REMEMBERING THE THIRD GENERATION
by Christopher T. Shields
I remember the third generation of Camaro and Firebird quite well because the third generation started just two years before I received my driver's license. Here are some random memories and musings that I've tried to keep in chronological order.
My first introduction to the third generation F-body was Chris Moore's 1982 silver and black Pontiac Trans Am. It was a very early production Firebird Trans Am and as such, it was a LG4 car, automatic with T-tops. I doubt it was a WS6 car... I remember it had the turbine wheels with the aero wheel covers. What made it so unique in hindsight is that, IIRC, it was brand new (he just bought it from Dosset Pontiac in Hattiesburg, MS) and it did NOT have a power bulge hood, rather it had the flat Firebird style hood. Oh, it was a Trans Am, it had all the lettering and badging, right down to the rear pedestal type wing and the fender vents but it did not have the power bulge hood. I think these hoods were being saved for the TAs with the Crossfire Injection engines and only later were included with the LG4 engines but I could be wrong. Maybe it was a factory mistake. I could only find one picture from high school of Chris sitting with his girlfriend on the hood of the car and the view of the power bulge is taken up by his profile. Chris and I played basketball together in high school but that was about the extent of our friendship. I always liked his Trans Am but I never got to ride in it, we were about 3 years apart in age and Chris was kind of the high school Cassanova / all around cute guy with the girls. The last thing he had time for at his age was to pay attention to some kid three years his junior.
I was a freshman in 1983, still a year away from getting my license (I was only 14 years old). I remember 1983 because two more third gen F-bodies appeared in the high school parking lot, this time they were both Camaro Z28s. Deena, who was my age (and how she was driving at 14 without a license or learner's permit I don't know but her family had money so ... ), showed up with a beautiful brand new off-white cream colored Z28 with tan/gold underbody, a tan interior and T-tops. I think there used to be a Camaro Z28 colored just like it on a TV detective show (and I thought it was "Riptide" but I was wrong ... ). I can't remember what engine or transmission that Deena's Z28 had but it was a 1983 model and I think it was just a LG4 / automatic. That year, Michelle (a full year older and a grader higher than me) also showed up with a 1983 red with silver underbody two-tone Z28 that was graced with T-tops, the new for 1983 L69 5.0 liter High Output engine and 5 speed transmission. Throw in a 10 bolt rear disc posi unit and 3.73 gears and I was in love (with the car, Michelle would later marry one of my fraternity brothers and I would meet her again a few years down the road at USM). Her car was the color of the Z28 featured on the TV series "Simon and Simon."
1984 saw me purchasing my very first car: a used 1978 Chevy Camaro Rally Sport (350cid V8, 4 barrel Rochester Quadrajet, THM350 three speed automatic). The previous owner had upgraded the Rally Sport to a 10 bolt limited slip rear end out of a 1980 Z28 (rear drums, 3.55 gears), full factory sport instrumentation (tach and speedo), and the tire well factory spoilers (front and rear, including the deck lid of the trunk) all around from the same donor car. My '78 RS was a solid roof and the only solid roof F-body that I have ever owned. I felt claustrophobic when I was driving that car and longed for a Z28 or Trans Am with T-tops (and a 1977 Smokey and the Bandit Trans Am at that, hey, I was picky from an early age).
I remember Archie (a year older than I was and the next grade up) showing up with a brand new 1984 Aero package equipped Trans Am, baby blue on top with silver aero package. Two tone (which while I didn't like the color scheme the car was king hell awesome to look at). It, too, had T-tops and the L69 5.0 liter High Output engine with 5 speed stick. Archie kept the car for a few months then wrecked it one night while trying to outrun the Hattiesburg Police. He tried to take a T-intersection too fast and twatted up the '84 TA in a ditch. As he was crawling out of the wrecked car, the HPD grabbed him and helped him on out of the wrecked TA and into the back of one of their patrol cars. He was driving an old used Toyota pickup truck a few weeks later and that is what he drove until he graduated high school.
