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79 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am


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#1

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Posted 20 December 2009 - 02:16 PM

A friend of mine had a 1979 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am he couldnt do anything with due to the rust issues with the rear frame rails, so he traded it to me for some parts I had. I dont mind some rust since I have a welder, a sawzall, and plenty of time. Its a low option 403, no AC, manual windows, and a 2.41 rear. So it fits a certain need I have perfectly. A cheap car I can drop a high compression yet mild 400 into and test for fuel economy while running ethanol. I make ethanol fuel from cattails and spoiled potatoes and I need a mule to figure out modifications to Qjet carbs and some other stuff. This TA fits the need better than the 70 GTO does, and its been running E85 for three years now. So I got it running, dug it out of the snowbank and started on it in May.


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It didnt look too bad until you got the bondo and paint off, or crawled under it. The salt on the roads up here ate this poor car, and most would have junked it rather than rebuilding it. I decided to fix it with a minimal amount of monetary expenditure, mainly because I am usually short on funds but long on time, and I need projects like this to keep me busy and occupied.

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So I start sanding and removing the stuff some idiot put in there in an attempt to fix the rust with pop rivets and epoxy. It had been repainted once and they somehow managed to make it rust under the filler with the second one. Never seen that before, quite strange to me.

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#2

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Posted 20 December 2009 - 02:40 PM

This is under the car right next to the leaf springs, pretty scary that they were driving it like this.

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Then I started making patches from sheet I cut from a mid 80s Suburban hood, nice flat metal and its the right gauge for car bodies. Easy to work with and the price was right, free.

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And one patch on the passenger side fender, then filler. It looks like a lot but it isnt thicker than 1/8" anywhere on the panel.

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Then tape it off, wipe it down and hit it with primer. I didnt do much block sanding because of the budget nature and I only had half a gallon of high build primer left. I smoothed it out ok, just not show car quality, because Im only stopping the rust and making it presentable from 20 feet.

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http://i189.photobuc.../Fuel/TA019.jpg

A final coat of epoxy primer to seal it and give the single stage enamel something to bite into...
http://i189.photobuc.../Fuel/TA025.jpg

And since we have 4 red vehicles in the yard already, it was decided not to paint this one back to red this time. So we went with something different, 79 Trans Am Yellow, and boy howdy let me tell you this is retina burning in sunlight, and I couldnt see anything but yellow while I was shooting it. It overtaxes your eyes easily and you have a hard time spotting thin spots after the first coat. Its that bright. It peeled on me a bit, but it color sanded out no problem and looks pretty good after some buffing. Not bad for a $75 gallon of paint.

http://i189.photobuc.../Fuel/TA028.jpg

http://i189.photobuc.../Fuel/TA029.jpg

http://i189.photobuc.../Fuel/TA031.jpg

With all that yellow we needed something to break it up a bit. Masking out a bird and shooting it would take more time than I wanted to spend on it, and it wouldnt do anything about the roof and trunk. So we went with a strip like the 70-72 cars had, before the hood bird came out. We shot it in Sunset Orange Metallic, because the early white TAs had a metallic blue stripe with some shading around the edges, so we shaded this stripe with some black. I put some wheels I had on my 72 Formula on it since they have good rubber and the tires it came with were shot. Centerlines look pretty good on a 79 TA.

http://i189.photobuc.../Fuel/TA038.jpg

http://i189.photobuc.../Fuel/TA036.jpg

http://i189.photobuc...uel/TAfront.jpg

I started on my drag car, a 79 Formula, right after I took this shot. So I didnt get much more done on it, I need to put the spoiler back on the front, and finish the floor repairs. Also I will build the 400 this spring and stuff it in along with rebuilding the th350 thats in it now. RIght now there is a 65 GTO in my shop getting a frame off rebuild, so all my other projects have come to a standstill, because the Goat has to be done by May 5th 2010. If you think this one is bad, you should see that GTO. Makes this one look easy.

When I get to building the engine, and doing the floors, I will post progress on this one. Its a long term project, and it will probably get new quarters and another respray in the near future. For now it looks good in the driveway as people go by, it runs and moves around the yard under its own power, and is waiting for its next turn in the shop.

#3 Canhos

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Posted 20 December 2009 - 02:48 PM

Looks good for a 20-footer.

The yellow sure is bright. I like the stripe. It makes a big difference.
Mike Gyger
Chilliwack, BC

Formula isn't mine, it's the wife's. She let's me work on it. FOR FREE!

#4 ta collector

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Posted 20 December 2009 - 05:09 PM

looking good,glad to see another bird saved.
our birds:
1967 Firebird
1979 10th Anniversary Trans Am
1979 W72 400 4 speed Trans Am
1984 Trans Am 15th Anniversary
1991 Trans Am GTA
2002 Trans Am Collector Edtion #1358
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#5 Steveh4263

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  • Year: 1987
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  • Model: Trans AM GTA
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Posted 20 December 2009 - 06:00 PM

Looking good. I have seen that yellow before. Must have been a popular color. :)
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1987 Pontiac Trans AM GTA

#6 Formula71

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Posted 20 December 2009 - 07:33 PM

You've done a nice job with it.


RIP Jay - So glad to have known you

#7

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Posted 20 December 2009 - 07:46 PM

Thanks guys. Its not finished but it isnt going to get crushed either, just need to get somewhere on some others. That brings me to my current dilema...

Im debating if I should bring my black 79 SE TA back from the farm in Nebraska or the 71 T-37. I have been itching to build a killer sleeper out of the T-37 for a while now, but I really miss driving my Trans Ams. Too many cars to do, so picking the next project gets tough sometimes. I could also bring the 71 Formula home and finish it, but it would need some paint on it before the trip in winter weather. The T-37 has been bugging me for years now, cant get the build ideas out of my head and I seem to turn it over and over for hours. I need to build that one, if I can get it out of the spot its been in for ten years.

If I cant get the 65 done in time then I cant start another one until its done. So the point is moot except for me driving 850 miles back to Nebraska for the holidays, might as well haul one back with me.

#8 Pete W

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Posted 20 December 2009 - 11:37 PM

Good job Todd and like Mike said Great to see another Firebird saved! :crossfingers22:


#9 79/6.6

79/6.6

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  • Year: 1979
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  • Model: Trans Am
  • Engine: 6.6 olds 403
  • Transmission: Turbohydromatic 400

Posted 21 December 2009 - 04:16 AM

Always a good thing to see a bird saved from certain death by oxidation. Good jobPosted Image
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