options that my car includes, but
that is an rather minor adventure for another time.
I go by my local body shop and show the owner the car. He is amazed at the
TA and agrees it was a great buy. When I ask him how much to paint the
ground effects gold and apply the "square-dot-fade" decal, I get a quote of $450
parts and labor, if I supply the decals (which will be about another $250 give
or take). He still says it won't be until late July before he can get to
spraying the ground effects, he's booked solid until then. No problem.
I've got to get the correct wheels and tire sizes mounted on the car and
probably will have to refinish the wheels.
Thursday, March 23, 2006- I sample several
audio files in MP3 format of the TA starting up and revving the engine.
Performance MP3s of zero to 60 runs and zero to 100 runs (and perhaps top speed
runs) will be forthcoming when I can get some track time to play with the car.
Videos are also possible but I don't have a tentative date for when I might get
a chance to take any video of the car.
Friday, March 24, 2006- I receive two packages
today, one is the original 1985 black and gold Trans Am ad and the other is my NOS 1986
Firebird owners manual. Current plans are to replace the gold decals with
black decals, add a power bulge hood and deck the hood out in a
black 1984 "louvered" bird decal and 2x black "5.0 LITER H.O." decals.
Phoenix Graphics is probably going to supply the kits for this endeavor. I
plan on printing out the 1985 ad as two large 24" by 36" posters and framing
one for my office and one for home and to use at car shows.
The TA has performed flawlessly this week and met
with the admiration and approval of both friends and family as well as
coworkers. People who see the car in a parking lot or at a drive in like
SONIC always comment on how clean the car is and how nice it looks. My ego
swells, like it really needed to get any larger. Cold weather has prevented me from washing and detailing the
car and from taking pictures.
Saturday, March 25, 2006- I finally got around
to washing the TA and my CBR. First bit of good weather we've had in a
while. Upon visiting my parents, my dad hands me a flyer for a car show in
Laurel, MS on April 8, 2006. I plan on attending even though my father and
his '55 Oldsmobile will be unable to join me there due to a prior scheduled
engagement on his part. I remind him that Cruising the Coast should be in
late September to mid October. This is the yearly gathering of Southern
hot rods, muscle cars and all kinds of hi-perf and custom vehicles, from old to
new, stock to wild. Hurricane Katrina destroyed the show last year but
this year, I've heard rumors that the "survivors" of the event will be out in
force to show that a hurricane can't keep us away from our beloved toys. I
plan on being there, my first appearance in my own car though I've been to a few
previous years events while riding with other people in their MOPARs and
Tuesday, March 28, 2006- I'm informed of a
benefit car show at the local Walmart parking lot set for Saturday, April 1st,
2006 and asked to attend. I plan on attending to put the TA in and see what kind of presence
she can generate. I tell my father about the show and ask him to bring his
'55 Olds to show it. My father decides to roll out his '55 Oldsmobile for the
show since he's going to miss the car show the following weekend on the 8th.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006- I have the
original TA ad pictured above scanned in at high resolution and printed out as a
24" by 36" poster which I frame. I intend to show the full size poster and
the original ad with the TA this Saturday, as well as a three ring binder with
the RPO codes and the VIN decoded along with the engineering specs (3 pages
worth) of the car.
Thursday, March 30, 2006- Just when I had
finally decided to not repaint the lower ground effects of the TA gold or change
her into something she was not originally, just when I decide to not only keep
monochrome black but to also finish the low key blackout of the car by powder
coating the 16x8 wheels black and swapping out the factory gold decals for
reproduction black decals, I review the RPO codes again line by line and make a surprising
discovery. My "monochrome" TA is actually an ex-two tone TA. It
left the Norwood assembly plant in 1985 as a black and gold two tone Trans Am and somewhere
along the line in the last two decades, she has had her lower ground effects
re-sprayed (and lost her original 16 x 8 wheels). I've got the wheels
inbound and will get them refinished to a natural aluminum flat finish with a
band of black around the rim and the inside of the "feather" vents finished in
It looks like I'm going to get the
lower ground effects repainted gold after all, just to restore this car to her
original self again. It also looks like I'm going to need some factory decals added, namely the
gold "TRANS AM" name above the left front driving light and the plastic
"PONTIAC" emblem normally found in the headlight groove. Wow.
The car I always wanted is the car I got. It's kind of like one of those
Russian dolls that is a doll within a doll within a doll. As I peel back
the parts of this TA that I didn't like, I find what I am looking for
underneath. I wanted an adventure, I sure got one!
The black and gold two-tone TA that I always wanted as a teenager is now mine,
and it was hidden under the wrong size wheels / tires and repainted ground
effects. Forecast calls for restoring this car to her original factory
specs and color scheme then campaigning her on the local show circuit for a
while. The first thing I'll probably add is new coil springs to lower the
car an inch and a half all around, new KYB shocks and struts, and some SFC sub
frame connectors to tie up the unibody and keep the roof paint from getting
crow's feet in it from body flex. I'll probably add a strut tower brace to
keep the car stable, removing it when I go to shows. Later, I'll add in
the rest of the suspension components; new larger sway bars, front end rebuild
kit, lower control arms, panhard rod and torque arm, all with polygraphite
bushings where available. I remember building a similar suspension on my
'90 Formula with the 5.0 liter TBI V8 and that suspension was king hell tight on
curves. I can't wait to get that feeling again with this car.
While fueling up the TA, I get a chance to crawl up under her somewhat and
inspect the recent custom exhaust work. The Flowmaster is present and
accounted for, the exhaust pipes are going to either have to be chopped and
moved further inward so they don't stick out past the rear bumper or they are
going to have to be replaced with less obnoxious tips. The exhaust work
looks good and the exhaust pipes are frigging huge! I'm wondering if they
are too large for a 305. The motor doesn't feel as strong as I expected it
to feel, "peanut cam" not withstanding.
Saturday, April 1st, 2006- Well, the
TA didn't make it to the local show because I had 30 hours without sleep under
my belt and needed to put a pillow under my head. My dad made the show
with his '55 Oldsmobile but he didn't win anything. The show wasn't very
well organized, no categories so my TA wouldn't have stood a chance against the
fully restored '50's Studebaker which won. There were only two prizes,
first and second place. The show redefined the term "rinky-dink." It
was also claimed to be a "cycle" show but the only "cycles" that showed up were
a small group of about five posing Harley riders in full dress. We didn't
stay long because I was hungry, tired and short of a '69 Camaro convertible pace
car, there really wasn't anything there that made me want to look more than
twice and that was while I was at a brisk walk. Let's hope that the show
coming up on April 8th is bigger and categorized.
Monday, April 3rd, 2006- The '89 Formula 350 is
sold for $2500 cash. I manage to snatch a few extra magazine ads and
dealer albums, brochures off of Ebay.
Tuesday, April 4th, 2006- While surfing Ebay
for "stuff" for the TA, old brochures, old magazine articles, etc. I chance upon
an ad for a 1985 black and gold TA. The ad is Canadian, I believe, and is
pictured below. As soon as it arrives, I'll update my site with it.
Canadian 1985 magazine advertisement
for black and gold Trans Am
Saturday, April 8, 2006- I receive my two
dealer brochures I found on the Internet. Both are Canadian but other than
where they were distributed, there is no real difference. One is for a
1985 Firebird line and the other is the 1986 Firebird line, both are mint
condition. I'm going to scan the cover of the 1985 version and make a T-shirt / Polo
out of the front image of the black and gold TA, with some mods to the design.
1986 Firebird model line dealer brochures, Canadian GM issue
I found these two ancient brochures online at
Communication and shipping were friendly and super quick, I highly recommend
these people if you need an old brochure or other type of literature for your
I enter the '86 TA in a local car show. I'm late so I miss the judging and
any awards given out but the car meets with a lot of awe for its condition and
seems to attract a fair sized crowd from time to time. I spend most of my
time there answering questions about how I got the car and on the third gen
Firebirds in general. The only other Pontiacs at the show are a golden
green '68 GTO, '76 red Trans Am (though it has a clock in the dash where the
tach should be and it is sporting 1979 gold decals instead of the correct 1976
decals so I can't verify its authenticity) and a super sweet old red Lemans
convertible that I would love to own.