I remember 1984 for several things; I got my driver's license in June of that year, I remember the (then) new album by Van Halen (entitled, what else, but 1984), the birth of the Pontiac Fiero (a girl car if ever there was one), and the dealer brochure which showed my dream car (at the time), a black and gold full aero package optioned Trans Am with 5.0 liter L69 H.O. motor, 15 x 7 inch gold painted high tech turbo aluminum wheels, WS6 suspension, tan cloth interior and T-tops. I carefully removed that two page spread from the dealer's brochure and taped it to the wall of my bedroom, promising myself that one day, I would own that particular Trans Am. Short of the 1977 black and gold Special Edition TA, the 1979 black and gold Special Edition TA and the 1980 black and gold Special Edition Turbo Trans Am, the black and gold 1984 Aero TA was the sexiest thing on wheels, at the time.
I promised myself that one day, I would own this car.
My dream car (back then)
1984 saw me get my first real job (I had previously had a paper route since I was 11 years old and still carried the paper route through the end of high school when I moved away from H'burg in 1987). I started to work at R&M Foods' County Market, a huge discount supermarket that competed locally with the Jitney Jungle supermarket. I worked part-time (hell, I was only 15 years old back then, a time when you could start to work at a decent job at 15 years old and you could get your license at 15 years old but then 15 year olds were a lot tougher, smarter and more responsible than today's MTV and rap music educated 15 year olds). I used to love getting the grocery carts in from the parking lot because I would always look for sports cars, old muscle cars, etc. and trust me, there were a lot of those (back then) that pulled into County Market, mostly trophy wives in brand new Camaros, Firebirds, Corvettes, Mustangs or import sports cars that their husbands had bought them. It became a game to me to look at all of the Camaros and Firebirds that pulled into the parking lot. One of my favorite regular customers was a 1983 red and silver Camaro Z28 with T-tops, black interior and the LU5 Crossfire Injection V8. I remember seeing the little "CROSSFIRE INJECTION" engine callouts below the Z28 emblem on the side rocker panels and on the rear bumper and knowing that the hood louvers were functional. That particular car was just muscular looking, the early Z28's had a special stance all to their selves and I think it wasn't until 1984 that Pontiac got the TA right but that's okay... The Pontiac TA kind of sucked from 1982 to 1983 and the Z28 sucked from 1990 to 1992 (who in the hell at GM thought it would be a good idea to put a wing from a 1969 Trans Am on the back of a factory Z28?) so I guess it about evened out in the long run. Except for that funny IROC-Z business.
Our assistant manager at County Market was a hot head called Mixon. He married a vacuum skulled cheer leader just so he would have a better chance of getting a store of his own to manage, like he needed to be in charge of a store on his own. Mixon was a control freak and anal retentive to a fault. His wife was definitely a case of "body by Mattel, mind by Hostess" and we used to make fun of her when she bee-bopped into the store to bring him lunch or supper because she evidently wasn't that good a cook and he hated it when she brought him food that was inedible for anything that walked on two legs and some that walked on four. She wasn't hard on the eyes at all, but when you realized that her skull contained the world's only naturally occurring vacuum, it was kind of a let down. IIRC, she was like the head cheerleader at either the local high school or junior college which meant that when it came to designing rockets, she wasn't going to be on the roll call at NASA. I remember that Mixon drove a 1983 white Berlinetta Camaro with the digital dash, the radio on the stalk and a 2.5 liter four cylinder under the hood. It used to make me laugh because here he was, Mr. Super Serious and he had this four banger Berlinetta that he thought was the hottest thing on the road.
