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1st time Firebird owner


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#1 Birdoprey

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  • Engine: 455 Pontiac
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Posted 12 April 2017 - 06:09 PM

 Hi guys,

 

 I just picked up a 73 Firebird from a friend that has had it sitting in storage for years. He picked it up around 5 years ago or so with the intention to making a Trans Am clone as he really wanted a 73 TA. Well, a few years ago he picked up a 73 SD 455 TA and has since almost forgotten about the poor Firebird. I just got it home a few hours ago and i've been really trying to identify what exactly i have and what all it needs. Here is what i know so far:

 73 Firebird Esprit.

 Originally came with a 350/2 bbl, but now has a 455/4bbl. There is a 455 cast into the block on the drivers side front close to the freeze plug.

 Has a 495106 intake. Can't remember the year that number showed, but it showed was same intake on the 350/400/455

 Has a 490143 drivers side exhaust manifold. I'm showing its from a 71 or so 350/400?

 Motor has a HEI distributer with Accel coil on top 

 Heads are 4X. Looking through the oil fill, it "looks" like i can see screw in rocker studs

 Car has a Muncie 4spd with Vertigate shifter. From looking at how the shift linkage bolts to the tranny side cover, it looks to be a 63-68 Muncie.       Evidently a M20 or M21(i'm not sure how to tell which)

 Looks to be a Q-jet carb. Fuel inlet points to the passenger fender.

 The motor runs, but feels like its missing on a cyl or two. It revs kinda slow and its smoking out the exhaust. The amount of smoke seems to change every time i crank it. Sometimes not much, sometimes quite a bit. Car has dual exhaust(looks like 2" if that). Right side normally smokes more than the left side. Motor sounds pretty quiet with a small tick near the right side valve cover. Its not exhaust. Its very mild though. Reving the motor produces smoke from the drivers side valve cover vent. I do not see a PCV valve.

 At the moment, the only gauge that seems to work is the water temp. The tach does not move, nor does the oil pressure. I don't think the fuel guage reads right(shows over full). Not really paid attention to the alt gauge. I did notice there are two wires on the back of the alt with fuses. One of the plastic fuse holders is broke and there is no fuse. Could this be why no gauges work?

 The car had A/C and everything looks to be there but the compressor and the brackets for the compressor

 I did notice the dash looks like the ones i've seen on T/A's(brushed alum look?).

 The car has a rear window defroster(never seen this on one of these). Dunno if it works at the moment

 Someone installed a moon roof in the top of the car. I do not know if it leaks at the moment.

 The car has a dual scoop ram-air hood, i think its a Formula hood? Drivers side rear corner has a chunk missing and there are a few of the little "gills" at the back of the hood that are missing. There are a few of them in the glove box so maybe i can get those fixed?

 I do know the rear is a 10-bolt. There is a tag under one bolt that says to only use limited slip differential lube, so i assume it has a limited slip diff. I don't see any other tags that might point to the rear gear ratio. Anyway to tell with out pulling the cover and counting teeth?

 The body on the car is straight. Its UGLY! The vinyl top is mostly gone.

 Front seats came from some other car. I like them, but the blue clashes with everything else in the car. 

 My favorite part are the air shocks in the rear! lol

 The front seems to sit kinda high. Surprised since the car has a bigger motor.

 Thats about all i know at the moment. I would really like to get it running better. Not really sure where to start. The motor seems to be missing and it does not get better revving it up. I hate to spend a bunch of $$$ for a carb(or spend time/$$$ rebuilding a carb that is trash) only to find the motor has issues. I would not mind pulling the heads for valve job/seals, but would hate to find there is a lot of wear on the cyl walls. Any suggestions?

 

 -Mark


Edited by Birdoprey, 12 April 2017 - 06:14 PM.


#2 Birdoprey

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Posted 12 April 2017 - 06:21 PM

 Here are a few pics


 Forgot to mention i don't think the car originally had a manual tranny. The tranny tunnel looks butchered to clear the shifter. 

Attached Files



#3 KeyKeeper

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Posted 13 April 2017 - 08:55 AM

Looks like a solid start to a project to me!  If its blowing a lot of stuff out of the valve cover vent, then it most likely is a very tired motor and needs a full overhaul. 


I prefer to drive short distances....1,320 feet at a time

 

356ci SBC 11.8:1, Eagle rotating assembly, Wiseco .125" dome pistons, Lunati .600/.600 255/263 @ .050 solid roller, HP xp 950, super victor, Dart Pro 1 215cc head 2.08/1.62, all MSD ign, 700R4 3500stall....a work in progress. Est hp 588 thru chambered mufflers


#4 Birdoprey

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Posted 13 April 2017 - 12:45 PM

Looks like a solid start to a project to me!  If its blowing a lot of stuff out of the valve cover vent, then it most likely is a very tired motor and needs a full overhaul. 

 Yessir, that's what I'm afraid of. Was hoping to not have to. Will have to wait til I get done with my son's 80 Camaro. Doing an LS swap with a Eaton TVS 1900 supercharger. As much as I wanna stay old skool and hop-up the 455, its very tempting to do an LS swap. Would prolly make more power, better fuel mileage and be cheaper than messing with the 455. Of course, it wouldn't be a 455....