I join the club that is putting on the car show, The Cool Cruisers of South
Mississippi, and am invited back that night to the monthly cruise-in at the
Sonic in Oak Grove, MS. I've been hanging out there with the club for
months now with my father and his '55 Oldsmobile so they know me. During
the car show, I make several contacts and begin to track down a local powder
coater out of Columbia. I am also invited to two more shows in the next
few weeks, a show for the local armed forces personnel at Camp Shelby (April 22)
and a car and bike show in Collins, MS in the first few weeks of May. The
cruise-in at Sonic is shorter than most due to the car show that very day but
the TA still draws a small crowd from time to time with a follow-up Q&A session
when someone in the club points the crowd over to where I'm sitting.
Monday, April 10, 2006- I received in the
mail the "Feel the Rush" ad along with a 1985 issue of Popular Hot Rodding
detailing the first tests of the (then) new 1985 IROC-Z vs the 1985 Trans Am.
Wednesday, April 12, 2006- Mike emailed me
with the following missing RPO code from my list of three unknown RPOs.
60P = WHEEL COLOR, BEIGE
according to my May, 1999 GM factory RPO code book.
No N0 (zero) D listed, (the letter “O” is not used as a second digit) but N04
thru N09 are all for either locking fuel caps or locking fuel filler doors
No WS1 listed, either.
Friday, April 14, 2006- I hit Google and
tried to find the last two remaining RPO codes. I found both the WS1 and
the NOD codes after about five minutes worth of searching. The WS1 code
represents a dealer ordered package that included
CC1 ~ Removable Glass Roof Panels (T-Tops),
N33 ~ Tilt Wheel Adjustable Steering Column and
K34 ~ Electronic Speed Control w/resume.
By ordering these three items together (possibly a prelude to the later 1SC
groups), the dealer could get these three items at a lower cost than if they
were ordered independently. The NOD RPO code is the designation for the
Norwood, Ohio assembly plant where the car was built in 1986. Cars built
in the Van Nuys, California plant received "VAN" to their RPO codes.
16, 2006 - Well, son of a witch! Look at THIS bit of
unexpected good fortune!
SERVICE PARTS CATEGORY
APPEARANCE PACKAGE: AERO #5
MOLDING COLOR (BLACK)
PRIMARY COLOR, EXTERIOR, BLACK
COMBINATION, CLOTH, LT SADDLE (D)
INTERIOR TRIM, LT SADDLE (I)
SECONDARY COLOR, EXTERIOR, LT TAUPE
WHEEL COLOR, BEIGE
STRIPE COLOR, ACCENT, TWO TONE,
RED / BLACK
I was going back through the RPO
codes and look what I found. My "monochrome" TA isn't a monochrome TA at
all, but an original, black and gold two-tone TA! Words cannot describe
the ecstasy I am feeling at this instant in time. I wanted a black and
gold WS6 optioned TA, I settled for a monochrome black Y99 optioned TA.
Then I discover that the TA actually is a WS6 car and is wearing the wrong
wheels and tires. Now I discover that the TA was originally a black and
gold TA and one of the previous owners painted the gold rocker panels black
(and removed the "TRANS AM" name on the front, the square-dot-fade stripe
around the car and the "PONTAC" emblem from the front driver's side headlight.
I guess they were trying to "build" a GTA (which didn't appear until 1987). How's that for luck?
Unbelievable... I now own, through a very strange set of circumstances,
the very car I was looking for in the first place. Some (re)assembly
April 18, 2006- I received a second OEM T-top bag, black, from a
guy on Ebay who was parting out his black GTA. The bag is mint but
doesn't have the "GM" logo stamped into it like my original bag does.
I'm going to put my original bag up for storage and use this spare bag when I
May 2, 2006- I received the OEM "PONTIAC" emblem for the front
right headlight recess. This emblem came standard on all Firebirds but
was missing from my TA. I picked it up off Ebay from a guy in Canada for
May 5, 2006- I received the OEM-styled "RECARO" emblem for my car.
Not sure where I'm going to apply this emblem yet, perhaps in the recess of
the headlight on the passenger front side (opposite of the OEM emblem above).
May 8, 2006- I received the 1986 GM Pontiac service manual plus all
supplements for the 1986 Firebird model. Over 1200 pages, quite
Thursday, May 11, 2006- I made a contact through the local car club
of a guy who can powdercoat my 16" rims for me. He said he couldn't get
around to doing the wheels until late July or sometime in August due to his
current backlog and work schedule. That's fine, apparently everything is
getting put off until the end of Summer anyway. The only problem with
going to the new larger wheels is, of course, going to be that I'm required to
buy new, larger tires. Looks like the old wallet is going to get hit for
about $800 for a set of four P245/50VR16s all mounted and balanced. I'd
say I'm looking at a good $1000 total for powdercoating and new rubber.
If I could have just five minutes alone with which ever of the past three
owners of this car sold the original factory 16 x 8" wheels, I would do my best to beat him
senseless with a well worn dog chew toy that squeaks.
Saturday, May 13, 2006- I've noticed a slight bump along the
drive-train when I either put my foot on the accelerator or take my foot off,
like there is some slack in the drive line and the transmission is rocking a
little back and forth in a straight line. I'm thinking a worn
transmission mount... that's what happened to me on my '90 Formula. I'll
check it out when I get the transmission serviced.
May 15, 2006- Well, the Mississippi hot weather is here, folks.
Not only did one of the three previous morons who owned this car convert the
AC system from Freon to the less efficient RC134A, but they did it on a black
car with a huge rear glass hatch and T-tops (and where the original OEM
factory T-top sunshades are is another mystery...). I was thinking of
tinting the T-tops but that would kind of ruin their effect at night.
I'll just pony up and get a reproduction set of the original sunshades (about
$60 bux from Year One or OEM). The fact that the car rolls down the
highway with the temperature needle pointing due south to 220 degrees also
bothers me (and can't be good for the AC system). She doesn't overheat
but I never have liked any of my cars to run that hot. Time for a 160 to
180 degree thermostat and maybe a PROM change if the ECM doesn't like the
May 16, 2006- Bought a new fuel filter at Autozone and paid a guy
at the local garage to install it for me (it was worth the ten bux he charged
me, trust me). The fuel filter he removed was the original filter.
Go figure. The TA is averaging about 21 and some change miles per
gallon, with the AC on or the tops off / windows down and some spirited
driving every now and then. This car has some guts, folks. I don't
rag her and it is seldom if ever that I get down on her hard but I got caught
behind some stupid people the other day and ... well, when the way got clear,
if they weren't going to make up their mind (uneducated inbred rednecks from
Lamar county should never be allowed to drive on paved roads...), I sure as
hell knew where I wanted to go. I had had a long day, I was eager to get
home and when Mr. Indecision in front of me moved over into the turn lane
(after keeping traffic behind him moving at 30mph in a 45mph zone), I just
punched it (one of the few times I have and this time was at the lowest speed
ever). Whoa! The LB9 roared and the front end of the Trans Am
lifted as she squatted down on her haunch, barked rubber and shot ahead.
"Go, baby! Go!" I shouted, amused that the old girl still had
some guts to her after 20 years.
The 700R4 four speed automatic had down shifted when I stomped it and when the
tranny shifted up, the rear tires let out a very authoritative, very crisp and
rather pronounced bark that surprised even me. I looked down at the
shift indicator as my foot let off the accelerator and my finger tapped the
cruise control at 45mph. The shifter was in overdrive, I hadn't touched
it to shift manually at all.
The old girl still has some teeth and a bark to match. Hot damn!
May 19, 2006- My father contributed $200 to the project for KYB
front struts and rear shocks. I'm going to hold off ordering these units until
July or August when I can get some Eibach lowering springs and a pair of weld
in subframe connectors for the TA as well. I might just wait and get all
of this done at once, with the larger wheels and fatter tires being installed.
Currently, I am in the unenviable position of being in direct contrast to the
situation that Pontiac first experienced in 1984 with their 15th Anniversary
Trans Am. The FATA was the first third generation TA blessed with the
16x8" wheels as part of the package specific tunings of the WS6 suspension and
the FATA package group itself. Only the FATA had the 16x8" wheels in
1984 (wheels that would become the standard wheel for the 1985 WS6 package).
