This issue’s featured car is the 2000 Trans Am WS-6 of Robert W Nelson from Ft. Walton Beach, Florida. Here is the story:
My first car in high school was a rusted out red ‘73 Firebird and I have always had a weak spot for them my whole life. I owned this very model in 2000 but only for about 2 years before something else caught my eye. So when I came across this beauty I had to have it and will keep it in my family for a nice heirloom to be passed down to my son and hopefully grandson. I do intend on driving it though!!
As I was waiting for them to deliver it, I felt like a kid waiting on Santa!
Posted by Kim Klimas from On All Cylinders, an Automotive Blog
In 1977, 18-year-old Jim Elick needed a car for his first shore duty with the U.S. Navy. Inspired by the recent release of “Smokey and the Bandit” and the flashy gold and black Pontiac Firebird Trans Am cruising across the big screen, the Indianapolis, Indiana native headed to Don Sisk Pontiac with his dad to try his luck securing his own getaway car.
“I kind of knew what I wanted, but could never afford a $5,000 car at 18-years-old,” Elick said. “With my motocross bike to trade and $300 in hand, I somehow landed a Nautilus Blue Firebird Formula for $98 dollars a month, and off to California I went.” His dad co-signed for the deal with neither of them knowing just how significant the car would become.
“I bought the 1977 Formula with all the Trans Am equipment—no birds, no stickers, no fluff, no snap-on plastic air dams—just a straight, raw, very rare Firebird,” Elick said.
Affectionately nicknamed “Blue Goose,” the Formula proved a pricey ride for the novice sailor. Elick spent all but a few dollars of his military stipend on the monthly payment, gas, and insurance.
“There were times I had no idea how I got home, it was almost like she had autopilot,” Elick said. The car accompanied him on every adventure, even serving as the “escape vehicle” at his wedding, he said.
Elick returned home in 1980, working for ATA, Delta Air Lines, UPS Air, Gulfstream Aerospace, and later the FAA, while the car sat idle. “I literally threw a blanket over the car for the next 35 years. I towed Blue Goose from garage to garage, starting her only occasionally to pressurize the lubrication system,” he said.
Then five years ago, Elick and his wife Sabrina, made the decision to “restore-the-roar” and get the road-worthy car into show-ready condition.” She was already in great shape, mind you—with matching numbers, no corrosion, and an abundance of factory equipment installed,” Elick said.
“After quite humbly winning so many local car shows and watching people’s reactions, you can imagine my confusion—because this Pontiac was so familiar to me I never thought of it as anything but normal,” Elick says with a grin.
Confused, but enjoying the growing list of victories, Elick decided to up the stakes. He entered the GM F-Body Southern Regional against 200 competitors and won “Best Bird.”
At the Trans Am Dayton Nationals the Blue Goose placed second in its class (five modifications or less) against 490 Firebirds—385 of them Trans Ams. It was an exciting win, but the bigger thrill of Dayton was a chance meeting with the original General Motors engineers who developed the Pontiac Formula in the 1970s—Herb Adams, John Shinwell, and Bill Davis.
Shinwell, Adams, and Davis were the Chief Engineers of Product Development and Design on Project Firebird/Trans Am at General Motors in the late-1960s, and it was Shinwell that fought GM to get Nautilus Blue approved and onto the assembly line.
The color was nixed before production began, but a few Formulas snuck through unnoticed—one of them Elick’s Blue Goose. “[Shinwell] actually sought us out after spotting the vehicle on the show field, recalling the negotiations for this type of paint (29L – Nautilus Blue), and the prototype interior seating intended for the Sky Bird introduced six months later,” Elick said. “The paint was cancelled just after production began in 1977, but the Blue Goose somehow slipped through—just the way she always has.”
“They all agreed it was probably one of no more than six existing VIN numbers and cowl plates. Who knew that at 18-years old?!” Elick said.
Elick had them sign his trunk lid and walked them through the modifications—all done to preserve and restore the car’s authenticity. He and his team of enthusiasts rebuilt the car, focusing on the important stuff.
“This was the first Pontiac production car ever in history to offer square headlights. To accommodate those, they made a Endura bumper for the front end but it doesn’t fit the metal doghouses of the car, it just doesn’t,” he said.