#5 JOE68

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Posted 13 April 2017 - 03:45 PM

I would do a compression test on all cyl and record them.     that will tell you where you are below



#6 Birdoprey

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Posted 13 April 2017 - 06:30 PM

 I'll give that a look as soon as i can. Looks like bad weather out here for a few days. Will look for a break in the weather.

 Forgot to mention that the entire motor has been painted and has very little oil seepage. Looks like the motor had been rebuilt and not had many miles since it was parked. Of course everything has an inch of West Texas dust. Under that the motor looks VERY good and clean. 



#7 Formula71

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Posted 14 April 2017 - 08:02 AM

Welcome to FBN, and the Firebird addiction, lol.

 

If you decide to get rid of the q-jet, let me know what the numbers are on it, I'm looking for one to replace mine, lol.




RIP Jay - So glad to have known you

#8 celticpiping

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Posted 14 April 2017 - 09:13 AM

welcome, and that looks like a sweet rig!

R



#9 Birdoprey

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Posted 14 April 2017 - 12:36 PM

 Thanks guys! I'm excited about it. Just have to wait to mess with it much. Time and $$$$.

 Formula71, i'll let you know.



#10 Birdoprey

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Posted 19 April 2017 - 04:31 PM

 Well, messed with the car this past weekend. Pulled the passenger side valve cover and discovered a few things. 1) The 4X heads have screw in studs. 2) The #4 intake rocker was turned sideways(not on valve or pushrod)! No wonder it was running rough. Fortunately, the adjusting nut was still on the stud. Bad news is someone used a non-locking nut on this one rocker and it backed off. I got one off a SBC i had and adjusted it. Cranked it up and it didn't run any better...:(

 The plug in that cal looked a little oil fouled and it was not firing when i tested it. Got a new set of plugs and the motor runs smooth now! It must have a stk cam as smooth as the motor runs. Had to turn the idle down. 

 The bad news is it still smokes out the exhaust and the breather in the valve cover. The motor ran good enough that i decided to take it for a spin down the road. Tires had been flat for years and it hops pretty good at lower speeds. I've only had it up to 60mph so far. Motor runs good but smoked like a train. So far i've logged about 50miles in short stints and the smoking is much less. At idle it does not smoke at all. Does not smoke out of the valve cover breather at idle either. It does a little if you goose the throttle and does some out the exhaust as well. Much better than it was. Can't see smoke at all while tooling down the road. If you open the throttle it smokes but not near what it was before. Got on it a time or two but didn't rev it very high since the tach is not working for some reason. The back 2 barrels don't seem to be opening.

 The Mr. Gasket Vertigate shifter is lots of fun, though i'm gonna have to do something different with it. In 1st or 3rd the shifter almost touches the dash. A quick shift to 3rd results in smashed fingers! I think i'm gonna have a plate made so i can move the shifter back a few inches. Will probably have to fab some shifter linkage as well. 

 One thing i noticed it the steering has a tight spot a little to the left of center. Its not horrible but makes it twitchy if you happen to be on that spot(slight curve to the left). Not sure at the moment if its a gear box issue or linkage issue.



#11 cajun

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Posted 25 April 2017 - 07:00 PM

Welcome to FBN and congrats on the car.

#12 Birdoprey

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 01:54 PM

 Thanks Cajun!

 

 Well, the motor sill running good but it still smokes a good bit under any kind of acceleration. Love the shifter but its going to have to go. I don't want to have to do any custom metal work to be able to run a boot for it. Right now there is LOTS of air(hot) coming through the hole around the shifter. Will probably go with a Hurst Comp plus shifter and get a factory shifter "hump" welded in. 

 

 Ran across a brand new set of Headman 3 tube headers for free. Looks to fit my car but says "not for std transmission". I wonder if they could be made to work? Guessing they may have issues with the "Z-bar"/ clutch linkage? 

 

 Really bummed about the motor smoking. I would love to pull the motor and build it, but Pontiac parts are crazy high! If i pull the motor down, i can't bring myself to just do a rebuild. I would want it to put out around 450-500hp if i'm gonna do anything. 

 Another option is to swap to a 454. I have a .060" over 454(468) short block that is fresh, but it has flat top pistons. Could either find a set of closed chamber heads to throw on to bring compression up, or replace pistons and run the 781 heads i have(will need a valve job). It would be easy to make 500hp with the 468 and MUCH, MUCH cheaper than doing the 455. The front of my car seems to sit a little high so the added weight of the BBC would probably put it closer to where i would want it. 

 Or...i could pick up a 5.3 or 5.7 LS1 motor and drop it in. This option would probably end up being the cheapest route and would get much better MPG once done. Would also knock off some weight would would be another plus. Would have to put in lighter springs up front but thats easy and cheap enough. Could get a 5.3 with a cam/headers could put out close to 400 at the wheels. A set of heads or porting with right cam could have it in the 450 range at the wheels. 

 If money was not an issue, i would rather go with the 455. Money is an issue though so i'm kinda torn. I have the 468 and for under $1000 total, i could have a 500hp power plant. Would take a bit more to get the 5.3 in there with a little over 400hp, but not a lot. From what i've been finding in my searching, it will take several times that to get the 455 in that range.

 Decisions, decisions...






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