The problem was, while the wheels and tires had tremendous grip, the rest of
the WS6 suspension wasn't quite up to the task of working with the 16x8"
wheels. On the other hand, I have a suspension set up for 16x8" wheels
and I'm having to take corners with four inches less of rubber on the bottom
end. The 15x7" wheels are okay, but no where near what the rest of the
car can produce in the way of handling. Going into a corner at high
speed sometimes gets hairy and I've come to realize that this car just isn't
going to feel "right" until the 16x8" wheels and P245/50VR16 tires get back on
all four corners. Right now, it almost feels like I'm going into the
corners with four space saver spares mounted on the car, that's how it feels
(at least to me). Pontiac had the
problem of the 1984 WS6 suspension wouldn't keep up with the grip of the 16x8"
tires. I have the problem that the 15x7" wheels and tires won't get near
the handling and performance of what the 1986 spec WS6 suspension is set up
for. Mostly it's just seat of the pants feel but boy, is it seat
of the pants feel. Maybe I'll also hold off until October when I can
throw on larger sway bars front and rear along with the rest of the suspension
(LCAs, panhard rod, etc.). We'll see. I rather get it all put on
at one time instead of a piece today and another piece next week.
I plan on ordering the PHS package and repro window dealer sticker this week.
I'll scan the results when I get them and put them on the site.
May 21, 2006- I ordered the Pontiac Historic Services
information packet on my Trans Am. I'll post the information when I get
it and can scan it. Right now, from what I can tell, I'm saying that my
TA cost about $19,200 brand new. That figure is taken from the base
price then adding in all of the options. Dealer or factory group
packages may lower this due to group discounts on options. It should be
interesting to see how close I got given the information that I have at my
- June, 7, 2006- I
received the PHS packet for the wrong car. Apparently, from what I can
tell, someone transposed the "8" in my VIN as a "3" and thus I received the
information packet for a Trans Am with the production number of
203668 instead of
- June 11,
2006- I received the reproduction T-top sun shades from Year One
(taking advantage of one of their 10% off sales). The shades are in tan
color and the difference in interior temps during the day while driving with
and without the shades in place is
- June 15, 2006-
The Trans Am springs a leak. I'm slowly losing coolant near the
firewall, ala the oil cooler line on the '89 Formula 350. However, since
this engine / TA does not have the oil cooler installed, the problem is
similar but different. Not wanting to worm my way under the car for two
nights, I run the car up to a local mechanic. The problem is a leak in a
heater hose. $15 hose, two hours labor. I'm rolling again.
- June 20, 2006- Dad has the
car for a day. He decides it needs new brakes and rotors. He
installs OEM parts all the way around. Sigh. I would have told him to wait and
let me put the GM Durastop rotors and the Z-rated carbon / metallic pads all the way
around but he's my dad and he's impulsive like that. Since he picked up
the tab, I can't fault him too hard for doing it. New brake rotors and
pads all around for the old girl.
- June 22, 2006- the
incorrect dealer price window stickers for my car arrive. They are for
the 3668th Firebird produced in 1986, strangely, it is a black Trans Am with
gray interior, LG4 engine, automatic, no T-tops and not much else. A
real plain jane kind of mass produced dealer-spec'ed TA. I'm still waiting on the correct window
sticker for my car.
- June 23, 2006- PHS sent me
the correct info on my car. The correct window stickers will, sigh, be
along at a later date.
- July 7, 2006- I received
the correct window stickers for my car. The car was originally sold
through Premier Pontiac Nissan, Inc. in Little Rock, Arkansas. She
retailed brand new for $18,868. Adding up the options and doing the math
by hand, based on John Gunnell's "Standard Catalog of Firebird," I had already
estimated that this car would have retailed, with the options she had, for
somewhere in the high 18's / low 19's. I was right. The PHS stuff
is posted under the appropriate area.
- July 10, 2006- Curses!
The TA is starting to run hot and I'm smelling burnt coolant. Again.
This time it appears that the radiator is boiling over into the coolant tank.
Since everything else appears to be working properly, I'm guessing its a 20
year old thermostat gone bad. I get a new OEM 195 degree thermostat, gasket, and
both radiator hoses as well as fresh coolant. Just to check on a nasty
hunch, I pop the top of the radiator and prepare myself to see some kind of
brown / rust colored sludge. I'm, instead, pleasantly greeted by a
radiator that looks so clean, it could have been installed yesterday.
I've never seen a radiator this clean before in a car with this many miles on
it. Unreal. So, thermostat it is. I look at the "igloo" that
houses the thermostat and realize that if I don't want to say a lot of words
that will make Jesus cry, I'm going to have to take off the throttle body to
get to the two bolts holding the thermostat housing in place. I park the
TA, cover it in its tarp and cover, and plan the project for another day when
I have some time.
- July 31, 2006- I can't put
the TA off any longer; I've got to tackle the upstart thermostat problem.
So, marching out to the car with an armload of tools and a head full of
knowledge, and after an hour of basic work, in high humidity, at the end of
the day with overcast clouds, I carefully remove all the attendant hardware,
sensors and electrical leads that form the nostrils of this Firebird.
She's bare all the way to the intake plenum. I then manage to (carefully) knock
the throttle body off the plenum (with a resounding tap from the bottom of my
mighty fist) and I have (limited) access to the thermostat housing. A
mixture of WD-40, psychology and extreme profanity along with the torque
provided by a 9/16 ratchet manages to get one of the bolts (the front one) off
with some protesting and not a little effort. The threads on the bolt
don't look good and after I clean them they still don't look very good.
That bolt isn't going back into the housing, it's a future problem waiting to
happen. The rear bolt is kind of funky, it looks like someone drove a
screw bolt into the block then spun a nut down on top of it. It's one of
those inverted bolts that makes no sense being used where it is being used.
I'll be replacing the rear bolt with one identical to the front bolt when I
replace the thermostat. I also need to get a new throttle body gasket.
Taking a cue from the days when I owned a L98 powered Corvette, I look at the
back side of the throttle body and notice it is caked solid in black dirty
grit and the interior of the plenum looks like the inside of a chimney. Sigh. Time for some TB cleaner / solvent, a soft toothbrush
and not a little bit of elbow grease to clean it up. I'm hoping idle
quality improves somewhat, it is quite dirty. You also don't want to use
anything stiffer than a tooth brush on these TBs and if you take your TB off
with any kind of pry bar or screw driver, you're in for a special treat.
The TB is made out of aluminum and aluminum is a soft metal (choir sings
"duh"). Any cracks or creases you put into your TB are going to lead to
air leaks later. The intake of the plenum is also covered in a fine
layer of soot. I'd take it off and soak it but I don't have the gaskets
or the time right now. Or maybe I do. I might just get the plenum
gaskets tomorrow, yank off the plenum and soak both the TB and plenum
overnight to remove the buildup.
On a side note, I was almost surprised to see that there was no aftermarket
throttle body performance air foil in place. So far I've found the wrong
size factory wheels and tires, repainted rocker panels, missing body stripes,
missing factory decals, missing hard emblems, an aftermarket radio that
was gratefully replaced with the original unit right before I bought the car,
an AC conversion from R12 to R134A (a less efficient refrigerant used in a car
that has soooo much glass ... why?!), a really deep sounding Flowmaster
muffler complete with ugly-ass Pimp My Ride type ghetto chrome extension tips
(welded on or I would have unbolted them the day after I got the car), a K&N
air filter, and apparently a performance shift kit in the transmission.
The fact that I didn't find a TPIS fast pack set of goodies was just a little
bit of a disappointment and only reminds me that some real idiots owned this
car before I did.
Taking apart the air intake system down to the filter and canister (to wipe it
all out) makes me realize just how poor a design the intake air tract is on
the 1985 to 1992 "bottom breathing" Firebirds. No wonder the
V8 Camaros had more power, they had better air induction. How the engine
in the V8 Firebirds gets any
air at all is a miracle, let alone that it can get air that is any colder than
that available under the hood. I cleaned everything I could, made a list
of what parts I needed to replace (TB gasket, 2x thermostat housing bolts,
some tractor clips for the small coolant hoses, and perhaps some coolant hose
itself to replace the small pieces around the TB).
2, 2006 - Finished up the thermostat. It took about three
days and three hours total labor (spread over those three days) but that's
because I did the job in little bits, I didn't work very long on it each time,
I had to go get some spare parts to replace worn parts, and I cleaned and
remounted the throttle body in the process. I cranked the car, let it
idle and looked for leaks or problems. None existed so I ran the car
down the road. The temp gauge hovered well below the middle mark until I
sat for a while in the median of the highway and watched the temp gauge head
towards the middle point and a little beyond. I got back underway at
speed and the needle again began to fall towards 195 degrees. I'll run
the car to work tomorrow and see how she does.
3, 2006- Shade tree failure. The TA runs fine on the highway
but as soon as I pull into the parking lot at work, she barfs up about a
gallon of coolant through the reserve / overflow tank. Steam everywhere from the coolant bubbling in the
reserve tank and leaking green coolant all over the parking lot. Sigh. I've replaced the thermostat, the radiator is
clean enough to drink out of. Not kidding here, folks, no corrosion or
build up at all. The radiator looks like it just came out of the box and
was installed only yesterday. I sat at work and thought about the
problem, the layout of the cooling system, the components, etc. The car
runs fine and only barfs coolant after you park it and turn off the key.