Elick finished restoring the 1977 Pontiac Firebird Formula 400 in November of 2016. Still new to the show arena, but more than able to hold its own, Elick’s Formula 400 is the recipient of over two dozen awards and trophies, with six Best of Shows earned.
Special thanks to: In special honor of Elick’s father, who passed away a few years after helping his son purchase the Formula. He is a man much missed and the reason for Elick’s ongoing reluctance to part with the car. Additional thanks to Sabrina Elick, Brian Trevena, Brian’s Paint & Body Shop staff, Jodie, Johnny, Chris, and Tim and Scottie at Coweta Car Care.
A National Firebird and Trans Am Club featured car is the ’67 Firebird of Bob Schneider. Here is the story:
PONTIAC FIREBIRD 400, OUT OF WICHITA, KANSAS TURNED 53 YEARS OLD IN MAY 2020
A company transfer landed me in Wichita in the spring of 1967. After seeing several great ads on TV for the new Pontiac Firebird Series, I went to Scholfield Brother’s Pontiac dealership in Wichita, Kansas. This was a new dealership. After looking at several cars on the showroom floor, the salesman and I went out to the lot and I spotted a new ‘67 Pontiac Firebird 400 4-speed white top convertible, red on red, with red line tires and dog-dish hubcaps. I was stricken!! After test driving this beauty, I knew this was the car for me. She was sleek, fast and responsive. No decision here!! I made a deal on the spot and drove her home!
Fast forward to 2020: Our BABY is still in great condition, garaged and happy. She is original, with approximately 92,000 miles. She has quite a track record for travel and has been driven from Kansas to Nebraska, then to Missouri, over to Georgia, then up the coast to New Jersey and back to Nebraska, ending up in California in the mid 70’s. These travels were connected to my being drafted into the Army, serving as an MP in Vietnam. I did my MP training in Augusta, Georgia and my wife, Diana, drove the Bird from Nebraska to Georgia. I met her in Topeka, Kansas after my company transferred me there. I proposed to her in the Bird, on our first date. We will celebrated our 53rd wedding anniversary in December 2020. She loves this car as much or more than I do. After our four children were born, she would load them in the car and take them to school. (Back in the day when no seat belts were required) Today they are all in their 40’s, and they are happy we have the little red convertible they remember from their childhoods, riding with Mom with the top down and going to Dairy Queen for ice cream cones.
We lived in Colorado Springs when I returned from Vietnam and our beauty loved the snow and loved going up Pikes Peak. With three feet of snow on the ground and the top down on the car, we would take friends and family members visiting to the top of the Peak, having a grand old time. The road up was always open in the winter months. We also enjoyed racing up in the summer months.
We also have a garage buddy, a 2004 red on red Corvette convertible. These two red rubies sit next to each other, under car covers, and we drive them on Sundays to various events and car shows. It’s been a fast and fun 50 years. Having maintained this Firebird in perfect running condition through the years has been a joy to us, as well as family and friends. I hope you have enjoyed reading about
our “JEWEL”. She is 100% all original bone stock GM Pontiac, with ALL matching numbers!! I am also sending pictures for you to view. Warm Regards,
A National Firebird and Trans Am Club featured car is the ‘86 Trans Am of Mark Goldman from Endicott, New York. Here is the story:
In 1995 I purchased my 1986 Trans Am. It was the pace car at one of our local tracks. It was dark blue metallic with silver ground effects and was decked out in NASCAR vinyl stickers. I started the transformation by removing the stock hood, removing the stock 305 and having a complete engine out paint job performed. She was painted ice blue with pearl dust in the clear and ghost flames were added on both sides. The flames became her theme. The 305 was replaced by a built Corvette 350 Engine that was dynoed at 440 HP and a 600HP 700R4 transmission purchased from Monster Transmission in Florida was installed and a custom dual muffler system with Mazda dual exhaust tips. Then a fiberglass ram air hood was painted and installed. A BCool radiator and flamed radiator cap, flamed valve covers and breathers were added, a lowering kit was installed and air shocks were added to the rear. American Eagle (flamed) wheels and P245/50ZR16 Sumitomo tires replaced the stock Trans Am wheels and existing tires. Every flame on was painted with the same color paint as on the car, as well as the brake calipers.