I remember there was this kind of hot MILF, named Roslyn, who was a cashier for the store. We are definitely talking MILF here and she not only flirted with the younger guys, she demanded their attention (a decade and a half before the word "MILF" even came into vogue). Well, one night, there was some party or something for the office workers of the store or the employees. I don't remember being invited so I didn't go but Mixon and Roslyn were there (this was before Mixon was married ...). From what I heard, Roslyn got drunk and needed a ride home so Mixon gave her a ride home. Innocent enough, until her husband found out and got extremely jealous. So jealous that he waited on Mixon and tried to run him and his Berlinetta off the road (using a full size pickup truck) and then showed up at work and used a baseball bat to beat the hell out of the Berlinetta. After that, Mixon started carrying a small .32 caliber revolver with him at work (since the jealous husband was an ex-Marine). We started calling Mixon "Marshal Mixon" after that due to his cowboy wannabe bad-ass talk. We joked that since he drove a Berlinetta, he couldn't be expected to afford a real six shooter. I mean, he had a .32 caliber revolver (5 shot) and a four cylinder Berlinetta and he went around thinking he was Rambo (a popular pop culture figure at the time). How bad-ass could you really be with a 5 shot .32 caliber revolver and a four banger Berlinetta? Jim Croce, if he had still been alive, would not have written a song about this guy, trust me. I remember him cleaning his little revolver one night in the office and I asked him if he had shot it yet. He said no. My thought, that went unvoiced, was "then why the HELL are you cleaning a revolver that you've never shot?" He really needed a chrome plated revolver with mother of pearl handgrips ... and chrome wheels on his Berlinetta but I guess his cheerleader wife spent all of his disposable income leaving him with little or nothing to reinforce his massive ego.
1985 was the year that James and his older brother John both bought third gens. James purchased a brand new black and gold 1985 Pontiac Trans Am, aerowing, gold cloth interior, top of the line radio, LG4, base suspension, 4 speed automatic and T-tops. I loved that car and was so jealous! Oh, we cruised around in that new TA with the T-tops off and the radio cranked. It was a Y99 suspension car but still, it would handle the curves. The 5.0 liter LG4 lost out big late one night to my '78 Rally Sport and its hopped up 350cid V8 on Airport Road during an impromptu street race just between friends. His older brother John purchased a used 1984 Z28, silver and black, with T-tops, the 5.0 liter L69 / 5 speed combo and some aftermarket speed parts already thrown at the mill. I can't remember what all the motor had done to it but I do remember that it had Hooker headers and some exhaust work, maybe a PROM chip and a new intake manifold; time dims all memories but I do know that John's '84 Z28 would dust James' '85 TA with little or no trouble at all. I never got a chance to race the '84 HO against my '78 RS with 350 but I'd have put down money that it would have been close, real close.
I remember 1985 as the first year of the Chevy Camaro IROC-Z. One of the higher end magazines, Car and Driver or Motor Trend, etc. did a test article on the IROC-Z and with the 5.0 liter TPI engine and 4 speed automatic, the IROC-Z would run a flat out 140 miles an hour in bone stock trim! That blew my mind (hey, I was only 16 years old and a car nut). I think my favorite IROC-Z I ever saw in person was a yellow IROC-Z with T-tops, black interior and the 5.0 liter H.O. motor with 5 speed stick. I saw this particular IROC-Z for sale, brand new, on a Chevy dealer lot up in Brandon, MS in 1985. It was a beautiful car with the "CAMARO" print seats. I fell in love immediately but the sticker price snapped me back to reality. There was no way that I could ever afford the car note on a new IROC-Z with the L69 engine, even if I traded in my '78 Rally Sport on it. After all, I was only a teenager, working at County Market there on Highway 49 South in Hattiesburg and I was happy to be making $3.75 an hour which at the time was a little more than minimum wage. I averaged about 18 to 24 hours a week so you figure what I had going into my pocket vs. what it would have taken to make a bank note on a brand new fully loaded Chevy IROC-Z. Yeah, is there any other reason why I took up street racing and doing other quasi-legal things for fun and profit at such an early age? I had needs and my job at County Market was just not buying them for me!