I'm thinking there is an air pocket in the system. I'll take it to my
radiator specialist in a few days and let him look at it. Thinking that
the radiator cap might be old and not holding pressure, I go to Autozone and
buy a replacement cap that has a pressure release lever. The original
cap was rated at 15 pounds, this one is rated at 16 pounds. While I've
got some free time, I think of what else I can do to the car and I realize
that I'm just two miles from my exhaust artist, Jerry's Auto Repair Center,
which has been doing my exhaust work since 1984. This would be a perfect
time to run the car over and have the crew there "Unpimp
My Ride" by torching off those stupid ghetto exhaust tips and I might
can find some answers to my coolant problem. Total cost for "unpimping
my ride" comes to $74.47. Given what I have done to the cooling system,
the consensus is that I have an air pocket in the system since there is no
corrosion in the radiator and the thermostat is brand new. I'll work it
out tonight before dark.
I load up with coolant at the end of the day (I took a gallon with me just in
case ...) and head home. On the way home, I have to kick the car down
from low speed to pass someone. The car has never felt stronger.
The car doesn't run hot and when I park at home and turn off the key, I pop
the hood; no bubbling and no overflow. Maybe it was the cap after all.
It was a weird problem to be sure. Some notes here to add to my to-do
list. The throttle body coolant hose is cracked and needs to be
replaced. I need to replace the other small coolant hoses as well on top
of the engine. I didn't get a chance to replace either of the radiator
hoses but that's okay because I still want to yank the radiator and get it
tested just to make sure. When I do that, I'll swap in fresh coolant and
hoses top and bottom. During all of this I did learn what a crappy,
crappy, inefficient intake system these TPI cars have on them. It
consumes nothing but hot air and how it can even draw enough air to let the
engine breathe, I don't know. Looks like the SLP kit is in my future.
I was going to also drop in a Jet Stage 2 computer chip and lower temp
thermostat but since I needed the car this weekend, I didn't want to leave it
disassembled while the aftermarket delivered my goods to me. Maybe in a
few weeks I'll order the Stage 2 chip and lower thermostat. Oil change
is coming up soon as well. Make note on PDA to remind me when it's time.
One other nagging little problem that I am having is that the stock radio
doesn't always like to work. Sometimes when you crank the car, it won't
even power up (no clock display, power button doesn't work). Other times
the clock display will come on but be frozen. No buttons on the radio
work. Other times, the radio works fine. The subwoofers still
aren't hooked up either. Since the last owner did the stereo work
himself, I don't trust his labor. He also didn't put the center console
in like it should be so it's now canted a little bit to one side. I'll
yank the console when I get a day free and check the leads for the radio, see
if I can track down why the factory subs aren't working with the factory
radio. I need a replacement power antenna as well since the factory /
original one doesn't retract.
Also on the list of parts I'll be buying in the future for preventive
maintenance; I've got a worn V-belt on the air conditioning. Bad worn.
It's starting to sing like a bird and it's gotten really loud so time to
replace it in the next few days. I'll probably go ahead and replace all
the V-belts at the same time. V-belts. What a holdover from the
old generation but still kind of cool. I miss a serpentine belt but
there's just something ... cool about seeing all of those belt driven
accessories and those belts. I'm a sentimental fool for stuff like that.
Fine lines and hold over technology, a mixture of old and new, EFI and
V-belts. Poetry for the eye.
August 4, 2006 - Well, I ran the TA to work and back (about 70 plus
miles round trip) and she did fine on the highway. In town, she likes to
run a little bit hotter. When she gets to work at the parking lot, she
is venting a little steam from near the cap side of the radiator, the coolant
in the overflow tank doesn't have a bubble or burp to it. However, she
starts to leak coolant again, not much, just a steady drip-drip-drip that
drops perhaps two cups worth from somewhere under the lower air dam and in the
middle of the radiator. On the way home, she uses about an inch worth of
coolant from the overflow / reserve tank. I'll have to slide under her
when I get the chance and see where the leak is coming from.
August 7, 2006 - Another coolant hose leaking. I replaced all
of the coolant and heater hoses and the car runs fine. While I was at
it, I replaced a few V-belts that were looking a little worn. Yes.
V-belts. How old tech can you get other than V-belts except maybe a
carburetor. I don't know, I love a serpentine belt but when you pop the
hood and see all of those pulleys and belts, it kind of takes you back to the
way things used to be. TPI and V-belts, almost on the verge of
transcending. The 1980's; an era of constant evolution and change and
1986 was the crux of many changes for the Pontiac Firebird.
Wednesday, November 14, 2006 - Well, it's been a long while since I
updated mainly because not much has changed and nothing has gone wrong with
the TA. I fixed all of the coolant / leak problems but I honestly can't
remember the steps I took. Suffice to say, it didn't take much or cost
much and it's fixed. Most of the "new owner" deferred maintenance
seems to be behind me. I think I will replace the entire T-top gasket
set (on roof and tops) and the weather seal on the rear hatch come Spring (the
car leaks in heavy rain). Shocks, struts, and new
lowering coil springs should be dropped in within the next two to three
months. I just scored a factory dual electric fan setup off of a 1989
350cid TPI Trans Am on Ebay. It's some simple insurance against things
to come and should be plug and play with the existing hardware.
November 16, 2006 - I picked up a "wonderbar" from a 1986 IROC-Z
off of Ebay. For those who don't know what a "wonderbar" is, it is a
brace that connects to the steering area of the third gen F-body. Why
Chevy used these and Pontiac didn't, I can't tell you but they're plug and
play between the two corporate sibling rivals and since this is a known
weakness in the design of the third gen, you need to shore it up if you plan
on doing any serious handling (or autocross) with your car. Yes, I could
have gone with an aftermarket unit but this one was cheap and with a little
bit of cleaning, I'm sure it will do the job just fine.
Third Gen F-body "wonderbar"
steering brace / support
November 20, 2006 - Well, I just completed my third gen Pontiac
advertisement collection, with full dealer binders for each year (1982 to
1992), dealer pricing guides for each year, each advertisement that ran in
major magazines and some other small stuff. All of this will be part of
and contribute to The Speed of Heat book that I am writing. This stuff
is rich, I was lucky to be able to get a full set of the dealer materials,
especially almost 20 years later when most of this stuff was simply thrown
- Thursday, November 22, 2006 - I
forgot when I picked this model up but I had remembered it from my youth.
By the time that the Transformers and Go-Bots were popular, I was already
swinging wrenches and chasing women so I'm afraid that I can't tell you very
much about this model other than it was one of two models from Monogram in the
1980's that featured a third-gen Trans Am in the same color scheme that my car
originally came with. I picked it up cheap to display along with the car
at local shows. Of humorous interest is the fact that this is a 1985 /
1986 Trans Am but that it features the 1983 style 25th Anniversary Daytona 500
Trans Am Pace Car "aero" wheels (although gold in color). You can't see it at this detail level,
but at 1:1 scale (model box in hand), that's either a guy wearing a black open
face crash helmet behind the wheel or David Hasselhoff with a really, and I
mean really bad perm / afro. This model also comes with a decal for the
new style hood bird and if you look closely, a power bulge hood (though it is
greatly reduced in size from the normal PBH).
"A fearless fighter
of the future, this GoBots(tm) warrior can change from a mighty robot
into a sleek Trans Am." -
Golly jeepers! Says so right there on the side of the
Wow. I better go
check to see if my TA came with this rare high performance transforming
option... Now that you mention it, I think it would be pretty cool to be
sitting in traffic, in Lamar county, next to a pickup truck full of hayseed
chewing, Earnhardt worshipping, donkey-bangers when I flip a switch and my TA
transforms into a giant robot right next to them. Why, I'd bet they'd
either piss their overalls or swallow their chewing tobacco trying to get out of
the truck. Of course, it's not like my Go-Bot Trans Am could do a lot ...
it doesn't even have hands, just two big rectangles for arms and tail-lights for
kneecaps. What a gyp.
In other humorous news,
the old girl barked rubber again, hard, on the highway. JC and I were
going to lunch one day, exiting the on-ramp from highway 49 to highway 59 when
we had to come to an almost complete stop. Traffic on the highway was
preventing us from merging so I rolled along in the TA at about 5mph, idling.
