A National Firebird and Trans Am Club featured car is the ‘79 Trans Am S.E. of Ken & Darlene Szymczak from Dunkirk, New York. Here is their story:
It was November in 1978 that I ordered my 1979 black and gold Y84 Special Edition Trans Am. It came with the 6.6 403 automatic, 225/70R15 white lettered tires, the S. E. package including T-Tops, stripes and the “bird” on the hood, AM-FM stereo radio and power windows. All for $8500.
Everyone in our family has had the pleasure of driving and enjoying our Trans Am. Our son and daughter both learned how to drive in the Trans Am and passed on their first drivers’ test. It was also fun to see my mother and father driving the Trans Am.
It is hard to believe that this November it will be 40 years since I ordered our Trans Am. It still looks good and we get complements wherever we go. Who knew back then that it would become a part of our family.
We love going to car shows and sometime winning trophies and sometimes not. I display the original window sticker along with the build sheet. And the people are just amazed at what the car cost back then.
Now with my wife and me retired and all the memories we will have plenty of time driving the road hearing that great sound of our 1979 Trans Am.
In 1967, GM entered the pony car market with the Camaro and Firebird, which set out to redefine the genre.
A lifestyle vehicle, the Firebird was designed to appeal to younger audiences, while having enough available features to attract almost any kind of buyer.
This vehicle is an excellent example of a low production and rare true “pony car”.
The last year of the first generation Pontiac pony car. Designed to offer a little more luxury that the competition but still be affordable. The base models like this were just for young drivers and with engine options it turned into a formidable muscle car.
Built in November 1968, delivered in Indiana and taken to California. The second owner then brought it to Michigan and kept it as a Sunday cruiser, never taking it out in the rain. I purchased it unrestored in 1992 with 66,000 miles. Since then its been an ongoing project with a body off restoration completed in 2012. The body parts are all original with complete white pearl interior. The original drivetrain has never been apart and performs perfectly.
The unique thing about this car is its lack or options. 350 2 bbl, powerglide transmission, manual drum brakes and manual convertible top. The definition of the pony car – “Less Is More”.
Nicknamed the “Funtiac” this car has been driven as far as New York, Iowa, Kentucky, Pennsylvania and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.
Notable awards include: GM corporate award for best restored vehicle at St. Ignace, AACA National Senior and Grand National 1st Place and POCI National Gold Award.
I am Ken Meagher and my high school dream car was a Trans Am. Fueled in no small part by Smokey and the Bandit. It was out of my price range then but I never forgot.
I finally purchased one sight unseen off of Craigs List that was 150 miles away. I had talked to the owner and had friends go by and verify it existed. It had been in a field in Billings for at least 10 years.
I bought it and borrowed a trailer to bring it back to where I live in Bozeman Montana. My wife was watching when I unloaded it off the trailer and the drive shaft fell off. She nearly got sick laughing at me. I should mention that I have next to nothing as far as mechanical experience, just the normal replacing of alternators, starters water pumps and such. I always thought that restoring old cars would be cool and was impressed by the folks that do it.
Anyway, that was 7 years ago and it has been quite a journey. Hundreds of youtube videos, some watched over and over again right in the garage while I muddled my way figuring out how stuff goes back together. Many times I took long pauses as sometimes money was not available and working in a home garage in Montana can be pretty cold. The paint, also was something that I did not want to do as it had to be perfect. Lots of work on the sanding and prep though
At some point in there I joined the NFTAC and it’s been a great help as I tried to bring this car back to life.
Anyway, its drivable now and looks great and sounds great. Lots of little things left to do, but I wanted to share my story as it was worth every penny and every rough patch.
As you see I am the original owner and originally ordered the car. But it almost didn’t survive delivery! When it came in on February 4, 1971 I received a call from a friend that I better get up to where they were unloading the car because my ordered car was getting ready to fall off the truck!
