Need lotta help. Have a 97 t-topp and maybe buying a 95 vert - Fourth Generation Pontiac Firebird (1993 - 2002) - Firebird Nation

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Need lotta help. Have a 97 t-topp and maybe buying a 95 vert


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#1 Cedonulli

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Posted 3 weeks ago

Have a 97 t-top with 3.8...looking at maybe a heck of a deal 1995 convertible with 3.4 and only 115K for $2500. I know nothing about the 3.4 but it seemed a lot slower off the line than my 97 3.8. Is the 3.4 a good engine? Also---I know that without a hard top or at least the ttop bar that the body just relies on the floor for rigidity---correct? I noticed the whole car was a bit shaky when hitting cross walk bumps. Doors rattled a bit etc. Like it wasn't as stable. Is that common for a vert or is it a messed up car? I have til tomorrow to buy it. I think the converts are going up in value. The top is almost new. Anything I should look out for?

#2 ZumpTA

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Posted 3 weeks ago

If I had to characterize the engines, I'd say the 3.4 is closer to a 4cyl on torque and hp and the 3.8 is closer to the v8.  The 3.4 is a good engine tho. 

 

These cars are unit body.  T tops -v- hardtop sees no difference in rigidity.  A convertible is designed to be a convertible.  Any "rigidity" issues you think you're feeling is most likely worn suspension and/or front end.   These cars do not shake or rattle, and are very solid and stable when the suspension is right.  ...assuming your not blasting down rough/gravel/dirt roads that is.

 

You might want to do a bit of homework on the values.  The 3rd gens are only now seeing a little increase in value.  Maybe the depreciation on 4th gens has stopped, but that doesn't mean the value is increasing,  it just means the value is flat and stable..  Also, I see way too many convertibles for sale, 90% of them being 6cyl cars. I also do not see them being valued higher than t-top or hard tops.  Quite the opposite actually, convertibles are a hard sale. ...and for good reason.

 

The price is right for a solid car but if it needs suspension and/or front end work, or actually any work, the price is not good value.  It's probably for sale with a new top because it was worth less than $1,000 without it, or, the owner put half the cars value into a new top then discovered the car needs half it's value in suspension work and gave up on it.

 

You have the better 'bird, I say look up to your next one, say a 3.8 5spd y87, or a Formula / Trans Am, but don't go backwards which is what this 3.4 car sounds like.


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#3 Cedonulli

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Posted 3 weeks ago

 

If I had to characterize the engines, I'd say the 3.4 is close to a 4cyl on torque and hp.  The 3.8 is close to a v8.  The 3.4 is a good engine tho.  These cars are unit body.  T tops -v- hardtop sees no difference in rigidity.  A convertible is designed to be a convertible.  Any "rigidity" issues you think you're feeling is worn suspension and/or front end.   These cars do not shake or rattle, and are very solid and stable when the suspension is right.
 
You might want to do a bit of homework on the values.  The 3rd gens are only now seeing a little increase in value.  Maybe the depreciation on 4th gens has stopped, but that doesn't mean the value is increasing,  it just means the value is flat and stable..  Also, I see way too many convertibles for sale, 90% of them being 6cyl cars. I also do not see them being valued higher than t-top or hard tops.  Quite the opposite actually, convertibles are a hard sale.
 
....the price is right for a solid car but if it needs suspension and/or front end work, or actually any work, the price is not good value.  It's probably for sale with a new top because it was worth less than $1,000 without it, or, the owner put half the cars value into a new top then discovered the car needs half it's value in suspension work and gave up on it.
 
You have the better 'bird, I say look up to your next one, say a 3.8 5spd y87, or a Formula / Trans Am, but don't go backwards which is what this 3.4 car sounds like.