I saw a break in the traffic and put the long, tall pedal to the carpet.
The LB9 roared under the hood and the front end of the TA lifted noticeably as
she shot ahead. The clocks were spinning as I gently moved over into a
four car-length slot in the traffic and when the TA shifted from first to
second, she shifted so hard that the rear end broke loose, tires barked and the
car slewed to the side noticeably. A big look of sudden surprise appeared
on JC's face then the biggest smile replaced it.
"Hell YEAH!" he said,
laughing. "I don't know what got into you but I wish you'd take it more
November 23, 2006 - My luck held strong when I scored a complete
set of new 1986 Trans Am owner's materials. These are the usual books
and pamphlets that are included with most new cars when they leave the
dealership and which usually become lost in the first few years of ownership.
I already had a owner's manual for this car but a spare never hurts.
Interesting stuff but I wonder ... the packet came with information on
Firestone tires but my car rolled on Goodyear Eagle GTs when it left the
factory. If anyone out there has any factory / dealer documentation on
the Goodyear tires, original issue, would you scan it at full size and send it
to me via email? Hell, if you want to sell it to me, I'll cough up a 5
or 10 spot for it just to be complete. Pictured below, from left to
right, top to bottom are; Pontiac wearables / collectibles catalog, Uniroyal
new tire information, Firestone new tire information, 1986 GM Maintenance
schedule, Delco 2000 series ETR radio instructions, 1986 Pontiac Firebird
owner's manual, and a copy of the one year MIC General $10,000 occupant life
(death) insurance policy issued by GM that year on all of its new cars.
The Pontiac / Firebird collectibles
brochure is hilarious and I'll try to scan it in shortly to share the mirth.
Think open shirt and gold chain with a Firebird medallion on a guy trying to
look tough for the camera. Shudder.
Original new Firebird
November 27, 2006 - I picked up an ADS SuperChip on Ebay, $36.00.
I don't even know if it works or not but the price was right and I was willing
to take the chance with some pocket change (whereas a new chip went for about
5 times that much). I still haven't had a chance to work on the TA any
due to work schedules and days free. I'll slide the new PROM in when I
get a chance. If nothing else, it gives me something to document in TSOH.
When I get it popped in, I'll let you know if it adds any "seat of the pants"
excitement or if it's performance that you had better measure with a good set
of instruments and a dyno. If I install the chip, that will bring the
total aftermarket mods of this car to four; K&N filter, unknown brand shift
kit in the tranny, Flowmaster cat-back and ADS chip.
Thursday, November 30, 2006 - The NP5 steering wheel is mine!
Yes! No more feminine / dainty steering wheel for this car!
No! Now I have the big, beefy optional steering wheel with thumb grips,
a wheel that SHOULD have come standard with the WS6 but no... When time
permits, I'll yank the old steering wheel and install the larger one.
I've seen these wheels go for upwards of $200 on Ebay but I was patient and
one of these finally popped up on Ebay for less than $50 (including shipping
and fondling) which is a bargain. Yes, it came with the horn hookup and
the Jesus nut. The NP5 steering wheel that I picked
up is in almost new condition (which is surprising). Now, if
there's one thing I can't stand on a sports car, it's a dainty little steering
wheel in a car that can burn rubber at the drop of the accelerator, or a
steering wheel that hurts your hand when you drive (ala my '86 Dodge Daytona
Turbo Z's steering wheel). I swear, the way I've been yanking and
jerking on the stock wheel in some late afternoon spirited driving, I was
honestly scared it was going to pop off the column or that I was going to bend
/ break it. Oh, well, at least once I get the chip (above) installed and
this new wheel, any time I go into Lamar county, I'll be better prepared for
the idiot drivers. That or I may just start to grow hair on the palms of
The optional NP5
steering wheel that I've been chasing for five months now
(one of the few options my TA didn't come with)
Saturday, December 2, 2006 - just got in a set of factory locking
lug nuts and key, the kind my TA came with from the factory but somehow failed
to retain in the past 20 years (they're probably sitting somewhere with the
original wheels my car came with). I probably won't use these lug-locks
other than to clean them up and have them for display but it's nice to have a
complete car after all, with all the correct parts that came from the factory.
That way, if I sell it, the next owner won't have to scramble around like I
have for six months. Yes, I'll have locking lug nuts on the refinished
16x8" factory wheels but they'll be aftermarket locks and brand new. The
set of factory locks is just for show / completeness and since I got them for
ten bux, the price was right as well.
December 4, 2006 - I pulled into the local SONIC drive-in to grab
some lunch. A bunch of kids were standing around their cars, mostly
Hondas and other plebian imports that the youth today like to try to hot rod.
As I slowly pulled towards them, one of the kids turned to look, then quickly
elbowed his friend who also turned to look and I heard him tell me as I slowly
drove past "Man! That car is bad-ass! I love the sound!"
Thursday, December 21, 2006 - I found a private collector who was
willing to part with the entire series of Pontiac Dealer Product Manuals along
with the accompanying yearly official dealer price guides. Now I have
the complete third gen library of official material on these cars, listing
colors, options, rare models like the Mecham MSE and the Recaros, options
available, prices for cars and options and a wealth of other information.
The asking price? About $50 a year puts you close to what I spent but it
was worth every penny (at least to me). Not only will this help me finish up
some details in the book I'm writing, but this collection may also help me
answer the odd question people tend to ask me in email (like "Hey, BE ...
I have a 1988 Firebird and I was wondering what RPO code WSL was ...? No
one else knows. Can you help me?"). Once my book is published, I
may scan and post the relevant Firebird material from these PDPMs as an
addition to the material that will already be found in my book.
December 29, 2006 - Curses! I got off early from work today
(because of the impending holiday) and since it was bright and sunny, and
since the temperature was such that I could take the T-tops off, air out the
TA, and do it all while wearing nothing heavier than a T-shirt for the drive
home, I took the chance to do some open air motoring. Just as I put the
second T-top into the bag and went to close it, the zipper pulled away,
intact, from the bag material itself. Grrrrr. Oh, well. Time
to take the bag to the local saddle shop and see if they can work some magic
on 22 year old material. I have a spare T-top bag I picked up on Ebay a
few years ago but it is a later model bag that doesn't have the "GM" logo
stamped into the material. I'll probably try to save this bag then put
it up and only display it at car shows. The other bag, from a parted out
GTA, should work fine for normal use. As for the trip home, it was
great. The fresh air blowing in through the open roof, the windows down,
the LB9 growling in cruise control and people passing me on the left waving
and nodding at the car. It even got two new fans at the Oloh Chevron
where I stopped to top the tank off so my wife could use the TA for the
weekend. I spent ten minutes talking shop to a man and woman who walked
up to admire the car after they had finished filling up their white Denali.
Oh, and just to rub it in; remember, I'm in a black T-shirt, driving a 1986
Trans Am, T-tops off, windows down, at 70 plus miles an hour, at the end of
December. It's good to live in the deep South. All of you who are
reading this right now and looking out your window at two feet of snow ...
sucks to be you.
Saturday, December 30, 2006 - On a whim, I picked up a set of 33
issues of Popular Hot Rodding off of Ebay, spanning the years 1984 to 1994.
It cost me 10 bux plus some shipping and fondling. For those ten
dollars, I managed to get spare copies of several road tests for the third gen
cars, including one I already had (that was in poor shape) and one (a Pontiac
Formula vs. Mustang LX heads-up comparison) that I was looking at on Ebay to
bid on (for the sale price of ... ten dollars). So, for ten dollars, not
only did I get the article I was looking for, but the entire magazine, a
pristine copy of another article I already had, and 32 other magazines to
reminisce with. Reading these magazines, the letters in them from
frustrated owners of new third gens (and other high-tech computer controlled
'80's wonder cars) makes me remember a time when there were very few parts for
our cars, when almost no one knew how to work on them (not even the leading
magazines of the era) and when, in one year, going from a stock 150 horsepower
to a stock 190 horsepower was considered monumental. 190 horsepower!
Kids who were teenagers when the LS1s were around don't know how good they had
it. Ah, the memories... some of these magazines were ones that I used to
have and read during high school. It's a trip back in time to see old
advertisements for Rhodes lifters, PAW, Wholesale Automotive, Banks, Ranchero
Suspension, etc. The perfect end to an almost perfect year; sitting down
in my favorite chair with some hot chocolate, the wife and child are tucked
away in bed, I have one lamp on and I'm thumbing through the stack of PHR,
bumping from reader's letters that I remember to advertisements that I liked,
as a teen.