January of 1986 saw me driving my '78 Camaro Rally Sport to Star, MS to visit a young woman (three years my senior) that I was dating (among other things) at the time. I had a black and gold 1985 Camaro Z28 come up beside me on the highway. He had no engine callouts on his rocker panels or his bumper which meant he was either an LG4 car or either a L69 / LB9 car in disguise (several people I knew were taking their engine callout emblems off of their cars to trick the Mustang owners into thinking they had the lower powered LG4 engine when in reality they were packing the LU5 CFI, L69 H.O. or the LB9 TPI V8s. I was cruising down Highway 49 when this beautiful black and gold Z28 pulls up from behind me. He matches my speed, jumps ahead a little then looks over at me. I nod and we both step into it at the same time. We back off at a little over a hundred miles an hour with me pulling away from him. At the time, I had done a little bit of work to my 350, namely Hooker headers, true dual exhausts with turbo mufflers, a B&M shift kit in the tranny, custom ported heads, a Crane cam, double roller timing chain, Edelbrock Performer aluminum intake manifold (painted Chevy orange to match the rest of the Chevy orange painted engine) and a home-made dual snorkel air cleaner with twin air ducts just like the L69 H.O. engine came with. He honked his horn when I had started to pull away from him hard about 80mph and I was two car lengths ahead and still pulling when we shut it down. I liked the '78 Rally Sport and it was a good car, but I still wanted something more and even though the '85 had appeared to have been a plain Jane LG4 car, I still envied the looks of his third generation Camaro over my second generation car and the fact that he had T-tops.
Lucky SOB, I thought as I looked up at the fixed roof of my '78, feeling somewhat claustrophobic.
1986 also saw Chevy produce 50 very special IROC-Zs equipped with the 5.7 liter L98 engine straight out of the Corvette but they were sans air conditioning and were given to the press corps to flog. PR was positive for these cars and I thought then that the 350 should have been the engine these cars had all along. I remember reading several test articles in various magazines on the special big engine IROC-Zs and I kept wondering ... why hadn't a 350cid V8 been an option from the start?
The Summer of 1986 saw me sell the '78 Rally Sport and find the car of my dreams, a low mileage 1979 Pontiac Special Edition "Bandit" Trans Am which was sitting on a used car lot on the way to school. The car had everything I wanted... big 6.6 liter 403cid V8, four barrel carburetor, the shaker hood, the WS6 package with rear 10 bolt limited slip differential, four wheel disc brakes, THM350 three speed automatic transmission and most importantly, T-tops! I had a lot of adventures in the '79 which I kept from 1986 to 1993. You can read about some of my adventures on the Driver's Seat page.
My senior year, 1987, saw only two third gens at my high school; a red 1983 Pontiac Trans Am and a black and gold 1984 Z28 with T-tops and the 5.0 liter L69 / 5 speed power train. This Z28 was owned by a girl named Bridgett, an exotic hybrid of some American and possibly Polynesian ancestry which gave her incredible hair, naturally dark tanned skin and a natural beauty other women could only dream about having. The '83 Trans Am was powered by the LU5 crossfire injection engine, 4 speed automatic transmission and T-tops. The original wheels were long gone, having been replaced by some chrome five point American Racing or something like that wheels. I thought they looked hideous on the car. The Trans Am belonged to Hugh and I remember another friend, James, telling me that Hugh ran his car out of gas and that since it was fuel injected, the dealer had to do some repair work to it and re-pressurize the fuel tank. Even back then I thought that was a load of bull but in hindsight, he could have burned up his fuel pump which is what probably cost so much to repair / replace. I've done two fuel pumps in my time while owning third gens. If I have to give these cars an "F-" in any part of how they were put together, it was in GM mounting the fuel pump in the top of the fuel tank then putting the fuel tank up on top of the differential, meaning that in order to change out the fuel pump, you have to disassemble pretty much the entire rear under the car, drop the tank, replace the fuel pump then reassemble everything. Great engineering, there, GM... about as smart as putting a transverse mounted V6 in a Fiero and then asking someone to change the spark plugs that were next to the firewall.
