My wife seems to prompt the purchase of most of our cars, thus making me the luckiest man alive. She spotted our 1978 Firebird at the local VW repair shop, hanging out with old Beetles. The price was right ($1500), it wasn’t too rusty, it ran, so I bought it.
The car wasn’t without its faults. The interior had seen better days, a Chevy 305 sat under the hood. This engine makes 145 horsepower. How does one build a 305 cubic inch V8 that makes only 145 horsepower? I can picture the GM engineering meetings… “Frank, that engine is still making 180 horsepower. What’s it going to take to get that thing under 150?” Frank succeeded and the proof is in my 1978 Sky Bird.
“Sky Bird?”, you ask? The Sky Bird was a variant of the Firebird Esprit, painted baby blue, with blue partridge stickers adorned throughout the vehicle. Every time I see the car, I want to break out into the Partridge Family theme song. While 1978 Trans Ams scream Van Halen to the casual observer, my Sky Bird is crooning “I Think I Love You” (a Partridge Family staple, for those of you who haven’t started to sprout gray hair).
I believe we bought the Firebird circa 2005. I’ve put less than 100 miles on the car and the only work I’ve performed on it is some disassembly. My vision for it is as a pro touring machine. I purchased an engine block that should be slightly more powerful than the 305 – a Pontiac 455. I see 18″ wheels, low profile tires, 4-link rear suspension, coil-overs, big brakes and a Tremec 5-speed overdrive transmission. I hope to finish this one before the start of the next century. Lofty goal, for sure, but I’m nothing if not driven.