Category Archives: General

for items of general interest

This 1977 Trans Am Will Leave Smokey in the Dust

This 1977 Trans Am Will Leave Smokey in the Dust
by Jeff Edelstein, The Trentonian

One of my lifelong dreams was fulfilled last week when I got to pretend to be Sally Field. Maybe I better explain …

I was riding shotgun in a beautifully restored black 1977 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am Special Edition. The “Smokey and the Bandit” car, hardtop edition. And let me tell you something: Whoa. It’s been my dream car since I was a little kid, which is weird, because I’m not a car guy in the least bit. But this car does it for me. It’s just so … badass. There’s really no other word in the English language that describes the car better. It’s a badass car.

And I was riding in it courtesy of Nicky Sindora, a 20-year-old Trenton resident who spent the better part of the last four years putting this particular one back together.

It was his 16th birthday, back in 2009, and Sindora knew what he wanted: His mom’s Trans-Am, which had been parked in the driveway for about 15 years.”  It had been sitting there since about 1993, 1994,” he said. “Completely undriveable. The floors were rotted, the engine was done, the transmission … everything.”

Now understand: This was not just any car. Sindora’s dad, Larry, had bought it as a wedding present for his wife. And even though it was on the junk pile (and survived not one but two catalytic converter-related fires) no one really wanted to get rid of it. In fact, Sindora’s two older sisters had failed in their lobbying efforts for the car.

“It would have been totaled by now if I got it,” said Jessica Sindora, one of his sisters. “Nicky is the right person to the get the car. He’s more responsible than we ever were at his age and he’s not your normal 20 year old. He deserves that car.” His sister’s observation is on the nose. Nicky Sindora is not your average 20 year old. He doesn’t drink, do drugs, smoke or swear. He works with his dad for Sindora and Son Hauling — “we’re like ‘Sanford and Son,’” Sindora said — and his interests are less Justin Bieber, more “Leave it to Beaver.”

For instance: While the Trans-Am is his pride and joy, a close second is a 1959 Schwinn bicycle he restored. He loves vintage stuff, and working with his dad gives him ample opportunity to feed that need. But back to the Trans Am.

His parents decided to give it to him. They didn’t know what to expect. Four years later, they’re blown away.

“I’m proud and very, very impressed,” said his dad. “It’s a headturner. It’s never looked this nice.”

So the details: Um … it’s badass? Listen, as I said earlier, I’m not a car guy. But I love this car, as I mentioned in a column from two years ago about my burgeoning midlife crisis. (I wanted one. And a fling with a woman named “Caandeeiye. Anyway …) Anyway, Sindora saw the column and reached out to me, telling me he was restoring a Trans-Am, and if I’d like to see it when it was done. I responded calmly, something like, “OMG YES PLEASE WHEN NOW SOON?” Alas, I had to wait.” Over four years,” Sindora said. “A lot of time. I spent close to $25,000. A lot of people helped out, chipped in. But now, if I wanted to, I could sell it, at auction, for $45,000.”

I asked if he had any plans to sell.

“I’m never getting rid of this,” he said. “If I get married and my wife says to get rid of it, just give me the divorce papers.” That said, the whole process of restoring wasn’t exactly smooth.

“They only made 549 hardtops,” Sindora said. “And every piece of this car comes from one of them. I wanted every detail to be correct. Thank god for eBay. And while I’m glad I did it, I’ll never do this again. It did get aggravating, trying to fix it, find the parts. I ended up buying a whole other one for parts at one point. Once, I took a drive to Maryland to pick up an engine piece I needed. And once I got the engine in, I couldn’t get it to start. Found a stink bug nest in the carburetor.”

But now that’s it more or less done, save for some minor details — and it’s only been on the road for a little over a week — Sindora is thrilled.

“I love the lookers,” Sindora said. “Most reactions so far are jaw dropping. People are stopping me, making me offers on the car. And it boogies.”

I can attest to the boogie nature of this perfect car. We found an empty parking lot. He hit it. And it boogied. (I tried to repress a Sally Field-like giggle.) According to Sindora, the car can hit 170 MPH, as he found out during diagnostic testing.