March 18, 2007 - The one year anniversary of owning the 1986 TA.
I've put over 10k miles on her in the last year mainly because she's a fun car
to drive. T-tops off in the morning, drive 35 miles to work.
T-tops off in the afternoon. Drive 35 miles home. The CBR600RR is
gathering a lot of dust lately.
June 5, 2007 - Crap. I just discovered a one inch tear in the
side bolster of the driver's side Recaro. It's my fault. I'm going
to have to get a little creative to not only fix it but also to build up the
area around the tear (on both sides) so that this problem doesn't occur again.
The bad news is that Recaro seats are not only rare but they sell for a king's
premium if you can find them on Ebay. The good news is that the cloth
pattern really isn't that fancy (not like the multiple "Ruffles" ridges seen
in the later Firebird seat designs) so a competent upholstery shop should be
able to repair this tear easily.
June 8, 2007 - I finally got off my butt and ordered the suspension
parts for the old girl. Coming soon from PST are:
Performance Polygraphite front end rebuild kit (includes polygraphite front
sway bar bushings)
Hotchkiss coil spring set (x4) - will lower the car about 1" to 1.5" all
around for a more aggressive stance
Weld-in subframe connectors to tie the subframes together and strengthen the
structure (especially with the T-tops)
KYB front struts / rear shocks
Rear polygraphite sway bar bushing kit (24mm)
I was going to go ahead and order larger front and rear sway bars (the stock
ones are 36mm front, 24mm rear) but PST didn't carry anything near the size of
the stock bars. I'll try Hotchkiss for the sway bar upgrade. I'll follow up with a Hotchkiss complete rear suspension, adjustable panhard rod, aftermarket
torque arm and a front strut tower brace in the months to come.
My goal right now is to get the old girl back to handling like she was new,
repaint the ground effects, restore the factory decals and mount the original
16x8 wheels with correct rubber before September 2007.
Saturday, June 9, 2007 - I finally removed the dinky Firebird
steering wheel and installed the optional (for that year) leather wrapped
Trans Am steering wheel. The feel between the two wheels is like night
and day, the larger wheel really is the better one to use in these cars,
especially if you intend to throw her around any corners or road courses.
The finish on the wheel is a little faded but a local shoe / luggage repair
shop said they would re-dye the wheel and repair the slight damage to the
leather wrapping for $10. Deal.
June 19, 2007 - The parts arrived from PST in three very heavy
boxes. I threw all three into storage and locked them up. I'm
glad that they do free shipping to the continental US. That's some
serious weight to ship...
Wednesday, June 27, 2007 - after losing a bid on a red factory 1988
Formula power bulge hood on Ebay, I hit the Internet looking for a hood.
By some twist of fate, I wound up on Craig's List where I found a 1983
Crossfire Injection setup and functional hood.
After some email bartering, a deal was struck for $350 including shipping and
fondling. I only purchase the hood, leaving the CFI setup behind as I
have no use for it other than as a desktop decoration...
July 27, 2007 - Well, I got gypped and it's taken me over a
year to realize it. Yeah, yeah. You will remember that I picked up
a set of four factory aluminum wheels off of Ebay right before I purchased the
TA? Well, the 16x8 wheels used from 1984 to 1992 require specific
off-sets, that is, you have front wheels and rear wheels and they aren't
interchangeable. I knew this. When I purchased the wheels, I knew
this, but part of me assumed that I had bought / been sent a full set of
wheels so I only gave them a cursory glance to make sure they weren't dented /
dinged up then I threw them into storage and forgot about them for over a
year. When I was getting ready to have the wheels I bought on Ebay
stripped and powder coated, I had a dark little thought go through my mind ...
I saw that the inside was stamped "REAR" and I said to myself ... "do I have
two front and two rear wheels or a mixture?" I turned the wheels over
and ... sigh ... CRAP. Each wheel had "REAR" stamped into the backside
of the wheel flange. I had purchased four rear wheels which meant that
somewhere, out there, someone had also purchased four front wheels (and were
probably thinking CRAP as well when they discovered their predicament).
Maybe the seller had two sets and got them mixed up, maybe the seller was sold
these wheels and didn't know that they were a mismatched set. Or maybe
the seller did know... let the buyer beware.
Luckily, I had made an Internet contact with a man who had a complete set (two
front, two rear) wheels, 16x8, in the correct year pattern and the wheels were
also already the way that I wanted them (aluminum finish with black paint in
the vents). Richard was kind enough to ship them to me and problem is
solved. Maybe I'll get a thick piece of glass and use the four rear
wheels to make some art deco coffee table... Important note to all
newbies upgrading from 15x7 to 16x8 (or larger) and using the factory wheels
to do so. Make sure you get a complete set (2 will be marked "FRONT" and
two will be marked "REAR", stamped in the aluminum on the back of the rim).
It's my fault, really. I got the wheels in and I assumed (uh-oh) that
the seller knew what he was shipping me. I don't know if it was
malicious or accidental but the end result is the same; I have two too many
rear wheels and two too few front wheels. No problem, it happened and
like always, I landed on my feet and got what I wanted to begin with.
All in all, even given the mistake with the first set of wheels and the cost /
shipping of the second set, I still managed to get a complete set of near mint
wheels in the correct color for less than the cost of a single replacement or
refurbished wheel from some companies or even the cost to powdercoat the beige
colored wheels to the more natural aluminum finish with black painted vents.
Lesson learned. Lesson passed on. Recovery complete (with flying
Thursday, August 2, 2007 - the correctly matched (F/R) set of 1986
factory 16x8 wheels arrived and are in great shape. Since these wheels
are the aluminum finish with black paint in the vents (the way I wanted the
other wheels to be painted), I won't have to do anything but clean them up a
bit, slap new rubber on them and mount them on the car. Thanks again,
Richard, for your help in this project crunch.
August 14, 2007 - the power bulge hood
arrives. It is black and, save for some rust on the underside, in near
perfect condition. It is also gloss black, the same shade as my car and
the paint is very, very good (with one ugly mark where the paint wrinkles for
about an inch and a half near a crease). Here are some pictures of the
hood being shipped, being cleaned up then installed on the '86 TA. I'll
still get it stripped and repainted when I paint the ground effects, going
back with a standard factory OEM style louvered bird decal for the scoop (in
Wednesday, August 15, 2007 - the passenger side driving light
burned out. Cost to replace? $52 plus shipping and fondling.
I order four, it's just better to replace them in pairs and I like having a
spare backup. These lights won't be produced forever, hell, I'm lucky I
found someone still making them. By the time the next light burns out, I
may not be able to get them. Ditto for the headlight motors. I may
buy a couple of those as spares. I saw a guy who was offering third gen
headlight motors with a metal gear instead of the nylon gear.
Thursday, August 16, 2007 - unpacked the '83 power bulge
hood and began to prep it. A cusp brush and
power drill makes short work of the surface rust. Black primer and rust
converter goes on next. I'll order a replacement '83 hood insulation mat
to complete the installation in a few weeks.
Saturday, August 18, 2007 - prepped and coated
hood is installed. If the car turned heads
before, it really does now. The hood really compliments the lines of the
'85 to '90 TA body style (less so on the later "Batmobile" / Banshee style Firebirds).
Whether or not I keep it on the TA is another matter for discussion.
I'll probably repaint it, put the decal on it, then hang it from my garage
wall behind where I park the TA and switch back to the flat hood for shows and
casual cruising. Four bolts and the deed is done / the switch is
September 4, 2007 - I've developed a rather annoying rattle under
the hood. It could be a bearing in the alternator or another accessory.
The rattle starts at idle and sounds like someone sticking a playing card in
the spokes of a bicycle. If you give the TA gas, the rattle goes away at
anything above 1800 RPM or during the adding of power / throttle. Once
the engine RPM falls below 1800 RPM, the rattle returns. Since the
rattle doesn't increase with engine RPM, I believe that the problem is either
something loose under the hood or an accessory / belt about to give up the
ghost. I'll look at it Saturday morning. I still need to look for
one or two pieces of the rear interior panels as mine have been faded and
destroyed by the sun (the carpet has faded as well which is why I'm going to
go ahead and redo the interior). I've got a line on a few sets of
replacement panels (the one behind the driver's side seat can literally be
scraped apart with your fingernail, it has become that brittle with UV
exposure over the last two decades.