It was on the top over the cab. We had snow and freezing rain the previous few days and when the driver put the car in reverse it jumped sideways partially off the right side and was caught by the A-arm.
A wrecker across the road in a body shop had a cable on the left frame holding it on! The only thing they could do was give it a quick pull and luckily it slid back on the track with no damage other than a bent brake rotor dust shield!
We kick ourselves to this day for not getting a photo of this occurrence!
Phil Hoey of Dewey, Oklahoma has 4 ‘68 Firebirds:
#1 – ‘68 Firebird convertible blue with white top
#2 -‘68 Firebird convertible red with black top
#3 – ‘68 Firebird convertible yellow with black top
#4 – ‘68 Firebird coupe Primavera beige with gold top
The three convertibles are 400 cars and all have been totally restored. I have owned them for about twenty seven years.
I purchased the coupe in February of 1968 and retired it in 1973. It is a pristine original inside and out with 76,000 miles. The carb has never been off the car and it still runs and drives as good as the day I bought it. I have all the receipts and history of the car. The color combination was chosen at the time I was looking for a Firebird because I saw a salesman’s demo car that was gorgeous in this color combination. My coupe has a Cordova top that matched the color of the convertible. I could not afford the convertible at that time so this was close as I could get to one.
In the summer of 1968, driving north on a two mile stretch of road that slowly slopes down, the car obtained a speed of 131 mph. This was on bias ply tires and it was probably not the sharpest thing to do. I did find out at that speed the centrifugal force of the wheels rendered the manual brakes useless until the car has reduced it speed.
This issue’s featured car is the ‘95 Trans Am of Barbara Lewinski from Tellico Plains, Tennessee. Here is the story:
I sold my PT Cruiser Turbo over a 1 1/2 years ago due to a move South from Michigan. I wanted a convertible but not a new one and not black interior. Sitting and waiting for our truck to get an oil change at a dealership, my husband, Gary was walking around the showroom floor. He called me over, “I do not want a new car”, I said. It was not a new car but it looked like it. A 1995 Pontiac Trans Am convertible – white on white – 5.7 litre – V8. I fell in love with the car!!! So, my Trans Am found me.
It has a new top, tires and wheels-rest is original with only 59,788 miles and really only one other owner. My motorcycle with 4 wheels!
Any Knoxville, TN area Trans Ams out there? Let’s ride the Cherohala Skyway. I live off of mile marker 9 1/2.
Barbara Lewinski, Tellico Plains, Tennessee
A featured car of the National Firebird and Trans Am Club is the ‘76 Formula of Judge Gene Fierro from Palmetto Bay, Florida. Here is his story:
My ‘76 California built Firebird Formula started its life with a smog chocked factory 350 and tranny. 42 years later this award winner has been transformed into a street pounding hot looking South Beach beauty featuring a rare and authentic ‘71 TA 455 HO with 700R transmission making 475 hp and 500 in torque .
This street friendly, reliable cruiser is highlighted by all desirable engine parts including Edelbrock, Melling, Quickfuel Carb, MSD, SS headers and custom made Mandrel bent exhaust system!
It features a sensational red paint job, modern drivetrain and suspension as well as power disc brakes, power steering, power windows, SS gas tank, custom gauge panel and tach, sequential tail lights, US Mag 17″ rims with Nitto tires and a rear gear making street and highway driving flawless and fun.
The rebuilt factory AC and large radiator have it running cool in the (305). The dealer installed power sunroof makes the cruise even more enjoyable! As for the performance and sound? – well you be “the Judge of that!”
“…Old School, Hard Core!”
After four long and arduous years of medical school, to celebrate my graduation, my father purchased a brand new 1983 red Trans Am with a 5.0L 305 V8. I instantly fell in love with the car. I felt part of the car each time I sat in the cockpit and drove it and still do. The car and I went everywhere together. Over the years, I have used it for every important picture backdrop in my life. We have used it for our outside wedding pictures, when our children came home from the hospital after birth, the first day of school for each child, when friends came over, scouting accomplishments, religious milestones, graduations, etc. I have a wonderful mechanic who knows me and I tell him to “make it new again” and he does. I will never sell my 1983 Trans Am. The blue 1990 fuel injected 5.0L 305 V8 is also a dream car.