“I don’t want to ever get a ticket in this,” Sindora said. “But if I do, I’m asking the officer if we could take a picture together with the lights flashing and everything.”

Eastbound and down …

Jeff Edelstein be reached at jedelstein@trentonian.com , www.facebook.com/jeffreyedelstein and @jeffedelstein on Twitter.

Nicky Sindora's restored ‘77 Trans Am Special Edition Nicky Sindora's restored ‘77 Trans Am Special Edition Nicky Sindora, 20, of Trenton with his  restored ‘77 Trans Am Special Edition.  Nicky Sindora's restored ‘77 Trans Am Special Edition

First Two Firebirds Discovered!

First 2 Firebirds Discovered First2Firebirds2The first two Firebirds ever built have been discovered! These were hand built by John Delorean’s crew. The Discovery Channel’s Fast N’ Loud film crew was on hand to document the discovery. They are going to be restored and then off to a museum. You can watch the build on the April 21 and 28 episodes of Fast N’ Loud on the Discovery Channel. I’ve got my DVR set!

And thanks to you Wes for the head’s up!

Brian Massey

SEMA Car Show Vegas

For fans of cars and casinos, the SEMA car show in Vegas is a must. Running at the Las Vegas convention Centre the next SEMA car show is in November 2013. Taking place from 5th to 8th November this will be the biggest SEMA show yet, packing in a load of automotive fun amongst the greatest casino atmosphere in the world, making for an adrenalin filled weekend.

The show is the highlight of the Specialty Equipment Market Association (formally the Speed Equipment Market Association) and it will attract around 100,000 attendees from over 100 different countries, on top of those who already descend on the casino city. The SEMA show is only open to trade members (the general public are not allowed to attend) and is held in conjunction with the Automotive Aftermarket Industry Week, this will be the biggest event to hit Las Vegas in 2013, even bigger than the WSOP (World Series of Poker) tournament.

The SEMA car show provides a perfect opportunity for the forging of new contacts, the renewal of old ones, and for undertaking important and lucrative business. It also provides an opportunity for delegates to let their hair down in the party city. Although some delegates might care to spend their evenings working on spread sheets and press releases in their hotel rooms in the evenings with their entertainment limited to the occasional visit to an online casino, the general ethos is one of partying the night away, especially on the final evening, and Las Vegas is the ideal please to do so.

For those who wish to mix up there passion for cars and casinos but who cannot make it to Vegas, there are games available at online casinos such as the best mobile slots at MobileSlots.net . Good to Go is an racing-car themed adrenaline arousing five reel slot machine that offers punters nine pay-lines and combines all the fun of pit-babes, screaming rev counters and chequered flags, whilst Granny Prix is a scratchcard game that gives you the opportunity of a payout whilst Granny is at the wheel – if you can defeat her, that is.

The Iconic Firebird on the Hoods of Trans Am.

from Hemmings by Marik McCourt

The hood graphics that branded the Pontiac Trans Ams of the 1970s were almost predestined, with the link of Native American mythos with this General Motors division dating back to its 1926 inception as Oakland’s lower- priced six-cylinder companion car. Named after the Michigan city and the legendary Native American chief, the first Pontiac cars would wear Chief Pontiac’s likeness, and the arrowhead symbol that followed it was subtle in comparison to the intimidating power of the firebird to come.

Pontiac’s quickly engineered version of the late-to-market Chevrolet Camaro adopted an appropriate name previously used on General Motors’ three Motorama gas turbine experimental cars of the 1950s. The design of the red and black firebird badges fitted to the fenders and tail panels of first generation Firebird coupes and convertibles were traditional and featured tucked-in wings.

Firebird Decal The firebird emblem would receive a restyling along with the cars it appeared on in 1970, most dramatically as an 8.5-inch decal on the top of the Trans Am’s body color Endura front bumper. For the first time, the Firebird’s firebird would spread its wings and spit flame from its beak, and the relatively subtle 1970-1972 Trans Am would get a shot of attitude in 1973 that would define it for the rest of its days.