Thursday, September 6, 2007 - The "rattle" under the hood appears
to be the smog pump having given up the ghost. I purchased a new smog
pump from Discount Auto Parts for $50 and the new belt brought the total to
just over $60 tax and all. I took my Gerber EZ-Out folder and sliced the
old belt. No more rattle under the hood. I'll replace the smog
pump and new belt the first chance I get.
September 18, 2007 - the suspension parts are scheduled to be
installed. This includes a complete front end rebuild kit from PST along
with all the other front end and steering geometry pieces, KYB shocks and
struts, Hotchkiss performance lowering coil springs, and PST weld-in subframe
Wednesday, September 19, 2007 - Fresh P245/50ZR16 tires
mounted on the correct 16x8 inch factory aluminum wheels are installed.
Combined with the suspension rebuild, the car rides and drives like it was
October 5, 2007 - the interior parts that I PayPal'ed someone for
have yet to arrive. When I questioned the seller, they said that they
would give me a refund. Two weeks later, no refund so I've turned them
into PayPal as a non-delivering sale. It's only $50 but still, I can't
abide a thief so I hope that Karma is rather swift in dealing with this
particular individual. A few days later, I managed to track down the
person's wife on the Internet. An email to her about the situation got
me a prompt refund through PayPal. The quest continues for replacement
interior "hips" for the passenger and driver's rear side of the car.
Thursday, December 11, 2008 - Over a year has passed in what seems
a blink of an eye and I've done nothing with the car but accumulate parts.
Every time I think I'm going to have time to restore this old lady something
comes up and takes that time away. I've probably put 400 miles on the TA
in the last year and she does nothing but sit under a tarp in my garage, with
Damp-Rid(tm) packs scattered throughout the interior. I crank her once
every two weeks and take her for a spin every month, T-tops off to blow out
the interior, just to keep the fluids circulating in the engine,
differential, transmission, cooling system and AC. I managed to pick up
another set of factory wheels and center caps which will make the resto easier
by allowing me to ship the loose wheels off to be refinished while I keep a
good set on the TA. I picked up some interior parts as well, a
complete black plastic set but it was from a car with shoulder belts so I've
still got to find two black colored rear passenger 'hips' for the interior.
The smog pump still hasn't been installed either... still in the box and the
smog pump belt is still in its plastic bag stored in the center console.
2009 to June 2011 - I did absolutely nothing to the Pontiac
during this time. Thought about selling it but then Pontiac
Motor Division was killed off by General Motors thus ending any loyalty that
I might still retain for The General and pretty much assuring my switch to
FoMoCo as a future car buyer. I ripped the interior out of the TA,
fixed some spot rust on the roof T-bar, left only the driver's seat and
driver's seat belt still in the car then put the Pontiac into deep storage
and basically forgot about it. I bought a '91 Z07 Corvette in March of
2009, fixed it up, played with it for two years and then basically got bored
with the Vette in quick order. In a bid to simplify my life, I sold
the Z07 Corvette in June of 2011 and decided that it's time to get back on
the '86 TA. One toy is enough.
July 1st, 2011 - Moved the '86 TA from deep storage back
into the garage. The battery was dead and I had to put some high-test
into it but she fired up and drove fine. Changed the fluids, did some
basic maintenance. The inspection sticker is several years out of date
and the tag is long ago expired. Guess I'll get those taken care of
this weekend. I won't be driving it very much with only a driver's
seat and single seat belt in the car so the interior is going to be the
first thing that gets restored, followed by paint, decals and refinishing
the wheels. See the pics here for what
she currently looks like. I decided to put the stock '86 hood back on
her as well. Still haven't gotten the SFCs installed but I'll need to
before I get her painted. The company that I was going to use to
install the SFCs went out of business two days after I made an appointment
with them. Go figure. If anyone knows of a good place in south
Mississippi that can install weld-in SFCs on a third-gen F-body, let me
know. I'd even be willing to drive to Louisiana or Alabama if need
be. You wouldn't think it would be this hard to find a shop that would
do this work but no one around here wants to handle the work.
Friday, September 14, 2012 - Things escalated quickly for me and
I saw a break in my chaotic life that I could ram the Trans Am through.
So ... after six and a half years of basically being a garage queen the TA
got ... no, not sold. Hell no. No, the TA got packed up and
rushed up to my favorite body shop with all the parts and I told the guy who
has been painting my cars since I was 15 (I'm 43 now as of this writing),
the same guy who painted my '79 "Bandit" TA way back in '86 when I was a
senior in high school, that I wanted the TA restored. Dad kept asking
when I was going to get the damn TA put back together and I kept telling him
"soon." Well, "soon" just happened on by and I hopped on board.
Here are some pics of the TA
being loaded up. I drove her to the shop with the T-tops off and only
a single seat inside.
Wednesday, September 26, 2012 - Year One had a one day "cyber"
sale so I ordered about $600 worth of parts at a 25% discount ... not a bad
deal. The parts included a new 8 piece T-top gasket set, new
weatherstrips for each door, new weather strip for the rear hatch window and
a set of gold decals to finish her off.
November 1, 2012 - the shop called and said the TA would be ready
that afternoon. I stopped by the shop later and found that most of the
interior and the rear aerowing spoiler was not installed. The shop
apologized and said that the TA would be ready tomorrow.
Friday, November 2, 2012 - I called the shop to see if the TA was
ready ... it was ... except that the rear aerowing still wasn't on the car.
The shop said I could have the TA for the weekend and drive it around but it
would be Monday before they could get the aerowing back on. I told
them that I would wait.
Monday, November 5, 2012 - I called the shop and the TA was ready
but the decals had just been applied and a cold snap had moved through the
area along with rain. I didn't want to get the new decals and paint
out in cold water the first day after I got it so I told the shop I would
pick the TA up the next day.
Tuesday, November 6, 2012 - I picked up the TA and ran it home.
The speedometer is still about ten miles an hour off on the high end so I
set the cruise control at 80mph and pointed the nose west. A few cars
and trucks passed me but they slowed down when they topped a hill near the
Marion county line and got tagged by a state trooper sitting in a blind spot
on the other side. I never touched the brake ... I figure I was doing
about 70mph in a 65mph zone but I couldn't be sure. Anyway, he didn't
even blink and not a care was given on my part as I continued on home.
Went and voted and hoped for the best. That didn't happen. The
next four years are going to be interesting, if the country survives.
Wednesday, November 7, 2012 - Took the tops off and went to pick
up the girls at school. I noticed that the TA is running hot ... a lot
hotter than it normally should. I hear the electric cooling fan kick
on so I know that's working. One look under the TA spots the problem
right away ... when the shop removed the ground effects to paint them, they
removed the front air deflector as well. Since Pontiac, in its quest
for aerodynamic superiority, closed off the front of these cars completely
they are total bottom breathers. There is no way that the radiator can
get any air moving across it unless the air deflector is installed.
Thursday, November 8, 2012 - I call the shop and have them look
for the missing air deflector. They say they will call when they find
it. The TA also has a charging
problem. I charge the battery but the load is too much. At
night, my headlights dim and pulse when I start to slow down. Giving
it some gas makes the headlights brighter. The turn signals are a lost
cause, turn them on and they either blink three times a minute or ...
slower. The battery isn't that old so I run the TA to Autozone.
They can't really check the battery so I opt for buying a new alternator and
a pair of pneumatic hood lift struts. I'll put all of that on
tomorrow. I pull a night shift from 7pm to 3am.
- Friday, November 9, 2012
- The day of fun and hell. I wake up at 7am to see the girls off to
school. I hit my smart phone and snooze for an extra hour. The
alarm goes off and I snap out of bed, throw on some work clothes and hit the
garage to change out the alternator in the TA. The shop calls.
They found the air deflector. My father is coming over to help me work
on the house some today so he's going to stop by the shop on his way and
bring me the air deflector. The girls have a 60% day which means that
I have to pick them up by 12:30 and 12:50. The struts on the
hood failed a while ago so I prop the hood open with a stick (if you have a
third gen F-body, you have a "hood stick" ... you may not use it, but
you have one just in case and for when you do have to change hood
lift struts ...). I prop the hood and change out the hood lift
struts ... 5 minutes, no sweat.
Sometime about 8:30 I've got my Ipod rocking and I've taken the alternator
off of the TA. Right below the alternator is the smog / AIR pump that
hasn't worked in 5 years (mainly because I cut the belt that drives it
because it was locked up or screaming or whatever else goes wrong with that
piece of equipment). The entry on the smog pump failing is dated
09/06/2007 ... it's been dead a long time under the hood. I go
over to the parts shelf and find the replacement AIR pump and the belt that
goes with it.
