this is an excerpt from the articles appearing in the EAGLE
This issue’s featured car is the ‘71 “Tirebird” Trans Am of John Motroni. Here is his story:
Back in 1971, BF Goodrich introduced their then new BFG Radial T/A Tires. To promote their new tires BFG bought and modified six ’71 Firebird Trans Ams, calling them BFG “Tirebirds”.
One was raced by Jerry Titus in the SCCA Trans Am series and five were used to promote the tires around the nation at tire stores, car shows, etc.
In 1972 BFG sold or demolished all the promotional cars. The real race car which is owned by Mark and Linda Mountanos of Utah is still campaigned on the vintage racing circuit today.
In 1972, famed engine builder, Dry Lake Hall of Fame member, and magazine columnist (Car Life, Popular HotRodding, etc.), Tom Senter bought the ravaged Trans Am Tirebird promotional car that I own today. The original 455 HO was trash as were the suspension, brakes, etc. Too many tire store yahoos driving too hard and too fast.
For the next two years, Tom rebuilt and restored the Tirebird’s interior, suspension, etc,. and asked Pontiac for a 455SD to replace the HO. Pontiac said none were available, so Tom called his friends at Michigan’s Berger Chevrolet, famous for their COPO Camaros, Chevelles, and Novas, and asked if they had a “grand rodent” for sale, the historic LS6 454, rated stock at 450hp/500lbs. of torque.
They did, and they sold it to Tom for $750.Tom wrote several car magazine articles about the car and about it’s transformation from a blue BFG Tirebird into a Ferrari Fly Yellow Trans Am that regularly turned 11’s in the quarter mile.
After Tom died, the “Tirebird” was briefly owned for a couple of years by Tom’s close friend before it was sold to a Fresno real estate agent who took out the M21 and installed a Turbo 400 so his daughter could drive it to high school. After a year or so, he sold the car to Fresno area almond farmer Tom Gejeian in 1983. Tom Gejeian put the Tirebird in his barn, only taking it out once or twice a year around his large farm to keep it running.
In 2004, I bought the Tirebird from Tom Gejeian after seeing his ad in the GoodGuys Gazette.
Since that time, I’ve rebuilt the suspension, brakes, cooling system, electrical system, and replaced every rubber seal, hose, and clamp, as well as rebuilt the engine, transmission, and differential. Re-painting the Tirebird in Tom’s Ferrari Fly Yellow is my next project.