David Newhardt’s book, Firebird Trans Am, discusses how the soon-to-be-famous big firebird came to be:

“Bill Porter remembers, ‘Norm James, the designer of the 1957 Firebird III show car, had been in the airport at Phoenix and had seen this stylized firebird, with its wings spread and sort of feathered. He did a decal firebird on the hood of the Firebird III. It was much more stylized and much more angular than what ended up on the hood of the modern Trans Am. I remembered it, and it gave me an idea of a device to get the hood scoop to look like it belonged on the car, by wrapping these wings around it- it kind of sucked [the scoop] back into the surface of the vehicle, integrated it. I laid one out, and a graphic designer named Norm Inouye helped refine it.’ “

Bill went on to explain that GM styling director Bill Mitchell was furious to find this design being applied to one of the prototype cars, and ordered it removed. John Schinella, head of the Pontiac Design studio and a fan of the concept, took the controversial hood emblem, and with help from 3M, made it more production friendly, creating three for three red, white and blue Trans Ams for presentation to management. Bill Mitchell was finally swayed by seeing a black Trans Am accented with a gold bird, done in the same mold as his black and gold cafe racer motorcycle; he relented to offer it as an option for 1973.

Regular Production Order WW7, costing $55, was available on Trans Ams in three colors: a blue-flamed bird on Cameo White cars, an orange-flamed bird on Buccaneer Red cars and a pale green-flamed bird on Brewster Green cars. These hood-hugging firebirds were a generous 45.5 inches wide and 44.5m inches tall, and were an instant success.

Helping to celebrate the Pontiac Motor Division’s 50th anniversary in 1976 was a Trans Am Special Edition painted Starlite black with gold pinstripes, lettering and a striking gold firebird on its hood. This car would inspire the 1977 Special Edition Trans Ams that achieved huge fame with the Smokey and the Bandit movie. A similar black and gold livery and gothic-style script theme was available in 1978, and would continue in modified form from 1979 to 1981.

To mark the Trans Am’s tenth anniversary in 1979, Pontiac released the biggest ‘bird to date, one whose wing tips wrapped on to the fenders and separated the body’s Platinum Silver paint from the roofs charcoal paint. The Turbo Trans Ams of 1980 and 1981 traded the shaker for an offset hood bulge, so the firebird was redesigned with a long flame that curled up from its beak onto the bulge.

When the aerodynamic third-generation Firebird and Trans Am debuted in 1982, the bird decal remained on the nose, albeit in smaller form; a larger hood firebird would be optional through 1987. Although the firebird would remain an integral part of the Firebird and Trans Am until the model’s demise in 2002, it would never again have such a prominent size or placement.

Hood-spanning firebirds of all sizes and colors are reproduced today by Phoenix Graphix and Stencils & Stripes Unlimited, and can also be purchased from Classic Industries, Ames Performance Engineering and Year One.

Bringing Pontiac Back

 

Bringing Pontiac back – first GM would have to buy itself back.  Currently the U.S. government owns GM and they are the ones who insisted that GM should drop the Pontiac brand in first place.  Once this is done, GM could then offer Pontiac franchised to whoever wanted to pick one up.  Offering a unique lineup of products such as high performance sedans (a version of the upcoming Caprice police car?) or a Holden sport truck, or even an updated Solstice (if the tooling still exists).  Pontiac vehicles would appeal to those dealers who feel that they might have a market or customer base for products such as these.  Since there is or recently never was a real Pontiac factory, products could be sourced form wherever they were available. (i.e. Australia) and go from there.  Pontiac is still a viable brand that has a huge following and lots of future potential.  GM should look into this before it’s too late.
Steve Hudson

 

 

Pontiac Museum Addition

 The Pontiac-Oakland Museum & Resource Center, 205 N. Mill St. Pontiac, Illinois has announced that a very special automobile related to Pontiac history will go on display in the museum. The car is the earliest known Pontiac race car, successfully competing for the first time in August 1926, Pontiac’s introduction year. This one-of-a-kind Pontiac will be delivered to the museum by the owners, Arnold & Lois Landvoigt, of Savage, Maryland on Monday, October 24, 2011 at 1:30pm. Anyone wishing to see and hear the car run should come to the museum at that time. The Landvoigts are leaving the car to be displayed at the museum for nearly a year.