Looking at my watch and judging my time and
logically thinking like a wrench swinging set of testicles bearing guy
("hey! It's just another layer down in the motor ... a few more bolts
to loosen, a hose or two to hook up, no problem!") I decide that with about
three and a half hours before I need to be finished I am going to replace
both the alternator and the AIR pump ... if I don't then I've got to remove
the alternator again, later, to get back to the AIR pump. It's now or
later and even though I'm strapped for time I choose now with humorous
results. Everything comes off pretty easy, the stuff that doesn't gets
hit with PB Blaster and it comes off. I break off an adaptor for my
ratchet but manage not to strip any bolts, round off any heads or bust any
knuckles. I've got blankets and towels covering the nose of the TA and
my back is killing me bent over in what can only be assumed the "party
position" if I swung the opposite way that I do. I'm sure it made a
pretty funny sight, me spread eagled and buried up to my elbows in the guts
of the TA's hood while people jogged past or drove past. And then I've
got the AIR pump on and ...
How the hell do I ... ? What are these extra parts for and OMG why
didn't I take a picture of this as I went. Doh (said in best Homer
Simpson voice). I take a break, drink some tea, pull up a folding
chair and sit and think. My mind has suddenly gone blank ... I've got
brackets and adaptors and bolts and I can't remember how they go back on.
After a two minute self-pity / man panic period where I listened to Shotgun
Messiah's "Heartbreak Boulevard" all the way through I take a deep breath,
go into my study and grab two books off of the shelf ... the 1986 Pontiac
F-body Shop Manual and the 1986 parts catalog ... both with lots of
pictures, exploded diagrams, and basic instructions on how to take #$#I&
apart on these cars and put that #$#I& back together again. If you
don't have these two books when you start to work on one of these cars
you're probably screwed ... like that first night at county lock-up kind of
screwed. I take the two manuals back outside, flip through them, find
the appropriate diagrams and then in a flurry of wrench swinging I reinstall
the alternator and supporting hardware. I literally shut the hood,
crank the car, it starts and idles normally, then Fast Orange my hands and
arms, run inside, throw on a fresh shirt, spritz some cologne on, hop in the
TA, power out of the garage and tap the garage opener closed as I leave.
I pick up the girls in time and notice that the TA is running hot ... again.
I've still got the air deflector at home but didn't have time to put it on.
Also, later in the day the electrical problem returns, even with the new
alternator so I figure it's the battery. The old alternator probably
killed the battery. My girls go spend the weekend with my parents so
Cindy and I have a night to ourselves. We go out for dinner with my
parents and our girls then head back home and I'm convinced that the way the
lights of the TA are acting it has to be the battery.
- Saturday, November 10,
2012 - Cindy and I take the TA out to breakfast at Huddle House
then I run it over to Autozone. They test the battery this time and
determine it is a bad battery. The battery is only two years old so I
get a free replacement. I buy new bolts as well and swap the battery
out. No more charging problem, it's nice to pull up at a stop light or
stop sign, turn your blinker on and actually have it work correctly (i.e.
"blink" about 30 or more times a minute). The AC is low so it's not
blowing cold but since it's that crappy R-134A I can replace it when I get
the chance. The compressor seems fine, it spins and cycles just no
cold air. The air deflector still isn't installed and the TA runs hot,
like 240 plus degrees. I take the TA home, park it, pop the hood and
let the engine cool. A little XBox (Halo 4) and a quick nap lets the
engine cool. I wake up, head back out to the garage, ramp the front
wheels, chock the rear and clean up the air deflector. I disassemble
it, wash it, dry it, paint the bolts, reassemble it and then crawl up under
the TA to install it. I have twelve bolts to reinstall it. They
are all the same size bolts, brand new (I guess the shop lost the original
bolts and just gave me new bolts when they returned the spoiler). I
mount the spoiler and install the six center bolts no problem. Then
... problem. The other six bolts, three on each side, are much smaller
in size. I find one bolt partially screwed into the retaining clip and
thank God for small blessings. I compare the bolt that I have to the
one I found stuck in the ground effects ... no comparison, the outer three
bolts are more like trim screws. Great. I tell Cindy the
situation, hop on the '04 CBR and ride a mile up to Autozone to get some
screws that match. Ten minutes later I'm back under the TA and the air
deflector is installed. I clean up and take Cindy out for pizza at R&K
Pit Stop in Foxworth. It's a good little drive and the TA not only has
no charging problem but it runs amazingly cool ... like 160 degrees ... all
The TA still has a burned out driving light - passenger front and if there's
one thing I can't stand it's a car with a burned out driving light. I priced
a few replacements and ... sheesh, they're proud of them. Passing
through Walmart that night I see a pair of high intensity driving lights,
the correct shape and size, for $20. Let's see ... I can get two, better, driving lights
with full wiring for $20 or I can replace one driving light with the same
kind for $49. I take a chance and buy the driving lights at Walmart.
I'll get them on when I can. Maybe I can just splice them into the
factory wiring harness ... I'll have to check their load and compare it to
how the factory driving lights are set up. One thing I will change is
the fact that when you flip your headlights to high beam the driving lights
go out ... whose dumb idea was that? Let's see ... you have headlights
and driving lights but when you really need a lot of light thrown in front
of you we're going to automatically cut off two of your lights and just
brighten up the main lights. I guess they didn't want you blinding
anyone with the driving lights ... sometimes GM did some things that just
made you scratch your head and wonder if automotive engineers had ever
ridden the short bus before GM hired them.
Oh, well. Air deflector reinstalled.
Cooling problem solved. Alternator and new battery installed. Charging problem solved. AIR pump
replaced. Not a bad weekend so far. Now I just have to go from
front to back and replace every single #$%^&*@#! ounce of fluid, every
#$%^&*@#! filter and check everything mechanical (linkages, etc.). I
also need to get the parking brake fixed (you can yank it up but it's not
holding anymore and another thing I can't stand is a vehicle that doesn't
have a working emergency / parking brake). The AC is going to need to
be charged before spring and summer but I've got time. I've got a dual
electric fan setup in storage (taken from a 1988 TA with a 5.7 liter TPI
motor) that I want to drop in with a toggle switch for those hot summer
nights spent cruising, I want to yank the stock radiator and replace it with
a newer modern replacement and I want to tune her up. I think she's
missing a little. I know I haven't changed plugs in her and I've had
her six years now. It's time for a good bit of TLC. Come spring
I think I'll drop in a JET Stage II computer chip that lets me run a cooler
thermostat . I've got to get another T-top storage bag or I've got to
get the one I have a new zipper sewn into it. There's still the tear
on the driver's side Recaro seat that I'm going to get creative with.
The body is right and now it's time to get the motor back to top shape.
She doesn't smoke, she doesn't burn oil but she needs some love ... and
maybe a transmission mount because if I get on her more than a little hard
and she kicks down into passing gear the transmission sometimes "clunks"
under the car. I had the same thing happen on my old '90 Formula
Firebird and it was a bad transmission mount so ... After that, I
think I'm going back with all new Edelbrock Performer coil springs, KYB
shocks and struts and maybe a complete front to back Hotchkiss suspension
setup (sway bars, bushings, etc.). I've still got a pair of subframe
connectors (SFC) in storage but no one around here wants to put them on.
If they were bolt on I might do it myself but they're weld-on and I don't
have a rig. It's a lot to do but it's not a lot of big stuff because
the big stuff right now is optional. It's just a whole #$&%(#*& load
of small stuff that I've got to wade through and do as I can.
I've missed getting the TA back into the local show circuit ... missed three
shows that I know of plus the annual Cruising the Coast. I'll be
taking the TA to Deal's Gap later in the spring and running it on the Tail
of the Dragon. My car club is hibernating right now (yeah,
hibernating, in Mississippi!) and probably won't rear their heads or rides
until March sometime but by then there will be shows after shows. The
old girl is back and better than ever and I can't wait to get back in the
local show circuit.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012 - I ordered
an old, rare MPC 1985 Firebird model off Amazon ... The price was a
little bit steep at $40 but I missed buying one on Ebay for $50 a few weeks
ago and hey, $40 is a better price. This model kit is unopened and
long out of production. It should complete my collection of black and
gold 1985 to 1986 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am model kits. I'll be adding
this kit to my others on display in my office.
2012 - While at Big Lots in Hattiesburg,
I found another example of the cheap toy
gun set that has the third generation Firebird symbol stamped into the
revolver that is included in the set. Strange that the Firebird logo
from the 1980's would resurface as a symbol on a toy gun but ...