The interior is stock except for firebird’s embroidered on the headrests, Panasonic stereo and BM Ratchet Shifter. A dual custom sub box, painted with the same paint as the car, dual MTX speakers and a Kicker Amp was installed in the rear well.
In 2010 a very good friend of mine helped me tuck all the engine wires into the sub frame and I added a March Performance Serpentine Chromed Front End, Taylor Wires, Flamed Spark Plug Wire Looms, and Lokar Transmission and Oil Dip Sticks.
Finally, in 2016 I had a local artist paint an eagle on the underside of my ram air hood.
In its present state it is true value insured for $50,000 through Collectors Insurance.
It has won several honors, but none as important as the 1st place it took in 2010 and 2012 out of all the 3rd Gen’s entered at the “Firebird’s On The Lawn” in Saratoga Springs, NY. Unfortunately they stopped having this car show.
Mark Goldman, In the Spirit of the Sport, USA Veterans Championship Wrestling Team Leader
My love affair with Firebirds began in January 1968, when my wife, Donna (deceased 2018) and I purchased a new ’68 from Quebedeaux Pontiac in Tucson Arizona. The car was turquoise with a 350 2 barrel and a 3 speed manual. The only options were a push button AM radio and power steering. I loved the styling, but did not get to drive it much as two months later I was off to Vietnam. I learned an important life lesson in all this – do not leave a pregnant wife in the Tucson summer driving a non AC car. I returned stateside in March 1969, and was promptly informed by Donna that the portable playpen for our son would not fit in the Firebird’s trunk. We went back to the dealer, and after insuring the playpen fit in the trunk we traded the Firebird in on a ’69 GTO with air.
Our next contact with a Firebird was not until 1994 and after several other Pontiac models, when we acquired a new white Formula with an LT1 and automatic. We shared it as a family vehicle and used it as a daily driver. In 1998 we bought a new bright red Formula with Tremec 6 speed (photo of Donna modeling it new). It served several years as a daily driver and quickly ran up twenty-five grand on the odometer. Donna then informed me that she was tired of shifting, so I got her an automatic Grand Am. Since then I have been applying numerous modifications to the car (see attached list of mods and photos). The car will eventually go to our youngest son, who resides in the Seattle area and only has a single parking spot at his house. I keep the Formula garaged here in Arizona and use it only as a weekend vehicle and car shows. The car now has over fifty thousand miles and runs great with the original spark plugs and regular fluid changes.
1998 Pontiac Firebird Formula LS1 5.7 litre/M6 Transmission/Bright Red
Brakes: Front – SSBC Force 10 Aluminum 4 Piston (43mm) Calipers/Powder Coated Red Front – SSBC 13″ Slotted & Plated Rotors/Braded Stainless Steel Lines/High Performance Pads Rear – SSBC Slotted & Plated Rotors/High Performance Pads Rear – Red Painted Calipers
Computer/Tuning: Hypertech Power Programmer III Hypertech 160 degree Thermostat
Exhaust: CORSA Cat Back Exhaust w/Pro Series 3.5 Tips
Induction: SLP 85mm MAF Sensor SLP Smooth Intake Bellows SLP High Performance Air Box Lid APM Automotive WS6 Style Ram Air Hood GM Lower Ram Air Box EGR Tube Modification Throttle Body Coolant Bypass Modification K & N Air Filter
In April of 2016 we found out we were the winners of the 2015 Bandit Dream Giveaway Sweepstakes. Ironically, one of the previous owners who had restored the car was actually from Chicago not far from where my wife who is a native of Norridge, IL was born and raised. Since receiving the car, we have joined the National and Southern California chapter of POCI and Karen is now serving as Chapter secretary and we regularly attend car shows. A side note is the impact the original Smokey and the Bandit movie had on me as well as the car as a kid who saw the movie in the theater when it first came out at the impressionable age of 16! Not to mention the texts I get from family and friends to give me a hard time every time that movie is on. Editor’s Note: The Bandit Dream Giveaway Sweepstakes has been promoted by the Club.
‘79 Trans Am SE Bandit of Michael and Karen Bianchino from Anaheim Hills, California (winner of Bandit Dream Giveaway Sweepstakes)