When my son turned 16, I could think of no other gift to get him than to get another 3rd generation Trans Am for him. Here is to him recording all of his future memories.
Here are pictures of my three Trans Ams. My 1995 is an LT1 and only has 3,100 miles, my 1990 is a WS6, my 1983 is completely original, no mods, and completely unrestored.
I got my first Firebird when I was 17 years old and it was a 1973 Firebird Esprit, Navajo Orange 350 CID engine. I blew that motor and installed a Pontiac 400 CID rebuilt engine. I blew up that motor just before I went to college and could not afford another motor. My bicycle went to college with me and when I graduated I was heartbroken to have to sell my Esprit. My wife and I purchased the 1972 Blue Formula in 1997. Its VIN is 2U87N2N506556. Its correct color should be Cameo White with Black top. The engine is a 1971 Pontiac 400 CID. My wife and I started our business and the car rebuild was put on hold for 4 years. As I became busy and the car sat I decided to have a local shop build the brakes and they convinced me to rebuild the engine. The shop sent the engine out of state and as of today I put the specifications in a location I cannot locate.
The shop installed a Torker II high rise manifold with a Edelbrock carb. Consequently the hood would not close and after a long debate I requested the Pontiac manifold be installed. The shop then could not find the manifold, The shop did nothing to clean up the engine bay before installing the engine so I took the car as is. I do most of my mechanical work myself.
The 1973 Trans Am was purchased 4 years ago. It has original paint and 55,000 miles, factory or dealer eight track player, The sun roof was installed by the original owner in 1992 in Florida. I have rebuilt the brakes and done minor detailing. The last owner masked or I should say attempted to mask off the engine and spray paint anything black that he thought should be black. I am cleaning that paint off. The 1973 Formula 400 Ram Air was purchased December of 2016. The previous owner’s family has a large auto body shop in Albuquerque, Quanz Advanced Auto care, This car had a body off restoration 5 years ago with the engine rebuilt at 90,000 miles. It has a four speed manual transmission. It also has a few bugs with the lights.
My interest in Pontiacs came about as all my high school friends wanted Camaros, Mustangs, Chevelles, etc.. My mother’s cousin owned a Pontiac dealership and I would go drool over the Firebirds, GTOs and Lemans. They had a Brewster green 1968 convertible on the show room floor. I begged to purchase that car which they sold in 2005 with 250 miles on the odometer.
by Frank Ochal
I had an opportunity to visit both the Pontiac Museum and the Route 66 Museum which are both in Pontiac, Illinois Here are the photos from the visit.
The history of the Pontiac-Oakland Museum & Resource Center in Pontiac, Illinois began August 1st, 2010 when Tim Dye was on his way back to his home in Oklahoma from a Pontiac show near Chicago. As he drove south on I-55, he noticed signs for the city of Pontiac. As Tim is curious about anything having to do with the Pontiac name, he pulled into town. As he explored the city, he visited the International Walldog Mural & Sign Art Museum which led to conversations with the mayor of Pontiac.
These conversations led to a long series of emails, phone calls, and personal visits to begin the process of creating a new museum were worked out.
The Pontiac City Council approved the museum’s creation on January 3, 2011, and work began immediately on the remodeling of the museum’s new space. The creation of the museum was aided by the hard work of many people. Special thanks to Tim and Penny Dye, Mayor Robert Russell, City of Pontiac Administrator, Bob Karls, Tourism Director, Ellie Alexander, Pontiac Building Supervisor, Milt Hanson, his crew and many more. Grand opening day took place on July 23, 2011, less than one year from the time Tim first visited Pontiac.