1987 was also the year that Pontiac brought back the Firebird Formula as well as introduced the super heavy GTA (known affectionately as the "Great Tubby Am" or the "Love Boat Firebird"). Both the Formula and the GTA could be equipped with the new for that year 5.7 liter, 350 cubic inch Tuned Port Injected L98 and unlike the 50 test IROC-Zs the previous year, you could get your 5.7 liter TPI V8 with factory air conditioning. Of course, the new larger mega-motor only came with the four speed automatic transmission but the transplanted L98 soon grew to legendary status among third gen F-body owners.
I went off to junior college in the Fall of 1987. I attended Hinds JC in Raymond, MS for the Fall '87 and Spring '88 semester and I took my '79 Trans Am with me when I went. There I remember seeing several third gen cars, including my first introduction to a 1984 Fifteenth Anniversary Trans Am (5.0 liter L69 H.O. with a stick and 16 x 8 inch wheels though I didn't really like the factory "TRANS AM" decals on side of the car, I thought it looked too much like a throw back to the Schinella days of the second gen cars) and an earlier two tone gray Daytona Pace Car. There was a 1985 blue and gray TPI powered Trans Am with WS6 and T-tops and even an early third gen Z28 pace car (with T-tops and the LU5 Crossfire Injection engine).
While I was at Hinds, I found a nice 1984 Aero Trans Am for sale, black and gold, full aero package, functional hood, five speed and LG4, with T-tops and WS6! It was $10,000 at a local auto dealership and way out of my price range. I also found a used 1983 Pontiac Trans Am, black, no decals so it had been repainted. This one had T-tops and was powered by the LU5 Crossfire Injection engine and 4 speed automatic overdrive transmission. The interior looked ragged out and the engine smoked, despite a nearly pristine paint job. I let it go even though the dealer only wanted $4999 for it.
1988 saw me transfer from Hinds to Jones County Junior College. I don't remember very many third gens at Jones but I do remember one raven haired beauty with a tattoo of a little devil just below the waist line on her right hip. Her name was Sharon. She also had a beautiful 1985 black Pontiac Firebird SE, black cloth interior, T-tops, 2.8 liter MPFI V6, a 5 speed stick and aluminum wheels. I got to see plenty of both her tattoo and her car. The sight of her slamming through the gears in that car, tops off, long raven hair blowing in the wind, still brings a smile to my face today.
I remember seeing a yellow 1985 IROC-Z, black interior, 5.0 liter H.O. engine, 5 speed, T-tops, in somewhat worn condition, at the University of Southern Mississippi in 1989. The car had a Hinds county tag on it and I always wondered if the yellow IROC-Z I saw was the same one I had seen for sale brand new in Brandon all those years ago. It wasn't in very good condition and I always thought that it would be luck and fate if the car I saw then was the same one I had looked at and longed for all those many years before. I felt sorry for the car, if it was. It hadn't had a very good life.
1989 was the year of the Pontiac 20th Anniversary Turbo Trans Am and I got to see a brand new one, minus the door decals, a T-top with leather interior model, sitting on the showroom of Dosset Pontiac in Hattiesburg, MS. You didn't see very many of these cars and today, nearly 20 years later, you still don't. The tend to come in two varieties; extra nice or extra ragged out. You can still afford the ones in the latter category though putting them back into the first category will cost you a bunch.
The Spring of 1990 I found myself wanting a Firebird Formula, a nice black one with black interior, the LB9 engine, WS6 package, dual cat performance upgrade and a 5 speed stick behind it. Oh, yeah, and T-tops. I settled on a test drive of a base model Firebird with the 5.0 liter L03, 4 speed automatic and T-tops (plus ground effects). It was okay but I still didn't want to get a brand new car or have to pay a brand new car note and the base model Firebird with the aero package upgrade and L03 / 4 speed auto was still a lot more affordable than the 5 speed LB9, WS6 Formula would have been.
1990 was a strange year for the GT class sports cars. Ford switched their 302cid V8 from speed density to mass air flow metering and GM switched their 305cid and 350cid V8s from mass air flow to speed density metering for their fuel injection systems. Both companies claimed improvements in performance.