 


Thanks VERY much! I kinda thought it was suspension but the guy said it was because its convertible and twists more---around my area the 4th gen cars are going u like crazy. Ive seen many converts for low prices and I always wondered why. Converts have, I guess, issues like the tops going bad, easy to break into, leaks etc but my 24 year old daughter wants one so bad, lol. Also read that the 3.4s have head gasket pproblems and this on was low on coolant. The guy said because it had been sitting stored a year but that made little sense. You may have saved me from a disaster.

#4 Injuneer

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Posted 3 weeks ago

There's not a lot of difference between the flexibiity of a convertible and a T-Top car.  A solid roof coupe is a bit stiffer.  The convertible has extra sheet metal, including a much larger X-shaped sheet metal chassis brace under the floor, behind the engine area.  

 

ALL 4th Gens benefit from aftermarket "subframe connectors".  These connect the front and rear subframes of the chassis, and make a huge difference in reduced flex.  I also feel there is a benefit in a shock tower brace (often mislabeled strut tower brace), but others may disagree.

 

https://www.ss396.co...=&xscreen=prodb

 

https://www.ss396.co...=&xscreen=prodb

 

 

Heed the advice on the engine downgrade.... why give up your 200 HP / 225 lb-ft 3.8L for a 160 HP /  200 lb-ft 3.4L?


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381ci all-forged stroker (Callies Stealth, Oliver billet rods, BME 2618-T61 nitrous pistons) - 10.8:1 - CNC LT4 heads/intake - Comp Cams solid roller - MoTeC M48 Pro engine management - 8 LS1 coils - 58mm TB - 74#/HR injectors - 300-shot dry nitrous - TH400 - Gear Vendors 0.78:1 O/D - Strange 12-bolt - 4.11 Pro-Street gears - AS&M headers - true duals - Corbeau seat - AutoMeter gauges - roll bar - Spohn suspension - QA1 shocks - a few other odds 'n ends. 800HP / 800lb-ft at the flywheel, on a 300-shot. 11.5 @ 117 MPH straight motor
 
https://www.firebird...9_698_32777.jpg

 


#5 Cedonulli

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Posted 3 weeks ago

Its not really so much the engine---my daughter really wants a convertible. I figure its a pretty good body and a working almost new top. That little engine means she cant kill herself hotrodding lol.  I know verts are not as popular with most folks but do have a following and think maybe in years the fact that there are few around may give it some value.  Even if a lot is wrong with it 2500 doesnt seem bad.  How do I find out how many were made?


Answered my own question found production chart only 2900 made

https://www.marshu.c...9-2000-2001.php

 

JD Power says minimum book is over 5K---that cant be right. Air conditioner doesnt work, looks like new paint on nose cone and fender, kinda shakes around on bumps. Tire wear is even though. This is a big decision. At $2500, for a good body and top, how bad could I get screwed?  I test drove it and it got super hot. We checked and it had no water in the system!  Glad it didnt blow. Guy said it was because it sat for a year but thats BS. Engine compartment looks like off showroom but it could have been power washed.  I also read that timing chains only last about 80K and this older fashioned speedo says 115K. Even I know how to turn those back though. I have until tonight to decide.


Edited by Cedonulli, 3 weeks ago.


#6 Injuneer

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Posted 3 weeks ago

http://www.thepontia...production.html


1994 FIREBIRD FORMULA
FRED

 
381ci all-forged stroker (Callies Stealth, Oliver billet rods, BME 2618-T61 nitrous pistons) - 10.8:1 - CNC LT4 heads/intake - Comp Cams solid roller - MoTeC M48 Pro engine management - 8 LS1 coils - 58mm TB - 74#/HR injectors - 300-shot dry nitrous - TH400 - Gear Vendors 0.78:1 O/D - Strange 12-bolt - 4.11 Pro-Street gears - AS&M headers - true duals - Corbeau seat - AutoMeter gauges - roll bar - Spohn suspension - QA1 shocks - a few other odds 'n ends. 800HP / 800lb-ft at the flywheel, on a 300-shot. 11.5 @ 117 MPH straight motor
 
https://www.firebird...9_698_32777.jpg

 





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