On August 14, 1926 at the Sherrill Hill Climb, Sherrill, New York the Pontiac hill climb racer first saw competition. It finished first in class, the earliest known competition in an organized event by any Pontiac. The Landvoigts have done extensive research documenting the history of the car, followed by a complete and detailed restoration. In 2010 the car received its Grand National Senior Award from the Antique Automobile Association of America. The restoration attempted to conserve the somewhat rough fit and finish as the car was raced, based upon original photographs and ‘as found’ condition. A conscious effort was made not to refinish the machine to a level at which it never existed.

Museum Director, Tim Dye said “This is exactly the caliper of car we strive to have on display here at the museum. It is a unique and rare glimpse into Pontiac’s early history, enhancing the experience visitors have at the museum. I want to thank the Landvoigts for their generosity in giving up the car so it can be on display here”.

 

Pontiacs to Reign in Pontiac

Pontiac Museum

The streets of downtown Pontiac, Illinois will once again be full of Pontiac cars in September when the Grand Prix Chapter of the Pontiac Oakland Club International will sponsor a “Show and Shine” car rally for Pontiac cars there. On September 9, registration runs from 1 – 5PM at the new Pontiac Oakland Auto Museum. Friday evening registered participants will enjoy an evening at the Chautauqua Park Pavilion for a presentation of the Route 66 Musical Review performed by the Vermillion Players. On Saturday, September 10, all Pontiac brand cars are welcome to join in this non-judged car show located around the historic courthouse square in Downtown Pontiac. Included in the weekend events will be visits to all four of Pontiac’s great museums, including the new Pontiac-Oakland Automobile Museum and Resource Center. The Pontiac Jolly Trolley will be providing guided tours to the city’s historical sites, and the Route 66 Museum and the Bob Waldmire Road Yacht will both be open.

On Saturday night, an “Ice Cream Social” at Chautauqua Park is planned for registered participants. After the ice cream social, Route 66 historian John Weiss will present a seminar on the history of the nation’s most famous byway, Route 66.

Sunday morning, registered participants may have their photo taken at the “World’s largest Route 66 Shield Mural” on their way to Starved Rock State Park.

For more information on the event or registration, visit the Grand Prix Chapter’s website at www.grandprixchapterofamerica.com
Or
Contact Ellie Alexander, Director of Tourism, Pontiac, IL
(815) 844-5847
Email: tourism@pontiac.org

Trans Am Depot Introduces Firebird GTO Conversion Kit

Pontiac Firebird GTO Conversion Kit

Trans Am Depot launched a conversion kit at the 2009 SEMA show for Chevrolet Camaro, which warmly turned itself from a contemporary Bumblebee muscle to an iteration that was much similar to Pontiac Firebird. In fact, they named it as Phoenix Trans Am.

 

After 20 months, the tuner is again back for its next Pontiac conversion kit based on Camaro. This time, a classic car is set to draw attention i.e. 1969 GTO Judge. The new conversion kit has received a lot of styling elements, which also include a bespoke front end with its own split grille.

The car has also received a revised hood with air scoops, a restyled ‘old-school’ trunk available with a small rear wing, a new tail lamp, a new set of alloy wheels, and quad tail pipes. The work of Trans Am Depot is basically called the ‘6T9 Goat’.

The concept of this work – 6T9 Goat was logically created by Kevin Morgan, a designer in plans to detain the look and feel of the classic 69 GTO Judge. This is what the Grand Am Depot was stated. It was also said that many people have considered the 1969 GTO as among the top ten muscle car of all time. From this fall, this newly bodied muscle car will be available to cater the modern day segment by incorporating a look of yesteryear, but a modern technology of today that offers convenience.

Enthusiasts of classic GTO Judge and Camaro as well might feel proud to drive a kit version of the old classic. However, as per the market reviews in recent years, one thing has been found that there are many people who still pay for conversion kits, though it is not the real thing which they get at the end.

See more info at www.transamdepot.com.