I remember that the IROC-Z died this year as Chevy lost their contract with the IROC entity so, like Shirley MacLaine, the Z28 had another reincarnation. This time, it came back with ugly hood blisters, fake ducts on the rocker panels and a big wing that would make any Honda Civic owner proud. All from the factory! The 1990 to 1992 Z28s, I thought, were ugly as homemade sin.
I remember that a professor I had for a health and nutrition class (stupid elective, IIRC), kept droning on and on about how he ate maybe one Pizza Hut pizza a year, how McDonald's was bad for you, etc. Standard liberal pansy health food nut. Well, he drove a very nice 1985 Pontiac Firebird S/E, 5 speed, with the 2.8 liter high output V6 in it. Red, with silver two-tone paint scheme and T-tops. I remember that he lived about three blocks from my parents and one day while I was going home on my '84 Interceptor, I saw him out in his front yard, smoking a cigarette and I laughed because I realized just how full of shit he was when it came to what he was teaching us. Liberals are like that ... do what they say, not as they do.
I remember a childhood friend of mine bought a 1990 Camaro RS, V6, automatic, T-tops, black with red interior. That was the year that Chevy updated the newer dash in the Camaros and it looked a hell of a lot better than the old style dash. 1990 was also the year of the air bag which meant bigger, thicker steering wheels (one of the things which I truly loved about my '79 was how the steering wheel felt). I also remember this friend taking his RS through a car wash up in the North part of the state, one of those automatic car washes and the chemicals it put on his car pretty much ate his clear coat right off. His car looked like crap after that. The GM clearcoat was a scary thing in those days, there were wild rumors and horror stories of paint jobs gone bad with just bucket and cloth washing in the drive way.
By the Summer of 1991, my '79 Trans Am had seen better days and was in dire need of both a motor and paint freshening up. Rather than sink any money into it, I lucked up on a 1989 IROC-Z, white, with gold cloth interior, 5.7 liter TPI motor, 4 speed automatic, all options and T-tops. I snatched it up because at the time I was dating a young woman who didn't like my '79 Trans Am (she had issues anyway, serious mental issues...). At the time, I was riding a 1984 Honda VF500F Interceptor and I wanted something nice to take her around in when we weren't riding the bike (she had a four door Oldsmobile and she was a childrens librarian so I guess you do drive what you are...). The '89 was great and a load of fun to drive. The 5.7 liter TPI motor had torque out the wazoo and I remember taking the car up to Flora, MS to see my girlfriend during the late part of Summer. There was a long stretch of road, straight away, two lane, you could see for miles and there was nothing on either side but flat cow pastures. I opened up that big 5.7 liter L98 TPI and let her really put her legs out under her. I shut it down after the speedometer edged past 145mph and I started to run out of road. That car was unreal. I had a personalized tag on the car which read "BADR NU" ("Badder Than You") and it was surrounded by a license plate bracket which said simply "NO SUBSTITUTE FOR CUBIC INCHES," a frame and tag which had previously graced my '79 TA.
I remember one humorous encounter late one night. I raced a 1987 Mustang GT, white, black interior, solid roof and a 5 speed car. The IROC-Z pulled on him hard after he tried to jump me leaving a light. When he did finally back down and submit, I caught his tag as he pulled off on a side street. It said "DIEROC." I laughed at that for a long while because one of the things he had seen when I pulled on him was my "BADR NU" custom tag.
That was the Summer after America's first Gulf War in Iraq. A lot of my friends were coming back from active service to college and had the spare money to buy nice things like sports cars. I had my '89 IROC-Z, another friend bought a nearly identical '89 IROC-Z with a 5.7 liter TPI engine as well but his car was stolen from his apartment complex a few weeks later (he never recovered it). The 350 powered F-bodies were hot and desired, I always worried that someone was going to steal mine but thankfully, no one ever did.
