Perhaps the longest running project and most expensive (save for the upcoming Sprite EV conversion), is my maintenance, care, renovation, rebuilding, driving, and crashing of a 1976 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am.
I started the project in either 2012 or 2013, when I was just about to get my driver’s license. I knew that the car for me was going to be the rusty, immovable, gas-guzzling monstrosity that had graced the yard with its slow and inevitable decay for a decade. The initial fix required changing the distributor ignition pickup coil, which had a lead broken off. After the engine was running I undertook a large restoration effort, the likes of which was only stymied by my lack of funds and the hard reality that youthful exuberance lacks stick-to-it-iveness and, oftentimes, planning. Nevertheless, it was painted, registered, and on the road and driving!
Between engine stalling issues, carburetor problems, starter motor burnouts, and the like I was having a blast. I’d quickly patch up problems and get back out on the road. Errors compounded though and eventually I threw a rod which caused fragments of metal to chew through my bearings and cam. This necessitated some time for reflection on my driving and maintenance habits along with an engine rebuild. Before long though I was back on the road and throwing it around!
In 20-something my hasty paint job from years past was starting to go, and I had rust spots peeking through. I decided to do a thorough painting this time, and to customize it how I wanted. I included metallic and holographic flakes in the paint and thought it looked really sharp. I also decided that a clear coat was worth it this go-around, and I invested in that. All told, I thought I had done a great job and was very excited to show it off.
Yet in less than a month’s time, I smashed into a guardrail. Three months of work on-and-off and thousands of dollars were destroyed. I decided to further pursue the customization I wanted, which included getting rid of the large and heavy bumper and replacing it with the 1970’s style nose. I bought a parts car to facilitate this effort and built a mad-max style bumper to drive the trans am around with in the meantime.
Eventually summer rolled around and I had enough time and good enough weather to permit finishing of the conversion. I’m much more reserved while driving on the streets now, but that doesn’t stop me from giving it all it’s got on the tracks!