Another childhood friend returned from a stint in the Persian Gulf with the Navy. While he was stationed out in Long Beach, CA, he had purchased a brand new 1990 Ford Mustang LX 5.0, white with a black cloth interior, solid roof, 302 cid EFI V8 and four speed automatic. He bragged that he had taken his car to Saleen there in Long Beach and they had put in a new cold air kit, underdrive pulleys, a new computer chip and had swapped out his stock rear gears for some 3.73 cogs. I drove his car, it didn't feel very much different than stock. He said he paid Saleen $2000 for the work but all I could tell that they did was put a pair of "SALEEN" stickers on his side satellite windows. He kept talking the smack about how much his 302 EFI was better than my 350 TPI and one night, with my girlfriend in the car, I had him put his money where his mouth was. Even with my girlfriend in the car, I pulled on his "Saleen modified" LX 5.0 and waxed him by a good three car lengths on the street. When he asked me what mods I had, I told him I was bone stock, then I told him so was he. He didn't talk smack after that. $2000 worth of mods at Saleen, my Blue Oval ass.
Yes, I had fond memories in the '89 IROC-Z but, to make a long story short, the girl I was dating went psycho and walked out on me so I didn't need the '89 IROC-Z any more or the memories associated with it so I traded it in on a used 1988 red Corvette, L98, aluminum heads, Z51 handling package, tan leather interior and the quirky Doug Nash 4+3 speed manual transmission. I never regretted selling the IROC-Z for the Corvette...
The '89 IROC-Z was my first third gen F-body and it was my last for quite a few years but it was great while I owned it. Of course, the '88 Corvette kind of helped me forget about selling it but then that was to be expected.
The rest of the story? Well, I got completely out of sports cars in 1993, sold my '88 Corvette, sold my '79 Trans Am "Bandit" and sold my '80 Turbo Trans Am Pace Car. What did I do then? Why, I went right out and bought a brand new white / black with gold trim extended cab GMC S15 Sonoma (2.8 liter V6 TBI with 5 speed and all options, dark blue cloth interior) then put a brand new white and black with gold trim 1993 Honda VFR750F V4 powered sport touring motorcycle in the back of the truck. I thought I would try being practical and economical and frugal for a while, get a small V6 truck that was brand new, under warranty, and a new motorcycle and just have some king hell fun. I was tired of used vehicles and motorcycles so I went out and, fresh out of college, spent $20,000 that I didn't have and regretted it almost from day one. What I thought would be a change of pace became a nightmare of debt. In other words, I slaved myself to two big bank notes with a fresh out of college low income / newbie job. It seemed like a good idea, at the time. Get two brand new vehicles. That idea, while noble, went up like a lead balloon and within two years of owning the truck, I was wanting another sports car, which lead me back to Mazda and their first generation twin rotor powered RX-7s and a stint of import performance that would eventually give way again to domestic performance in the very last years of the 20th century. It took a while but I eventually came back full circle.fs
When I look back at the cars, trucks and motorcycles that I have owned, it amazes me that I've spent so much (money, time, effort) and had so much fun in the last 22 years of my life.
Between 1984 and today, I have owned the following vehicles in this order:
1978 Chevrolet Camaro
Rally Sport (350cid, 4bbl, 3 speed automatic)
1979 Pontiac Trans Am SE "Bandit" (403cid, 4bbl, 3 speed automatic, WS6, four wheel disc, T-tops)
1979 Chevrolet Corvette (370hp, 350cid LT1 (solid lifter, circa 1970), 4bbl, 3 speed automatic)
1983 Mazda RX-7 GSL (1.1 liter twin rotor, 4bbl, 5 speed, moon roof)
1986 Dodge Daytona Turbo Z (2.2 liter SOHC, EFI, turbo, four cylinder, 5 speed)
1980 Pontiac Turbo Trans Am Pace Car (301cid turbo V8, 4bbl, 3 speed automatic, WS6, four wheel disc, T-tops)
1979 Yamaha Exciter 125 motorcycle (single cylinder, clown bike, 70mph top end wide open, bought for $100 used)
1984 Yamaha RZ-350 motorcycle (two stroke twin, 6 speed, super hooligan machine with pro-built racing engine)
1985 Yamaha Maxim 400 (four stroke twin, 5 speed cruiser, utterly forgettable)
1984 Honda VF500F Interceptor (499cc liquid cooled, DOHC, 16v, 4x carb, V4 with 6 speed)
1989 Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z (5.7 liter TPI, 4 speed automatic, four wheel disc, t-tops)
1988 Chevrolet Corvette (5.7 liter TPI, aluminum heads, Z51 suspension, ABS, 4+3 speed Doug Nash transmission)
1993 GMC Sonoma S15 pickup truck (2.8 liter V6, 5 speed, rear ABS, boring)
1993 Honda VFR750F sport tourer (750cc liquid cooled DOHC, 16v, V4, 4x carb, 6 speed)
1984 Mazda RX-7 GSL (1.1 liter twin rotor, 4 barrel, 5 speed, moon roof)
1995 Kawasaki Ninja ZX-6R (599cc liquid cooled DOHC, 16v, I4, 4x carb, ram air, 6 speed)
1988 Toyota Supra Turbo (inline 3.0 liter six cylinder, DOHC, 16V with 5 speed, ABS, targa)
1986 Mercury Grand Marquis (5.0 liter EFI, 4 speed automatic, grandma car)
1990 Pontiac Firebird Formula (305 TBI, 4 speed auto, WS6, T-tops)
1988 IROC-Z (406cid Lingenfelter, 4 speed auto, four wheel disc, T-tops)
1999 Pontiac Grand Prix GTP (3.8 liter supercharged V6, 4 speed auto, ABS, four wheel disc, traction control)
1998 Chevy Blazer SLT (4.3 liter SFI V6, 4 speed auto, 4 wheel drive, boring)
1985 Mazda RX-7 GSL (1.1 liter twin rotor, 5 speed, moon roof)
1989 Pontiac Firebird Formula 350 (5.7 liter TPI, 4 speed automatic, WS6, four wheel disc, T-tops)
*2004 Honda CBR600RR (599cc liquid cooled, DOHC, 16v, EFI, ram air, 6 speed, triple disc)
*1986 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am (5.0 liter LB9 TPI, 4 speed auto, Recaro, T-tops, WS6, four wheel disc)
*1991 Chevrolet Z07
Corvette Coupe (5.7 liter L98 TPI, 6 speed ZF manual, targa, Z07, four
*The last three entries are the only vehicles I have left in my stable and are my current toys which are dealt with in detail here on this site.
Currently, I'm on my third Honda sport bike and my third Pontiac Trans Am (though in all total, I've owned five Firebirds, three Camaros, three Mazda RX-7 GSLs, two Chevy Corvettes, one Dodge Daytona Turbo Z and one Toyota Supra Turbo over the last 22 years. I've also owned a GMC pickup truck, a Chevy Blazer SUV and a Pontiac GTP four door sport sedan though I rapidly discovered that none of those really made me smile or kept me happy for very long. Being practical is not the same as having fun and I learned that real quick.
There is nothing like two doors, T-tops and a powerful V8 under the hood and when it comes to that, you're talking about the 2nd through 4th generation GM F-body. Come to think about it, all of the cars I've owned have had T-tops, targa tops, or sunroofs. The only hard top cars I've ever owned were the '86 Dodge Daytona Turbo Z (and I really, really wanted a Turbo Z with T-tops...) and the '78 Camaro Rally Sport. I just don't like hard top cars and while I've never owned a convertible, I've always thought owning one would be ... weird. I like something over my head other than a piece of cloth.
I guess I just like Honda motorcycles and Pontiac Firebirds. I think that Honda still caters to the more intellectual motorcycle owners and that Pontiac once tried to set itself apart to the youth of America before GM really became "Generic Motors" and lost pretty much all its individual identity under the guise of corporate efficiency and the murderous crack of the government regulation whip.
I still haven't bought myself that black and gold '84 Pontiac Aero packaged Trans Am with the T-tops, WS6, Recaro interior, L69 5.0 liter H.O. with a 5 speed stick that I promised myself way back in 1984 but then when you look at the '86 TA that I currently own, I haven't done too bad, all things considered...